With deep roots in Yoruba history and spirituality, Abeokuta is a fascinating town. The town is mostly rustic with quaint homes built within its hilly terrain, so getting a free 24 hours to spend away from the noisy and cramped major cities is like being gifted a gift card in a sweet shop.
One of the newest hotels in Abeokuta, the Green Legacy Resort Hotel serves both local and international cuisine. To get into the spirit of the town, start with local favourite moin-moin and ogi.
Next door to the hotel is the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library. Browse through the shelves and be treated to records of Nigeria, both pre- and post-colonial.
Abeokuta is a great place to buy art, explore nature, and take great photographs. Start off a tour with a visit to Kemta Market (also known as the Kampala Market), buy Adire (the modern type), watch and take pictures of the processes of it being made, or simply take in the quiet ambience of men and women bargaining for goods.
After that, go to Osiele Market where herbal and traditional goods are on display and walk in the footsteps of the ancients who used the historical market as a political forum.
Those who are lucky enough, the Igunuko Masquerades will be out and about to take pictures of while enjoying their dancing and music. Stop at Itoku Market and buy some more arts and crafts. There, dye pits and women who have learned the ancient art of making Adire (the original indigo variety) can also be found.
While at Itoku Market (which is not far from Olumo Rock) take pictures of or simply admire the architecture of old Abeokuta built by the Saro (freed slaves from Brazil and Cuba). Wander through the halls of the oldest church in West Africa, St Peter’s Church, Ake, the foundations of which was laid down in 1846.
The next stop, Olumo Rock, a monolith that served as a hiding place for the Egba during the Yoruba Civil Wars. While going up the hill, visit the shrines that are tended to by old women in the various caves within the rocks. At the pinnacle of the rock, take pictures of the Ogun River and the town spread in the valley below.
Take a breather by eating an early supper at Park Inn by Radisson Blu, which also doubles as an art gallery featuring the best art work from both local artists and international artists. The restaurant serves both local and continental dishes. One of the best dishes Abeokuta has to offer is the ofada rice (locally grown, unprocessed, brown rice) served with ata dindin (stew made with unripe pepper and bits of beef or fish or offal). Take a dip in their gorgeous Olympic-sized pool after dinner has time to settle.
Being a small town, Abeokuta winds down quite early, but there’s still a chance to take in some of the night life by visiting some of the bars and lounges scattered around the town.