Vastly cultural, justifiably traditional, and fairly cosmopolitan, Ile-Ife in Osun state, Southwest Nigeria is like an egg that is always accorded respect by all and sundry. The greatness attributed to Ile-Ife is well-deserved because it is the cradle of an important Nigerian race; Yoruba. This is part of the reason why the Ooni of Ife, the custodian of Ife norms and traditions, is revered and powerful at home and abroad.
Adding to the cultural fascination of Ile-Ife is an aesthetic tourist destination that is known for giving visitors an indelible treat. One thing this city is recognized for globally is its age-long art history depicted by bronze heads of the kings of Ile-Ife which dates as far back as the 1300 BC. Unfortunately, many of these heads have been looted. We shine the spotlight on this culturally and art rich town.
Top three sites
In an ancient city like Ile-Ife, mysterious finds are never rare. One top tourist attraction that has defy explanations how it got there is the Oranmiyan Staff (Opa Oranmiyan). The staff is 18 feet above the ground and some deft designs are on it. The mystery attached to the staff has brought tourists from all over the world to see it. The Oranmiyan Staff can be seen at the Oranmiyan Shrine at the Arubidi quarter of Ile-Ife. Although certain traditional rites are performed there, it is still open to tourists. But there are some parts of the shrine that could only be accessed by those who are can only be peopled by initiates. The Oranmiyan obelisk is hundreds of years old and has history behind.
National Museum, Ife
The national Museum, located in Ile-Ife Osun State Nigeria, is well known for it’s archaeological exhibits of the Yoruba art of terracotta and bronze figures. It is the next door neighbour of the Ooni’s palace. The museum is an excellent place to learn about the people, culture, art and craft of Ile-Ife.
A visit to Ile-Ife is not complete without checking out the magnificent palace of the Ooni of Ife otherwise known as Ile Oduduwa, named after the first king of the Yoruba race. The palace is an in-depth reflection of ancient Ife because the palace existed alongside the city as far back as 500 BC. It is a perfect symbol of power, authority and pride for all who trace their heritage to Ile-Ife. Even with the modernization of the palace, traditional and cultural part of it is still preserved. The Palace is a sacred place where you do not just indiscriminately wander. The present Ooni of Ife is the 40-year-old Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II who recently ascended the throne of his fathers after the death of Oba Okunade Sijuwade. You can pay homage to the king and will be warmly welcomed but ensure that you follow proper protocol while at the palace. The palace is located in Enuwa Area of Ile-Ife.
Where to Sleep
Despite being an evolving city, the presence of the Ooni’s Palace, the celebration of the Olojo festival and education environment of the Obafemi Awolowo University formerly the University of Ife has made many business minded persons to establish nice hotels in the flourishing town. Some of these hotels are Kriscourt Hospitality limited, Xela Hotel and Resort, Molak hotel, Abike Guest House Limited and Molak hotel.
Where to Eat
The people of Ile-Ife are predominantly Yorubas. Do not be surprised if you see them munching foods you are familiar with in other Southwest states. Nevertheless, you do not need to worry about where eat when you are hungry. There bukkas and restaurants where you can satisfy your biting stomach. These restaurants are Eda restaurant, Forks and fingers, captain cook restaurant and sekodun restaurant.
Shopping in Ile-Ife
Obasewa shopping complex, Shop-Right, Mayfair Shopping Complex, and Ipetumodu market are some of the places you can do your shopping in Ile-Ife.
The present Ooni of Ile-Ife-Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II is young, dynamic and handsome. He is in the forefront of uniting the Yoruba race. He displayed this trait unity when he visited the Alaafin of Oyo. The last visit of an Ooni to the Alaafin was 79 years ago.