The name Sanusi Adebisi Giwa will most likely not ring many bells in today's time. I certainly hadn't heard about the 19th century entrepreneur up until last week. My visit to Trans Amusement Park proved to be very fruitful, I met some "egbons" who told me about the man.
He was born in Ibadan and the year was 1882, peak colonial times. His father was a weaver of Aso Ofi, a traditional Yoruba fabric that was used during special occasions. He was the youngest of 3 siblings and they all took part in selling this fabric in and outside the city. Adebisi soon started to expand the sale of the cloth to other cities, venturing as far as Benin and before he turned 18, was able to retire his siblings (who were 20 and 15 years older than him).
He then ventured into large scale farming of cocoa, a major cash crop in the 1800's and developed multiple plantations - some as large as 200 acres. His success earned him the title "Giwa Egbe" (head of the society) and this was how Giwa was added to his name.
At that time, all adult males had to pay a compulsory tax to the colonial government, but most couldn't afford it. It got really bad and there was a notable suicide in protest of it. Mr Giwa, who had been involved in several philanthropic acts started paying it all. Everybody's taxes!
Anyway, he built this mansion in 1929 in idikan, and it's still standing till today. The area is basically a full market place so driving there is a bit of a hassle, but I did it anyway.
It's pretty spectacular although it's not in a very big compound. His private mausoleum is at the back and he is buried alongside some close family members and his 3 favorite horses *swag*.
The upper area of the building has a bunch of rooms, I even found some of the records of cocoa transactions, along with some of his personal clothing items. These things need to be preserved and displayed properly, everything is collecting dust.
Much of the house could use a tune up as well, the building is solid, but it needs a facelift. I don't think there has ever been an intentional drive towards preserving this site which is less than ideal. It's what's left of one of the most fascinating people I've read about, and it's all documented.
The entire experience from the research to going there was interesting and it opened my eyes to a lot of things. Our stories need to be told better and our landmarks need to be preserved because these things are our identity, and there's no price on that. It definitely felt good though, a nice experience.
If you want to visit the house, you can find it easily on google maps. Ask for someone to show you around, that's what I did. And I left a tip and said thank you. Everything was a breeze except driving there.
If you'd like some further reading, you can click here for the facts. Don't forget to share this page with someone who might appreciate it.