Monday, 21 December 2015

Of Red Roads and Replica Streets

For the last 12 days, I have been in the Nigerian city called Ilorin the capital of Kwara state. I intend to spend the next few years of my life there. Incidentally, I was born in Ilorin. It is an interesting place, this city. Mostly due, as far as I'm concerned anyway, to the fact that there are lots of people who speak Yoruba. I've found that there's always liveliness wherever a group of Yoruba people are situated. Take Ibadan and a little bit of Lagos for instances. Maybe it has to do with how little Yoruba people think of themselves. It is a fantastic thing to think little of yourself and not take everything so seriously. Of course they fight sometimes, as they do in every big city, but they laugh at each other way more than they fight with each other and that makes things a whole lot more interesting.
The houses, most of them, are old settlements that have existed for many, many decades. The roofs are not as red as the roofs at Ibadan though, but they're red enough to certify the city as an ancient one. A little history tells that the city was discovered by the Yorubas as early as in 1450. it went on to become a northern Nigeria protectorate when a descendant of Usman Dan fodio took control of the city through the spread of the Islamic religion.
I was fascinated by the way many of the streets were exact replicas of themselves. It is very easy for me to get lost under normal circumstances, but it is even easier for me to get lost in Ilorin, and the replicate streets do not make it any better. I love the weather as well. It remindes me of schooling during my undergraduate days when in the harmattan seasons, pullovers were not thick enough but then during the heat season, simple Ts were hardly simple enough. Weather is something I hardly consider anymore, however. I've lived most of my life in an environment that has perhaps one of the harshest weather conditions in Nigeria. It is inhumanly hot most of the time. So I feel like I've earned an immunity to any variant of Nigerian weather by virtue of my being bred in Lokoja.
Another interesting thing is the traffic holdup which probably thickened the last few weeks due to general fuel scarcity. There's a difference between traffic holdup in Ilorin and traffic holdup in Abuja. The one in Ilorin is more peaceful. The horn honking is present of course but not in the loud irreverence that applies in Abuja and Lagos. When cars are stuck in traffic in Ilorin they stay stuck until the congestion reduces and movement is possible. Very unlike Abuja where drivers try to take advantage of tiny spaces to further compound the problem. Even the honking is less and you can think during traffic jams. The driver in front of you expects that you are sane enough to understand that there is no where for him to go, therefore there is no need to honk your horn and disturb the quiet and sanctity of the whole world. I love that about them.
Finally, in order for you not to get too bored, I find it very interesting and mildly amusing how there is always a tinge of red on the tarred roads. It is a signature, I believe. I know nowhere else in the world, on TV and in real life, where there is red on the black tarred roads. Although, you need to look a little carefully but it's not hard to spot. The roads have the color red in it, for some utterly inexplicable reasons. It is like something red is mixed with the solution that forms the tar that is poured over graded ways. Even if the tar is so extremely black that it shines in the sun, you would still find that redness that just sits and waits for you to spot it.
There is a lot I'm looking forward to in Ilorin. And I believe my stay would be pretty exciting. I like the way it is both a big city and a peaceful city at the same time. Usually, most big cities tend to lose their tranquility and placidity with time. It would appear however that Ilorin is different. If Lagos is like Abuja on Steroids, then Ilorin, from the little I've observed, is like Abuja on Ambien.

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