I always had dreams of being a princess and living in a huge fancy palace. Running around on the palace grounds and basically just doing things I saw in Disney movies. I still think I’m a princess but alas, I don’t have a crown, a throne or a palace.
Monarchs, Kings and traditional rulers played a very important role in the pre colonial era of Nigeria. Each region had a ruler who was responsible for the people there. They were the ‘government’.
Today, although they do not have any formal political power, they still remain very influential, and help to mediate between the people of where they rule, and the state. They are closer to the people than the governors and are held in high regard by their many subjects.
If I can’t have my palace, then I can at least look at the ones we have in Nigeria. I managed to get at least one palace from every Geo-Political zone and you will notice how the styles differ. Most of these palaces have had modern touches added to them, for more comfortable habitation.
*Please be sure to follow the rules when visiting these palaces.
1. Emir of Zazzau’s Palace
Zazzau is also known as the Zaria Emirate, and its headquarters is in Zaria, Kaduna State. This palace with the pretty entrance, can be found opposite the Central Mosque, and contains a lot of cultural artifacts which relates to the North and gives you some sort of understanding of the region. You also get to see the brightly dressed palace guards. The current Emir of Zazzau is Alhaji Shehu Idris. Whoever painted that entrance deserves some recognition. I think it’s stunning.
2. The Oloffa of Offa’s Palace
This can be found very close to the Oba’s Market (King’s market) in Offa town, Kwara State. It is a combination of both ancient and modern structures. This palace houses the tombs of all the past oloffas and remains one of the oldest buildings in the area. Offa is about 56km from the capital of the state, and the palace can be visited at anytime of the year. I hear that the seat is currently in contention.
3. Oba’s Palace, Benin
This palace is special because it contains relics and monuments which date back as far as 900 A.D. The original palace was burnt to the ground by the British forces in 1897. The Benin Bronzes used to decorate the palace were also looted and sold and can now be found in the British Museum, Germany and other countries. (Can we please have them back? Thanks)
It was rebuilt in 1914 and is only a tenth of its original size. The sitting Oba is Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Erediauwa, CFR.
4. The Emir of Bauchi’s Palace
This was made with mud about 200 years ago by the famous 19th century master builder from Zaria, Babban Gwani, whose real name was Muhammadu Durugu.
Arched balconies and windows are a major feature of this palace which go well with the nave in the main palace. If you’re looking for a spectacular palace to visit, then this is right up there with the rest. The Emir is Alhaji Riliwanu Suleimanu Adamu.
5. The Obi of Onitsha’s Palace
This is perhaps the most modern looking palace but do not be deceived, the dynasty has been in existence for about 400 years. Located in Onitsha, Anambra State, alot of festivals are held on the palace grounds, the most important of them being the Ofala Festival. The current Obi is HRM Nnaemeka Alfred Acehbe CFR.
6. The Alake of Egbaland’s Palace.
This can be found in Abeokuta, and I can happily tell you that I have been there. 🙂
It showcases the cultural heritage of Abeokuta City and Yoruba people. A lot of antiquities and relics can be found on site, and if you’re lucky the lovely elderly man on the palace grounds will tell you what the antiquities represent. Peacocks can also be seen wandering around and you can get a glimpse of the new structures.
I like his gates because they remind me of the palace gates I used to see on TV as a kid.
The current Alake is HRH Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo III
So from the North-East to the South-South, you’re likely to come across a couple of palaces which all have their unique designs.
What are you waiting for? Head to the nearest palace and pretend to be royal!