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Please, permit me to begin with this poetic rendition in Yo’oba language, perhaps it will help set the right basis for comprehending this write-up in its true sense.

Photo: First Baptist Church, Idikan Ibadan

“Idikan Ogbooja, nibi Gbegiri ti n pe Amala ran nise. Ti Dodo, Iresi at’Ewa n se tin-rin l’ofun,

Nibi Ewedu ati Ila ti n yan fanda-fanda l’ori Okaa Laafun to n gbona feli-feli ninu abo,

Ti Ogufe, Bokoto, Igi-imuu-Eran, Abodi, Ifun ati Saaki kondu-kondu ti nka’leluya l’ori akasu Eba.

Idikan ile ounje, Idikan ilu obe, nibi Akaraa ile Adebisi ti n rin sin-kin l’arin Buredi on’beeji,

Idikan ilu ayo, nibi eja alaran-bonduu ati Panla, Ponmon, A-ge-mawo, Edo-eran, Kufuu, Onigba-awee ti n ko lu ‘rawon l’ori Fufuu. Ti Emu Oguro Oleyo n ruu pa’ala ninu a-haa bii ito akuarapa.

Ha, aye dun je ju’yaa lo looto. E da’a kun, e tele mi re’Dikan ni’Badan?”

Entering IDIKAN street from OOPO junction in those days, I could bet it with you, if you had a good smell-sense, your nostril would instantly begin to feel in the air the sweet sensations of different unique aromas from the iron cooking-pots (agbari-ojukwu) of all the food vendors that had their local shops stationed on both sides of the road.

The inviting burning fog of delicious scents from the pots of ‘Gbegiri’ and ‘Egusi’ soups were always overwhelmingly irresistible, whilst the scores of red-skin-hausa he-goats would voluntarily surrender their necks and bequeath their hides and their flesh from different parts of their bodies on daily basis to satisfy our lustful hungry throats. Idikan indeed was once the food capital of the ancient brown-roofs city of Ibadan, and there is no doubt about that.

Apart from INASRATES and IYA AYII at Mokola,  or the legendary LASKABO and IYA GHANA of Abebi/Inalende-Oniyanrin, or perhaps some few other ‘Bukas’ that scattered around the city, no other street in Ibadan had the larger number of food vendors and local eateries in the city of Ibadan like our own IDIKAN Street of those days.

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I can do the listing for you if you wouldn’t mind:
1: Alhaja Ahulat Alamala
2: Iya Dara Alamala
3: Iya Nuru Onisu at’Ewa
4: Olorogun Alamola
5: Iya Ijesha and Bro Gbadebo Oniyan
6: Iya Lawumi Oloka
7: Iya Lekan Olole Iwaju Soosi
8: Iya Yinka Oniresi waju sku
9: Iya Oni dun-un-duu waju sku
10: Iya Niyi Emi-L’eye Elewa ati Dun-un-duu
11: Iya Wasiu Oniresi
12: Iya Ade Elewa
13: Iya Yinka Olole
14: Ultimate Loaf and Oodu’a eatery
15: Iya Kazeem Onisuu
16: Iya Taye Olele Ile Adebisi
17: Iya Alakaraa Ile Adebisi
18: Iya Dada Eleba (Agbo Weda)
19: Labo’po Alamala,
And a lot of others, that littered the street of Idikan which was less than four kilometres, measuring from the OOPO junction down to OGUNPA-IFELEYE.

Life on the street of Idikan in those days as a growing child indeed it’s a life on its own with memories that cannot just melt away just like that from our minds. In fact, one of the greatest memories of that time was availability of good cooked foods on demand round the clocks of each day.

IDIKAN, in memory, shall forever remain our cradle of excellence while its nostalgia last.

The unforgettable memories of these local eateries on Idikan street began to gain speedy momentum during the mid 80s at the time of the military regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, perhaps the first dwindling economy that the country experienced at that period played a significant role in the sudden rise in number of food canteens across the state.

Many families could not put their resources together as a result of drastic drop in income generations, and many, to make provision and feed their family members with wholesome food obviously became difficult. As a fallout of the austerity, many parents could only give their children handouts to buy ready-cooked foods on the streets rather than doing the cooking by themselves in their own homes which was erroneously believed to be relatively more expensive.

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The growing demand for cooked foods gave rise to the proliferation of local eateries and food vendors across the city, especially in the highly dense populated areas like Idikan where costs of living were relatively low at the time.

Alhaja Haulat was the first on the street from Opoo junction and her food canteen reigned for almost two decades. Iya Dara food canteen was next on the line. Perhaps, the location of Iya Dara canteen made her to outlive Haulat for years, Iya Dara shone for more many years after Haulat had gone into perfect oblivion, and truly the reason is not far-fetched.., Iya Dara’s food was relatively very cheap and good.

In the late 90s, a bread bakery was launched by a group of scholarly friends which shook the entire ibadanland at that time, ULTIMATE LOAF, as it was called, suddenly became people’s favourite in all thel nook and cranny of the city, despite the fact that more than twenty five local bakeries had been in existence earlier in Idikan and its environment, ULTIMATE LOAF was able to sell several thousands of pieces of loaf on daily basis across the city. They were able to reach all the corners of Ibadan with their several delivery Peugeot pick-up vans, that obviously helped in spreading their products like no one had done before.

Moreover, In the early 2000, the management of the bakery set up a modern eatery and that really lifted the face of food vendor business in the entire area. OODU’A PLACE as it was called then, shook and choked many local eateries all throughout the area.

However, the good trees are always short lived in the kingdom of forest, the sudden passing away of Barrister Olawale Adeniyi, the CEO and chief co-founder of the bakery, did a dead blow to the bakery and its other affiliated business ventures. Barrister Olawale’s death was too untimely and obviously wrecked the business down to the bottom of the ladder. Barrister Olawale’s death, recorded on September 30th 2002, was believed in some quarters as a milestone to the progress in making Idikan an industrial hub of the northwest area of Ibadan and perhaps the entire city of Ibadanland at large.

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Akara Adebisi was known for its unique taste.

Talking about Idikan without mentioning Akara Ile Adebisi is like touring the city of Abeokuta without visiting Olumo Rock. Akara Adebisi crispy texture and savour were unparalleled and unmatched till today. Akara Ile Adebisi flourished for almost three decades and was known far and wide of the city.

Whatever you wanted would go with Akara Ile Adebisi, be it Owoseni or Ultimate bread, even with ‘Eko’ or ‘Ogi’, Akara Ile Adebisi left a great vacuum behind when talking about good foods that nourished our bodies and quenched our hungers in those days.

Truly, no matter how poor you were, there was always a ‘Buka’ set up to be too friendly to the size of the cash in your pocket. Idikan of those days, indeed, was the finest culinary mecca of Ibadanland.

“You could just imagine a cuisine, and call Kola or Iyabo, and you would get it delivered fresh ‘n’ hot in a flash, in a covered Ajase-dish as quick as possible you would have it hot to bring your appetite under control.”

Idikan of those days has left great landmarks for people to remember in many years to come, especially for those of us that grew up between the 70s and 90s.

Oladele Idowu Joseph