Tuesday, 7 May 2019

The Kuti Heritage Museum - Exclusive Photos and details like never before

Dr James in front of the museum garage 

The Kuti museum is connected to the life and time of the family of Likoye Kuti (1820-1863) and Anne Ekidan Efupeyin, the paternal grandparents of Josiah Jesse Ransome-Kuti (June 1, 1855 – September 4, 1930) a Nigerian clergyman and music composer, the father of Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti (April 30, 1891 – April 6, 1955) who was married to Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti, the great woman activist who history has it that she is the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria. 

Dr James in front of the statue of Pa Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti  and wife Mrs Olufunmilayo

Likoye Kuti (1820-1863), an indigene of Igbein, Abeokuta, was among the first set of inhabitants of Abeokuta when it was founded in 1830. He was a follower of the traditional Yoruba religion, he rejected Christianity and European influence in Abeokuta. Unlike his wife, Anne who embraced Christianity, he died in 1863.

Dr James and Mr Fatai his driver outside the Museum 

His son Josiah Ransome-Kuti was baptized in 1859, four years before Likoye died. Josiah got enrolled as a student into the Church Missionary Society Training Institution, Abeokuta, before proceeding to the Church Missionary Society Training Institute, Lagos in 1871, he was later employed as a teacher at St. Peter's School, Ake, Abeokuta, but he left the school in 1879 to teach music at the CMS Girls School, Lagos, where he met his wife Bertha Anny Erinade Olubi, in 1882 and they got married and were blessed with three children; Grace Eniola, Azariah Olusegun and Israel Oludotun. 

staircase to the upper side of the building

In 1891. Pa Josiah was made catechist at the Gbagura Church Parsonage, Abeokuta before he founded Gbagura Church, a local church where he converted people to the Christian faith through his versatility in rendering English gospel hymns into indigenous gospel songs. He became a deacon in 1895, ordained a priest in 1897 and was appointed District Judge from 1902 to 1906. In 1911, he was appointed Pastor of St. Peter's Cathedral Church, Ake after previously serving as superintendent of the Abeokuta Church Mission. In 1922, he was made Canon of the Cathedral Church of Christ, Lagos and in 1925, he became the first Nigerian to release a record album after he recorded several Yoruba language hymns in gramophone through Zonophone Records. Josiah was popular in his days for converting most English Christian hymns to Yoruba language and writing new ones too. 

furniture used by Pa Israel Oludotun  and Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti 

His descendants kept on waxing and expanding the Ransome-Kuti family name, through Pa Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti (April 30, 1891 – April 6, 1955), who like his father became a clergyman and educationist.

The Museum 

Pa Israel was born on April 30, 1891 in Abeokuta, he attended Lagos Grammar School and Abeokuta Grammar School respectively before proceeding to Fourah Bay College, Freetown where he completed his undergraduate studies. He came back to Nigeria in 1916 to start his career, he worked as a class teacher at Abeokuta Grammar School until 1918, he was later appointed as the Principal of Ijebu Ode Grammar School for thirteen years and went on to found the Association of Headmasters of Ijebu Schools in 1926. 

Photos and family tree of the Ransome-Kuti 

In 1931, he was appointed as the pioneering President of the then newly formed Nigeria Union of Teachers, a position he held until his retirement in 1954. 

Photos of the Ransome-Kuti 

Pa Israel has kept the Ransome Kuti name alive, like in the Rev Kuti Memorial Grammar School, Isabo, Abuokuta, the Kuti Hall, one of the halls of residence at the University of Ibadan, the rev Kuti Memorial Grammar school Yaba and many others are named after him

Photos in the museum 

The twin buildings, the KUTI Heritage Museum in Isabo, Abeokuta, Ogun State was the resident of Pa Israel and his wife Mrs Funmilayo. 

Inside the garage a white Volvo car, used by the Ransome-Kuti 

It was opened to the public on April 26, 2019, with support from the Ogun State Government as Ogun State celebrated the ‘Drums Festival’. 

the passage leading to the staircase is decorated with photos of Pa Israel Oludotun  and Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti 

The building host stories, some archival materials on the life and times of the Kuti family, among them are photographs, old bed used by the members of the family, tea cups and an old white family car and lots of memories of Pa Israel children and grandchildren, including the music legend, FELA Kuti (aka Abemeda), Dr Beko Ransome Kuti and Prof Olikoye Ransome Kuti.

billboard displaying a photo of Pa Israel Oludotun  and Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti and their children

portrait and profile of Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti 

Old furniture of the Ransome-Kuti 

Newspaper clippings of the  Ransome-Kuti 

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Thursday, 2 May 2019

Ekiti state pounded yam makes it a tourist delight

My tour of Ekiti State is like doing a tour of my second home, I schooled and did my NYSC there, so my visit to Ekiti was like coming home. I do claim most times that I am from Ekiti State, though I am from Abia. I explored Ekiti to the best of my ability. Having schooled in Ekiti, on arrival I searched for a local canteen and had a delicious meal of pounded yam with vegetable soup in Ado even before I got a hotel accommodation. 

Ekiti State is located in the South-West geopolitical zone of Nigeria, it was carved out of old Ondo State in 1996, it has 16 local government areas. Historically, a school of thought has it that Ekiti people trace some of their progeny to Oduduwa. Some people believe that Ekiti originated from Ife. Olofin, one of the sons of Oduduwa had 16 children and in the means of searching for the new land to develop, they all journeyed out of Ile-Ife, they walked and settled in the present day Ekiti land. A land of hills which they called “Ile Olokiti” - land of hills. Over the years the name ‘Olokiti’ came to be known as ‘Ekiti’. The other school of thought has it that Ekiti people existed even before the coming of Oduduwa,  in fact Oduduwa met the descendants of Agbonniregun (Baba Ifa) who were already settled in Ekiti. Orunmila (Agbonniregun) himself spent a greater part of his life at Ado and that is why they have the saying ‘Ado ni ile Ifa’ (Ado is the home of Ifa). all these dates back to about 13th century.

Ekiti people speak different dialects but understand each other.
I started my tour from the known to the unknown, as an undergraduate, our major bus stop to campus was the Fajuyi Bus stop, so I started my tour from the triangular Fajuyi Memorial Park in Ado Ekiti, named after Lt Col. Adekunle Fajuiyi the first military Governor of the Western Region, he was assassinated on July 29, 1966, along with General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, the then Head of State and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; who had arrived in Ibadan on 28 July 1966 to address a conference of natural rulers of Western Nigeria. The remains of Lt Col Fajuyi is buried at the Park. The park which looks better now than my undergraduates days is equipped with a fountain, water-sport, games, children playground, tower, mini museum, restaurant and bar for visitors.

Still within Ado-Ekiti, I visited Age Hill, Ayoba Hill, Uta Epa Hill,  Olokemeji Hills, Oke Maria (Mary Hill), Olota Mountain, Olota Cave, Ajo Hills. I also visited Ureje Dam and the Water Corporation Treatment Station in Ureje, I drove past Christ’s School, Afe Babalola University and Ekiti State University and rounded up my tour of Ado with a visit to the Ekiti Golf Course. I also visited the Iworoko Mountain.

Iworoko hill

I was also at the palace of the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, as a youth Corp member in 1992, I did the beautification of the palace with flowers, so visiting over 25 years later was a delight. The Palace houses a large number of historical artifacts relating to the history of the people of Ekiti.

door to the palace of Ewi of Ado Ekiti

I also visited The 'Ikogosi Warm Springs' in Ikogosi, Ekiti West LGA - a confluence of hot spring and cold spring meeting at a point and then flowing down as a single stream from a hilly landscape. Ikogosi has tall evergreen trees which surround the spring and provides canopy shades for relaxations. The spring is processed and packaged into bottled water for commercial purpose by UAC Nigeria. Not far from the warm spring is also the site of the first Plane Crash in Nigeria. 

At Ikogosi cold and warm spring

I also visited the Orole Hills in Ikere Ekiti, the highest hill in Ekiti State, myth has it that the hill use to be a woman who was feared and worshiped as a goddess of prosperity in Ikere Ekiti, it is lovely sight to behold for picnicking and mountaineering.

Ikogosi entrance 

Ikere Ekiti also host Olosunta Hills, there I was told that there are areas that I cannot visit because it is sacred, I was asked to revisit in the month of August during the festival period in which worshipers go to the mountain for worships.

Besides Olosunta is the Ugele hill, lovely natural sites with a large cave that was said to have been a hiding place for the indigenes in time past and it could take as much as one thousands persons.

Ugele hill

I must confess that the Ero Dam and Lake in Ikun Ekiti, is a beauty to behold, I saw canoes, boats and modern speed boats as they beautify an area of the lake.

I visited the Arinta Water Falls, the Kosegbe Stone close to the old Palace and the Natural Cave along Ipoleloro Water Fall, all in Ipoleloro Ekiti.

I was taken to Erin Ayonigba Sacred Fish River, Erinjiyan-Ekiti, I saw fishes the size of my arms and was told that I can’t enter the river as a stranger and that the fishes there are not for consumption, that it is a taboo to kill a fish in the river.

Erin Ayonigba Sacred Fish River

I also visited the Oke Ewo War Field, (Stone) Centre, Ilupeju Ekiti along the Ibele Araromi road. I was told that it was a war ground between warriors from Ilorin and Egosi Kingdom, were magical powers were used to fight and the war Lord from Ilorin was turned to a stone (Odidi) with his big drum too (Ojongbede) and his camel turned to a tree (Ose tree) a baobab tree.

Fajuyi park

A visit to the ‘Esa Cave’ in Iyin-Ekiti, Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA will amaze you, a very large cave like an underground mighty warehouse, a beautiful place to visit if you have the mind to stay under the rock, but it’s cool to visit with a torchlight.

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at the Ekiti State University

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