The rare opportunity to be allowed on the grounds of a traditional palace is one that cannot be taken for granted. Even the Buckingham Palace gates aren’t opened to the general public. However it’s counterparts in Nigeria can boast of welcoming everyone on to its grounds. I believe it dates back to when everyone had to come and meet the king concerning one situation or the other or just to come and keep the King ‘company’.
The Alake’s palace is home to the Alake of Egbaland who is the traditional ruler of the Egba clan. (You can read a little about the Egba people here).
The gates are majestic with the top of the pillars having a striking resemblance to crowns, and the Alake’s emblem is visible for all to see on both.
One enters the palace and as expected, someone approached us to find out the purpose of our visit. When satisfied with our reason, he showed us round, starting with the many statues, busts and figurines that surround the old palace. An example of a bust there is that of Brigadier General Oluwole Rotimi who was the First military governor of Western Nigeria. During his time, there was peace and growth. Some of this figurines also represent deities and gods that are worshiped by the people.
It is interesting to note that most palaces in Nigeria today have been renovated so as to add the comfort of today’s world. And those who don’t renovate it simply build a newer palace in the same grounds. This was the case here. The newer palace was at the back and the old one in front for all to see.
The palace with its well cut lawns, roaming peacoks and trees that are tended to has an ICT centre on ground, a squash court (the Alake is said to fancy the game) and an office for the Egba Traditional Council.
As I didn’t have a royal appointment, I couldn’t go into the the chambers, but I suspect it must be magnificent.
I have been told that there is a Bible in the Palace that has been there since 1904, which was sent down by King Edward the 8th after a fire incident in 1900 that burnt the first one Queen Elizabeth sent.
Who is this Alake that stays in the palace? He is HRH Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo III. He retired as a Colonel in the Nigerian Military and has been on the throne since August 2005.
If you ever find yourself in Abeokuta, make sure you stop by the Alake’s palace, and watch out for the lovely elderly man who took me round. Who knows, if you’re lucky you might just see the Alake. Remember to be respectful.
Besides, it’s free so go have a look.
It was eerily quiet and I left wondering if the King was on the grounds.
*There’s no address for it, but ask anyone for the Alake’s Palace and they’ll direct you.