Birthdays are special days that make individuals conscious of their growth process. While for some, it is usually a time to reflect on the past years and to make projections to the years ahead. It is, for others, a time to merry and be thankful for another milestone. For me on the 15th day of March, 2019, it was nothing short of the above as I took out time to not only reflect and to make projections but to also express my heart of thanksgiving to the God who has been gracious to me through my journey. On my birthday, my desire was to do the unusual, at least different from my previous birthdays. Following my experience at the Ibadan Social Media Festival: Evolve 2018–the event has since given me a new and broader perception of the Ibadan metropolis and I have since desired to report my experience of the ancient city in writings. Surely, it culminated to my decision to pull an escapade on my birthday.
You may have heard this saying that, “Ibadan lo mo o mo layipo”, that is, your knowledge of Ibadan without the Bower’s tower is incomplete. Indeed, my tour of Oke Are where the Bower’s tower is located not only confirmed that I didn’t know so much about the city but also reminded me of a city with rich history and huge potentials for development. However, how Ibadan indigenes come up with indigenous names of things and places unfamiliar with the indigenous language is also noteworthy. For instance, the word ‘penkelemesi’ was deduced from the words—‘peculiar mess’. The Shepherd’s hill is what is today called ‘Oke Sapati’ by the indigenes. Similarly, like these other names, ‘layipo’ became a cliche among the Ibadan people as result of the style of the spiral stairs causing anyone who wants to go to the top to go round and round the stairs until they get to the top. At the top of the tower, a 360° turning gives a panoramic and aerial view of the city of rust and gold.
About Layipo(Bower’s Tower)
Layipo is located on the hill–Oke Are, it was said to have been discovered by Captain Ross L. Bower, the first resident and travelling commissioner of interior Yoruba land, to be the highest hill from where a wide view of the Ibadan metropolis can be gotten. According to my tour guide who preferred to be anonymous, he explained that Captain Ross L. Bower was sent to the Yoruba land by Queen Elizabeth at the period when Yorubas were at war against one another over tributes and power tussle. The wars, he noted included the Kiriji and the Ekiti parapo wars. In his words(said in mostly Yoruba language), “the first resident and travelling commissioner of interior Yoruba land, 1893-1897. Ouni eni akoko to wa sibi, igba yen–aoti gba ominira. Igba yen ni enu awa Yoruba o ko, la n ba ara wa ja tori nkan ti o t’ nkan… nkan ti o t’ nkan ni–toti isakole, emi lagbara…” Ross Bower stayed in Ijaye along Oyo town. It was during his four years stay that he discovered the hill–Oke Are on which the Bower’s tower was later built in 1936. According to my tour guide, Captain Bower was instrumental in resolving the wars among the Yoruba people. He had a small apartment built with stones on the hill where he relaxes whenever he was on the hill–albeit the stone house is now a shadow of itself, his permanent abode was the Ijaye residence.
Layipo: A monumental disgrace
Built in 1936 in commemoration of the man who discovered the hill–Captain Ross L. Bower, this monument has over the years suffered from monumental decay and governmental negligence. The state of this historical edifice and other surrounding facilities leaves much to be desired, hence, revealing our ineptitude as a people when it comes to maintenance. No doubt, a historical tourist attraction is fast becoming a potential hideout for miscreants.
Tourist attraction and Income generation
The Bower’s tower fondly called ‘Layipo’ by indigenes of Ibadan is an historical edifice with huge potential to attract tourists across the globe. Although, it (the Bower’s tower) was built in 1936 on the hill, my tour guide revealed that the surrounding facilities were built during the June 12 era. Facilities built then include, restaurant, administrative blocs, restrooms and a compound to host events.
Bower’s tower and the surrounding facilities have the potential to drive an economy hinged on tourism and entertainment in the city. According to my tour guide, there have been promises from government to revamp the historical edifice and facilities around it. However, until my visit, the place still remains a shadow of itself and sadly a monumental disgrace.
Located on Oke Are, the Bower’s tower is where you can catch views of the Ibadan metropolis. Some of the places I took note of from the tower include, the UI tower in front of Trenchard hall, in the University of Ibadan; Mapo hall; Adeoyo General Hospital at Yemetu; Premier hotel on Mokola hill; Cocoa house and Femi Johnson building, both at the Dugbe commercial area, et al. For every resident and visitor to Ibadan who claim to know Ibadan, but are oblivious of layipo, indeed, “Ibadan lo mo o mo layipo”.