The Rock God Moulded
I’m going to start by saying, when you go to Olumo Rock ask for the art gallery. I was recently told by someone that he went there and had no idea there was an art gallery, even though he had tour guides with him. It’s part of the entry fee, so you might as well see it.
One day a certain man named Adagba who was a hunter/farmer discovered a rock that he believed would be perfect for hiding from wars or threats of wars. He and his wife started hiding there whenever the need arose, but of course the word spread and more people started coming there to seek refuge.
For the Egba people, this single monument represents their heroism, freedom and dare I say nationalism. It has become the symbol of unity and freedom for all Egba people and those who live in Abeokuta because it was inside this rock that they hid in when they were under attack.
When the Oyo Empire collapsed in the 19th century, the Egba people who were originally under that empire became independent and thus began the war with the Dahomey tribe.
Their success was due to the protection of Olumo Rock. This rock also allowed them to view the enemies out of sight and thus assured them victory. The Egba people then settled under and around Olumo Rock which lead to the creation of Abeokuta (meaning under the rock). Abeokuta is now the capital of Ogun State.
Every year, sacrifices are made at Olumo Rock to thank the gods for protection, and a festival is carried out which lasts for 30 days.
How do I know all this? My dad and I were told by our tour guide after driving for about 1.30 hours from Lagos. We got to see where the Egba people slept, holes in the ground which they used to cook their food. Because where they slept is underneath the Olumo Rock itself, you literally have to crawl to see those sections. I can’t imagine not being able to stand up straight for months.
There’s also a mysterious tree that has been there for over 300 years and of course the view of Abeokuta town when you finally make it to the top of the rock. The climb left us breathless but it was worth it. (For the non-climbers out there, you can use the lift)
From the top you can point out the Ogun River, and other important monuments in Ogun. Besides, the view of the famous red roofs of Western Nigeria is also one not to miss. The top is also where the Egba people would watch for when their enemies were approaching.
On the ‘first floor’ of the rock, there’s a Pansheke Garden which is named after the Pansheke Tree. When you pluck the seed of the tree it makes a ‘sheke sheke’ noise, hence the name.
There was a man who lived in front of Olumo Rock and according to tradition, when a man dies he is buried in his backyard so his grave is part of the Rock. However the government has said no more graves should be put there. The man died in 1956 and in 1976 and then Olumo Rock became a tourist attraction.
The tour guides were quite knowledgeable on its history and had no problem helping us take pictures. They also claim no one has ever fallen off Olumo Rock because of the gods that they appease regularly.
For those of you who may not be adventurous, you can decide not to climb up and just sit down in the park on the premises and enjoy the view.
The trip was worth it, despite the horrendous traffic that day. However I think more can be done in terms of hospitality.
- A restaurant is available on site, but it’s not one I would recommend at the moment. My dad and I weren’t impressed. We were hoping to grab a bite to eat, but when we entered, we weren’t presented with options that looked appealing. You’re better off just bringing something to eat along with you.
- Considering the amount of people who visit the site, I think effort should be put into making sure that a decent restaurant is on site.
- The toilet is not remotely pleasant. I’m sure the government can do something about it!
- When you have a major tourist attraction in a city, some sort of signage showing directions should be available. If not for trusty okadas (motorcyclists), we wouldn’t have found it. (I’ll put directions below, you can thank me later 🙂 )
- I think it would be nice to see some sort of Olumo Rock hotel for visitors coming to explore Abeokuta Town.
Why did I name this post ‘The Rock God Moulded’? it’s because it is the literal translation of ‘Olumo Rock’
It costs N700 (2GBP, 3 EUR or $4) if you’re climbing. If you’re not climbing however, its N300 (1GBP, 1EUR or $2) just to be on the premises. Parking is available, however it comes with a N200 (64p, $1).
I think the price is very good and doesn’t hurt the pocket. If you remember I mentioned it as one of the tourist attractions you could visit for less than N1000 (3GBP, 4EUR OR $5).
If you’re looking for a place to visit this weekend, take a road trip to Olumo Rock!
Directions – when you get into Abeokuta, you see the govt house, keep driving down till you get to the end of that street. When you get to the end, take a right. When you get under the bridge, turn left and drive down slowly. You’ll see it on your right! If in doubt call an okada also known as a motorcycle)
Abeokuta is about 1 hour 30 mins from Lagos state.