My One Day In Ibadan | Travelogue | Mimi Mwiya
I think wanderlust is a disease. Not a curable one like malaria, no, a lifestyle one like diabetes where you must change your diet (maybe eat less to save money for travel) and get shots on the regular (make trips on the regular).
I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that I don’t think I like my own company too much, I don’t like having all that time alone with my thoughts, so I must constantly do things to keep me distracted from them.
I’d been thinking about visiting Ibadan for a while, but I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to do alone. All the friends I’d thought about going on the trip with, were otherwise engaged, and so feeling like if I didn’t travel, I might actually do some bodily harm to myself, I decided to brave it alone. I told myself, when I’m on the road I’m too busy taking in the scenery, too busy being blown away by nature for my thoughts to be anything scary.
So a Friday night found me throwing stuff into a backpack, I was up bright and early on Saturday morning and off to the Yaba bus stop, where I was soon on a cab to Ibadan. I know exactly one person in Ibadan, my friend Akintunde. I tried to reach him, I failed. I then decided to just walk around the city until I found a place that looked like I could sit down and relax. Then I thought it might just be easier if I just asked for recommendations.
I didn’t know too much about Ibadan beforehand, I wasn’t sure what to expect at all. I wasn’t sure if the strangers there would be as friendly as I found the ones in Lagos to be. So first, I texted a friend to ask another friend for me. Then I decided to try my luck with the strangers. The first one I stopped, a woman, barely looked at me as she told me she was new to the area herself, I didn’t believe her, but I thanked her and let her go off. I then saw a young man with bulky earphones and I approached him. I told him I was looking for somewhere I could relax, maybe with a nice view. Almost simultaneously, both the friend I’d texted and the stranger told me, ‘Agodi Gardens’.
So it was decided, I’d take a bike to Agodi Gardens. Now, in my experience, in Lagos, as long as you’re paying, the bikes will almost always go where you’re going, they are about that paper. In Ibadan the bike guys seemed barely interested in getting passengers, it was almost as if they were just some cool guys out on joy rides on their bikes, and when they did stop, no, they were not going to Agodi Gardens. Ah ah!
I finally flagged a bike that would take me there. The driver told me, ‘300’, swiftly adding, ‘Last last’ like he could see the wheels of my Lagosian mind going into bargaining mode. (Yes, I consider myself Lagosian these days). I respected that, because the Windhoeker in me (she kinda still exists) isn’t about that bargaining life.
I got to the garden, it was quiet, but I realized that was only because I was there quite early in the day. A little after 12, the place started to fill up, music started to play, fires were being lit in preparation for all sorts of grilled delicacies, and Akintunde found me, charging my phone from a socket on the trunk of a tree.
Ibadan reminded me of Windhoek in that I think it’s effortlessly a calm city(whereas Abuja, for example, tries too hard to give the illusion of calmness). It didn’t remind me of Windhoek in a ‘why would I then want to leave Windhoek for here?’ kind of way, because it maintains its uniqueness. While we have pretty gardens in Windhoek, none of them have trees from which I can charge my phone (yes, this is really what sells me to Ibadan).
It started to rain and so we ran from under the tree to find shelter. We bumped into Mary Ajayi, who recognised us both from Facebook, we stopped to chat and take a few pics. When the rain let up, we got up for a walk around the garden, which also happened to have a small zoo. When I was asking people for places to visit in Ibadan, I very specifically said, ‘Anywhere but the zoo’. I come from a country where wildlife roams freely. In Namibia, when we want to see animals, we go on game drives or visit the Etosha National Park
I think Windhoek has exactly one zoo, and in it we have animals like rabbits and sheep. The kind of animals you can keep for pets or food, really, so the idea of zoos is a bit torturous to me. This torturous feeling wasn’t helped by how malnourished the two lions we did see, were looking. I read that one of those lions has since killed one of its caretakers. And while it’s tragic that a man has lost his life, I remember being at the zoo that day and telling Akintunde I’m not always surprised when wild animals taken out of their natural habitat, kill their caretakers.
The only thing I was kind of happy to look at, was a crocodile. I come from a region that’s just by the Zambezi river so we have plenty crocs, but we also have plenty stories about croc-related deaths, so croc-watching isn’t a thing o. Whenever I can look at crocodiles without fearing for my life, I do.
We got back from the stroll around the zoo to find the rest of the garden had really come alive. Earlier on I’d tried to get food in the form of eba, ewedu and fish. The eba had a strange-looking grey colour and smelled even funnier than it looked, so I abandoned the meal and proceeded to drink the wine I had with me on an empty stomach. So I was hungry. We went off to get some suya and palm wine
Now, in June this year, I had palm wine for the first time, in Lagos, and it honestly just tasted like tombo that someone had tried to sophisticate. Tombo is this nasty traditional brew from back home. But the people in the know let me know I’d just had bad palm wine. So I decided to give it another chance, and they were right, the palm wine I had in Ibadan was absolutely delicious…. aaaaand, was served in a calabash. A calabash Akintunde and I talked the palm wine sellers into letting me keep.
Akintunde used the ‘she’s not Nigerian’ line to convince them. It worked, but one of the men asked if we don’t have calabashes in Namibia, I told him we do, what we don’t have, is palm wine and I mainly want the calabash for the memory of having drunk delicious palm wine from it.
All too soon, I had to think of heading back to Lagos, and I was sad. Akintunde put me on a cab back to Lagos, and I was already making plans to visit Ibadan again. Maybe with a friend or two, maybe still by myself.