As a name and phenomenon, Olumo rock is known to be a tourist attraction that has caught the eyes of many people at home and in the Diaspora. However, beyond the fact that it is well visited by many, not many people know the history behind this beautiful place. This is what this article hopes to redress.
True enough, in the year 1976, Olumo rock was made into a tourist site and then was later commissioned by Olusegun Obasanjo on February 3, 2006. But before then, it was a mass of rock that had (and still has) strong spiritual essence for the people of Egba in Abeokuta who lay claim to it.
The past spiritual significance of Olumo was so great in so much that the people interlaced it into the name of the city where it is located. In light of this, Abeokuta means ‘under the rock’. Even the name Olumo is very significant. It means ‘all the troubles and sufferings were over.’
Back when wars were prevalent, Olumo rock used to act as a shelter and refuge camp for those wanting to escape the throes and woes of the catastrophic wars that hit the city. There are holes in the rocks which many believe are the places where the refugees used to pound their staples.
Beyond this, it is believed that Olumo rock possessed some healing powers that connoted something spiritual for the residents of Ogun. In fact, traditional healers used to go all the way to Olumo rock to fetch the water that flows from the top of the rock to its very base.
According to these traditionalists, the water had some potent healing elements that could cure several illnesses and diseases. It was said that Olumo rock usually produced this healing water used by local herbalist to cure sickness and diseases only during the raining season.
However, it has reportedly stopped producing water 50 years ago.. The stoppage was very near a tomb behind the house of a chief called Sonni Osi-Toko who died on January 23, 1956, at age 122.
Furthermore, The mass of rock in Olumo bears statutes that are used to symbolise the past heroes of the Egba people. Some of these Egba warriors are ‘Iliesha Abi Agbongbakala’, ‘Agagba’ the great hunter’ and ‘Okonkenu’ who was the first paramount ruler in Egba land.
Another warrior whose symbol is also inscribed in Olumo rock is ‘Jagun Jagun’ who was regarded as the sharp shooter and a powerful commander. To represent these warriors, symbols like ‘cowries’ which stood for the money spent at that period of time are also used.
Even more, the apex of Olumo rock also stands as the location of the very first church in Nigeria. The church whose name is Saint Peters Cathedral is still well known. As if that is not enough, the base of Olumo rock also serves as the location of several landmark sites.
Some of them include N.T.A Abeokuta, Baptist Boys High School, the family house of late M.K.O Abiola, the Central Mosque, Sanatan, River Ogun. In addition, there is an Iroko tree that is said to be over 200 years old. According to the natives around the area, the tree does not shed its leaves neither does it wither. It stays fresh and strong all through the year (even during dry seasons).
Indeed, the history of Olumo rock is one that is both powerful and interesting. However, this site is not just one with a glorious past, it is also of contemporary relevance. For one, Olumo rock is still revered among the Egba people of Abeokuta. They consider it to be a symbol of unity and protection.
Talking about protection, it has been said that since the rock was discovered and turned into a tourist attraction, no one has ever lost his or her life while climbing its hard and steep surfaces. Because of the fact that it once served as shelter to past refugees, many people home and abroad see it as a reminder of what it means to survive.
The fact that it was used as a strategy in surviving and staying alive in the midst of war by the people has caused it to still has a place in the hearts of many. In fact, sacrifices and supplications are usually made in an ancient shrine located on the upper part of the rock. This offering is made by the Alake of Egba who renders the sacrifice on behalf of the people of Egba and other people who visit the site.
A while back, Legit wrote an article that focused on how Olumo rock was used as a refuge and shelter by people. By the way, it should also be known that several historic events have occurred in that site. A woman aged 131 took to living under the rock and a man also decided that it served as the perfect place to propose to his bae.