This was the day we would journey to Olumo rock. So my choice of outfit was important. No uncomfortable outfit or shoe. I got to the venue in time for breakfast. The breakfast menu was Agege Bread, scrambled eggs, stew and a cup of tea or yam, scrambled eggs, stew and a cup of tea. Sounds divine right? You’d think, the caterers could have at least tried to make provision for some other breakfast options. Felt like boarding school all over again. I had ignored the rich N2,000 breakfast at my hotel because of “aroro”. Dissatisfaction regardless, i gobbled down my N500 breakfast quickly and found my way to the first event of the day, a book chat with Sarah Ladipo Manyinka and Yewande Omotosho speaking about their books which had closely related themes on cantankerous elderly women.
Next up was a Panel Discussion about Sensuality in New African Writing. This was one of the most interesting sessions I attended at the festival. The truth, the bluntness, all too real.
I travelled back to my hotel room for a nap. Went back to the cinema hall some hours later to see two short films; A Mother’s Journey which had its storyline bordering on post-partum depression and Salt with a storyline bordering on the tales of the rumoured healing and preventive powers of salt during the Ebola phase in 2014. The directors of both films were present for a Question and Answer session after the viewing.
Here’s the amusing part, while some of us were chilling watching “feem” and asking “kweshun”, people had started moving down to Olumo rock with available cars and buses, some provided by organisers of the event. So by the time the small lot of us “feem watchers” came out of the Cinema Hall, everywhere was virtually empty. No means of “awoof” transportation in sight except we had to go get a cab. But God in his infinite mercies, made it possible that some guy with a nice lexus jeep shouted out from where he stood just beside his car that he still had space for 5 people who were interested in going to Olumo Rock. Trust your girl now. Not a time to be dull. Got into the car with the speed of lightning. (thanks to my Lagos danfo-boarding skills). Six of us were able to camp in the back of the jeep. Good company I must say as the journey was filled with gists about the visitors, guests, books and the festival events. By time we got to Olumo, the throng of people that had gone ahead of us were already mid way up the rock. We rushed out of the car to join them.
Unfortunately, an announcement had been made about the time I went back to my hotel for a nap that each person would have to pay an entry fee of N500 at Olumo Rock. I didn’t know about this and I had left my purse in the good Samaritan’s car which was parked well away from the feet of the ancient edifice. Good Samaritan himself had gone far up the rock. He wouldn’t have been able to hear me call out. Was this the end of my Olumo quest? I decided to take a shot, screamed out to the GS, hoping he would hear and come down to open his car, so I could get my purse. He didn’t hear me call out. By a stroke of luck,, one of the guys I’d entered GS’s car with, saw my predicament and was willing to loan me N500. I thanked him profusely and started my climb.
Up and up we climbed, stairs on stairs and stairs. The supposed elevator which was meant to make the journey upwards faster and smoother had become a cultural edifice itself, lifeless, non-functioning, stagnant and abandoned. It was trying to share the spotlight with Olumo Rock.
Allow me state at this point, that even before getting halfway, the view starts to get interesting and breathtaking.
I was able to catch up with the throng of two hundred and something individuals, guest and visitors alike that had come for the excursion.
There were some significant spots that the Tour Guide gave some lectures on. The hideout of the Egba warriors and their families, the small sized wide holes that had been made as makeshift food grinders, an unmarked grave where a former king was buried, wooden head images of war lords who had been victorious in their battles.
That’s my boo Tendai Hitchu grinning in the distance 😉
And we came to the Healing Tree. A leaf from the tree could be used to make an “abiku” child stay. The child would be bathed with it. Same way the leaf is not meant to touch the baby’s head or his/her head would grow big and shapeless with the baby ending up dead.
We climbed up to the place where the Rock’s Priestess lived. They say she’s over 133 years old. Didn’t see the Priestess herself but we saw some other old women. “Assistant priestesses” probably?. We were able to take some shots of the shrine and its surroundings surprisingly. Thought it would have been deemed sacrilegious to take photographs there.
Upwards, we climbed until we got to the point where you either had to climb up to the peak of the rock through a narrow steeply and jagged path or go through about 12 flights of stairs (depending on your foot wear and how courageous you were)
Well yours truly here, “jejely” climbed the stairs and actually got to the peak of the Rock way before the camp of the “Bold and fearless”. The view from the apex point had me speechless on arrival. Never seen anything like it before. ASTONISHING!!!!
The Tour Guide showed us some “hot spots” in Abeokuta from the top. A grammar school, the first church in Ogun state, the Ogun river and other relevant sites within Abeokuta that could be viewed from the hilltop. And we all sang along to “mayo mayo mayo mayo oooo, lori olumo”
It was already 7:05 pm at this point. I believe the trip would have been much more enjoyable if it had commenced way earlier in the day and not 5pm. Anyway loads and loads of selfies and pictures took I. Being without friend or Personal Assitant there, having journeyed to Ake all alone, front camera selfies were the order of the day. An extra bit of dilly-dallying and we climbed down to start our journey back to the Festival grounds.
Hope y’all can peep those gentlemen still struggling to get up the rock “James Bond” style..lol
The next event was the sage play “Iyalode of ETTI”. We thought we’d just come back and delve straight into the play but it started 2 hours after we got back by 9pm. Somehow another programme, a book launching had been snuck into the schedule of events.
I had to keep watch of the time (nice pun). The storyline is about an Iyalode, her brothers, requited love and intertwinings with betrayal and tragedy. I would recommend this as a must see if it’s ever showing anywhere around you. Great story, talented actors who knew their stuff and optimal stage usage.
Some minutes past 10pm, the curtains closed on the first half of the play. Sadly I had no other choice but to pick up my bag and head on home. Same as the day before, everywhere was already dark, little to no vehicular and pedestrian movement. Got a bike about 15mins later with the usual doubled asking price. Arrived at the hotel safe and I made a decision there and then that after the festival, I’d find a way to convey my opinion on the timing of the festival’s events to the organizers, which I eventually did. And I also decided that whether my advice was be taken or not, I would do better next time by getting an hotel close to the venue even if I had to start saving from now.
It’s still paining me that I didn’t get to see the end of the play sha.