Ibadan Travel Guide

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A road in Ibadan

A road in Ibadan

Adebisi Adewoyin

Ibadan is the capital city of Oyo State, Nigeria and the largest city in West Africa. In spite of its size, its population of about 2.5 million is small when compared to Lagos, even though this is enough to populate some countries in the world.

The Yoruba call it the Ancient City, it signifies there bastion a place where the armies of Ibadan unified to defeat The Fulani Caliphate (1840); when they attempted to expand further into the southern region of modern-day Nigeria. 

The city is centrally located in the south-west part of the country on a rippling plain with ridges of about eight rocky hills. The average elevation of these hills is about 700 ft. To fully appreciate how uneven the city is, a visit to the Premier Hotel, which is situated on top of a hill is a must.

The town is roughly divided into what could be called ancient and modern Ibadan. The former seems to be totally cut off from the latter even though they practically exist side by side in some cases. It can be viewed as microsm of Nigeria  the modern and old world meters away.

One side of the road can be home to all the comforts of modern living while the other would be a dense area of cluttered mud houses that's inaccessible to all forms of modern transportation. What you have instead are foot-paths. Inconjunction with the United Nations the state government has instituted a environmental plan, and a city masterplan in efforts to alleviate poverty.

For people who wish to experience how two cultures - western and traditional - can mingle, then Ibadan is certainly the place to go.The city has long been in the shadow of the Goliath that is Lagos. Its offers a certain amount of provincial tranquilty that cannot be found in the ever hussling and moving financial capital.

The modern part of the city is in stark contrast to this. Here you have modern roads, the sad state in which some of them are in notwithstanding. The city is fast becoming cosmopolitan with the advent of Lebanese and Asian businessmen in particular, though it is far behind cities like Lagos (the commercial capital), Abuja(the country's new capital) and Port Harcourt (the capital of Rivers State and where there is a lot of oil wealth). New malls, cinemas (Silverbird, Iyanganku Mall), and fitness centers are under construction. There are very wealthy reserved areas in the North West with colonial style houses (Bodija, New Bodija, Akobo, Bashorun, Ikolaba) and situated on Goverment Residential Areas (GRA's-Jericho, Iyaganku, Challenge). There are a couple of International Schools catering to the expat community. The Oyo state goverment is trying to mordernize the city and eradicate road side slums. There have been clearances of the Molete, Iwo Road, Dugbe and Bodija markets. The federal government has begun construction of a national rail grid, connecting Ibadan to Lagos and Abuja

There is a museum in the building of the Institute of African Studies, which exhibits several remarkable pre-historic bronze carvings and statues. The city has several well stocked libraries, and is home to the first television station in Africa. Dugbe Market is the nerve center of Ibadan's transport and trading network. The best method to move about the city is to use reference points and notable landmarks. The city also has a zoological garden located inside the University of Ibadan, and a botanical garden located at Agodi.

The Bower Memorial Tower to the east on  Oke A├áre (Aare's Hill) ("Aare" in Yoruba means commander-in-chief or generalissimo), which can be seen from practically any point in the city; it also provides an excellent view of the whole city from the top. Another prominent landmark, Cocoa House, was the first skyscraper in Africa. It is one of the few skyscrapers in the city and is at the hub of Ibadan's commercial center. Other attractions include Mapo Hall -- the colonial style city hall -- perched on top of a hill, "Oke Mapo," Mapo Hill ("oke" is hill in Yoruba), the Trans-Wonderland amusement park, the cultural centre Mokola and Liberty Stadium, the first stadium in Africa. The first citadel of higher learning, University of Ibadan (formerly the University College of Ibadan), and the first teaching hospital in Nigeria, University College Hospital, UCH, were both built in this ancient but, highly important city. Ibadan is also home to the legendary Shooting Stars FC -- a professional Football Club.


What it lacks in excitement it more than makes up for in hospitality. Ibadan feels more like a large town than a city, a true market town.

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