If you ever want to visit the “State of Harmony” in Nigeria, then Kwara State is the place to be. It is a peaceful state of about 3 million people, and full of natural resources and public infrastructures in the midst of investment opportunities for both the government, expatriates, and the locals.
Kwara State is located in the North-central geopolitical zone of Nigeria and was created in May 1967. It used to be one of the 12 states created to replace the former regional divisions to which Nigeria was initially segmented before independence.
Kwara State was formerly known as the West Central State, but the name was changed to Kwara to reflect the local name the people called the Niger River. Today, the state is just about 32,500 sq km in size, having been further reduced following the creation of more states in Nigeria.
The main ethnic groups in Kwara State are the Yorubas, Fulanis, Nupes, and Ibarubas among others. The state is dominantly Muslim, and the people hold an annual Durbar where they showcase horse-racing and other interesting cultural heritage. The people also perform the Edu festival and observe the Pategi Regatta – an annual boat festival.
Here are 5 must-see sites when next you visit Kwara State.
1. Esie Museum – The house of some ancient people that turned to stones
The Esie Museum is located in Esie, a town about 53 kilometres Southeast of Ilorin in Irepodun LGA. This museum is more or less the first of such in Nigeria – having been established in 1945. The major attraction in the museum is the large numbers of human-shaped stone figures, depicting various human activities. The popular myth surrounding the stone figures is that millions of years ago, the local people of the town committed a grievous offence and thunder struck, turning everyone into a stone. The current shapes of the figures is said to reflect what the people were doing at the time they were turned into a stone. The stone figures were first discovered in 1775.
2. Mungo Park Cenotaph
Mungo Park was an European explorer credited with discovering the Niger River and its source. A cenotaph or monument was put up in his memory between the twin Jebba bridges. A visitor to Kwara State can also choose to see the remains of the wrecked boat that Mungo Park used in one of his explorations on the Niger River.
3. Pategi Beach
Pategi is situated along River Niger, and the beach features a long stretch of land used by both fishermen and fun-lovers from all places. To help the celebrations of the Pategi Regatta annual boat/fishing festival, a pavilion was constructed on the beach together with a complex facility to enable visitors and participants enjoy the best of the regatta festivities.
4. Owu Waterfalls
The Owu Waterfall in Kwara State is sometimes referred to as a “wonder in the wilderness.” It is one of the highest and fascinating waterfalls to watch in West Africa, cascading from a height of about 120 metres to a pool of foaming water below. Visitors will enjoy swimming in the pool or just watching others enjoy themselves while taking part in a picnic. It is also possible to check out Owe Kajita waterfall, the Ahoyaya falls in Jebba, and the Ubo Aiyegun Lakes.
5. Dada Pottery
Dada Pottery is located in Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara State. The pottery can be found at the Okelele Quarters in Ilorin, although there are other pot-making centres in Okekura, Oloje, and Abemi areas of the state. The Dada Pottery is one of the largest traditional pottery workshops in the country, and a place to visit anytime a visitor happens to be in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Other places of interest in Kwara State include the tombs of past Emirs of the state, the Ilorin Central Mosque, the Emir’s Palace located at Oja Oba, Ilorin among several other travel interesting places in the state.