After a great volunteer experience on Saturday, on Sunday we took a visit further into Ekiti State to visit Ero Dam in Ikun-Ekiti (to understand where the water comes from), and paid courtesy visits to the Onikun of Ikun, the Onigogo of Igogo, and the Oore of Mobaland.
The visit to the dam was really interesting. On the drive out to the dam as well as at the location itself, you’re reminded constantly of the natural beauty of Ekiti State and that even though it is land-locked, it has so much going for it in terms of natural resources that with the proper development could be used for renewable energy as well as some other things such as crop production, tourism, and economic development. Since I was lucky enough to share a car ride with the Permanent Secretary whose portfolio includes these areas, I was able to share some of my views and we had a really great conversation about opportunity and development.
The visit to the Kings was equally exciting. We paid a courtesy visit to the Onikun of Ikun (the dam is located in his village), and then we paid a visit to the Onigogo of Igogo (who is also American) and His Majesty hosted a lunch with traditional Nigerian food and palm wine for us at the community centre. Finally, on the way back to Ado, we paid a courtesy visit to Oore of Mobaland, who could be considered to be the “King of Kings.” In each of the cases we were grateful for their hospitality and making us feel at home.
At this point it would probably be helpful to explain the concept of Kings in Nigeria (at least as I understand it). In every town there is a King. In a sense we would consider the King to be something like a Mayor. However, they have no political powers and are not elected by the people. Like other royalty they inherit their position by birth or succession. But even without political authority, they carry strong moral authority amongst the people of the land that they have responsibility for. Thus they have pretty strong influence in their communities and therefore have a form of soft power. They are custodians of history and keepers of tradition. Where they live are considered to be palaces (however extravagant or modest they are). Furthermore, there levels of Kings. In addition to Kings of villages, there are also Regional/State Kings as well.
After our final royal visit we made our way back to the hotel for a quiet night – which was sorely needed after having such an active Saturday and Sunday.
It dawns on our now that in our assignment there are fewer days ahead than there are behind. One some level I am excited because my next stop is Kilimanjaro with Christina. On the other hand, Ekiti State has really grown on me.
(sorry for the sideways pictures..I’ll fix them before they go up on my Fotki website I promise!)