It seems inescapable that I should begin this visual documentation of the Yoruba heartlands in the ancient city of Ile-Ife.
The city where I was born, bred, schooled, watered and fed.
Ile Ife in Osun State is an ancient land seeped in tradition, royal pedigree, ambiance and rich Yoruba culture. It is also a town of many intriguing contrasts. Old. New. Ancient. Modern. Young and restless. Wise and measured.
One of the oldest Stone buildings in Ile-Ife is the beautifully preserved Seventh Day Adventist church built over a 100 years ago.
Popularly referred to as “ Orisun” – the source- of Yoruba, histo- politically, Ile Ife is prominent in the ethnic mindset of all Yoruba at home and in the diaspora. Essentially, Ile-Ife symbolises ” the cradle” or genesis of their ethnicity as a people.
Ori-olokun sculpture which sits at the entrance of the ancestral city of Ile Ife.
Moreover, the ancient city is home to beautifully preserved artworks in bronze and terracotta which holds the potential for authentic ethnological studies of Yoruba culture, these are on show in its museum of Ife antiquities located in the Kings palace at Enuwa Square Ile Ife.
In here are some of the oldest artifacts which echo Ile Ife’s historical pedigree. Yet, the town itself has some of the oldest Christian churches, schools and colonial architecture which are a legacy of it’s indelible colonial history.
General Post office- Enuwa Square
Ile Ife is also home to the second University in South West Nigeria, Obafemi Awolowo University ( formerly University of Ife) known for its iconic buildings, student activism and outstanding educational achievements.
Oduduwa Hall- Obafemi Awolowo University- A lavish geometric piece of architecture which creates a visual treat for students and visitors to the University campus.
Traditional Yoruba culture is alive and well even today.
The indigenes of Ile Ife will tell you of the 365 days of the year, there is only one day of the year exempt from a festival or ceremony in worship of Yoruba deities.
Of all these festivals, the Olojo festival held annually usually in the month of October is the biggest and really showcases the deep affiliation of the people of Ile Ife to Yoruba traditional religion and culture.