In what has become an annual event, the students of the college proceeded on an excursion this time round to two states; Oyo and Oshun, both in South-Western part of Nigeria on the 5th of February,2015. The trip commenced as planned, with a record 31 students drawn from IFY, AS and the A2 streams, unlike the former practice of just English-Literature and Geography students.
We headed straight to our first destination Ososa, in Ogun-State to the home of the legendary man adjudged, the father of modern theatre in Nigeria, Hubert Ogunde. The location which has been a yearly destination for our students, especially the English Literature students has worn a new look. According to our tour guide, the changes are in preparation for the grand opening of the historical edifice into what would become a full-fledged museum of modern Nigerian theatre. It will be officially commissioned in April, 2015 .We however still had the privilege of seeing some relics of theatre costumes, a rehearsal ground, and some theatrical effects to the delight of the everyone.
By now, it was past midday and we headed to our next destination, Ibadan. Most of us slept through the journey and within an hour and a half from Ososa, we had got to Ibadan .We thought we had missed our way on entering the city. This is because Ibadan was a city notorious for filth, but surprisingly, it has worn a new look. The roads are tarred and neatly lined by lawns and flowers. Thanks to the new government of APC led Governor Ajimobi. We drove to our hotel, Labod, ensconced in Bodija, a government reserved part of Ibadan.
The plan on the next day was to visit the renowned research institute, IITA on the outskirt of Ibadan, but due to some bureaucratic bottlenecks ,we shelved the idea of a visit for that day, but we used the opportunity to visit an equally exciting spot; the Zoological Garden of the University of Ibadan ,which has been existence since 1948. The zoo has suffered a hiatus of neglect, which nearly ran it into extinction, but some seven years ago, a spirited effort was instituted to renovate this once popular tourist spot and that was what we met on arrival. It was actually re-commissioned in 2014 by Pastor E.A Adeboye.
The zoo wore a veil of the dry season, with the flora not in their full bloom. However ,there was ample evidence of renovation and to the credit of the management of the zoo, most of the cages now have animals occupying them such as lion,giraffe,chimpanzess,crocodiles,snakes,gorillas,etc.However,I personally felt the palpable sorrowful mien of most animals ,who felt like being in prisons. They could not help being here, but at least the management of the zoo could have at least conditioned the zoo to be as close as possible to their natural habitats. We went round the neatly manicured vegetation that adorned the zoological garden and after close to two hours, we bid the place bye and headed to our hotel, but not without visiting the expansive Shop rite complex close by.
Saturday the 7th of February promised to be another exciting day. Our destination is the Ado-Awaye in Iseyin Local Government area of Oyo-State, where we hope to see a suspended/hanging lake on top of a rock, often adjudged the second of its kind in the world apart from the one in the US.
It took us about 2 hours to get here from Ibadan. To get to this lake, one has to climb a steep slope of steps. For many of us not used to regular exercise, it was a herculean task, but through dint of determination, ninety percent of us were able to make it to the top, where the resplendent lake and human settlement sat. According to history, as related by a tour guide, Mr.Adeyemi, the top of the hill used to be a haven of sort during the Dahomey war of the 17th century, where the inhabitants hid away from marauding soldiers. The people customarily made sacrifices to the lake on a daily basis, having been awed by its volume which remains constant throughout the year. It was breath-taking looking down from this hill of about a kilometre! After ascending for close to an hour, we all later descended, fagged out, but it was worth all the effort. Some joked that they had lost some pounds for just climbing the hill!
The plan for the our final day of our excursion, 9th of February 2014 was to visit the historic Mokola Cultural Centre, which is located in the heart of Ibadan itself, but upon further enquiry, we discovered that, the due to years of neglect, the once bubbling cultural which used to be a beehive of artistic activities is now a shadow of its former glory, so we quickly decided to head to our so called ‘major attraction’ of the excursion; the Oshun Grove. You may say, a way of saving the best for the last.
Oshun Oshogbo is a world class tourist destination any day, not only by virtue of its global recognition as a UNESCO certified world heritage site, but because of the history behind. Right from the serene, foliage covered path which led to the grove, one could sense nature at its best. This is one of the few places on earth, where human degradation in form of lumbering, hunting is not allowed. Evidently, wildlife ably represented by monkeys dangling all over us with so much reckless liberty laxity is an evidence of this. The Oshun Grove owes its present state to an Austrian tourist and art aficionado, Susan Wenger who visited Oshogbo in the 1949 with her German husband, Ulli Bier. She got enamoured by the culture of the Oshogbo, especially the enigma of the Oshun Oshogbo river ,which later became a devotee and priestess to .She championed the cause of this natural haven ,which has become a global tourist destination not only for Oshun devotees, from all over the world, but also lovers of arts and culture. ALL THESE WERE RECOUNTED BY THE TOURIST GUIDE WHO TOOK US ROUND THE EXPANSIVE GROVE made of shrines, rivers, bridges, wildlife etc.
Having spent close to two hours, we knew that was no way we would be able walk round the entire grove, so we bid our farewell to Oshogbo and headed to Lagos. It was 4 hours’ journey to Lagos and we entered Lagos around 7pm.
What a trip! Very exerting, but also revealing of the beauty, potential of our great country, Nigeria. If only we could be more creative and also invest in these tourist spots, there may not be any need for any of us travelling miles away to see what we have here in abundance!