The Abeokuta Innovation & Tech Party (AITP) was a remarkable two-day event held in the ancient rock city of Abeokuta, Nigeria, highlighting the city’s emergence as a technological hub. With the theme “Innovation Knows No Bounds” aimed to position Abeokuta on the global stage. The event showcased the city’s potential by unveiling the “Olatomiwa Williams Hall,” named after Mrs. Olatomiwa Williams, the first female Country Manager for Microsoft in West Africa. It featured panel sessions, exhibitions, and a cultural tour, redefining the narrative of technology in Africa and unleashing the limitless possibilities of innovation.
Day 2 of the AITP Event
On the second day of the tech event, the AITP attendees went on a special trip to explore the history, culture, and importance of a place called Olumo Rock. Olumo Rock is a sacred site that tells stories of strength and determination from the 19 century.
They also visited the respected Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), where they learned about the great leader of the country. The trip was very memorable for them, and it inspired them to embrace new ideas and innovation while being moved by the timeless beauty and greatness of these historical places.
A Timeless History Unveiled
They arrived at the OOPL complex in the early afternoon when the sun was rising. The day was a bit gloomy and slightly humid, but the air felt fresh. The complex was surrounded by lush greenery, offering shade and a pleasant look. Luckily, there was no entrance fee to enter the complex; they could drive through the entrance gates. But they needed tickets to explore the library’s different areas. Their focus was the tour of the main building, which required a fee per person.
The tour began at the arrival pavilion, where they saw the grand building across a peaceful lake. A friendly guide welcomed them and started an exciting journey through history. They first visited the garage, which had a collection of vehicles used by Obasanjo throughout his life. They saw his bicycle, a blue Volkswagen Beetle, and a Peugeot 505. The garage also had other vehicles like the white Pope G-Wagon, a helicopter, and military vehicles from Obasanjo’s time as a soldier. One notable exhibit was a replica of the satellite Obasanjo launched into space, aiming to improve telecommunications in Nigeria.
Next, they went to the theater, filled with captivating photographs of Obasanjo with famous people like Queen Elizabeth II, Michael Jackson, Gaddafi, and Nelson Mandela. These images gave them a better understanding of Obasanjo and his extensive network. Their favorite display was a detailed hand-drawn plan of the building, inspired by the world’s first presidential library commissioned by Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States.
They watched a short but impressive video that showcased Obasanjo’s welcome and the vision behind establishing the library. The visuals, message, and delivery were awe-inspiring and left a lasting impression.
In the featured exhibits area, they learned about Obasanjo’s remarkable career, serving as a military head of state in 1976 and later as a democratically elected president in 1999. They joined another group of visitors who had also come to Abeokuta for the day. They engaged in lively discussions while exploring personal and official letters, report cards, and various uniforms worn by Obasanjo during his education, among other interesting artifacts.
One exhibit that stood out was a replica of Obasanjo’s Yola cell, representing the time he was wrongly imprisoned by General Sani Abacha after the phantom coup of 1995. His deputy, Shehu Yar’Adua, tragically died in that prison, while Obasanjo spent three years, three months, and three days there until Abacha’s death in 1998. This cell was known as “Cell 333” to symbolize the duration of his captivity. The replica even included the medicines he had used. Visitors could also sit in a replica of Obasanjo’s presidential office nearby.
Obasanjo’s extensive travels within Africa led him to receive many esteemed gifts, showcasing his commitment to the African Union and fostering closer relationships among nations. These gifts held historical and cultural significance, serving as tokens of appreciation for his diplomatic efforts.
Unveiling Cultural Heritage
The Tech pilgrims then went to Olumo Rock from OOPL. They were given the task of climbing the stairs that were added to the rock in 2006 by the former Governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, to make it more attractive to tourists.
Climbing the stairs was tiring for some of the pilgrims, so they rested when they reached the top. There was a veranda with a balcony there for them to relax.
Next, they were shown the “Hide-out,” which were small caves with holes in the floor. The guide explained that Egba warriors would hide their families in these caves during wars with other tribes. The holes in the floor were used for grinding food during those times.
They also saw a tomb with an inscription saying the person’s name was “Sonni” and they passed away in 1956. The guide explained that in the past, the Egbas used to bury their dead in their own homes.
They visited a shrine that was only opened once a year, possibly on August 8, for a festival dedicated to a stone god that had saved the Egbas’ lives. The festival attracted important people from the town and beyond. While up there, they met some elderly women living on top of the rock who were known as the “7th generation.” These women were friendly and easy to talk to.
Then they reached the highest point of the rock and enjoyed a stunning view of Abeokuta. They could see many landmarks from there, including MKO Abiola’s family house, the first mosque in Egbaland, a former missionary school (now part of Ogun Television House), and the first church in Nigeria.
They also saw the Ogun River, which gave the state its name, flowing in the distance. They could see the palace of the Alake of Egbaland, known for its historical artifacts.
The guide told them that the rock was 137 meters (about 449.48 ft) high above sea level. He pointed out a specific spot in the middle of the rock where a long crack could be seen. According to the guide, this crack was caused by Europeans who had come to the rock searching for gold. When they struck this spot, blood gushed out from the rock, causing it to split and crack. Some Europeans died, and the rest ran away in fear.
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Join us at the Abeokuta Innovation & Tech Party (AITP) next year to experience the immense potential of Abeokuta as a technological powerhouse. Connect with visionaries, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders from around the world, celebrating innovation and creativity. Immerse yourself in groundbreaking ideas, cutting-edge technologies, and forge meaningful connections. Discover limitless opportunities, expand your network, and be part of Abeokuta’s journey to becoming a global tech hub. Don’t miss out on this electrifying event! #AITP2024