In life, not everyone gets an opportunity to take a second shot at a missed opportunity. While this could sometimes be a fault of theirs, it could at other times just be that fortune isn’t in a good mood to smile at them.
You see, In 2018 when I first explored Ibadan, I never got to see the Cocoa house museum even though it topped my list of todos in the state. I went on a Saturday and according to the receptionist on duty, I wouldn’t be granted access to the museum because visitors aren’t allowed to explore on weekends. I was a bit dejected. Going to the cocoa house without seeing the museum is comparable to going to Mecca without stoning the devil.
Well, fortune decided to wink at me today as I was invited to an event that wasn’t far from Dugbe, Ibadan. I was more than determined to accomplish the mission I failed at 2 years ago.
Getting to Cocoa house
The thing about Ibadan, and in fact, every other South-west state (except Lagos) is that, unlike in their counterparts in the South-East, they aren’t popular for having tall buildings. So, you can imagine what an enormous 26 storey building in the heart of Dugbe would mean to the people of Ibadan. This made it easier to locate this place. If you’d be visiting for the first time, simply talk to a biker or cab driver at any of the bus stops that are that you want to get to Dugbe or the cocoa house.
*THE 26-STOREY BUILDING LOCATED IN DUGBE WAS COMPLETED IN 1965, 5 YEARS AFTER NIGERIA’S INDEPENDENCE.
*IT WAS BUILT FROM COCOA PROCEEDINGS AS THE COUNTRY EARNED SO MUCH FROM THE CROP AT THAT TIME.
*THE BUILDING IS THE FIRST SKY SCRAPER IN NIGERIA AND WAS ONCE THE TALLEST IN AFRICA.
*IT GOT BURNT IN 1985 BUT RENOVATED IN 1992.
I was a bit impatient after alighting from the bike which brought me from the hotel. I fumbled into my pocket to present the bike man with a N200 note. I didn’t bother about the N100 change because I believed that trip was worth more than N100. He was thanking me but I was already halfway into the compound which also paid host to Shoprite. With a heart filled with excitement. I jump into the elevator leading to the 23rd floor where the Museum is situated. This was after I had registered my presence at the reception.
“Good morning ma.” I greeted the lady receptionist who looked neither happy nor sad with her job. “I’m here to see the Mus…” she didn’t allow me to finish before pointing to a small office adjacent to her desk. She didn’t say a word. Only a blank stare.
In this room was a fair, beautiful lady who looked happier and more welcoming. She gave me a briefing on all I needed to know about accessing the museum. She made me register my name in a giant visitor’s book. The time was 10:12 am, so I wasn’t surprised that I was the museum’s first visitor for the day.
I joined the elevator which had close to 20 people stuffed inside- each with different designs of face masks. A man even had his own made with tissue paper and rope. I couldn’t laugh because he was staring directly at me, as if he knew what I was thinking.
The elevator stopped at different floors to vomit people in batches, and by the time we got to the 23rd floor, I was the last man standing. The door opened and vomited me too, making me stand directly in front of yet another receptionist who pointed me to another receptionist by her left after I told her why I had come.
This last receptionist looked the happiest of all 4 I had encountered, So I was happy to let her keep my N200 change after she made me understand that the entrance fee was N300.
“But oga, the museum curator has not resumed yet o.” She said with a pint of disappointment, but I was quick to pacify her by letting her know I can take care of myself. She let out a smile and led me through the hallway that led to the Museum.
The 2 sections of the Cocoa House Museum
Now, I need to point out to you that there are 2 sections in the Cocoa House museum. The first, which is on the right is where the artifacts and relics are kept while the one on the left played host to the hall of fame section where visitors get to read about the stories of all the most important Yoruba personalities in Nigerian history in areas such as sports, politics, media, and academics.
As soon as she explained this to me, she headed back to her desk. “Please call me if you need anything.” She said as she turned away, digging both of her hands into her pockets.
Now alone, I decided I was going to see the artifacts before the hall of fame, and that was exactly what I did.
This video will make you see exactly the things I saw at the cocoa house museum.
So far, I’ve been privileged to visit over 10 museums across Nigerian and I can make a bold claim that the cocoa house museum is one of the best maintained in the country. While lack of proper funding and adequate publicity are large contributors to why a lot of the museums in Nigeria are in deplorable conditions, I think a few things such as the following will go along way in reinstating these museums back to their glory days.
- allowing content creators to come in with their cameras to capture the beauty stacked inside the museum.
- Increasing the entrance fees slightly to help shoot up daily revenue and
- a deliberate approach towards reaching out to travel communities, tour operators, schools, and associations.
Nigeria no doubt has got potentials, however, all these will amount to nothing if deliberate steps aren’t taken to put the right things in place.
“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.”