A Visit to Olumo Rock, Abeokuta in Nigeria
In this country we might never know the value of what we have until we have all taken a tourist visit to Olumo rock. On Suday, 4th May, 2008 I took a firm and bold decision to visit Olumo rock in Abeokuta in Ogun state of Nigeria following the much interesting stories I had heard of the rock. Before this historic visit, I had only thought of Abeokuta as one small town with prominent illustrious sons and daughters many of whom have greatly contributed to the development of the country.
It was exactly 11.15am; I had chosen to go to see for myself that natural imposing wondrous rock called the Olumo rock which everyone has talked about except me rather than go to church that Sunday. I soon took a commercial vehicle from Oshodi to Abeokuta. My observation of the passengers in the bus showed that 12 out of the total 18 passengers in the vehicle were heading for a party in the town, I therefore began to wonder what the sight of Abeokuta could hold for me. Abeokuta indeed must be a party place I reasoned.
The bus soon set me down at a place called Kuto still in Abeokuta where I took another vehicle that stopped me right in front of Olumo rock. I had observed that Abeokuta itself is an ancient hilly town full of rocks. This Olumo rock is incredibly wonderful. We (with Patrick Bassey-Akpan) soon struck up friendship with a guide and photographer who would give us historical explanations about the rock and take several photographs of us using digital camera. Our first assignment was climbing the stairs (which I understood was artificially attached to the rock by the present Governor of the state, His Excellency, Otunba Gbenga Daniel popularly called OGD by his political Admirers in 2006 to boost the tourist arrangement of the rock) This exercise tired us out completely as we had to take a rest immediately we got to the top of veranda provided on the rock with a balcony.
Next we were shown the “Egba time Hide-out” which obviously were tiny natural caves with holes on the floor, we were told that the Egba warriors hid their wives children and in these caves while they engaged their enemies in the inter-tribal wars. This war is known as the Yoruba civil war in History. The holes dug on the floor were said to have provided a device for the grinding peeper, tomatoes, onions and other ingredients during the war.
We were also shown a tomb with an epitaph describing the name of the deceased as “Sonni” with the year of his final departure in 1956. The explanation for the interment here is that in the olden times the Egbas were often interred within their premises. We took note of a shrine said to be opened only once in a year perhaps every August 8, when the festival in veneration of the stone god which saved the lives of the Egbas is often held. We got to know that the festival itself attracts the Alake of Egbaland and several other dignitaries from within and outside the town.
We were stunned to discover some aged women still living on top of the rock. These Aged women simply said to be of the “7th generation” were indeed very pleasant and nice to meet. Our next mission took us to the very top of the rock. This gave us an amazing view of Abeokuta as almost every single structure in this town could be seen. Prominent amongst these were the Late MKO Abiola’s family house, the first mosque in Egbaland, premises of a once missionary school now said to be housing part of Ogun television House, the first church in Nigeria situated in Egbaland with the influence of Rev. Gollmer and Samuel Ajayi Crowther and other Saro Missionaries.
The Ogun River from which the state itself derives its name could also be sighted amazingly flowing from afar. The palace of Alake of Egbaland said to be full of historical antiquities could also be seen.
The total height of the rock was said to be 137 metres above the sea level and our guide pointed to a particular spot which he explained was the middle of the rock, not far from this spot is a long length of crack which completely splits the rock causing it to divide. According to our guide some Europeans hoping to find gold invaded the rock, a strike on this middle of the rock caused blood to gush from the rock and the long crack which the rock experienced. The result therefore was the death of the Europeans who died some of who also fled.
As we climbed down this magnificent rock, Series of questions struck my memory. I was simply imagining how trees which I saw on top of the rock could have grown without any access to the soil, and how the rock was said to have been discovered by a Hunter. Again I imagined how a Hunter could have discovered what may have been visible to everyone.
But there was a lesson I learnt from it all, that God is wonderful and greater than all. The Egbas may have also learnt this lesson many centuries ago before me.
Emeka Esogbue hails from Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria. He is is a History and International Relations graduate and an Internet Author with lots of tremendous published and unpublished works