‘Ilupeju Ekiti is the only Yoruba town where two communities decided on an amalgamation without tribal strife or animosities” according to HRM OBA Emmanuel Olaleye Oniyelu, the Apeju of Ilupeju Ekiti who exclusively revealed that a ballot was conducted between the two princes of Eseta and Egosi Ekiti respectively for the positions of Apeju (the Oba) and Obanla (the deputy and heir apparent to the throne). On 3rd June 1974, the Ondo state government Gazette announced Prince Olaleye as the Apeju of Ilupeju Ekiti, leading to his official enthronement in February 1980. Today the current Apeju is from the Eseta family while the Obanla is from the Egosi family.
Ilupeju Ekiti is a part of our family history since my late father grew up between Ile Ife and Ilupeju Ekiti, before settling in Lagos. My other siblings and myself, all born in Lagos, have always been curious to visit that legendary place that he mentioned when we were children, but never visited together.
Today Ilupeju Ekiti is a provincial town that has escaped from the fate of many other sleepy villages, thanks to the nearby Federal University of Oye Ekiti. On Wednesday morning a lively market offers local and regional produce, attracting traders and customers from wide and far. It gave us a chance to greet some of the inhabitants who remembered our father.
Ilupeju Ekiti (373.9 km) to Abuja via Abuja-Lokoja Road/A2 and 337 km from Lagos via Ife Ibadan Express way is a town in Oye local government area of Ekiti State. It falls within the Ekiti speaking area of Yoruba land, and is bounded in the east by Itapa Ekiti, in the west by Oye Ekiti, in the South by Ire Ekiti, and in the North by Ijomo Ekiti.
Ekiti State is in Southwest region of Nigeria, declared a state on 1 October 1996 alongside five other states in the country by the then military government under head of state, General Sani Abacha. As one of the newest states of the Nigerian federation, it was carved out of the territory of old Ondo State, and covers the former 12 local government areas that made up the Ekiti Zone of old Ondo State. On creation, it had 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs), having had an additional four carved out of the old ones. Ekiti State is one of the 36 states (inc. Federal Capital Territory (Nigeria)) that constitute Nigeria.
The State is mainly an upland zone, rising over 250 meters above sea level. It lies on an area underlain by metamorphic rock. It is generally an undulating part of the country with a characteristic landscape that consists of old plains broken by step-sided out-crops that may occur singularly or in groups or ridges. Such rocks out-crops exist mainly at Aramoko, Efon-Alaiye, Ikere-Ekiti, Igbara-odo- ekiti and Okemesi-Ekiti. The State is dotted with rugged hills, notable ones being Ikere-Ekiti Hills in the south, Efon-Alaiye Hills on the western boundary and Ado-Ekiti Hills in the centre.
The trip was a wonderful opportunity to travel along meandering roads, across Ekiti-land, leading us to some lovely sights and hilltop views enjoying the cool breeze, and meeting old and new friends. More explorations will surely follow!
Bolaji Alonge is an artist, international photographer, actor and journalist from Lagos, Nigeria. His visual language speaks of the wonders of nature and human exchange, urban culture and searches for historical continuity in a world that is sometimes heavily fractured. He is also a globetrotter who has travelled around the world during the last decade documenting exotic culture and history. In May 2017, Bolaji organized his “Eyes of a Lagos Boy” photo exhibition at the prestigious Freedom Park in Lagos.
His second solo exhibition “Urban Culture – Historical Continuity” was held at One Draw Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos in November 2018, establishing Bolaji’s brand of photography to a new audience, receiving great reviews from artists and art lovers worldwide
In February 2019, Bolaji showcased his work at Baza Studio in New York, The event was attended by the Nigerian Consul in New York, UN officials, art curators, musicians, artists, press and art aficionados. More projects in New York are planned for 2019.
Pictures/video by Bisi and Bolaji Alonge