The majestic palace at Oja Oba, natural landmarks like Sobi hill and Owu falls, the rustic environs complete with colonial, post colonial architecture of Jebba are all potential tourism attractions begging to be tapped in Kwara even as government agencies, global search engine, wikimedia make case for more participation of Nigerians in the multi trillion dollar industry, writes SAMUEL AKAEZE.
A trip to the Emir’s palace in Ilorin can end up telling you the history of Nigeria’s only harmony hub. Styled after other palaces up north, the sprawling home of the principal monarch of the city, is at the very center of equally historical homestead of founding families of the ancient town. The Magaji Are; Balogun Alanamu; Balogun Gambari; Balogun Ajikobi and Balogun Fulani, all and each having their peculiar history makes the city of Ilorin a wonderful package only waiting to be explored. Aside these, natural landmarks like Sobi hill and Owu falls, the rustic environs complete with colonial, post colonial architecture of Jebba are all potential tourism attractions begging to be tapped in Kwara state.
The state, in reflection of its name, is known for harmony despite what appears to be its heterogeneous nature. All these makes Kwara, particularly Ilorin a prime hub for tourism exploitation. Indeed, going by policy directions of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, now is as good a time to explore these opportunities. Folarin Cocker, director general, NTDC at the inception of his administration launched his key policy as Tour Nigeria.
According to Coker, there is a need to focus on domestic tourism. “We have to encourage state authorities to identify key tourism and travel sites and hubs in their states and organise events arround them to allow for more people to identify with them,” he said.
According to the helmsman, it made more sense because it doesn’t involve the huge costs of traveling abroad. Nigeria spends huge some of money on touring other countries. NTDC, for instance estimates that Nigeria contributes 30 percent to South Africa tourism through air travels and visits. To make for more exploitation of these potentials, the corporation has begun some landmark moves to get attention to sites in Nigeria. For instance, it under went training with Google.
But the bigger development is its arrangement with global search engine, wikimedia as a means for more participation of Nigerians in the multi trillion dollar industry.
Wikimedia Nigeria is an Affiliate of Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization based in SanFranscico US. Wikimedia Foundation provides essentials infrastructures for free knowledge The foundation host Wikipedia, the world largest online encyclopedia. created and hosted by volunteers across the globe. At the moment, there are 13 Wikimedia affiliates in Africa. Our core cardinal aim is to create a world where the sum of all human knowledge is available to everyone in the world.
Coming back home, Wikimedia Nigeria was formed in September 2015, and it serves the Wikimedians in Nigeria.
According to Olaniyan Olusola, president of the search engine aim at promoting the use of Wikimedia projects by residents of Nigeria, and to also help in creating awareness on how the everyday Nigerian can contribute to the pool of Knowledge, which is Wikimedia; most especially in the translation efforts into the major local languages.
Olushola, emphasized the need for stakeholders in the country’s tourism to further explore the digital space to sell the rich tourism and cultural potentialities of Nigeria to the global world.
Olushola said Wikipedia could be explored to bridge the content gap between Nigeria’s natural and historical sites and the people.
The Wikimedia Nigeria boss disclosed that the partnership between the organization and NTDC was to ensure that the good assets and history of Nigeria are given better visibility on the global internet space.
He said: “We need to show the beauty of our history to the global world, and also, correct some of the erroneous information on the internet and put them in better perspective. It is worrisome that there are lots of misrepresentations in the content related to Nigeria on the internet. For instance, you would see Zuma Rock being captioned as Idanre Hill.
“Nigeria doesn’t have enough content on the global internet space, hence we need to contribute our own content to this information platform. This, the global world will surely appreciate, and through this, we can change the perception of the whole world about Nigeria.”
He also noted that the Wiki Loves Earth (WLE), an annual international photographic competition usually held during the month of May, organized worldwide by Wikimedia chapters, groups and local Wikipedia volunteers, also gives Nigeria the opportunity to promote her history, cultural heritage and tourism potentialities.
He said the basic aim of the competition is to collect photos of natural heritage sites – such as nature reserves, land scape conservation areas, national parks, scenic/landscape areas, remarkable gardens, etc. – to illustrate articles in the worldwide free encyclopedia Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects.
“The focus is not only on sites of national importance, but also on those protected at the regional level, and on the widest variety of natural sites possible: forests, parks, gardens, rocks, caves, or whatever part of nature is protected in your country. This means that most users will be able to find several natural heritage sites close to them.
“Participants take pictures of local natural heritage and scenic landscape in their countries, and upload them to Wikimedia Commons. For all participating countries there are separate competitions corganized by local teams, so periods, rules, prizes etc. might differ a bit,” Olushola said.
This is where interests in Ilorin and other landmarks in Kwara should be explored.