To the southwest of Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria, is a thick crimson, 100-mile-long, 70-foot-tall man-made defense wall known as Sungbo Eredo. An exemplification of man’s inventiveness and, more importantly, a representation of the timeless existence of civilization in Africa.
According to archaeological studies, the Sungbo-Eredo structure, constructed to surround the entire Ijebu Kingdom, was built by locals between 800 and 1000 AD. The wall was a 10,000-mile (16,000-kilometer) long network of walls that were partially hidden under the area’s rainforests and partly covered by patches of moss.
It is popularly thought to be named in honor of the Ijebu noblewoman Oloye Bilikisu Sungbo, long before the start of the trans-Atlantic trade and contact with Europeans. And was built during a time of political conflict to serve as a fortress. Sungbo-Eredo translates as (Bilikisu) Sungbo’s Eredo. According to Oke-Eri oral tradition, the Ijebu term “Eredo” signifies an embankment or rampart.
Cultural relics recovered from the site, such as the late Stone Age and Neolithic period materials, also support that the man-made structure dates back to at least the 10th century, implying a highly organized kingdom that thrived in the deep rain forest for at least 300 years longer than previously thought.
While few Nigerians have heard of the man-made structure, it is a tribute to an indigenous people’s pre-colonial architectural and engineering achievements and the legacy, vision, prowess, and ambition of an ancient Yoruba kingdom that has lasted the test of time. Sungbo’s Eredo has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since November 1, 1995.
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