OGUN STATE TOURISM – OLUMO ROCK

Posted By Editor On Friday, May 24th, 2013 With 0 Comments

abeokuta.jpg 2Ogun State is a state in South-western Nigeria. It was carved out of the defunct western state on February 3, 1976 by the then federal military government of late General Murtala Ramat Muhammad. It borders Lagos state and the Atlantic Ocean to the South, Oyo and Osun states to the North, Ondo state to the east and the Republic of Benin to the west. Ogun State is a socio-cultural melting pot attracting both Nigerians and foreigners alike. It has emerged as one of the fastest growing business destinations in Nigeria, with several local and international businesses and factories strategically sited within the 2 km government acquisition area of Lagos.

The state has a vibrant tourism industry with 20 local government areas, interesting festivals, six ethnic groups with a beautiful climate and is also rich in mineral and natural resources. The State is an embodiment of outstanding traditional cultures which over time have been refined without distortions to make them internationally attractive and alluring. In effect, the State is today the tourists delight. From Remo to Egba and from Yewa to Ijebu, there abounds spectacular tourist attraction that could leave the most cynical tourist gasping for breath.

 

Prominent tourist attractions in the state include:  

  Olumo Rock in Abeokuta,

·        Birikisu Sugbo Shrine at Oke-Eri

·        Yemoji Natural Swimming Pool at Ijebu-Ode

·        Oyan Dam in Abeokuta North

·         Iwopin Boat Regatta

·        Ebute-Oni in Ogun Waterside.

·        Madam Tinubu Shrine, Abeokuta

·        Oronna Shrine, Ilaro.

·        Area J4 Forest Reserve

·        Tongeji Island, Ipokia.

·        Old Manse at Ogbe, Abeokuta

·        James Anglican School, Ota

·        Ijamido River Shrine, Ota.

Abeokuta the capital and largest city in the state. is just about an hours’ drive from the bustling metropolitan city of Lagos providing convenient access to an array of hotels, restaurants, clubs, casinos and various nightlife activities.

 

Bola-Browne_198_olumoThe Olumo ‘God molded this’ Rock is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nigeria, West Africa, sits in the ancient city center of Abeokuta – a name which means “Under the rock”. Abeokuta was originally inhabited by the egba people who found refuge at the Olumo rock during inter-tribal wars in the 19th century. The rock provided sanctuary to the people as well as a vantage point to monitor the enemy’s – warriors from Dahomey now present day ‘Republic of Benin’ advance leading to eventual triumph in war. The town of Abeokuta eventually grew as these new settlers spread out from this location. Beyond serving as a place of refuge in time of war, Olumo Rock is believed to possess some healing powers.

 

A trip to Olumo rock usually commences with a climb up the man-made stairs carved into the rock. While this sounds easy enough, it leaves many breathless and ready to take a break to rest on the benches under the trees growing from the rock and enjoy some clean breeze. The journey continues with climbs on irregularly sized rocks (or ladders which are now thankfully provided) through a narrow corridor that leads to the top of the rock. All along the way, catch sights of carvings in the rock, cowry-studded statues and the ancient abode of the priestesses who live in huts on the rock. And yes, it is not uncommon to catch a sight of the very aged women who live there and mutter greetings or blessings as people make their way through.

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It is often helpful to enlist the services of a guide who possess vast knowledge of the history of the rock and the culture of the people. This makes for an interesting climb as every twist and turn will reveal a significant story making the trip a truly memorable one.  On the way back down the rock, the sight of the Ogun River running like a silver chain amidst a forest of aged red corrugated roofs bordered by thick green forests which melt into the horizon is breath taking.  The rock is a tourist attraction, a place where people come to unwind.Tourists to Africa definitely need to consider putting Olumo rock on their travel plans. New renovations completed early 2006 upgraded the infrastructure of the site to include a new museum, restaurants, water fountain and an elevator that will provide even the climbing-challenged a wonderful view of the surrounding city. Apart from generating revenue for Ogun State, it provides employment for people.

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OLUMO ROCK.JPGU

A trip to Olumo Rock commences after the payment of N500 to climb, N150, if one is just staying within the complex without climbing and N100 parking toll. A token is also collected for the use of the lift. However, most visitors still prefer to climb the man-made stairs etched into the rock. With numerous tour guides around, no tourist is allowed to go up the hill alone. It is often helpful to enlist the services of a guide who possess knowledge of the history of the rock and the culture of the people. This makes for an interesting climb as every twist and turn will reveal a significant story the rock is naturally surrounded by caves, one of which is about 20 feet long and 25 feet wide.

 

These caves have slab-like stones, which appear to have served as seats used by the ancient dwellers. Another cave, some 20-metre long and 17-metre wide, seemed to be a dwelling place. It has five in-built rooms with a long corridor, a sitting room, kitchen and a store. Of all the five caves, only one is in use till date. There are holes on the floor, which were said to have provided a devise for grinding pepper.  There is also the ancient abode of the priestesses who lived in huts on the rock. And, it is not uncommon to catch a sight of the very aged women who live there and mutter greetings or blessings as people make their way through. Visitors are also encouraged to give the aged women alms. In turn, the women pray for their visitors.

 

Other historic spots along the path up the rock are Igun shrine, where you find some priestess and Ojubo Obaluaye. Built with mud walls into outer and inner chambers, it is used as a shrine by the devotees of Orisa-Igun ‘God of longevity’. Orisa Igun is celebrated annually during which goats, rams and other animals are sacrificed. The ceremonies last for 30 days. It is believed that that deity controls smallpox and measles.  Anyone afflicted by these diseases can go there, perform the necessary rituals and receive permanent healing. There is also the presence of the Akoko (crown) tree.

 

The Keita Adire/Kampala market is the center of the indigenous Abeokuta industry of tie-and-dye, locally known as adire. The ancient Itoku market where local artisans and traders enjoy to haggle over price just as much as the customers like to find a bargain is just outside the Olumo rock premises and is a must-see for tourists. The market is the center of the indigenous Abeokuta industry of tie-and-dye, locally known as adire. Adire crafters, usually women, both old and young show off their designs in sheds alongside the roads. Behind these sheds are buildings where many of these crafters live and work. In places where the plaster has cracked off the walls, you may see traces of the mud bricks used in the original construction. The locals are very friendly and if asked, will often give tourists and visitors informal tours of the dyeing processes. Other popular items to watch out for include local beads, bracelets, sculptures and musical instruments like the sekere and talking drum.

 Tourists to Africa definitely need to put Olumo rock on their travel plans. New renovations completed early 2006 upgraded the infrastructure of the site to include a new museum, restaurants, water fountain and an elevator that will reduce the climbing-challenge and also provide a wonderful view of the surrounding city.

By – Yusrot Akinwunmi – The Platform

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