A Trip to Abeokuta
Olumo rock has totally being on my mind since the beginning of the year and finally I got the opportunity to see this ancient splendour sculpted by Mother Nature . It was not a planned solo trip but since my friend couldn’t make it, I had to go by myself.
On the said day, I had different negative thoughts running through my mind because I had never ventured to a new city alone. My trip down to Abeokuta was uneventful but I noted the rolling hills at the outskirt of the city. It reminded me of Enugu, since I left Eastern Nigeria I have been obsessed with hills, there is something so magnificent about them, the towering presence, the cascading valley and the domineering backdrop.
A passenger offered to assist me get to my destination when I ask the driver for directions. We took a taxi and got to the place. I couldn’t help but notice several lookalike rocks, in fact I pestered them with questions while still in transit. I paid the entrance fee which was 1000 naira,and I stood all alone at the entrance wishing i had a companion.
Photographers approached me at the entrance but I was told beforehand that they do charge exorbitantly. One of them showed me the way to the art gallery before I dismissed him. I was joined in the gallery by a group of young females on an excursion. I fed my eyes on the beautiful ethnic art pieces around me after spending some minutes then I decided to go for the cheap lovely bracelets; we were directed to the cultural gallery, where we saw different native skin care products and the likes.
I got tired of asking people to snap me, in fact the pictures came out blurry, I decided to use the help of a photographer, we agreed on a hundred naira per picture on his camera. The first series of stairs led us to the first landing which was a garden, here we took our rest and ordered for palm wine and water. The tour guides rambled on the history of the garden and so on. My photographer cum tour guide insisted we move forward because the tour guides do charge listeners.
The next landing had two alternative routes, the free bend and the ancient route. The first shrine we saw was a closed door with feathers glued on it, according to their belief, each feather represent the fulfilment of the believers wishes. The door is open only once in a year and only two persons are allowed to enter (the chief priest and the ruler of Egbaland).
Further down the ancient route is the famous hide out/ building under the rocks. There are few depressions on the rock surface which was said to be left by the ancients when they pounded their yams and pepper. Close by is the grave of the first Egba historian /tour guide. It quite surprising that people still live under the rock, their goats skillfully skipped the rocks as if they were on the ground.
We move to the space inhabited by the natives, the photographer already hinted that I will drop some money in order for me to pass here. I gave the oldest woman some money and she prayed for me. The photographer asked if I will do some divination but I declined. We passed the second shrine, and then made a turn to the ancient pass.
This opening consisted of chirped off rocks and manmade ladder, the climb here was breathtaking and I successfully made it to the third landing. I discontinued my journey here because I was scared of the narrow steep pass to the final landing.
I wasn’t happy I didn’t make it to the top which would have been the highlight of my journey. Downhill a solo tourist approached me and asked if I could accompany him to the top of rock. I immediately seized the opportunity to hiked the rock again, but this time we took the stairs at the third landing, the photographer didn’t tell me there were stairs as an alternative to the steep pass!
At the top, I could see the Ogun River snaking it way through the thickets of bushes. A train whistled close by, I would love to take a trip on a train one day. The city was clothed with dust from the roofs to foundation. We all looked on, each with our thoughts, I looked on the other rocks nearby, and noticed that the Olumo is so far the biggest of them all. I wondered if the other rocks also names too.
What will I give to have a day with the ancients, to feel the thrills under the rocks while the enemies made terrifying war noise downhill? I wondered what lurked in the dark chambers and why only two persons are allowed to behold it. If olumo is an entity I would liken it to the mother hen who sits sturdily and offers shelter to her children while she cast her devious gaze on the confused enemies to let her children prepare their surprise attack.
- I spent a total of six thousand naira. Here is the breakdown, two thousand naira for transport fare to and fro t from Lagos to Abeokuta.
- One thousand naira for the gate fee, two thousand naira for the pictures and one thousand naira for souvenirs, food and drinks, you can totally skip the photo shoot, if you have a camera or very good phone.
- when on a solo trip, remember to smile always, ask for directions when you don’t know your way around and be friendly also.
- No one has fallen off the rock ever since time immemorial
- The city was named Abeokuta which means “under the rock”, because the olumo rock served as a natural fortress during the inter-tribal warfare in the past.
- It is 137 metres above sea level.
- People still live in this natural sanctuary.