Africa: Tourism Experts, NATOP On Tour Of Epe Historical Sites
I had a conversation with a friend about African epic storytelling as regards tourism, what it would be in the next decade, would the world be opportune to have as Traditional Tour Guides someone with a deep knowledge and experience of unforgettable historical sites?
This was a conversation fueled by hours of Intense Tour Organised by Nigerian Association of Tour Operators [NATOP] to begin its annual AGM event. I and my friend left the conversation wishing apart from young trained Tour Guides, the world could have such real and epic oral stories told by someone like high Chief Olayinka, a man with immense intelligence, strong history of his land and his people, a man whose speech and mannerism is deeply rooted in the experience of African culture.
“I am an Africanist, your fathers fathers are Africanists,’’ high Chief Olayinka said severally as we toured the city of Epe. I stopped for a second to ask myself a question – What am I? Definitely not qualified enough to call myself an Africanist or one who advocates for Africanism, but a young Nigerian struggling to overcome a self-battered by the western culture.
I am left to wonder if his style of Storytelling would exist in a decade to come and would the world by then be opportune to have/meet a man like high chief Olayinka? I counted myself lucky.
The tour of Epe organized by NATOP was a totally different and unique experience. A historical city Tour harnessed in tradition and culture of a people who believe strongly in their power, a belief that inflamed the continuous resistance of Slave Trade in the 1470’s.
The tour was experienced by a group of 15 Travel and tourism professionals, Travel Journalists, Tour Operators across Nigeria. A fun day of like minds exploring a city far away in the city of Lagos.
DEPARTING TIME 12.30 PM
With much enthusiasm, the bus departed Federal Palace Hotel Victoria Island for Epe (Obas Palace) at Exactly 12.30 PM. It was a smooth, no traffic and a less bumpy ride. Let me mention also that our first snack of doughnuts and Soft drinks were taken as the car drove on the smooth Lekki road.
ARRIVING THE KINGS PALACE AT 2.00PM
Finally, the bus arrived the Palace of Oba Animashaun and meeting for the first time the king and his five high Chiefs. As tradition has it, we all prostrated before him as he placed his sceptre on our back as we lie prostrate whispering blessings. Been the first time I was blessed by an Oba, it is, however, my best moment of 2017.
Oba Animashaun is a humble and great elder who understands and appreciates the value of our visit. Just as we were presenting our gifts to him, the Oba in turn, surprisingly presented his. He is a man of gratitude. Like they say ”A grateful mind is a great mind which eventually attracts itself great things.”
EPE FISH MARKET AT 2.45 PM
We arrived Epe Fish market at exactly 3.30 PM. When asked ”Between Lagos and Epe where can we find the biggest fishes?” Our Tour Guide responded without batting an eye ‘’of course Epe has the biggest Fishes in the Whole of Nigeria’’ a response that came with such confidence no one dared to say otherwise.
Epe Fish Market indeed has the biggest fishes I have ever seen, with an area covered by a huge long lagoon. Fish nets were cast occasionally by men and women assisted by little children. The rare joy and happiness the fishers showcased while doing this is something I have never for a moment thought anyone could experience in a job. They were fishes of all sizes [mostly large] displayed for purchase, the biggest fish in the market was displayed for N50,000 a negotiable prize.
FIRST COLONIAL BUILDING
TIME: 3.30 PM
We all headed to the bus having experienced the biggest Fish market in Lagos. The Colonial building was next. According to our Tour Guide, High Chief Olayinka, it is the first Colonial building in Epe constructed by the colonial masters for the purpose of hoarding slaves before they are taken far away from home.
A one storey building not barricaded and strongly rooted to the ground. The building has about four entries only three properly maintained while the other entrance completely was broken giving free access into the building. Right from the exterior, one could see a heap of files probably used by the colonial masters. In terms of views, moving further to the rare of the colonial building, there is an amazing view of a little town, trust me great pictures could be taken from this view.
EPE EASTERN LAGOON
TIME: 4. 35 PM
We arrived the Epe Eastern Lagoon at 4. 35 PM.
The Eastern Lagoon comprises of a beautiful large lagoon area and a shrine on the left side of the Entrance. According to Chief Olayinka, the Eastern Lagoon is where the captured slaves came through and the first place the Oba visits after crowning to be completely fortified, therefore becoming a man of the people as directed by the Ifa Priest.
The Ojuolaro Shrine developed by the Lagos State centre for Art and culture traditionally is a place where kings of Epe are crowned. Here, the king is allowed to receive all forms of human insults, the king is beaten, battered, spat on by people he has offended before he is finally crowned. A crown which takes away all of that and then he becomes the king of the people never to be insulted, beaten and battered.
All work and no play they say make jack a dull boy. After all tours and history classes, we headed to Epe resort for refreshments, then later had a little tour of the resort.
Epe resort is a true definition of solemnity. For anyone searching for greens, quietness and acquaint with nature Epe Resort is, however, a place to consider.
The resort also has a great culinary culture as we were all treated perfectly with the best delicacies and service.
Having experienced this tour in the beginning of the month, I am off to a good start.