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Oyo Alaafin: Akesan Market

Bashorun Gaa; the tragic hero of Yoruba mythology was one of the most formidable kings of the  old Oyo Empire. This character conveyed in many ways my childhood fascination for the mythical, almost unbelievable ancestry of the Yorubas.


Television heightened the hyperbole through superb productions of epic folkloric stories of  the 14th century Oyo kingdom which became so powerful. Its tentacles stretched right across West Africa.  Words like Alaafin,  Ilari, Bashorun,  Eso, the powerful Oyo Mesi and the mysterious Ogboni took up immense amounts of space in my theatrical imagination.

Today, Oyo Atiba in  Southwestern Nigeria is the historical and cultural representation of the old Oyo empire  destroyed by Fulani conquerors in the 1800s. Truly one of the Yoruba heartlands, this is a  town seeped in  symbolism; both ancient and cultural. Yet, it is also a city alive with a dynamic identity of its own.

One of  its historical icons is the  Alaafin of Oyo, the traditional ruler and monarch of Oyo.  Even today, the Alaafin paints a flamboyant picture echoing the status, ceremonial  and cultural significance inherent in  the institution of monarchy among the Yoruba people.

The royal monarch of Oyo- The Alaafin- with his wives and court on ceremonial duties in Oyo town.

Juxtaposing the old and new side by side,  is the bustling local market at the heart of the town. Akesan market. It is a distinctive place steeped in its own very unique character. It embraces the visitor in an  atmosphere which is traditionally  energised and authentic yet  reminiscent of today`s society.

A mobile herberlist selling a whole collection of different potions and powerful concoctions.

Garri made from cassava tubers is a staple food item in Nigeria and Oyo is renowned for Garri making industries. These are vital both to the local farming economy and also in terms of the skilled and unskilled jobs provided for local people. Akesan market provides a lively trading outlet for local farmers in and around Oyo township.

Fresh Cssava tubers to be processed into Garri -n Oyo town

Fresh Cassava tubers to be processed into Garri -n Oyo town

Cottage Industry making Garri in Oyo town- small industries like this feed millions of Nigerians.

Cottage Industry making Garri in Oyo town- small industries like this feed millions of Nigerians.

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    jujufilms
    November 22, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Brilliant images, love the gari factory.

    • Reply
      Osupame
      November 22, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      Thanks Juju Films- it is inspiring to see people who understand the value of the work they do.

      • Reply
        jujufilms
        November 23, 2014 at 5:02 am

        Much love and keep up the good work.

  • Reply
    Toyin Savage
    January 11, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Brilliant images and great write up. I’m devouring every article. Please keep up the good work!!

    • Reply
      osupa
      January 11, 2016 at 11:10 pm

      Thanks Sis. I am so happy you enjoyed reading and sharing this with me. So much inspires me in Nigeria. I hope I can continue to share with you and many more. See you again soon

  • Reply
    Paul
    April 16, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Always intrigued by the shortness of the articles and yet so inspiring and vast.

    • Reply
      osupa
      April 16, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks! I hope to continue to find cultural experiences worth sharing!

  • Reply
    Janine
    January 30, 2017 at 3:35 am

    I thank you humbly for shirnag your wisdom JJWY

    • Reply
      osupa
      February 5, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      Thanks for reading and giving feedback Janine. Great to know you visited and enjoyed the article. Do visit again.

  • Reply
    demola ogunajo
    February 20, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for loving art.

    • Reply
      osupa
      February 20, 2017 at 4:33 pm

      Demola thanks for visiting Osupa and reading some of the pieces. Its great to know the world is full of Art lovers. Do visit again. The feedback helps to keep me going! Thanks

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