Because of what I do for work, there is always something new I am discovering. People seem to have forgotten about all these things so I am basically on a journey to rediscover and document them. — Folu Oyefeso, Ibadan
Our questions are italicized.
What is your favourite memory about the street you grew up on?
I had a lot of fun memories growing up on Alabiyamo street in Ibadan. My brother and I used to ride bikes up and down the road with our neighbours. We were really close to the Sogos, another set of siblings who lived on our street, and all four of us rode our bikes and practised stunts. I have so many scars from playing outside and quite a number of them are from riding my bicycle. There’s a prominent keloid on my knee and I remember that I had to be rushed to the hospital for a tetanus jab after that one. However, it didn’t stop me from getting on the bike the next day.
What is the longest you have ever had to travel for something?
It’s somewhere between travelling to college in Canada and travelling to college in the US. The total flight time was about 12 hours, if I’m not mistaken. I also went on a very long road trip in the US with my family. We were driving to my graduation so we drove from San Francisco to Walla Walla University and back, so it was about 12 hours each way.
It wasn’t too stressful, to be honest. American roads are amazing for long-distance drives and the car was very comfortable
What is your daily commute?
My daily commute is different each day as I am a freelance entrepreneur so I don’t have a standard route. Sometimes I go long distances, other times short distances, and sometimes I am at home working. So, there’s no real daily commute.
Car, Okada, Bus- what do you consider the best mode of transport for getting around Ibadan?
For comfort, I’d say car. However, for ease of moving around, I’d say you should take a bike because the traffic is crazy.
What is a notable difference between the Ibadan you grew up in and the Ibadan you live in now?
I’d say Ibadan is a lot busier with a lot more businesses and people. This might be due to multiple factors like the train, Lagos being overcrowded and people are looking to spread out more. There are a lot more buildings being built, so this development is a very notable change. Also, we have an amazing governor (Seyi Makinde) who is just blazing the trail so there is a lot of development where he is concerned as well.
What is one distinct, irreplaceable feature of Ibadan?
This is most likely the rustic charm. Ibadan is a city with a lot of history, a lot of old buildings, dated cultural landmarks, and attractions. I would never trade that old-school vibe for anything. It has its own charm, its own personality, and its own character. For example, Demas Nwoko, a renowned architect and designer, built a number of unique buildings all over the country. I believe there are about three in Ibadan: The Dominican Chapel, The New Culture Studio, The Cultural Center. These are all fantastic works of architecture that every Nigerian needs to see and appreciate.
When was the last time you visited a new street?
As part of my “treks”, I visited Ilorin a few weeks ago and I explored the town. The highlight of my trip to Ilorin would be the hike to Sobi Hills, the highest point in the city. Sobi is a community in Ilorin with this mini-mountain where a lot of people go to pray. So, you have Christians and Muslims there praying side by side. It was quite nice to see and I really liked the experience.
What is one place everyone should visit before they turn 20?
There are so many places in Nigeria that I think people need to visit before they turn 20. The problem with Nigerian tourist attractions, destinations and landmarks is that they are not properly documented so we don’t even know much about them. I can’t even itemize the places people should visit. Our landscape is stunning and I am a nature freak so I advocate for people to go outside a lot. There are so many new places that I am discovering every day and each one is just fascinating in its own way. I highly recommend our forest reserves, waterfalls, hiking, and things like that. Off the top of my head, I loved climbing the Erin Ijesha waterfalls in Osun State, the IITA nature walk in Ibadan, and hiking on Abuja’s many, many hills.
What is something you know about Ibadan that not too many people know?
I wouldn’t say not too many people know about it, but because Ibadan is such an old city and because it is really large, especially by landmass, there is so much to discover here. Because of what I do for work–exploring cultural landmarks and those types of tourist attractions–there is always something new I am discovering. Every week, I go online and I am discovering a new location or something. People seem to have forgotten about all these things so I am basically on a journey to rediscover and document them.
What is a route you know by heart?
I know most of the routes in Ibadan by heart because I live here and grew up here. I can drive through anywhere blindfolded. One of my favourite places to eat right now is Mama Soji, opposite Polo road. Coming from Jericho, you head towards Eleyele area. Make a U-turn at the police station like you are heading back into Jericho and Mama Soji is on your right. Zero aesthetics but the food, you can’t compete with. It’s local food but they’ve been doing it for decades. It doesn’t get realer than that.
What is one thing you always look forward to seeing on your street?
I am an environmentalist so I really like coming to my street to see that it is spotless and there’s no plastic waste on the ground.
How often do you see your street spotless?
Quite often actually, our environment is kept quite clean. We have a lot of trees so the only “dirt” is fallen leaves most of the time.
The last location you texted or tweeted about is where you’ll live next. It is: ___
I tweeted something about Russia and China — something about oil prices, so I guess it’s either Russia or China. But I don’t think I could live there.
Folu Oyefeso is a lifestyle journalist and photographer with a focus on telling Nigerian stories. These stories remind Nigerians of the rich, vibrant and colorful culture they come from and his website serves as a guide to experience the wonders of the country.
Routes by GatePass is mapping African stories one route at a time. This project sits at the intersection of life stories and mobility in African contexts. Through Routes, we explore how African lives are shaped by mobility, migration, journeys, and modes of transport; and how places take on the stories of the people who have visited or passed through them.
Do you or someone you know have an interesting mobility story? Do you have a hack for moving around your city, or know something about your city’s history that not too many people know? Tell your story. We’re open to submissions and looking forward to reading!
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Editor / Publisher — Wale Lawal
Sub-Editor — Muyideen Dosumu
Interviewer — Ore Oyinlola
Illustrator — David Akinyemi