One of the places which is least traveled but yet should be travelled more frequently is Igbeti’s Hills.
Igbeti’s Hills is home to Iyamopo Hill and Agbele Rock Formation in Oyo State.
Igbeti is a town located in the northern part of Oyo State, Nigeria. Igbeti is also known as “Marble City” for its rich marble deposits. Iya Mopo and Agbele Rock are the two most visited sites in Igbeti.
Agbele Rock Formation
I remember when I first saw this tourist site which happens to be the Symbol of Oyo State Tourism Board, I was in shock and wondered how stones could form on top of each other and form to resemble that of a woman with a calabash on her head and a baby strapped to her back.
There are many stories to explain this myth. Some say that, Legend has it that this rock formation was formed when a woman stole some yam tubers from a rocky part of the village which was being dried in the sunlight. And like Lot’s wife, she became a permanent fixture on the spot.
Another story says the woman who was hungry with her child decided to steal the pieces of yam dried outside in the rocky part of the village which unknowingly to her, belonged to an Ifa Priest( a Traditional Priest). As she stole the pieces of the yam well kept in her calabash, she turned away to exit the scene when the Priest got to the scene and having a knowledge of what she has done cursed her and she immediately turned into a rock in her shape (alongside everything she was carrying which included her child).
Legend also has it that she was a goddess(a very powerful one) that suffered from Kleptomania. So despite the fact that she was rich and powerful, her only trouble was that she stole whatever her eyes saw and loved, although she has no need for it. One day while passing by the place where the yams were being laid on the rocky floor to dry which later would be processed into lafun, she stole the yam pieces and quickly kept it in her calabash. When she turned back to leave, she realized that one of the villagers saw her stealing. In a bid to cover her shame, she decided that it was time to stop living among humans and that she would rather turn into a stone alongside with her child than face the mockery that was coming her way, so she turned herself into a stone in anger.
At this point, you are enjoying the story right? Lol. Let me leave you with my side of the story too. Maybe the myths are true or maybe, just maybe God made the rocks to form in this way to celebrate Women being Nurturers. An example of a strong figure of mother and caretaker; ever prepared to be busy with her hands and mind so as to enrich her family and improve her Community.
Other angles of the Rock
As an explorer, I was not satisfied with this view of the rock that I got, I wanted to see it from different angle of how it looked like. Moving even deeper into the site and up the hill, I saw a different glimpse of the rock- showing more the face of the woman and I was surprised to see what looked like a smiling face.
A new discovery.
Lest I forget, we found another rock formation that I believe is legendary too. We may not know the story behind this one but we found a rock that resembled a Gorilla and I named it Gorilla Rock(Yes, I am the Mungo Park of our generation. lol). See the pictures below.
Sadly though, this place as beautiful as the rock formation was, had its drawback. It was very much polluted and was not being preserved well. I was so disappointed that it was a Symbol of Oyo Tourism Board yet it was kept in such a poor state. It was heavily littered and had a bad stench. As at early last year(2019), when we visited it, it was in this state. I do not know if it has gotten better as of now. Some youths in the place were trying their best to clean and also dissuade people from turning it to a dumpsite. I personally believe, the government should interfere through the Ministry of Tourism and ensure the cleanliness of the place and if need be appoint Security guards to the place.
Like the popular saying goes- It is best to save the best for the last. Iyamopo Hill is a stunning beauty. Hiking this hill was one of the best experiences I had. Iya Mopo is a goddess turned into a Hill. Like a new bride, Iya Mopo stands out beautifully at 350m in the village of Igbeti. Every year on Easter Monday, as a tradition, the locals visit the place in masse to promote tourism. History has it that she was the goddess of pottery.
On Iyamopo Hill, we saw a rock that resembled the Bata Drum. Sincerely, I felt that it could be that the gods played the rock as a drum at night. Lol. A Batá drum is a double-headed drum shaped like an hourglass with one end larger than the other. The percussion instrument is used primarily for the use of religious or semi-religious purposes for and originates from the native culture land of Yoruba and Igbo, located in Nigeria.
What I also saw on Iyamopo Hill were the caves which were large enough to stand in and even make a shelter in away from the harsh sun and rain. A cave or cavern is a natural void in the ground, specifically a space large enough for a human to enter. Caves often form by the weathering of rock and often extend deep underground. I really loved the look of the caves on the Hills.
Another thing, which is the last thing I will be addressing, is that Iyamopo Hill is full of beautiful rocks standing beautifully tall. It ranges in different colors(Yellow, brown, grey, golden, white e.t.c) You will definitely love the landscape there. It’s a must visit for you if you haven’t been there. Yes, its a bit of a hike to get up there but the view you see when you get up there is magnificient.
Hopefully I will be putting Nigeria on the wikipedia list of rock formations worldwide that resemble human beings, Nigeria is still mising from the list.