My first solo trip | Places to visit in Kwara State.
Everyone tried to talk me out of travelling alone. "You are female", "Won't you be scared", "Why Kwara of all states?", "There are no female solo travellers in Nigeria", "What if something happens?!". What if, what if, and some more what ifs...
I like unpopular destinations. Infact, I rarely conform to the norm. My first solo trip saw me jetting off to Kwara State, specifically Ilorin, which I had read a lot about. I had read about the state's development, its culture and its famous mosque.
In hopes that all will be well, I booked my flight and accommodation on Overland and Kwara hotel respectively. I was so nervous but I put in place all safety measures within my reach. As usual, I requested for a chauffeur from the hotel. Truth be told, booking a chauffeur from a hotel is like five times the normal price, but in my opinion, it might be worth it especially when travelling solo as a female in Nigeria. Prevention, they say, is better than cure.
Kwara state is quite large based on land mass. As I was made to understand, Kwara consists of 16 local governments and is predominantly a Muslim state. Consequently, it was important I dressed appropriately (all covered up).
I had a good tour of the Ilorin town but the highlight of my trip was my visit to National Museum, Esie and my cultural tour of the Dada Pottery. The National Museum Esie, is the oldest museum in Nigeria and it has over 800 mischievous stone statues (unfortunately, pictures are not allowed). History has it that the stone images were rebellious settlers who were turned into soapstone figures. My question remains, who carved the Esie statutes. Read more here
"The soapstone figures of Esie are largest collection of stone carvings still in Black Africa. They were found in groves outside the town of Esie" - Vanguard
Dada Pottery is one of the oldest and largest traditional pottery workshops in Nigeria. They produce a variety of beautiful pottery products. I was privileged to watch the making of the pots and witnessed how the pots keep water cold. However, the industry is fast going the way of the dinosaur, sadly. Read more here
Contrary to what everyone thought, I was safe and this trip remains one of my best trips ever. The feeling is indescribable. Did I mention I discovered another canopy walk at the University of Illorin Zoo? Yes, a canopy walk. After my first successful solo trip to Kwara, I built up the courage to explore more states in Nigeria, solo.
Please allow my pictures take you on a tour of Kwara State.
This 'Up Kwara' is visible almost everywhere in Ilorin.
The park is located at the center of Ilorin on Unity Road, Ilorin. I hear it was established in the 70's and it was the go-to place for everyone looking to chill with their loved ones. It looked like the perfect place to take a walk and have picnics. Shamefully, this beauty has been abandoned. This can easily be a source of revenue for the state.
As we know, Aso oke is the Yoruba's prestigious hand-woven festival cloth. In my opinion, this ancient cloth is one of the most spectacular and distinctive African fabric. It felt amazing watching the making/weaving of the cloth.
This is an ultra-modern Juma’at Central Mosque at the center of Illorin. The mosque has a capacity of 20, 000 people. Quite massive!
Ilorin is known to have the highest number of Islamic clerics in Nigeria. They attach great importance and significance to prayer sites. This is one of such sites where the Emir of Ilorin performs ablution and prays.
The Emir’s palace houses precious historical artefacts. On approaching the palace you will notice four pillars which form part of the history of Ilorin. The emir’s clerk said the four pillars symbolises the people of Ilorin and stands as a sign of conquest by the town, the end of wars. So much history and culture to learn in Illorin
They were closed for the weekends, plus I was required to have a written permission to enter. *sad face*
As you must have noticed, everytime I have the opportunity to travel I ensure I do a development tour by checking the infrastructure in the State. #MajorKey
It felt so good to discover another canopy walkway in Nigeria.
Mr. Oliver finished a full pack of plantain chips. I saw a lot of animals including a giraffe and lion
I wonder how any of the pictures I took at the museum was clear. There was no light and the place smelt dusty. In dire need of a face-lift. Nigeria, we can do better!
The museum has archaeological, ethnographic and a craft shop unit. Other features in the premises include the Moremi hair-do centre and relaxation centre (museum kitchen). All of these require a revamp if it is intended to attract people.
Final thoughts on Tourism in Kwara State
This trip remains one of my best solo trips in Nigeria, though it was quite sad to see that the Aso-Oke and the Dada pottery industry were been threatened. So sad to see that maintenance culture in Nigeria is almost non-existent.
On a separate note, never worry about what people think. That is the greatest limitation you can set for yourself. Trust your journey and be held accountable for your actions. Go!
"You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore". André Gide