Image of a village of statues recently went viral. Does this village truly exist in Nigeria?

Written by on September 8, 2021

By Funmilola Afolabi

Claim: A Facebook User, Olododo Media, put up a post with images of statues depicting them to be that of a town where the ancient occupants turned to statues. The user claimed the village is in Esie, Kwara State. 

Verdict: The statues in the Facebook post are not soapstone statues in Kwara state but the artificially built stones of the Saradiel Village in Sri Lanka.

Full Text

On August 23, 20121, a Facebook user, Olododo Media made a post tagged “This is the town where all the entire people in the town became statues.’

The post further reads, ‘The town is in Esie, Kwara State.’

Screenshot of the Facebook post

The post, as of August 31, had garnered 292 likes and 1.6 thousand shares.

Screenshot of more images of the post

Verification

Nigeria has a creative custom that dates back thousands of years. While much of the country’s early art had a spiritual or religious significance, many of the traditional arts and crafts progressed over time to include practical and decorative items.

Normally, the concept of art can be found in the fact that human beings express their knowledge and values through this means and that is why the art and culture of Nigeria symbolizes the glaring image of the country’s culture and history.

So, is Esie town really the one in question where all the entire people in it became statues as depicted in the post?

Esie Museum in Kwara state.

Esie is an ancient Yoruba town in Irepodun local council area of Kwara state and is generally known as a home to about 800 soapstone figures. Esie museum happens to be one of the early museums in the country, and inside it stands some mysterious statues whose origin has remained unknown till date.

Esie sculptures are made from stearate (soapstone) and come in various designs and sizes- depicting an array of social roles but mostly featuring men and women who are seated or kneeling while holding on to agricultural or musical instruments.

This researcher contacted the Acting Curator of Esie Museum, Johnson Ajayi, to confirm if the statues in question can be found in Esie museum.

Mr Ajayi responded, saying “This information is not authentic as these cannot be found in Esie museum. We have statues here but they are not like that.”

Image of statues in Esie Museum Excerpt: Nigeria Galleria

So, where are the statues of human beings in the pictures situated?

A Google reverse image search of the images show that the figurines can be found in Saradiel Village. It is said to be the true habitat of Sri Lakan Robin Hood named  Soora Saradiel, and it is situated in Uthuwankanda- Mawanella.

The creator of Saradiel village is Dr. Ariyasena U. Gamage, it was declared open in 2012. The artificially built village spans across 6 acres and showcases different life courses and notable moments in Saradiel’s life.

Screenshot of statues in Saradiel village     Excerpt: Daily FT

Conclusion

The statues in the Facebook post are not soapstone statues in Kwara state but the artificially built stones/statues of the Saradiel Village in Sri Lanka.


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