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Scammed at the Ancient Oba’s Palace, Idanre Hills

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You are welcome to our ancient Oba’s palace”, the tour guide said as we approached a mud structure that resembled a gate… and he handed us over to the Chief Priest of the Palace- a young fella with stone-rigid face, garbed in a lurid attire of flowing red wrapper, his bare chest almost like that of a nursery school slate…”

All day, we had been exploring the magnificent ancient architectural relics of the Old Oke-Idanre – the ancient settlement of the Idanre people before they descended the hills and resettled at their present foothill location.

As we proceeded into the Oba’s Palace of the ancient settlement, the interior opens up into an unusual courtyard, bedecked with rust-brown iron roofs sloping down to the floor of dusty yard and supported by dexterously crafted wooden pillars which bore different cultural figures such as twin children, women and men. The courtyard is enclosed by a network of interconnected rooms of different sizes, and a huge stack of cow skulls rested at a one of the dingy corners of the yard.

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The tour guide explained how the skulls are being used to record the number of years of reign of each Oba in Idanre land; and as he rounded up his exciting speech,a young fella with stone-rigid face, garbed in a lurid attire of flowing red wrapper, his bare chest almost like that of a nursery school slate. On his bare sun-tanned chest, rested traditional beads of varying sizes; and his voice rang a melodious tone as he greeted us with arms stretched out:

“E káàbò sí ààfin oba Idanre ayé àtijó” (welcome to the ancient Oba’s Palace of Idanre land).

He’s the chief priest and custodian of Ìdí Àjàní Shrine (the shrine of the ancient palace). He offered to give us the opportunity to see the shrine if we will do it in an orderly manner. With great ecstasy and vivacity, we quickly formed a straight line and was led into a wooden trap door at a rear end of the courtyard, took a left and entered another door which opened into a smaller yard. A small tree of bright verdure foliage stood at the centre and a shroud of palm-frond with strings of cowrie had been made around its base. A local clay bowl containing sacrificial materials had been placed at its base with a stream of palm oil smeared on top of them.

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I was the last person to enter the room.
“You must not enter the presence of the great without offering him a token from your purse”, the priest said as I closed the door behind me. I almost gasped in laughter at the notion of “offering time, blessing time” at a local shrine. As I immediately turned to open the door and quickly ‘escape’, the cognizant priest bellowed “you are not allowed to leave the presence of the great without the rest of the people you came in with”. I was almost like “whaaattt???…na by force?“. Then I quickly sealed my lips before my disgust found wings on my tongue, and I land myself in trouble.

I decided to stay, but refused to drop a naira at the foot of the small tree. The five or so minutes I spent in the shrine was more like an hour of disturbed conscience. I felt like I was the weird one there as every other person reached into their pockets and dropped naira notes into a big bowl offered them by the priest. An ambience of guilt held me as we filed out of the yard. Then gradually, I regained my confidence when a some members of my team began to lament and complain about the apparent form of extortion they just experienced at the shrine, and calling it a ‘touristic scam’- payment for seeing nothing. One said he thought the priest was going to perform a magic for us to see or at least pray for us, or something. I couldn’t but laugh at them and boast of my “smartness” in not dropping my money in the bowl; but little did they know my load of guilt was times ten of the feeling of folly they were battling with.

Wish to Watch it as it happened? (Quite interesting):

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This article was written by Folarin Kolawole

Founder of Naijatreks, Nigerian-born Folarin Kolawole is a geologist, travel writer and researcher. When not at work, he travels the length and breadth of Nigeria, exploring, taking photos and writing about her numerous hidden tourist potentials.   'Naijatreks' is a product name registered under the Ntreks brand, which is also duly registered by Nigeria's Federal Corporate Affairs Commission. The contents on this blog are re-usable. However, it must be ensured that it is linked back to this blog, and correctly attributed to Naijatreks or the author. Please do not edit, rewrite or commercialize the original works on this blog without direct and written permission from the Founder (Folarin Kolawole). For inquiries and advert placement on the blog, kindly contact us at info@naijatreks.com or naijatreks@gmail.com.

14 comments:

hassancortex@yahoo.com' HassancortexApril 8, 2012 at 2:49 pmReply

dropping money is typical of nigeria.. i just watched a documentary on a thailand prison that has some nigerian inmates.. there is always money involved.. scam runs in the blood

NaijatreksApril 9, 2012 at 7:39 amReply

@hassancortex …loll…good note there brov…it is such a terrible thing that it has even permeated almost every sphere of the Nigerian society…we can only hope for a better Nigeria 

Jaheimhyh@yahoo.com' MeJune 10, 2017 at 5:36 amReply

You could have gone out. You made the decision not to. This is such an ignorant write up, this is not a scam. All of you made the decision to give money to that priest, no scam here. Anyone with a brain would know that you shouldn’t follow the orders of some supposed priest at a tourist place, the whole thing is for entertainment, duh. Take responsibility for making the decision to stay and giving money to the deity, don’t blame it on someone else or a scam because this is not a scam. You people were naive.

Jaheimhyh@yahoo.com' MeJune 10, 2017 at 5:29 amReply

Sthu you idiot. Everyone scams. Nigerians are just the most clever scammers

bigfootlp@yahoo.com' OlamidunApril 8, 2012 at 5:11 pmReply

Nice write up..Was privileged to be a part of this trip and I’ll commend the writer on perfectly capturing the mood and scenery of the encounter at the shrine.This was covered to the detail.

#laffing.. I remember this trip to the shrine all too well. I also remember being slightly amused by the priest’s talk of ‘appeasing’  his Deity with cash. Of course a number of us didn’t oblige him… Really wish a hidden camera would have been planted right there just to show him grin behind closed doors and fold the money into his pockets… #just saying….lol

NaijatreksApril 9, 2012 at 7:42 amReply

@ Olamidun… lollz@ ”
hidden camera would have been planted right there just to show him grin behind closed doors and fold the money into his pockets”… that would have automatically turned the whole scenario into another nollywood movie…well of course you and I know that’s probably what he did when we left…thanks for the comment brov

dapxin@hotmail.com' dapxinApril 8, 2012 at 5:30 pmReply

So, shigidi too don dey catch mugun ? #Ideylaff

NaijatreksApril 9, 2012 at 7:43 amReply

@dapxin:twitter …loll@ shigidi catching mugu…abi naa…anything is possible in this our Naija…such an awesome place, I tell you.

sammietakins@yahoo.com' SammietakinsMay 4, 2012 at 10:24 pmReply

I couldnt help laughing at your “Offering time, Blessing time in a shrine” expresssion…would av loved to see the real expression on ur face…lol…well great writeup….captivating storyline….seems like i was there with u guys….maybe i did follow u on ur next trip but not to a palace where a small man with “bare chest almost like that of a nursery school slate” will scam us….lolz

NaijatreksMay 7, 2012 at 8:12 amReply

@e928b4a2157f3fcb392bd13575bbb721:disqus …it was actually and interesting an adventurous experience at the Idanre Hills…and when next you have the opportunity of visiting the Hills and Old Oke-Idanre, make sure you check at the ancient Oba’s palace. You might just be lucky to meet the ‘bare-chested’ shrine priest there. Have a nice time :)

NaijatreksJanuary 21, 2014 at 12:16 pmReply

@Sammietakins….lollzz…I can imagine what you now think of the experience at the ancient palace… as a matter of fact, it was quite an interesting experience.

georgeadedolapo@gmail.com' ADEDOLAPO GEORGEJanuary 20, 2014 at 3:12 pmReply

Going through visitor’s comments on your story of Idanre hills,I vividly remember my group’s experience upon getting to the old palace. The chief priest this time around was wearing a white washed out cotton just over his loins (I remember looking at him in utter disbelief that he wasn’t ashamed not to be wearing any boxers). He proceeded to talk about the place of the skulls (name we dubbed the cow skulls corner) and the history of the Idanre people. Now, the story of the old palace becomes funny when we were shown the shrine( well, we had no offering time) what we had was a supposed communion with the spirits (Awwon Iya). we were sked to bend and answer amen. the priest proceeded into another inner chamber and we could hear these sounds. For a while it was just the man talking. Then he said, for us to be patient. he continued and soon, we began to hear this sounds and squeaks and then he shouted for us to say amen. This proceeded for about 5mins. upon coming out, the chief priest says oh, i think the spirits were in a meeting( In Yoruba, ‘Awon Iya wa ninu ipade”).. he gave white clay (EFUN) and says we should take. A colleague then says it should be an exchange, opens his bag, brings out glucose and proceeds to give the priest. while some members licked the clay, some like myself surreptitiously found a way to dispose it. One striking thing about the chief priest was his youthful yet wizened look. He looked young physically but seemed so old. Well, to cut the whole anecdote short, he proceeded in loin covered state, to take us around some places worth seeing. I had a great, though scary time. wouldn’t change a thing.

NaijatreksJanuary 21, 2014 at 12:10 pmReply

@Adedolapo…I could stop laughing while reading your account of your experience with the priest of the anceint Oba’s Palace…I’m even surprised that he didn’t ask you guys for ‘offering’..loll…he must have been a good mood o!

Naijatreks | Healing from the Bowels of a Stygian CaveJanuary 29, 2014 at 5:27 pmReply

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