First of all I must tell you that my stories of Ile-Ife will never measure up to the firsthand experience. I truly wish I could make you feel the goosebumps I felt seeing the ancient monuments. I wish there was a way to make you feel how my heart raced with joy and wonder from the ancient tales spun from the lips of old men.
A burst of joy at he age-long tradition and culture preserved with most respect and reverence. The deep pride with which the sons and daughters of the land spoke of their home. All these are a part of the things I wish I could make you feel.
However, I’m going to try and put into words as much as I can, the wonder that is Ile-Ife. My posts will come in parts but I’d be sure link each of them to the initial ones for reference sake, yeah?
Day 1 // The Ile-Ife Palace (Ile Odua)
Driving into the palace I was not exactly sure what to expect. A ‘ Coming to America’ themed welcome posse? Drummers and dancers all over? Given I had never been into a palace before, let alone a Yoruba one? I had the wildest imaginations. However, palace life without the festivals or events seemed pretty normal and surprisingly ‘homely’.
I must put it out there that my adrenaline was pumped to the max at this point. Did I mention that before? Anyways with the weather in our favor, a more than enjoyable road trip from Lagos just before, I was more than ready to get ‘a’touring’. (Is that even a word?)
Being African; Nigerian to be precise, our deep rooted beliefs in respect and tradition can hardly be debated. So visiting someone’s house for the first time, we had to go pay our respects to our hosts. We were welcomed warmly, briefed on a few key things and thoroughly blessed by our hosts.
Now what I referred to as “a few key things” is actually what made me understand that the chiefs that received us were called ‘king makers’. The king makers are the advisers to the The King, The Ooni of Ife. At this point my mind had gone Africa Magic crazy imagining what it would be like watching all 16 (yes there are 16 king makers) seated in a session with the Ooni. There are also smaller chiefs within the Ife Kingdom who help the Ooni oversee the happenings and report directly to him. I also learned that all human existence began from Ife Kingdom and we had only somehow traced our roots back home. We were told to come back anytime we felt like. So yeah, I’ve found me a new home. 😀
After being given permission to feel at home, we were handed over to an emissary who would be our guide on the two day tour. So here’s a breakdown of our itinerary on day 1.
According to our tour guide, there are four hierarchical courts within the palace with the Emese’s court being the fourth. This court is being handled by the ‘Emeses’ who are the king’s guards.
Just in front of the Emese’s court is a small structure, what I initially thought was a beacon but later discovered was erected for worship. It was in fact likened to the Ka’aba in Mecca; as it is usually visited by the people of Ife who come to end their spiritual journey there. A pilgrimage of some sort.
The Ile Odua Hall
Even though the buildings within the palace and the palace itself are styled in modern architecture, monuments within are believed to be dated back to the ADs. The statue of the the first oba, Obalufon is erected in front of the hall (which made for the perfect tourist photos to be honest) is one of such monuments.
Obalufon is actually the only oba whose death could not be accounted for. Which is why I was able to get just four photos of the tombs out of the five Obas before the present Ooni. Check out the photos below
We were led into the confines of the hall and showed a door. One which I must say I was completely fascinated with. I’m not entirely sure what was behind it cos to be honest some things were lost in translation or in a bid to get photos with people not in the way. The door was adorned with hieroglyphs carved into it at different sections telling different amazing stories. It also had a tusk above it which is said to be of a wild animal wrestled and killed by a warrior and gifted to the Oba.
No Photo Zone // Ile Ase
Ile Ase, which was the last place within the palace we visited on the first day is a shrine dedicated to one of the deities of Ife Kingdom. On this visit however, we were asked to put away our cameras and other recording devices. After some necessary rites were performed, we were told that whatever prayers or wishes one pronounced before the deity (even jokingly) came to pass. Yeah, that part kinda scared me some but I’m glad I got to visit still. Thank you Mr Tourism!
The Ile Ase being our last tour stop for the day we filed back into our tour bus to get some rest and freshen up for Day 2.
If you wanna read and see more of my Ile-Ife experience I’ll be posting more stories and photos on the blog. So keep reading and subscribe to get updates on follow up posts as they come. 🙂
Feature 📷 : rex1_studio