On this episode of ‘Views of the Cosmos’, we have the privilege to have onboard, the prominent presence of Oluwatosin Okedeyin “Urfavdadageh” to take us through her memorable experience, during her stay in the Heartbeat of the Nation which is Edo State, located at Mid-Western region of the country, right at the capital of the State,
Benin City – Oredo Local Government, to be precise.
As of 2014, the estimated population of the Edo state was 5 million people. It is made up of 4 major ethnic groups; namely the Bini, Esan, Owan, and Etsako. I won’t want to enjoy the juice and
sauce of her experience alone, so I’ll put it out in her words. Kindly fasten your seatbelt and maintain social distance – COVID 19 is still out there.
The temperature/weather in Benin is one of the unbalanced weather in Nigeria. When it’s hot, the weather would be extremely hot, and when it’s during raining season, the rain would be intense with radical winds too. It can just start
raining out of the blues with no warning – ‘harmattan too na war.’
One of my good experience was getting lost at ‘Saponba road’, and finding my way back home with the help of good Samaritans; that I ran into their house ‘when piss wan kill me’ after trekking for hours, and coming back to the same place – in fact, that’s also the bad experience. (It’s two in one). I trekked that day no be small – from evening till night. Phone battery was low, I was in a terrible mood, I was pressed, I didn’t have enough money with me, it was getting late, and I was getting scared. I kept coming back to the same area after trekking and trekking – it was so weird.
The area just looked like a round-stadium, and they look alike, so I mistakenly dropped at the wrong bus stop.
The ugly experience was falling down from a bike, inside a big pothole that was covered with dirt water inside rain – so embarrassing.
Also, things are expensive in Benin (those people can be so greedy ehn). Transportation is just as expensive over there as Lagos State. Their power system is just like most parts of Nigeria depending on the area, there was a time I was there and the light was very good, (that was the first place I was at Benin, and I had to be begging ‘NEPA’ to take light).
Benin is a mega town. For me, it’s almost like Lagos. That is why whenever people are saying how rough Lagos is, and how you have to be very smart when you come to Lagos, staying in Benin for a while helped. So, when I came to Lagos it was just like regular Benin for me, just a bit higher – but some parts of Benin can be as rough Lagos.
In Benin, they have a couple of tourist centers (I didn’t really explore them). There is the Oba palace, and it’s a very sacred place. There’s also the Ogba Zoo, and the National Museum.
SOME UNPOPULAR REALITIES (Directly from Okedeyi Oluwatosin)
1. The route to Benin was long, but it was a short journey, (How ironic?) You’ll pass Sagamu, Ore, and Ifon before getting to Benin City. The route from Abeokuta to Ore is both good and
rough, but from Ore to Benin is smooth. It will only take you 4-5 hours from Abeokuta
to get there.
2. There are places along the road, like a restaurant that has a market in front. The drivers will park there so that passengers can come down and stretch their legs.
3. Adapting over there, regardless of their language barrier, was not so bad. My mum is from Benin, so I picked up the language whenever she was speaking with her siblings on call, or physically but I could not speak it. However in Benin, most people speak Pidgin, so the awkwardness is if you’re speaking the Pidgin like a JJC or speaking correct English instead – like that they would know you’re not part of them and they can easily extort you, especially bus drivers or bike riders. They would just hike the price like that.
4. Since my mum is from Benin, I was used to most of the foods already, and was not really hard to adjust. The place I stayed, one of their favorite meal was black soup and starch, which I hate regularly. They even eat the black soup with rice, but it feels tasteless to me. Anytime they cook this, I don’t eat, and I can’t even drink their yellow garri again because it’s not dry – so ‘na hunger be that,’ unless I have enough money, to get something to eat anytime that happens.
5. Talking about their traditions and cultures, there was really nothing, that I didn’t get along with very well. I’m someone that’s open to new ideas as an adventurous person, so even though I saw really strange stuff that I wasn’t used to, they were just amusements for me. For example, you see a responsible father smoking ‘Igbo/Weed/IndianHemp’ in his house, he doesn’t have to hide to smoke it, because it is normal for people to smoke around there, unless it’s a spirikoko Christian home, but even in the Christian homes
you will be shocked by what they do. The people I stayed with, the woman was a woman leader in Church, she takes beer before going for service, and that’s even after just coming back from an overnight party, which is very rampant over there too.
6. The way we Yoruba people carry respect on our heads, like something to kill for isn’t so serious over there. They respect their elders, but not that the young person can’t talk. One of the things I love around there, is how it’s a normal thing for husbands, to be involved in domestic duties. At one of my aunt’s house; the husband, wife, and kids have a roster for cooking, and this is not a young husband. This is a very normal thing over
there, not something you see once a while around here, and it’s even like the wife is lucky when you see it around here, over there it’s a normal thing.
The feeling is always a great one for me anytime I go there. I love how everything is different and fast. I love the view of the city, the different languages that I have to shift my ears to adjust to, etc.
7. I can’t really remember my first impression when I got there, but the impression that never left me was that ‘this place is just like mini Lagos’, you must be sharp. It is a beautiful city with beautiful people and wild people. Did I mention that you will hardly see a mosque in the town? It was a shock for me especially coming from a
state where Muslims and Christians were almost the same.
But over there, hardly will you see a Muslim unless he/she is Hausa, or someone from Auchi (which is like the northern side of Edo state), but you will see 10 churches beside each other on one side of a street, and on Sundays, you will see Ogboni and traditional worshipers going
to their worship place, or if you’re in town or around where one is, you will see them worshipping their God too. In fact, they don’t hide, you will be in a random street and see a traditional worship house, and it would be boldly written.
Well, my expectations for my second stay were met. I love Benin city and I’m planning to go visit soon, once the pandemic clears. I have missed the feeling I have whenever I’m over there.
So, would you like to travel to Edo state?
Written by Oni Joseph