In advance of a live twitter interview with the folks at @thinkoyo on my memories and opinion of Ibadan at 8pm (Lagos Time) this evening, let me list a few things I remember from growing up:
A serene quasi-communal neighbourhood in Akobo. A sprawling house in the middle of a bustling neighbourhood, we lived with everyone in the area in mutual respect and love for family. We played ball on the dust fields, played ping-pong at evenings, and did all normal young people did during idle, hot, afternoons. I remember crafting a Christmas firework at some point out of the cap of a motor plug, a small nail, and a piece of wood. You added crumbs of fire powder from the tip of a match, hit it against a wall, and heard the loudest sound you can ever make.
A pretty moderate traffic situation on the city’s many roads. Today, there are more roads (due to increase in population) but the traffic situation on major roads have got far worse. I went back to Akobo a few months ago, and I was shocked at how many people now live there. The distance from IDC to Anifalaje used to disappear in minutes under the small steps of my rubber sandals. Now it looks farther than I remember, and the last time I walked it (just a few months ago), I returned home panting for air. And yet, I may have got a better deal than the people who remained on the road, in their cars – to slightly exaggerate the congestion that the place now faces because of traffic.
Things that have not changed: rickety buses. Many of them are now more beautifully painted in the colours of the state, but the terrible state of the automobiles that provide commercial transport services is heartbreaking. (And maybe that would explain the reason for more private cars). More things that haven’t changed: Orita Bashorun. Slightly changed in outward appearance for reason of season, the basic layout remains the same. The radio/tv complex (where I once worked as a teenage broadcaster) still lay sprawled across the centre, while a tiny shopping “mall” flanks it on the right, and then a few more blocks until we get to the main Bashorun Market itself. None of it seems to have changed. St. Patrick’s church and school are on the other side of the road. At Christmastime, all the premises of the broadcasting corporation becomes a large trade fair grotto for holiday fun lovers.
A few names I remember: Dele Tomori (who eventually went to Osogbo as a radio presenter), Bade Ojuade, Sade Ogedegbe (my producer), Folusho Taiwo, Femi Daniels Obong, or FDO as he used to be called then (now a Lagos sports broadcaster), Sola Kayode, Prof (from a popular tv soap shot at BCOS), Folake Ladiipo, Papa Demmy, DeeJay Big El, DeeJay Freeze, Dapo Aderogba (who died), Dapo Adelugba (from the University), Kola Olawuyi (at Radio Nigeria, before he moved to Lagos), Larinde Akinleye (at the University, and his house in Sango), Lawuyi Ogunniran (a constant presence around the house), Yinka Ayefele (a lanky figure before his first hit album), Subuola Gandhi, Bamiji Ojo (and his crew on that Ombudsman show on Sundays), Yemi Ogunyemi, and a number of others whose names and faces have now become a blur. If I ever get to write a book about what I remember, I must title it Name Droppings.
UPDATE: The interview, storified, is here.