- Cultural heritage planning and preservation in Yoruba Cities Case study of Ile Ife, Nigeria   click here to open paper content715 kb
by    Ayangbile, Oluwabukola & Abiodun, O. | bukiayangbile@yahoo.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper examines how heritage places and spaces are protected and
managed to enhance historical artifacts in Ile Ife, the ‘Cradle of
Humankind’. It suggests traditional historical planning tools as a re-
vitalization planning strategy to preserve, manage and protect the sacred
groves, monuments, traditional and religious landmarks that already exists.
Cultural landscapes preservation is increasingly gaining attention among
planners.“There is also a growing demand for planners to play a vital role
in preserving built environment heritages and historically valuable urban
areas, and protecting them from insensitive conversion or invasion by
incompatible uses” (UN-Habitat, 2009:202-203).

This paper examines how heritage places and spaces are protected and
managed to enhance historical artifacts in Ile Ife, the ‘Cradle of
Humankind’. ''Ile-Ife'' (The Land of Expansion) is regarded as the cradle of
all of humanity especially by the indigenous people. Ile Ife is a
traditional town with two universities and a teaching hospital. The
distinct planning form in Ife is the concentric model. Heritage landmarks
need to be protected because they constitute valuable assets (cultural and
environmental capital) within the community. The paper suggests traditional
historical planning tools as a re-vitalization planning strategy to
preserve, manage and protect what already exists (the sacred groves,
monuments, worship centres -traditional and religious landmarks) given the
rapid urbanization in Ile-Ife.

Festivals celebrated in Ile-Ife include the “Olojo” festival (Olojo meaning
Owner of the day) usually celebrated by the indigenes in honor of the
revolutionary deity “Ogun- the god of Iron” and the 401 deities that
resides in the ancient city of Ife; the “Edi” festival celebrated once
every year for a period of seven days, a period to discipline thieves, and
the “Ifa Agbonmiregun” festival done to unite Ifa followership and also to
integrate the community on peace.

Ile- Ife comprises of four distinct historical nodes namely; the
traditional inner core with the Oba’s (King’s) palace, the Enuwa square,
Ifa temple and the Ife city museum. The inner city ensures that the
cultural relevance (and overall significance) of Ile-Ife is sustained; the
Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly, University of Ife) campus,
constitutes a magnet for much of the town’s labour force; the Mayfair-Sabo-
Lagere commercial corridor; and the Sacred grove or natural virgin forests
that epitomize the tradition of the Ife indigenes.

Cultural heritage landscape are gradually been wiped off by urbanization.
Forest reserves and farmlands which support the sustainability of a place
and food security within its borders are being encroached upon. The core is
gradually losing its priced heritage in spite of the conscious effort of
the people and the traditional leaders to retain some cultural values of
the area. Re-vitalizing and restoration of the housing stock and historical
artifacts in the city core will promote tourism and opportunity for global
economic competitiveness of the city. Urban decay has left inner cities in
Nigeria to decline and the originally reserved agricultural lands are
paying dearly for an unacceptable encroachment. Conservation of landmarks,
forests and landscape, will help curb encroachment of agricultural lands
and enhance environmental sustainability.

Secondary data was collected from existing literature and primary data
collected from the planning authority and informal interviews with
custodians of history, leaders and individuals within the community. It is
worthy of note that rather than leaving these areas to degrade or be wiped
off and forgotten due to gentrification effect, a number of benefits
springs from the improvement and conservation of these regions such as
income generation from tourism and celebration of ethnically symbolic
ceremonies which attracts trade, developments and also investors.

“Historic preservation or conservation seeks to enhance, preserve and
retain the symbols of the past” (Olufemi, 2001:390). Protecting the
cultural identity and heritage of Ile Ife then helps to preserve a sense of
history for future generations, enrich new developments, promote community
identity, preserve historic landmarks and guide planning activities such as
zoning, development control and conservation policies.
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