2014 has been an amazingly busy year for me, professionally, and looking back on the blog, I realized that although I visited some interesting places this year, i didn’t have time to blog about those visits.
I will be updating you on all these trips over the next few weeks. First, I start with a trip I made was to a small town called Ijoko in Ogun State.
What’s in Ijoko, I can hear you say? To be quite frank, nothing! Ijoko is a little town in Ogun State, whose claim to fame is that it is on the Nigerian Railway line from Lagos to Ilorin. Someone in that town figured that there were many people interested in the riding the trains, but not going all the way to the end of the line. These entrepreneurial folks then decided to stage an annual Ijoko Day Festival and invite people to join them using the trains (an approximately 40mins – 1 hour train ride).
In any case, as a big fan of trains, who had never taken a train ride in Nigeria, I jumped at the opportunity to ride the train to Ijoko. I went with Legacy, who organized the trip. I believe the total cost per passenger was N7,000 (which included donations to both Legacy and the Ijoko community). The regular ticket price is N750 (approx. $3.50) each way.
The train ride was a lot of fun. It was nice to see Lagos from a different perspective although I think there is room for improvement with the train windows. It was very, very awkward trying to get a view of the landscape as the train traveled along because the windows were not movable at all. Also, my group was a little isolated from the everyday passengers as we had paid for a car to ourselves. I would have loved to sit and mingle with others who rode the train daily. Still, I got to walk around and speak with the engineers that were driving (is that the word?) the train, which was fun. They were incredibly nice and accommodating!
One last interesting fact from the train ride was that only one train could be on the rails at the same time! So if during your journey, there was another train coming from the opposite direction, one of the trains would have to wait for the other to pass! We had to wait for a bit at Mushin because a train was coming from the opposite direction. I think I’d be massively annoyed if I was on a long trip to the North and the train had to stop every couple of station to allow other trains pass!
Anyway, like I said earlier, there isn’t much to Ijoko town, but the people of Ijoko were unbelievably nice and welcoming! And boy, do they take their festival seriously!!! The highlight of the festival was the parade of Egunguns (masquerades) and one in particular that put on a spectacular show as you will see in the picture below. I have a video but i’m still trying to work out how to embed a video into this blog.
Without further ado, here are the pictures from my train trip to Ijoko for the Ijoko Day Festival!
The Engineers ‘driving’ the train. They were so incredibly nice and knowledgeable. It’d be a real pity if we do not have more young people studying to become train engineers.
The Ijoko welcoming party (town elders), made us feel truly special 🙂
The Oba of Ijoko, Oba Kolapo Aremu Ogunseye.
An Ijoko masquerade that was part of the welcoming committee.
The citizens of Ijoko came to pay homage to their Oba. Below are the Hausa and Igbo representatives.
Last and most fascinating, one of the handlers of the Egungun asked for a coconut as the juice had to be offered in sacrifice to their deity (represented by the calabash-like object below). The handler then proceeded to break open the coconut with a cutlass, but lo and behold, instead of coconut water, the liquid that poured out of the coconut was blood-like! The handlers claimed it was blood and so I shall report it as blood 😉 I’d be open to ideas as to what it could be though from you my dear readers. I have a video of the earlier part of the show, which I shall post when I finally figure out how to post a video on this blog!