A day in Ogidi-Ijumu land, Kogi State in Nigeria, opens a panoramic view of the magnetic pull of the rocky town, writesAgozino Agozino, who was part of a recent tour of the land.
A Lagos-based art house, Nike Art Gallery, recently organised a guided tour for tourists, journalists and art aficionados in the ancient town of Ogidi-Ijumu in Kogi State, Nigeria and the expedition turned out to be a very fascinating and revealing insight into the abundant natural splendour of a town located within several rocks, reminding you of the ancient Roman capital, a city built on seven hills.
On arrival at Ogidi town, one is greeted with a landscape of rocks that evokes an aura of environment consciously set for encounter with some forces of nature. The many tall, formidable and fearful boulders, hung dangerously by nature over the land are a wonder to behold and tell the stories of the people.
Less than five kilometres from Kabba Bunu Local Government Area, the Ogidi rocks and the town are the main wonder of the people and their cultural heritage.
Specifically, Ogidi-land is situated on the Southwestern tip of the old Northern region, which is in the present day Middle-Belt. It is about three and half hours’ drive from Abuja. From a distance, the precarious lumps of heavily imposing rocks arranged by nature, overwhelm the entire landscape of the town like a divinely installed centre of attraction.
Oral traditions of the people reveal that the rocks play a central role in the people’s indigenous beliefs. The rocks and hills are sacred in Ogidi myths. They are also pivotal in their history as the town was where the people sought refuge from their attackers, the bloodthirsty Nupe warriors, who invaded the area during the height of Nupe Kingdom expansionist and slave raids which lasted from 1935 to 1955 in Ogidi.
Oral history of the people say the people fought gallantly and defeated the Nupe slave raiders and later the Fulani jihadists. The people we’re also said to have stayed on the hill top for weeks from where they fought their attackers during most of the inter-tribal wars.
The hills include Ketu, Orunro, Ijah, among others. During the Nupe slave raid and war, the rocks were said to have served as a refuge to the Ogidi warriors. The highest hill is called Ipowu, within which is situated a very large cave capable of shielding over one thousand warriors.
During the war, the Nupe warriors would besiege the Ogidiland during the day and occupy the land, believing that the Ogidi people had ran away. The Nupe would believe they had found a new extension of their kingdom, and would sleep at night, only for Ogidi warriors to come out from the Ipowu cave and kill their enemies.
The final defeat of Nupe by the Ogidi brought freedom to the people and saved their land and this victory is often celebrated in the land through various festivals including the Ogidi Day and New Yam festival, Olada, Agbowo and Omole.
The Ogidi Day and New Yam festival which holds every June is one important event cherished by the indigenes to celebrate their culture and history. The Ogidi New Yam festival is characterised by traditional rites and other festivities and paying of homage to the traditional ruler of the town and it is always witnessed by dignitaries as well as sons and daughters of the land.
According to His Royal Majesty, Oba Rabiu Oladimeji Sule, the Ologidi of Ogidi, the land is blessed with rich heritage. ‘ Our cultuter is very rich . We thank God for what He has done for our land. That is why, every June, our people come home from all over the world to celebrate here in our land”.
Explaining further, Oba Oladimeji revealed that the spiritual and social importance of the land makes it a place to visit by the people. Although, Ogidi land presently is in Kogi State, Oba Oladimeji said that their ancestry is in Ile Ife.
He said this was why the people always identify with many of their brothers and sisters in Ife in Osun State. He regretted the present geographical arrangement which placed them in Kogi State. The monarch implored the people to strictly adhere to their heritage, adding any group of people that abandon their culture has no future.
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