When he is not busy co-hosting his dynamic and fresh morning radio program from Nigeria’s capital city, Lagos, Ayo loves to travel and explore locations that make his country unique.
Now, then, let’s marvel together at Olumo Rock – a place that once protected warriors, and which in turn, recently needed protection itself.
Abeokuta literally means “Under the Rock.” The natural fortress may have protected a variety of people over the centuries, but it was during the 19th century, as it served as refuge for the Egba tribe during a series of tribal wars, that its protective qualities are most known for.
The Egba land warriors discovered Olumo and realized the enormous heaping pile of boulders naturally provided them the perfect strategic place. The wide flat top of the rock gave the warriors a fighting advantage, not to mention a great view of enemies below.
It was so strategic, in fact, that the Egba warriors lived on Olumo for more than three years. Lookout and living space, the rocks reportedly even served as a place to bury their dead. It seemed nature had designed a unique citadel for the Egbas to help them survive.
The wars eventually came to an end and the Egbas climbed down, settled into the valley and established the town with the name forever honoring the rock: Abeokuta.
Till today, the Egbas prides themselves in their rich history and their tribe-saving rock.
As a child, I visited Olumo Rock, but admit I was never fascinated by its significance. I was more interested in using it as my natural playground, than learning its dramatic role in history. But, as I grew older and did more research on my country, I came to discover more about the historical site and have since fallen in love with the rock and its warrior-filled story.
Sadly, however, one of the biggest frustrations I’ve also come to discover about my country is its lack of conviction in preserving historical landmarks: from media reports about the dire state of the first prime minister’s burial site, to the deteriorated condition of Badagry Slave Port (used to ship out slaves from Nigeria to the western world – where I was shocked by the horrible state of the museum with broken windows, uncared for artifacts and untended lawns outside), national monuments had become national embarrassments.
Following suit, a few years ago, Olumo Rock faced similar neglect until the federal government decided to step in and finally turned it into the treasured monument it is today.
For me, Olumo Rock is a reminder that the universe will always conspire to give you your heart’s desire.
But we must do our part as well. Olumo Rock, which once saved people, has now been saved by people.
Thank you, so much, Ayo, for an inspiring story of an inspiring place.
Where do you go for inspiration? A natural wonder? A church, temple or synagogue? Your backyard? Share your story as a comment here or write a longer essay to me at GinaLondon@gmail.com
I’ll happily post it! And if you’re looking for inspiration, I’m also happy to remind you that “Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me” – a book of wondrous conversations and adventures – is available on Amazon.com – With nearly two dozen rave reviews already, I’m sure you’ll love it too!
Ciao, tutti! Till next time,