Art and Life

Seven fascinating facts about Ibadan beyond its iconic ‘brown roofs’

When you hear the name “Ibadan,” what immediately springs to mind is the image of the city’s iconic ‘brown roofs.’ It’s a fitting association, considering the numerous houses in the Ibadan metropolis adorned with this distinctive feature.


However, there is so much more to this capital city of Oyo State, located in southwestern Nigeria, than meets the eye.


Prepare to be captivated as we uncover seven quick but enthralling facts about Ibadan that will undoubtedly reshape your perception of this extraordinary city.


Home to the First Skyscraper in Nigeria


Standing tall as a testament to Ibadan’s architectural prowess is the awe-inspiring Cocoa House, nestled in the heart of Dugbe. Constructed in July 1964 and commissioned a year later, this monumental building holds the distinction of being Nigeria’s very first skyscraper. Soaring to a height of 105 meters, Cocoa House served as the headquarters for the Oodua Investment Company, jointly owned by all the southwestern states. Remarkably, this towering structure remained the country’s tallest building until 1979.


Home to the First University in Nigeria


While Nigeria boasts over 200 federal, state, and private universities today, the prestigious University of Ibadan holds the honor of being the nation’s first and foremost university. Established in 1948 as a college of the University of London, it gained full autonomy and university status in 1962. Renowned for its commitment to research and academic excellence, the University of Ibadan has carved an indelible reputation for itself. Additionally, the University College Hospital, Ibadan (UCH), stands as Nigeria’s inaugural teaching hospital.


Rich Media History


Ibadan’s historical influence extends far beyond Nigeria, encompassing the entire African continent. It is here that the first-ever television station in Nigeria, Western Nigeria Television (WNTV), sprang to life in 1959, setting a precedent for broadcasting excellence. Furthermore, Ibadan houses the oldest surviving privately-owned newspaper in Nigeria, The Nigerian Tribune, which was established by the visionary Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1949.


Notably, the city also played host to Nigeria’s first private television station, Galaxy Television, which commenced full broadcasting in 1994.


Population and Landmass


During Nigeria’s emergence as an independent nation in 1960, Ibadan reigned supreme as the largest and most populous city in the country, holding the distinction of being the second most populous city in Africa, surpassed only by Cairo, Egypt. Encompassing a vast land area of 3,080 square kilometers (1,190 square miles), Ibadan continues to thrive and expand. According to, the estimated population of the Ibadan metro area in 2023 is an impressive 3,875,000.


Blessed with Many Beautiful Hills


Beyond its urban landscape, Ibadan is blessed with a plethora of enchanting hills that beckon to tourists and nature enthusiasts alike. From the majestic Bower’s Tower, affectionately known as ‘Oke Aare’ or ‘Layipo,’ to the captivating Mapo Hills, known as ‘Oke Mapo’ in the native Yoruba language, these natural wonders serve as magnets for visitors. Yet, the allure of Ibadan extends beyond its hills, encompassing other tourist attractions such as the Trans-Wonderland amusement park, cultural centers like Mokola, the Agodi Parks and Gardens, and The Palms Mall, among many others.


The Second Fastest-Growing City in Africa


In a testament to its dynamic growth and ever-increasing prominence, Ibadan earned the distinction of being ranked the second fastest-growing city across the entire African continent in 2022, with only Accra, Ghana outpacing its progress. Even the bustling metropolis of Lagos finds itself trailing behind Ibadan in this remarkable advancement, claiming the third position in this pecking order.


Market Hub


Ibadan pulsates with vibrant markets that teem with a plethora of goods and services. These bustling hubs cater to every conceivable need, making it a shopaholic’s paradise. From the renowned Bodija Market and Oja Oba Market to the lively Apete Market, Gbagi Market, Ogunpa Market, Oje Market, and Aleshinloye Market, there is nothing that you won’t find in Ibadan’s diverse and eclectic markets.


Bonus Fact: The name ‘Ibadan’ derives from the Yoruba phrase “Eba Odan,” which translates to ‘by the edge of the meadow.’ Founded in 1829 as a war camp for warriors from Ife, Oyo, and Ijebu, this historical tidbit adds yet another layer to the city’s captivating narrative.


Now that you’ve delved into these remarkable facts about Ibadan, we’d love to hear from you. What captivates you the most about this vibrant city? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and join in the celebration of Ibadan’s rich heritage.


(Nigerian Tribune)


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