The railway track from Lagos reaches Ibadan, Abeokuta and then head up north towards Zaria, Jos and Maiduguri, and the very first proposals on this trip was to have gone via railway. How nice that could have been, except that it would have taken days if not weeks to commute between even almost neighbouring towns. At least, it could have been a good chance to see more of the countryside as one ascends up the country.
So here I am in Ilorin, a sorta border town between the North and the South. But don’t take my word for it. Most residents of this town know for sure that politically and geographically, Ilorin belongs to the North. There is a very long and bloody history behind this conclusion. Don’t ask me. One thing for sure is that everyone here speaks Yoruba, and perhaps Hausa as well, among other languages. The state’s motto is “The Land of Harmony”, perhaps a play on the diversity it embodies.
The towns of Ekiti that lay in-between the journey from Ile-Ife to Ilorin are interspersed between rocks and hills. It is also a land of diverse tongues. The Akoko area of Ondo and Ekiti States is one of the most linguistically diverse places in Nigeria. Many of the languages there are endangered or under some sort of threat from globalization, and the influence of Yoruba, thus the influx of linguists from all over the world to study and document those languages. I have worked with at least three of such linguists, doing fieldworks in villages in the Akoko Area, some from the School of Oriental and African Studies, in the UK, and a few from SIUE itself. Has anyone heard of a language called Ayere or Uwu?
So, Kaduna is the ideal next stop, and it is six hours away from here by car. That is not the problem however. The problem is where I intend to sleep when I get there. This, of course, could also be the most exciting part of the trip. Now imagine me in jeans and a ktravula t-shirt, with a backpack and dark specs walking up to the gate of the government house and requesting to meet with the Governor in person. “Yes sir. I am a Nigerian Fulbrighter from the United States on a short trip around my country. I need a place to lay my head just for a few days while I check out your state and I have come to you, being the chief executive of the state. I’m all yours. What say you?”
Now, that would be an adventure.