Monday, 3 September 2007

Ilorin Afonja !!

I was born in Lagos but I grew up in Ilorin. I love that town. I was there again several weekends ago and I fell in love with it all over again. Ilorin is the capital of Kwara State for those who don't know.The people are mostly Yoruba who can trace their roots to Oyo Alafin. We also have the Fulanis who are direct descendants of the Uthman Dan Fodio I guess. There was a War several centuries ago and somehow the Gambaris became the Ruling class and till date we have Emirs in Ilorin as against Oba in most Yoruba speaking town in the South West of Nigeria. The Gambaris are still the Royal Family. We large family. I remember Zulait Gambari from Primary school. I wonder where she is now?!

I love Ilorin for so many reasons. Let me count the ways ( that sounds like one of those cards my Aunt used to get from her husband (then boyfriend) some 15 years ago. That guy was the R in Romantic.
  • Life in Ilorin is very peaceful. Despite the fact that over 90% of the indigene are Muslims there has being very very few religious schisms in Ilorin.
  • The people are very accommodating. More than 80% of the work force in most parastal and business are non indigenes (Kogi, and other States) esp in the University though this is beginning to change. More and more Ilorin are now in the elms of affairs.
  • There are very good schools in Ilorin USS , The adorable,FGC Ilorin, Adesoye College in neighbouring Offa to mention just a few. The old students are all over the world making waves. Stand up to be counted.
  • The University of Ilorin is one of the best 2nd generation Universities in Nigeria at the moment. The community is a very vibrant one and there was a time the MBA was hot cake. MBA from Unilorin was like LBS then. Work in progress to revamp its old glory.
  • There are 2 major roads in the town IBRAHIM TAIWO and MURITALA MUHAMMED Roads. Once you enter town through Gari Alimi you join upper end of Taiwo Road all the way to the Lower end which links you to Emir's road or the Station(The Railway Station in the good old days) while Station burst out to Muritala Muhammed Road. Unity Road now Wahab Folawiyo Road links Taiwo Road with Muritala Muhammed road. Its so funny. you can link everywhere once you are on either of this roads. So u can ever get lost.
  • Ilorin is very clean and tidy. There are no litter on the road. Little or no Pollution apart from Asa Dam area where we have the Industrial areas.
  • Food is relatively cheap and affordable.When I'm in town I go on a shopping spree my Mum can't stop wondering.
  • There is no traffic in Ilorin
  • Ilorin is a safe and nice place to raise children.Morals are still very high and the it takes a village to raise a child is still very real there
  • They have a 'good' University Teaching Hospital with one of the best pool of Naija's medical professionals. I will still go there to see my dentist Dr Parakoyi (where in the world is Ajibola Parakoyi? I know Martin is a Doctor in UITH)
  • There is a' good' bookshop in Ilorin Lara Bookshop has being around forever and Challenge Bookshop also has a good mix.
  • There is this local food joint on the Mini Campus of Unilorin OPC that has the best Tuwo Shinkafa and nice curly black ponmo soaked in stew.... you should try it
  • We now have 3 Mr Biggs outlet in Ilorin which is Mega if you ask me before we had Friends, Peacocks( they still have the best Meat pie in the world if you ask me) Royals, Rushmeals etc
  • We have nice hair salons and good hair stylist that can give Bobby Eke a run for his money. Robert of Funbert and the girls at JMK are just superb
  • Ilorin has an International Airport. I remember flying from Ilorin to connect flight in Lagos to London and back when I was younger. Pilgrims are still being air lifted there every year
  • Ilorin Lawyers are sound and hawt. Laolu Alli SAN, Wole Olanipekun SAN, Bayo Ojo SAN, Awomolo SAN,and those on the Bench are smoking Isa Ayo Salami, Sade Ojo, Fabiyi Oyeyipo etc etc
  • Ilorin Township Stadium is beautiful. We have an Olympic size swimming pool.Remember The Akinremi gals, Bisi Afolabi?
  • Growing up in Ilorin was so much fun and i cherish the memories
Even though I'm not from Ilorin, I feel every bit like an indigene and I'm proud to from Ilorin Afonja and yes 'mouth' is sure sweeter than honey.


Uzo said...

I have never been to Illorin but this description makes me curious....

Nyemoni said...

How very nice...What a sweet ode to the town you grew up in! I've never been there, but have friends from there.. Really nice post!

Nonesuch said...

@ Uzo Ilorin is such a cool place and you can be my guest anytime.

Nonesuch said...

@Nyemoni Thanks jare. I think you should visit you will enjoy yourself. very unlike Lagos or Ibadan not even near Abeokuta. The air is clean and freah the people warm and friendly.

midexus said...

The reason for an Emir in Illorin instead of an Oba is this: Illorin was under the old Oyo Empire and had to pay royalty to Oyo as other subjects did. Afonja, the then "governor" of Illorin wanted to liberate his people from the control of the Alaafin of Oyo, but Illorin did not have the military might to face the all conquering Oyo Empire. He decided to look up north for help from the rampaging Fulanis, who had conquered most pasts of the north spreading Islam via the Jihad. The plan was for the Usman Dan Fodio-led army from the north to defeat the Oyo army and hand over power to Afonja so that he will become the Oba of Illorin. So on the invitation of Afonja, the Fulanis came and actually conquered the Oyo army (they had superior instruments of war; Horses). They didn’t stop at that; they fought in all neighbouring towns and dislodged the Oyo soldiers. Their campaign was repelled at Ogbomosho by the warriors from Ibadan (they were mercenaries called in by the Alaafin to save the Empire from total collapse). On return to Illorin, the Fulanis, deposed Afonja, (who was already acting as a substantive Oba) and installed an Emir; calming that Illorin was a conquered city under their Jihad campaign.
What was Afonja thinking?

Nonesuch said...

@ Midexus Thanks for the history lesson. What was Afonja thinking? I wonder o. I think some folks also say there was a curse or something.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for painting Ilorin real nice. I come from Kwara and I 've been there as a child.I'd be getting married there next month. I hope it's really as nice as you describe it oh!