My first field trip with professor Sophie was to the city of Abeokuta. Names in Yorùbá
always have a meaning. “Abeokuta” means “under the rock”.
Fact is Fiction is the working title of a documentary project currently in development. In search of a different perspective filmmaker Juul van der Laan teams up with professor Sophie Oluwole to look into a pre-colonial philosophy. Read more here
The reason for this name is historical. During the Egba war, the local Yorùbá people survived because they found shelter underneath a very big rock formation. (Fun Fact: The enemy’s army consisted entirely of women.) Out of appreciation the rock is still being worshipped today. A shrine was built in it for this purpose. To me it was amazing to see a natural object being respected this way. And why wouldn’t it be? The rock has helped.
Another reason why Abeokuta is a famous and national tourist hot spot, is the fact that the current president grew up there. Among other things, the result: smooth roads leading to the city and a lift for people who don’t feel like actually climbing the rock. Only downside to this elevator is the fact that some times the power is down.
What surprised me during the tour, was how proudly the establishment of the first church and mosque in town were included in this Yorùbá historical exhibition. I guess ultimately things don’t exclude each other.
“Influenced by Islam and Christianity, the present day Yoruba is inclined to be dismissive of Ifa as quackery or idolatry.” – Dr. A. Emanuel
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