Ile-Ife: An Introduction

Ile-Ife: An Introduction

Ori Olokun (The Ife Bronze Head) Roundabout

Ile-Ife or in short, Ife is a an ancient Yoruba city in the modern day osun state, southwest Nigeria. The city is about 218 kilometres northeast of Lagos sitting on a 1,791 km2 land mass with a population of 509,035 according to the last 2006 Census. 

Ife is the cradle and spiritual headquarters of the Yoruba race, one of the country's major ethnic groups. The title 'Ife' is literarily means land of expansion, a name gotten in connection with the cosmological view of the Yoruba which holds that Ife is the origin of creation of the world and the later expansion therefrom makes the larger space of today. 

Anthropological accounts hold that human habitation of the city is traceable to as far back as 350 B.C.E with evidence of urbanisation discovered since around 500 A.D. 

Ife is home to a vast number of historical and cultural sites, structures, monuments and festivals, making the city one of the most visited tourist destinations in Africa. 

Notable among the tourism masterpieces in the city include the Oduduwa Grove, the Opa Oranmiyan Shrine, the Ile Oodua (House of Oduduwa)- the Ooni of Ife's palace, the Moremi Statue of Liberty (the third tallest in Africa), the World Ifa Temple, the Aje Shrine, a newly discovered waterfall, the Afewonro Park, the National Museums and Monuments, Ife which houses great collections of Ife naturalistic, technically sophisticated and aesthetically enduring sculptures made of ''bronze'', stone and terracotta flourished between 1200 and 1400 A.D and other archaeological artefacts. 

Notable among the world famous Ife sculptures is the Ife Bronze Head (Ori Olokun) excavated in the year 1938 and is currently on display at the British Museum, London. Popular among the annual cultural and traditional festivals celebrated in the city include the Oduduwa Festival in March, the World Ifa Festival in June, the Olojo Festival in October, the Edi Festival, the Oro Festival, the Itapa New Year Festival, the World Obatala Festival in January, to mention but few with most of them attracting tens of thousands of both local and international tourists to the city annually. 

As the holy city and spiritual headquarters of the entire Yoruba people, Ife is said to experience performance of rituals to the gods in across 364 days, sparing only one unknown day in a whole year.

The Ife kingdom is headed by a paramount ruler and king with the title 'Ooni' that is 'Oni ri Orisa' meaning he who sees the gods as the city is known as a land of four hundred and one gods with the ruling Ooni as the 401st Orisa. His Imperial Majesty, Ooni (Dr.) Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II is the current Ooni of Ife. He was enthroned on the 7th December, 2015 as the 51st Ooni of Ife following the demise of his predecessor Late Ooni Okunade Sijuade, Olubuse II (1930-2015) on 28th July, 2015.

The Ooni Adeyeye Enitan is a Nigerian Chartered Accountant and Real Estate Developer who, within four years of his installation as King, has brought tremendous and highly unprecedented progress, growth and development to the city, the entire Yorubaland and the nation as a whole. 

As a lover and custodian of peace, love and unity among the entire Yoruba race, Ooni Ogunwusi took a historical step by visiting the Alaafin of Oyo which brought an end to an age long rancour between the two kingdoms just after he assumed office. 

The Oonirisa is a philanthropist and a strong advocate for the emancipation of women, young ones and the general less privileged as demonstrated over the years through a number of platforms including the House of Oduduwa Foundations, Hopes Alive Initiative and several other humanitarian projects.

The city of Ife also houses a Nigeria's first generation university of international repute, the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). Founded in 1962 as the University of Ife (Great Ife as commonly referred to by both staff and students as well as the alumni of the institution), this noble institution of higher learning has since inception being renowned for greatness in academic excellence, research, and the preservation of the African culture with the motto being: ''For Learning and Culture''. 

It bagged its current name on 12th May, 1987 in honour of Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987), one of Nigeria's foremost nationalists and the first premier of the old Western Region of the country to whom the idea of establishing the university was credited to. 

The university boasts of an impressive collection of national and regional research institutes, centres and places of great academic and cultural tourism interests including the Institute of Cultural Studies (ICS), the AG Leventis Natural History Museum (NHM), the African Institute for Science Policy and Innovation (AISPI), National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM), Africa Regional Institute for Geospatial Information Science and Technology (AFRIGIST) formerly (RECTAS), Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Africa (ARCSSTE),  Africa  Centre of Excellence in Software Engineering, Centre for Gender and Social Policy Studies, Aviation Training Institute (ATI), Institute of Public Health (IPH,OAU), Institute of Education, Centre for Energy Research and Development (CERD), the OAU Zoological Gardens and a host of others. Prof. Adebayo Simeon Bamire is the current Vice Chancellor of the university.

A number of privately owned tertiary institutions are also found in the city notably, the Oduduwa University Ipetumodu (OUI), The Polytechnic Ife, Ife Business School (IBS), Foreign Links Campus, College of Health Technology, Ile-Ife, among others.