Ijala: Delta State community where the Kings never diePosted on: January 9, 2020, by : admin
Where trees serve as eternal tombstones
In the Royal Cemetery, Ijala, Delta State of Nigeria, the Itsekiris have a place that comes close to the Valley of Kings in Egypt. It is a grove known as Ijala and it has a history that is 520 years old with about 18 kings buried in it.
However, while the ancient Egyptians built pyramids to bury their kings, the Itsekiri people devised a unique, effective and efficacious means of preserving their kings’ memories after death.
On a recent visit to the grove, rain began to fall suddenly without warning, threatening to disrupt our journey. We plodded on nonetheless, through the track towards the Royal Cemetery of Warri Kingdom at Ijala, on the outskirts of Warri, the final resting place for all the past Olus or kings of Warri.
The rain did not dampen our excitement, however. The joy of being among the first set of mainstream travel journalists to visit the grove was enough reward.
To get to the royal cemetery from Warri, a tourist would first get to the Warri Refinery which is not difficult to locate, and from there, one could then ask for the refinery jetty. Ijala is off the Jetty Road. Before the cemetery grove is the Falcorp Mangrove Park. The royal cemetery is about 20 minutes trek from the park.
There is just a foot path that leads to the grove which made the members of the Naija Seven Wonders expedition team to walk in a single file, occasionally stopping to brush off plants across the path.