July 24, 2021

The history behind EMIR’S PALACE OF ILORIN PALACE

I thought I had seen it all during my stay at Ilorin, not until I visited EMIR’S OF ILORIN PALACE. The Emirs of Ilorin palace cover a lot of historical items, which can serve as a tourist centre for tourists or visitors who wish to know more about their history and culture.

Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, is blessed with many tourist centres, among them is Emir’s palace, which has so many structures of interest to lovers of tourism.

Outside the palace lies a big market where men and women deal in different businesses. I patronize some of these sellers. “One thing you need to understand about being a tourist is always go with enough cash because you must see something that will entice you and you will love to buy them”. 

At the front of Emir’s Palace, there is this four pillar mountain at the front of the palace. Many people see it as a decoration or should I say fashion but the truth is this pillar has its own story behind it.

The four pillars stood as a sign of conquest by the town. “The pillars stand as a symbol of the end of war. One of the emirs who reigned in Ilorin long ago fought and won four wars against the traditional worshippers. So at the end of each war, he would put up a pillar to indicate that he conquered those he fought.  The circle where the pillar stands is also a place of punishment. Where if anybody goes against their rules or command, that person we serve a punishment at that circle by flogging. According to my tour guide he said the flogging is not all about using a cane but using just two fingers to hit you gently two to three times and the punishment is over. He said, the flogging might be gentle but the pain remains there for generations to generations. That family is marked as a “coward”.

“The pillars now serve as the end of Tambari. There is a drum in the palace with a long rope that is usually hung on one of the pillars while other smaller drums called bembe are also hung on the three other pillars. The drummers are usually in front while beating the drums as the trumpeter supports them from behind with the trumpet popularly known as Khakaakin.

“The drums and trumpet are usually played every Thursday night and Friday morning. The instruments are also played to announce the beginning and end of fasting respectively and also the celebration of big Sallah as well as the arrival of a ruling emir’s new baby boy and other such occasions”. 

The oldest mosque in town is located inside that Palace. All the emirs who have reigned,including the present one, were turbaned there. “The mosque was built in 1351 Islamic year and is older than the palace.  It is significant in enthroning emirs because the appointed person would be brought to the mosque before the morning prayer and turbaned.

Another historical Destination is the “veranda”. The veranda upstairs at the entrance of the palace is where the colonial master stands to watch every activity of that day’s event or ceremony. But now, the governor uses it as a waiting point for the arrival of the Emir. 

There is this chief who determines whether a visitor can see the emir or not. Even though the matter is strong or very important to the society, once this Chief says to you, that you can see the Emir, so be it. The name of this chief is serikin salama. If you prove stubborn to see the Emir they will now involve their warriors who are ready to face anybody perceived to be a threat. They are called “Seeji of the emir”. 

Another interesting site in the palace is the Sheik Alimi’s Quranic centre, which is now used for preaching during fasting.

The Ilorin Palace is also known to house smaller palaces meant for other emirs from the northern part of the country because of the mutual relationship between them. The palace also houses two other palaces and royal suites that can accommodate 11 emirs with their entourage at the same time.

We have the Emir of Gwandu’s house for any of the emirs visiting the palace. We also have a house for the Sultan of Sokoto, whenever he visits and the house is named after the  Emir of Sokoto.

The palace also has a ranch that houses a few animals like horses, donkey’s, ostriches and many other animals.

I was also shown some of their poisonous weapon use during those days  to fight against their enemy.

To crown it all, if you need to understand the history of ilorin, how ilorin came about, THE EMIR’S PALACE is the right place to get the full gist..  

Although my staying at Ilorin made me get the full gist of how ilorin came about, that one will be a story for another day.

I’m Dennis Chukwuebuka Okeke AKA Onye-njem one of AFRICA your number one celebrity Tourist.