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Abeokuta, the land of the Egbas

Old Abeokuta, on the way to Olumo rock
Old Abeokuta, on the way to Olumo rock
Abeokuta is a city of historical importance. It is located in Ogun state, about 100km north-east of Lagos, on the river Ogun. It is surrounded by forest and the city is built around a few hills.
The Egbas, a yoruba tribe who left Ile Ife westward, settled in Abeokuta because there was a rock dominating the whole area which provided a perfect place to see enemies coming from far and under which one could hide. It is called the Olumo rock. Abeokuta literally means "under the rock" in Yoruba.
Abeokuta west and the river Ogun
Abeokuta west and the river Ogun
In the 19th century, missionaries established missions. The first church was built in 1846, the cathedral church of Saint Peter. A hospital was also created. The first missionary was Henry Townsend in 1843. Later, the father of Fela Kuti, Canon J. J. Ransome Kuti, was vicar in Abeokuta from 1911 to 1930.
Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria 1999-2007, also comes from the town.
Cathedral church of Saint Peter, the first church in Abeokuta
Cathedral church of Saint Peter, the first church in Abeokuta
Abeokuta is famous for its adire (cloth dyed in different colours after the application of wax patterns) that can be purchased at the Itoku market. Another speciality is indigo cloth, which is a lighter piece of cloth that is dyed with indigo plant. The indigo plant is grown in Oyo and packed together as a ball of dry herbs, the size of a tennis ball. The indigo is immersed in a large claypot of water together with the cloth to dye. Indigo is reported to have healing powers which one can benefit from while wearing the clothes dyed with it. There are several techniques to create motives (wax, sewing parts of it to create areas less exposed to the dye, etc...)
drying indigo clothes
drying indigo clothes
Another prominent but occasional resident of Abeokuta is Prince Omooba Yemisi Shyllon whose residence has been erected in the plush Hilltop Presidential Estate where generators are banned. Inverters have to be used when NEPA (the power company) is not supplying power which happens frequently. The benefit is the silence, the air is calm, one can enjoy the breeze on the terrace looking at the horizon undisturbed. The house is decorated with numerous contemporary works of art.
Omooba Yemisi Shyllon next to an Igbo man serving palm wine as welcome
Omooba Yemisi Shyllon next to an Igbo man serving palm wine as welcome


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