By Henry Akubuiro

Unburden yourself to nature, the lore and history of Yorubaland. If you find yourself in Lagos, that’s what you get by visiting the newly commissioned John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Onikan, Lagos.

Located in a recreational triangle comprising the Muson Centre, Lagos City Mall, National Museum, Onikan Stadium, Lagos Island Club, and Yoruba Club, the J. Randle Centre stands out as an architectural masterpiece —an edifice celebrating Yoruba cultural heritage.

Different from a museum, the centre promises a flexible space for learning programmes, art installations, and live music events.

“The John Randle Centre is the first of many initiatives aimed at the preservation of the heritage of the Yoruba through the celebration and preservation of history and culture, the regeneration of decades old public green space, public recreation facilities, and the restoration of civic pride. Onikan will be the catalyst for a vibrant and tourist friendly quarter in the heart of Lagos Island,” said the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

At a brief commissioning ceremony performed on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, by President Mohammadu Buhari, attended by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; his Deputy, Femi Hamzaat; Minister of Information and Culture, Chief Lai Mohammed; Minister of Sports, Akin Dare; the Oni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Eleru of Lagos, Oloye Abiola Dosunmu; Lagos State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Pharm Uzamat Yusuf; members of the diplomatic corps, among others, the president declared the centre open and was conducted around the complex to see things for himself.

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In 2018, the J Randle Centre began to get a makeover, courtesy of the Lagos State Government, with new features added to it. On completion, the centre has transformed into a state-of-the-art cultural and recreational showpiece. The swimming pool within the complex has an inviting ambience.

Other features include an outdoor theatre, bleacher stand, lawn area, public square, concession block, undercroft entry and a beautiful promenade.

Inside the complex tells the Yoruba story in colours and sounds. History beckons you as you step into the second floor of the centre with the Yoruba concept of creation. Avatars that define the Yoruba worldview are showcased in sculptures. Traditional fabrics, royal ensembles and palace, a weaving loom, paintings, iconic photos, a court for moonlight tales, a folksy, 3D screen depicting the place of Yoruba art and culture in the future, among others, form part of the cultural attractions of the centre.

Mr Damilare Ojewole, the site architect, who explained the components of the facility to guests and journalists, said the centre would educate visitors on the creation of Yoruba empire through ‘Ile-Ori’, ‘Ori-Olokun’, ‘Esu’, among others.

He noted: “In this place, you will learn about happenings in the Yoruba empire in the olden days and now, and the customs and practices.