Malete. (Photo credit: Dr Isiaka Aliagan)
With continued investment and development, the world will know Malete as a meaning for knowledge.
(Photo credit: Dr Isiaka Aliagan)

Abidemi Arafat Bello

Malete, a once sleepy town in the far flung of Ilorin, the Kwara state capital has thrown away her rustic gab. Today, she has an aura of modernity emblazoned in a mobbing enculturation that has put her in the two worlds of old and new.

History has it that Malete was a vassal  town of Ilorin and has remained a fiefhold of the Emirate till date  with succeeding District Heads, called Daudu, appointed from the Emir of Ilorin's palace.  Like most communities in Moro Local Government of the state. It is an agrarian community predominantly inhabited by the Yorubas. Beside farming, the people of malete also engage in hunting and fishing. However, her fertile soil makes her a favourite for large scale farming and agro industries. It is the reason the International Tobacco Company has one of its biggest farm in the area.

Malete! When playwright, William Shakespeare asked the question, “What’s in a name?” in Romeo and Juliet, he was referring to the idea that names themselves are means to identify and distinguish things or people, but themselves do not have any worth or meaning.

While most people will understand that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” in some clime, it is not so. Names do indeed carry great meaning, especially in the esoteric world of some tribes. The Yorubas are typical example. So it was that the founders of Malete prospected for knowledge from its foundation, through her name.

Alhaji Rasaq Babatunde, an indigene, explained that the name Malete was derived from the Yoruba phrase,  Ima lete - which is ’Knowledge triumphs’. According him, “the early settlers were Islamic scholars who valued education and were constantly in search of knowledge. 

“With time, they accommodated many of their kind, to further give bite to the name:, ibi ti ima le tente si, (‘the place where knowledge resides, absolutely).

“They were also receptive to Western education. The first educational institution, Malete Elementary School was established in 1936. The next in line,  Government Secondary School was founded in 1971.

“This school, in so many ways projected the name of the community as it became home to children of the aristocrats from the Emirate and the surrounding areas. The school exerted a significant influence on Malete and further elevated it as the community where knowledge resides.

 Welcome to 2009. The Kwara State Government had muted an idea of a university that is envisioned to be more than a typical university in Nigeria. It would be a centre for community service and entrepreneurship and would recognise itself as part of the community, identifying her needs so that lecturers can use their expertise to impact directly on it, including other communities. Malete would be its home!

Without doubt, everything about this university embodied the fervor that had driven and inspired the founders of the community in their quest for knowledge. Malete has indeed become home to knowledge.

Over ten years after, the cloistered hostels within the community, away from the university campus has given a new life and meaning to the indigenes' definition of tradition. Many, especially the youths are learning  new values, language and mannerisms of their new guests, including behaviours that some elders in the community are seeing as untoward

Malete has experienced significant growth in terms of development and infrastructure, which has had an impact on the standard of living in the town.

One of the most significant improvements has been the  variety of modern housing options available to residents, ranging from apartments to standalone houses. Many of these have modern amenities such as air conditioner, internet access, and other modern conveniences.

In addition to improved housing options, the establishment of the university has also led to an increase in job opportunities. The university is a major employer in the town and has created jobs for both academic and non-academic staff. This has led to an improvement in the standard of living, as more people can find employment and support themselves and their families.

The establishment of the university has also had a positive impact on the local economy. Many businesses have opened up in Malete to cater to the needs of the university and its students, including restaurants, cafes, and shops selling a variety of goods. This has created new economic opportunities for residents of Malete and has helped to improve the standard of living in the town.

In spite of the impressive progress made so far, there are still areas that are begging for attention. One of such is transportation. While the town has a few public transportation options, they can be unreliable and are often overcrowded. This can make it difficult for residents to travel to and from work, school, and other destinations. The government and other stakeholders could invest in developing more efficient and reliable transportation options to improve the standard of living of the town's residents.

Another area for improvement is the healthcare. An indigene told this writer that the first maternity and healthcare centre was established in 1954. Though complemented today by a private  healthcare facility and patients stores, they are still limited in terms of services and capacity. Residents who require more specialized medical attention often have to travel to neighboring towns or cities. Developing more comprehensive and modern healthcare facilities in Malete would greatly improve the standard of living for residents.

In conclusion, Malete has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to  centuries.  The establishment of Kwara State University has brought a significant development to the area, with Malete herself  becoming a cynosure and proving by the days that it’s the destination for knowledge tourism. With continued investment and development, the world will know Malete as a meaning for knowledge.

Abidemi Arafat Bello is a 100L Mass Com student of Kwara State University, Malete, Kwara State. 

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