Olumo Rock, Abeokuta
Olumo Rock is a popular tourist attraction in the city of Abeokuta, Nigeria. It was used as a fortress by the Egba people in the early 19th century.
Olumo rock, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nigeria, sits in the ancient city centre of Abeokuta – a name which means “Under the rock”. Abeokuta was originally inhabited by the egbas who sought 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 advance leading to eventual triumph in war.
It was noted that, during the raining season Olumo rock produced water that could be used by local herbalist to cure sickness and diseases but it stopped producing water 50years ago, close to this point was a tomb behind the house of a chief called Sonni Osi-Toko who died on the 23rd January 1956 at 122yrs.
Every year, sacrifices and prayers are offered in an ancient shrine situated on the upper part of the rock by the Alake of Egbaland, who is the ruler of the Egbas on behalf of the people and for the whole country and the entire Egba people, as well as for the tourists that visit the rock.
Abeokuta is about an hour’s drive from Lagos providing convenient access to an array of hotels, restaurants, clubs, casinos and various nightlife activities. The closest airport to Abeokuta is the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. Hotels in Abeokuta within minutes drive from the rock include Gateway Hotel and Olumo Guest House.
New renovations completed early 2006 upgraded the infrastructure of the site to include a new museum, restaurants, water fountain and an 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.
The market is the centre of the indigenous Abeokuta industry of tie-and-dye, locally known as adire. 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.
A trip to Olumo rock usually commences with a climb up the man-made stairs carved into the rock. The journey continues with climbs on irregularly sized rocks (or ladders which are now provided) through a narrow corridor that leads to the top of the rock.
All along the way, catch sights of carvings in the rock, cowrie-studded statues and the ancient abode of the priestesses who live in huts on the rock. Guides are available at the site.
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 breathtaking.
At the apex of the rock one clear view of the first Church in Nigeria “Saint Peters Cathedral”, N.T.A Abeokuta, Baptist Boys High School, the family house of late M.K.O Abiola and the Central Mosque.
Keep on keeping on! »
Jackie Appiah »