The Ooni of Ife Palace also known as Ile Oodua, it is the ancestral home of the King of Ile Ife in Osun State, Nigeria. Ooni’s Palace is one of the most sacred places in Ile Ife. It is listed as one of the most beautiful Palaces in Nigeria.
The palace is adorned with beautiful artworks, creative architectural design and a perfect finish. All materials used in building the palace were locally sourced and built by the locals. It is a structural and historical landmark in Osun State. This structure is built paying attention to the details.
The Ooni of Ife Palace serves as the official residence of the Royal family and the traditional court in Ile Ife, Osun State.
About Ile Ile
Ile Ife is the ancestral home of the Yoruba race, this is where the Yoruba race began. The progenitor of the Yoruba people known as Oduduwa originated from here. Ile Ife is known as the cradle of Yoruba civilization and locals call it the centre of the world. This location plays a significant role in the history and culture of the Yoruba people. The Yoruba’s refer to it as the holy city and the birthplace of mankind. They believe Oduduwa descended from heaven to Ile Ife. Ile Ife is located in Osun State, it shares a border with Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti State.
History of The Ooni of Ife Palace – Ile Oodua
Ile Oodua has been the ancestral home of different kings of Ile Ife. This site dated as far back as the time of Oduduwa the progenitor of the Yoruba race. The current palace was built in 1937. However, it was renovated in 2015 by the current Ooni of Ife Adeyeye Ogunwusi after he ascended the throne. The Ooni of Ife palace is the definition of true Royalty and the white marble and paintings, gold plated ornaments reflect excellence. As the white house is to the United States, so is this white house to Ile Ife. It has been the official residence of the royal family since its inception. This history of this palace is dated as far back as 500BC.
It is not just a Royal palace it is sacred ground, a pilgrimage, and a tourist attraction. The main building has 2 living rooms, a reception/waiting area, 6 bedrooms, a dining room, a kitchen, and a traditional hall that can sit up to 200 people.
The palace has its private garage where the King’s official vehicles are parked. Also, it has a place where the palace workers reside. Some of the workers of the palace include the chief security officer, the cooks. Others include the cleaners, the palace personnel, the Royal guards, the palace attendants, the personal assistant to the king, etc. Besides, there are about fifty personnel needed in taking care of and maintaining the palace.
Past Ooni of Ile Ife
Ile Ife has witnessed over 50 kings, the current King of Ile Ife is the 51st King of Ile Ife Kingdom. Back in the days, the Ooni of Ife are not usually buried or should I say no one knows where they are buried, however, the practice has been abolished. Now the past kings have their resting place within the palace.
Culture and Tradition
According to our Tour Guide who belongs to a unit known as Emese, he claimed there are about 401 deities in Ile Ife and these deities are celebrated every day except for one day which is only known to King. On this special day, there will be no celebration or any deity across the town.
There are several shrines within the palace some of which are accessible to tourists and not restricted for visit. They include the Yeymoolu, Ogun Laadin, Orikii, and Obalufon.
here are three major courts in the palace, the Emese Court, which is the lower court, the traditional council of elders court also known as the high court, and the third court is the Supreme court which is headed by the King.
The Emese court handles conflicts between members of the community. Both parties are invited for questioning and resolution. if the two parties are not satisfied with the outcome, the matter could be taken to the Traditional high court. And if the traditional high court could not settle the matter, it is forwarded to the Supreme court which is presided by the Ooni of Ife himself. It handles very serious matters that are beyond the Emese court or the traditional high courts.
Also, there is a police station situated within the premises, if you wish to report a case or take legal action. Rather than going through the traditional route, you can decide to follow the legal route.
No wonder Ile Ife is termed the birthplace of civilization. They have some practices which are similar to the British tradition.
Emese – Palace Guardians
The Emeses are like the palace guards but their job is much more than just guarding the palace. They are responsible for guarding the palace, settling conflicts and they also form part of the Royal guide. They can easily be identified with their hairstyle, they have half of their hair shaved while the other half have not shaved. This is very iconic as it represents Oranmiyan that legends claim to be partly fair and partly dark.
The roles of the Emese are diversified and extensive, they give verdicts on simple matters, disputes etc. Once a case is filed, they will charge the two parties to ensure fairness.
Membership of Emese is strictly by bloodline and through family lineage, and this practice is still In existence today. You must be born within the family in which Emese is practised for you to be appointed. The relationship between the Emese and the Ooni has been a life long relationship. Also, It is a sacred responsibility. The Emese dedicate and devote their whole life to the maintaining and sustenance of the Ooni of Ife Palace.
Location of the Palace of Ooni of Ife
The Ooni of Ife Palace is located at the Enuwa Square, off Aderemi road, Ile Ife, Osun State opposite the Statue of Oodua park.
Entrance Fee Into Ooni of Ife Palace
It is free to enter, it doesn’t require an access or entrance fee. However, you will need to tip the Emese (tour guide or the palace guard) that will take you around. This fee is not fixed and it is based on how much can afford. I always believe one of the best ways to promote tourism is by tipping the tour guides well.
Things to Note When Visiting the Ooni Of Ife Palace
Once you get in you will be directed to the tour guides who are known as the Emese. They perform the function of guarding the palace, settling disputes, and also taking tourists around the palace. Once you meet them, they will brief you on the do and don’t of the palace.
The Dos’s and Don’t of Ooni Palace
- Weapons are not allowed
- No one is allowed to use an umbrella within the palace
- There are some sections where you can’t wear shoes
- Mobile phones are allowed. however, there are some places where calls are not allowed.
Things to Do at the Ooni of Ife Palace
- Learn About the History of the Yoruba people
- Attend the annual festival
- Take Beautiful photos
- See historical heritage
- Learn about the culture and the past kings of Ile Ife
- Check out art from the art gallery
Other Tourist Attractions in Ile Ife
Lastly, these are other tourist attractions in Ile Ife and Osun State namely.
- Moremi Statue of Liberty
- Oranmiyan Staff
- Obafemi Awolowo University
- The First Traditional Supreme Court
- Erin Ijesha waterfall
- Ife Head Bronze
- The Traditional Supreme Court
Finally, the next time you visit Ile Ife, ensure you pay homage at this beautiful attraction. Who knows, you could get to meet the King of the the Yoruba race.