400 Years Old Palace Rehabilitation And The Reawakening of Ikorodu Tourism Potentials

Kunle Adelabu
The emergence of HRM Oba Abdul-Kabir Adewale Shotobi as the 4th Ayangbure of ikorodu has within short period brought modernization to Ikorodu’s traditional and cultural heritages while still maintaining their core values.
This has also rekindled hope for the preservation of remaining monuments, cultural heritages and historical and traditional values of Ikorodu. In recent times, modernization has been threatening some of these monuments with many lost to sheer negligence and craze for economic consideration. There are still many that have been abandoned.
Among major factors that have been threatening the preservation of structures that should ordinarily be attracting national international recognition as cultural monuments which in turn would have enhance the tourism status of Ikorodu are lack of education and government presence.

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The Oloja palace, Ajina, Ikorodu during rehabilitation.

Recently, the administration of Alhaji Sheriff Adisa Anipole demolished the old Maternity Centre which was one of the few remaining colonial structures in Ikorodu. The structure was built with brick and without iron to support it. This showed the importance of this structure to architecture. But today, the structure which had served different historical purposes such as Maternity, Ikorodu local government office and INEC Office, Youth Office among others is no more and gone with our history.
There have also been demolition of pre-colonial and other buildings constructed during the colonial era for redevelopment as shopping malls. The implications of these are that the new generation and those yet unborn will not have the benefit of knowing the stages of Ikorodu development, where they are from, lost of important primary materials for the reconstruction of Ikorodu history and its people and lack of cultural inspiration.

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Oloja palace before rehabilitation

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Pa Oyejola explaining features of the palace to this reporter during an independent research some years back

This is why the initiative of reconstructing the ancient palace that is over 400year old is very commendable with the credit going to the new Ayangbure of Ikorodu, Oba Kabir Shotobi and members of the Coronation Planning Committee especially eminent personalities like former Commissioner for Agriculture & Cooperative, Asipa Kaoli Olusanya, former Commissioner for Information and Labour Leader in Lagos, Sir (Otunba) Ayodele Elesho and Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Oriwu Sun Newspaper, Alhaji Monzor Olowosago. Also to the men of the fourth Estate of the Realm who have been very critical about the preservation of the monument in their reports.

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Oba Shotobi (M) with Alhaji Olowosago (L) and Asipa Olusanya (R)

The beauty of the reconstruction is that those in-charge preserved the original form of the building by not allowing the mould to be plastered with cement as well as the preservation of the indestructible wood works and other features of the ancient palace.
The corrugated iron sheets have already giving way to modern roofing sheets and the outer walls supported by newly constructed pillars to support the entire structure.
The rehabilitated palace used to be the first palace for traditional rulers in Ikorodu since the days of the ‘Olojas’ (head of market) around 1600AD and in 1950 with advent of Ayangbure with beaded crown brought from Ijebu-Ode.
THE IMPACT gathered that it was during the reign of Oba Adenaike Alagbe that the seat of power was move to its present location at Ayangbure road, Ikorodu, but with the old palace still maintaining its traditional importance and relevance.
The importance of the over 400year old palace to Ikorodu is that it is always the first point of call for any Oba-elect leaving ‘Ipebi’ (place of isolation for 3months for any Oba-elect) and it is at the ancient palace that the Oba-elect is crowned with the traditional beaded crown by the ‘Ilu’ (entire Ikorodu people) throught their traditional institutions.
The importance of the old palace also lies in the fact that it is surrounded by other important traditional and economic institutions like Ajina market which played great role during the pre-colonial, colonial, slave trade, legitimate trade and post colonial periods. There are also ‘Osugbo’ (the highest decision-making body during traditional system), Awopa (the traditional law enforcement agent), Noomu Arere ( another important deity/festival brought to Ikorodu by the Benin migrants led by one Salu Apesin. The festival last held decades ago) and Liwe Shrine (another important Oro festival that is usually held during raining season every year. It was introduced in Ikorodu be the Isele peole). The old palacealso usually play host to many other festivals Liwe festival, Agemo and ‘Iworo’ market (Every 7days market) among other landmark events.
Before the present rehabilitation, THE IMPACT gathered that the last rehabilitation to safe the ancient palace from collapse was done during the time of Oba Alagbe whom we gathered constructed the six-pillars that are braced with hardwood in the middle of the palace.
Pa (Chief) Ayodele Olanrewaju Oyejola, an 87year old Octogenarian and Olotu (head) of Madehingbo family, branch of Olota family, Igode, who was a Photo Journalist in his days, while taking this writer round the old palace few years back on an independent research into “Preservation of Monuments and Development of Tourism in Ikorodu”, commissioned by Hon. Sanai Oyeniran Bolanle Agunbiade, emphasized the need to rehabilitate the old palace and give the entire ‘Awofin’ (King’s quarters) facelift to make it a tourist haven. He stated further that, “It was during the time of Oba Alagbe that the six pillars were constructed to braced the old structure and prevent it from imminent collapse.”
This may have accounted for the reason why Oba Alagbe that used the ancient palace at Ajina as seat of power.
Aside developmental expectation of the indigenes and residents, the new regime of Oba Adewale Shotobi would also be expected to improve on Ikorodu’s socio-cultural development, especially in the resurrection of some festivals like Noomu Arere, Eluku, Asa (Angere), Agemo among others.
It is also very important to look into the security arrangement of the community, because there is no how successful festival could be held without residents and visitors feeling secured. This would go a long way in bringing sponsors.
With the new Kabiyesi and members of the Coronation Planning Committee initiating this major move which is expected to be a turning point in arousing Ikorodu’s consciousness to the preservation of its cultural and traditional heritages, one expect that socio-cultural and human development bodies like Ikorodu-Oga Development Association (IKODASS), Ikorodu Division Human Development Group (IDRDG), Conference of Leaders of Ikorodu (COLID), and representatives of different traditional institutions will take it from here and design a future plan for transformation of Awofin and entirety of Ajina axis into a tourism point.
This should be done in conjunction with our elected representatives and the Ikorodu Local Government, who are expected to articulate the design with the state government and other local and international organization for development.

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