Editors Note: A quick lesson in history...

Bower’s Tower is a memorial that was erected in honor of Captain Ross Lister Bower, the first British resident and travelling commissioner between 1893 and 1897. The structure was designed and constructed by Taffy Jones, the same man responsible building the famed Mapo Hall. The structure which is 60 feet tall and 11 square feet wide has two entrances is nicknamed Layipo, after its 49-step spiral stairway that twists concentrically within the belly of the building. From the top of the tower (it is actually 275 meters above sea level), one has a breath-taking panoramic view of Ibadan which makes Bower’s Tower one of the famous tourists attraction in Ibadan.

 

Born and brought up in Ibadan, it is quite a shame how ignorant I become when I’m quizzed about the various sights of Ibadan. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had heard, only in passing, of a place where you could literally see the entire city of Ibadan. So when my friend, Ukay told me she was planning a get-together at Bowers Tower, I was quite excited but I remembered other people’s stories about how the place was nothing more than a boring antediluvian piece of structure. Thankfully, I however kept an open mind, hopefully, even if the location turns out to be uninteresting, the company wouldn’t be.

The fateful day came soon enough and by noon, preparation for the get-together was well underway and we finally set out for the Bowers Tower around 4pm. The tower which was erected in 1936, is located on the top of Oke-Are in the Igbo Agala (Agala forest) area of Ibadan. Oke-Are is a very popular landmark in Ibadan, as it is the highest of the seven hills that surround the ancient town.  On getting to the foot of Oke-Are, we were welcomed by a hill so steep, I thought the Micra taxi we hired would give up halfway, but trust these drivers to started pulling out James Bond stunts that pushed the weary car up the hill.

On our way, we passed the St. Theresa Minor Seminary, which was as far into Oke-Are as I had ever gone. At a point I noticed that a section of the pass has been turned to a prayer hill of some sort; there were several churches with labyrinthine names such as Gethsemane Garden of Eden, Ori Oke Agbo Jeesu, Ori Oke Angeli Ajaja Agbara, Agbara Oloun ko seun ti, Ori Oke Oluwa so mi dayo, and so on. At this juncture, I was starting to get bored of the journey and just when I though we wouldn’t get there, the car stopped.

Lo and behold! We had arrived!

On entering the compound, the first thing I noticed was a herd of cows. Strange, right? That mystery didn’t take long to unravel as it turned out that the two men who were left guarding the place were also cow-herders. Immediately they saw us, they quickly left their cows to meet us so that we won’t “slip” inside without the customary royalty. While that transaction was being carried out, I took the chance of properly assessing of the building. The tower itself which is located smack in the middle of the compound stands tall at over 60 feet and was surrounded by a number of small dilapidated huts which are meant to serve as chalets or shades for visitors who were visiting. One of these huts was to serve as our picnic spot but first we had to see the view from the top of the tower.

We made our way into the tower and had to climb a spiral staircase that had decrepit, dark and dingy written all over it. The stairway itself was airless and confined which only made me assume that claustrophobia was not in existence when this tower was built. I managed to keep on trudging up the stairs, a leg here, a hand there, all the way up until I found the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. To say I was not prepared for what awaited me would be a gross understatement. My first view from the top of the tower was summed in one word, beautiful!

 

There it was, the entire Ibadan, breathtakingly laid bare for for all to see. The tower gives a panoramic view of the city if you walk all the way round and you can see all of the developmental phases taking place through the city; there is the popular old Ibadan represented by a sea of brown roofs that stretch endlessly for miles and then, the ’new’ Ibadan with its high rise buildings complete with all the bells and whistles. The timing couldn’t be more perfect too.  It was nearing dusk and the sun was just beginning its final descent into the horizon. All of these combined with the lazy gentle breeze wafting up the tower and the birds soaring around us made for a picturesque scene that sent a cataclysmic wave of emotions down my spine. In that moment, Bowers Tower became a spot I would like to keep a secret; somewhere I could go to just get away from people, somewhere that would continue to emphasize just how small the world really is and how I should appreciate that…and a great spot for selfies too. I feel at this point I should say that even though most people tell you that the entire city of Ibadan can be seen from the top of the tower, there may be a slight exaggeration on their part. While you can see the major parts of Ibadan, the view only really goes as far as the eyes can see. I remember trying to locate The University of Ibadan but I could only tell the general area of the university by first locating the Ventura Mall building, which was sitting in all its red glory from my vantage point.

I have to admit the visit to the tower blew my mind. I began wondering how this was my first visit and I made a silent pact to take more time out to explore the city of Ibadan. Taking away the bad maintenance, the rather decrepit looking huts around the tower and the cows, Bower’s Tower is one of the most exciting sites in the city of Ibadan. It is just a shame that the government has done nothing in a very long time to keep up its maintenance. From the ride up the hills, the churches, the very many brown roofs, the cows and the tower itself, it all felt like I was part of a surreal journey back through our history.  Having wonderful company was also a big factor in the fun. So if you’re thinking of having a get together with friends, a picnic with the family, something outdoors, may I suggest that you put Bowers Tower on your list of options?

Make it a crowd and explore the goodness that lay hidden in Ibadan!

 

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