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Ibadan (Ìlú Èbá-Ọdàn, the town at the junction of the savannah and the forest), the capital of Oyo State, is the third largest city in Nigeria by population (after Lagos and Kano), and the largest in geographical area. At independence, Ibadan was the largest and the most populous city in Nigeria and the third in Africa after Cairo and Johannesburg. It is located in south-western Nigeria, 78 miles inland from Lagos and is a prominent transit point between the coastal region and the areas to the north. Its population is 2,550,593[1] according to 2006 census results, including 11 local government areas. The population of central Ibadan, including five LGA:s, is 1 338 659 according to census results for 2006, covering an area of 128 km². Ibadan had been the centre of administration of the old Western Region, Nigeria since the days of the British colonial rule, and parts of the city's ancient protective walls still stand to this day. The principal inhabitants of the city are the Yoruba people.



Ibadan came into existence when Lagelu, the Jagun (commander-in-chief) of Ife and Yoruba's generalissimo, left Ile Ife with a handful of his people to found his own city, Eba Odan, which literally means 'between the forest and plains.' According to HRH Sir Isaac Babalola Akinyele, the late Olubadan (king) of Ibadan (Olu Ibadan means Lord of Ibadan), in his authoritative book on the history of Ibadan, Iwe Itan Ibadan, printed in 1911, the first city was destroyed due to an incident at an Egungun (masquerade) festival when an Egungun was accidentally disrobed and derisively mocked by women and children in an open marketplace full of people. In Yorubaland, it was an abomination for women to look an Egungun in the eye because the Egunguns were considered to be the dead forefathers who returned to the earth each year to bless their progeny. When the news reached Sango, the then Alaafin of Oyo, he commanded that Eba Odan be destroyed for committing such abominable act.

Lagelu was by now an old, frail man; he could not stop the destruction of his city, but he and some of his people survived the attack and fled to a nearby hill for sanctuary. On the hill they survived by eating oro fruit and snails; later, they cultivated the land and made corn and millets into pap meals known as oori or eko, which they ate with roasted snails. They improvised a bit by using the snail shells to drink the liquefied eko. Ultimately, Lagelu and his people came down from the hill and founded another city called Eba'dan. The new city instantly grew prosperous and became a commercial nerve centre. Shortly afterwards, Lagelu died, leaving behind a politically savvy people and a very stable community. The newly enthroned Olubadan made a friendly gesture to the Olowu of Owu by allowing Olowu to marry his only daughter, Nkan. Coming from a war campaign one day, the raging Odo Oba (River Oba) would not allow Olowu and his army to cross until a human sacrifice was performed to appease the angry river. The chosen sacrifice was Nkan. The Olubadan was infuriated at hearing of Nkan's death; he sent an emissary to inform the Alafin of Oyo. Yoruba kings and rulers such as Alake of Egba, Agura of Gbagura, Ooni of Ife, Awujale of Ijebu and others formed a formidable coalition with Eba'dan against the powerful Olowu of Owu. After the defeat of Owu, many of the warriors that participated in the coalition refused to go back to their towns and cities except the Ijebu warriors. They began attacking the neighboring towns and hamlets, and also marauded across Eba'dan thereby making the indigenes fearful of them. Finally, they took over the political landscape of Eba'dan and changed its name to Ibadan, as we have come to know it.

Ibadan was historically an Egba town. The Egba occupants were forced to leave the town and moved to present-day Abeokuta under the leadership of Sodeke when the surge of Oyo refugees flocked into the towns as an aftermath of the fall of Oyo Kingdom.

Ibadan grew into an impressive and sprawling urban center so much that by the end of 1829, Ibadan dominated the Yorùbá region militarily, politically and economically. The military sanctuary expanded even further when refugees began arriving in large numbers from northern Oyo following raids by Fulani warriors. After losing the northern portion of their region to the marauding Fulanis, many Oyo indigenes retreated deeper into the Ibadan environs. The Fulani Caliphate attempted to expand further into the southern region of modern-day Nigeria, but was decisively defeated by the armies of Ibadan in 1840. The Ibadan area became a British Protectorate in 1893 and by then the population had swelled to 120,000. The British developed the new colony to facilitate their commercial activities in the area, and Ibadan shortly grew into the major trading center that it is today.


The British also developed the academic infrastructure of the city. The first university to be set up in Nigeria was the University of Ibadan (established as a college of the University of London when it was founded in 1948, and was later converted into an autonomous university in 1962). It has the distinction of being one of the premier educational institutions in Africa. The Polytechnic Ibadan was the first technical institute and is considered to be the best in Nigeria. There are also numerous primary schools and secondary schools located in the city. Other noteworthy institutions in the city include the University College Hospital; the first teaching hospital in Nigeria, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria and the internationally acclaimed International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Ibadan and its environs before the dissolution of the Western Region, Nigeria was the home of the most sophisticated and liberal scientific and cultural community on the continent of Africa; as personified by the immortalized Ibadan School.

In 1853, the first Europeans to settle in Ibadan, Reverend Hinderer and his wife, started Ibadan's first Western schools. They built churches and schools and the first two-storey building in Ibadan, which can still be found today at Kudeti. The first pupils to attend an elementary school in Ibadan were Yejide (female) and Akinyele (male) -- the two children of an Ibadan high chief.


Ibadan has an airport, Ibadan Airport, and was served by the Ibadan Railway Station on the main railway line from Lagos to Kano.(No longer operating). Poorly-maintained roads are particularly problematic in the rainy season. What are called interstate highways in the United States are called carriageways in Nigeria. There are not many miles of divided highways in Ibadan. The primary routes go from Ibadan to Lagos and to Benin City. Adding to the weather and terrain, roads typically have few or no speed limit signs or warning signs to alert the motorist of curves, hills, intersections or problems with the road itself such as large potholes or eroded road beds.[citation needed]

In-town transportation comes in a variety of forms. Modes of transportation include, taxis, taxi-vans commonly called danfos, private cars that are hired out by the day with a driver, personal family cars, scooters, and walking. All fares are negotiable depending upon the number in the party and the distance to be traveled.[citation needed] The average taxi is a small car, which seats four people and the driver. A danfo is a van, meanwhile, which seats seven people and the driver. This does not mean that more people will not be accommodated; often both taxis and danfos carry as many passengers as can squeeze into the vehicle. Danfos have an additional staff member. He is the "conductor," who arranges fare agreements and keeps track of delivery points. He is often to be seen holding onto the frame of the van while hanging out the door in order to locate potential fares.[citation needed]

Monuments, landmarks, and other locations

A panorama taken from Mapo Hill.

There is a museum in the building of the Institute of African Studies, which exhibits several remarkable pre-historic bronze carvings and statues. The city has several well stocked libraries, and is home to the first television station in Africa. Dugbe Market is the nerve center of Ibadan's transport and trading network. The best method to move about the city is to use reference points and notable landmarks. The city also has a zoological garden located inside the University of Ibadan, and a botanical garden located at Agodi.

The Bower Memorial Tower to the east on Oke Aàre (Aare's Hill) ("Aare" in Yoruba means commander-in-chief or generalissimo), which can be seen from practically any point in the city; it also provides an excellent view of the whole city from the top. Another prominent landmark, Cocoa House, was the first skyscraper in Africa. It is one of the few skyscrapers in the city and is at the hub of Ibadan's commercial center. Other attractions include Mapo Hall -- the colonial style city hall -- perched on top of a hill, "Oke Mapo," Mapo Hill ("oke" is hill in Yoruba), the Trans-Wonderland amusement park, the cultural centre Mokola and Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, the first stadium in Africa. The first citadel of higher learning, University of Ibadan (formerly the University College of Ibadan), and the first teaching hospital in Nigeria, University College Hospital, UCH, were both built in this ancient but, highly important city. Ibadan is also home to the legendary Shooting Stars FC -- a professional Football Club.


With its strategic location on the non-operational railway line connecting Lagos to Kano, the city is a major center for trade in cassava, cocoa, cotton, timber, rubber, and palm oil. The main industries in the area include the processing of agricultural products; flour-milling, leather-working and furniture-making. There is abundance of clay, kaolin and aquamarine in its environs, and there are several cattle ranches, a dairy farm as well as a commercial abattoir in Ibadan.

List of people from Ibadan

Ibadan natives of note include: