Naija 7 Wonders Winners

OSUN GROVE

…second World Heritage site in Nigeria

 

 –  (Culled from www.osundefender.org)

Like all the monumental and most spectacular natural wonders of the world which has become a point of reference in world art history in many parts of the world, even if the world are discovering some other wonders one should note that some wonders before the medieval period are no longer exist, many of our fun and tourist seeking folks have found their way one time or the other to the existing natural divinely created heritages. What is worthy of note back home here is the way the monuments and the statues at the Osun Grove were painstakingly constructed by the famous late octogenarian Austria Artist- Adunni Olorisa  the Late Susan Wenger.

 

Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove is an organically enveloped cultural landscape associated with Yoruba traditional religion and culture. Osun Grove is a world heritage site with primary rainforest vegetation covering an area of 75 hectares of land with a buffer zone of 47 hectares surrounding it.  Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove is located along the banks of Osun River in Osogbo local government area of Osun State, South Western Nigeria. The Grove is situated on the margins of the southern forest of Nigeria on a raised parcel, which are about 350m above sea level. Laro and Timehin Grammar School bound the grove in the north, while in the south is bounded by the entrance of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) which runs parallel to form the western boundary.  In the East, Osun State Agric Farm Settlement also bound it. Osun State on which the Grove is founded covers an area of about 14, 875 Sq.Km. The state of the virtuous which houses the grove lies within the tropical forest, and is bounded by Ogun, Kwara, Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti state in the South, North, West and East respectively.

 

In Yoruba cosmology, Osun was said to have metamorphosed into river as a result of a misunderstanding between ‘Oba’ a co-wife of Sango. The river takes its source from Igede Ekiti and flows through Ilesa to Osogbo town and empty itself into Atlantic Ocean. It is believed that the goddess in-habit the Grove, while the river meander within and into the Grove called Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove.  The Grove was discovered by an elephant hunter called Olutimehin, who hailed from Ipole  Omu in Ijesa land, this confirm the fact that the early Osogbo people were Ijesas from Ipole Omu in Obokun area, where they were faced with the problem of draught, which prevented them from getting adequate supply of water for farming, cooking bathing and all other domestic uses.

 

Timehin the great hunter in one of his expedition came across the river in the Grove. Having discovered the Grove and the river, he reported back to Larooye the King of Ipole-Omu and suggested that Larooye should establish his kingdom in the Grove. Larooye was the Owaroki (crown King) of Ipole-Omu- a settlement built on hilly area surrounded by atrench dug to protect the community from external aggression. Larooye and his people migrated from Ipoleomu to settle at the plains of river Osun, where the first palace was erected. While they were building and engaging in farming activities which involved clearing and felling of trees, one of the branch fell into the river on the DYE POT of Osun goddess, who was annoyed by this act, a loud voice came from the river shouting ‘LARO, TIMEHIN, KILODE TE FO IKOKO ARO MI” (Why did you broke my dye pot). Immediately, voices from the other spirit came out from the forests which empathized with the Goddess saying ‘OSO IGBO PELE O”.(Spirit of the forest we empathize with you)’ This was the genesis of the circumstance that brought the name ‘Osogbo’ by which the town is known to date.

The oral account went further to say that Oba Larooye Gbadewolu entered into agreement with Osun goddess on behalf of his people that they would respect and appease the Goddess, should the goddess solve their physical and spiritual problems. The goddess (Osun) promised to multiply them if they would build a shrine for her and that a virgin girl from the royal lineage will be bringing sacrifice to her during the celebration of the agreement. This singular act of propitiation is now celebrated world wide as Osun festival. Larooye and Osogbo people accepted the pact and the promises of Osun goddess materialized.

 

 

 

KANO CITY WALL

Built in 15 Century AD. 17.5 km in circumference with 16 gates, protecting what used to be an important centre of trade towards the north across the Sahara. Within the walls, the Gidan Makam Museum is a national monument of architectural excellence.

 

– (culled from www.nigerianmuseums.org)

Kano has probably a longer and more fully traceable history than any other of the cities in Nigeria and its name along with that of Timbuktu throughout the World, even those who have had no special reason for studying West Africa in detail.

For nearly ten centuries, a city of Kano, significant in size and importance has centered round the twin iron-bearing hills of Dalla and Goron Dutsen. It was in the 15th century A.D, about a century before Shakespeare was celebrating his own country as this royal throne of Kings. This fortress built by nature for herself against infection and the hand of war that Kano under its twentieth Emir, Muhammed Rumfa, achieved its greatest pre-eminence in Hausaland.

In later times, amidst perpetual wash of balance of tides of forces Kano was raided, besieged and occasionally conquered; sometimes by its Chief rivals among the other Hausa states, especially Zaria and Katsina; sometime by other immigrant peoples who were on the move in the western Sudan, the Kwarafa, the Kanuri, the Zamfarawa, the Gobir, the Fulani, the Ningi, the Maradi to say nothing of the British. Through all these vicissitudes, the essential life of Kano as a centre of trade and communications continued with little dislocation.

Until the end of the nineteenth century, it prospered as the principal distribution centre for the trans-saharan caravan routes; during the twentieth, as the chief collection centre at the rail-head of the Nigerian Railway Network. The clear outline and depth of the moat is so marked that it appears in even better preservation than the perimeter wall itself. Possibly this: Section was never an outer wall, but was built as a second line of defence, either of the time of Wambai Giwa or at an even later period.

 

 

IDANRE HILLS

…said to be 800 years old and reached by 442 steps with spectacular views overlooking the new town of Idanre. The Owa’s Palace has a fine courtyard with carved figures and doors.

 

(Culled from www.goodlife.com.ng)

Ondo State the only state in Nigeria blessed with the highest coast line has several tourists’ centers whose historical and artistic values are unparalleled.  One of such tourist attractions is Idanre Hill in Idanre town. The town is divided into the new settlement which is at foot of the hills, and Oke Idanre the old settlement on top of the hills.

 

It is a marvelous Tourist attraction with location of about 24 Kilometers Southwest of Akure the State capital. The Hill consist of about 640 steps, there are also 5 resting posts along the steps to the top. At the top there is an intriguing footprint which is widely believed to enlarge or contract to accommodate every foot. It is well believed that anybody whose foot does not exactly fit into the footprint is considered to be a witch or wizard.

 

Idanre Hill consists of high plain with spectacular valleys of about 3,000ft above sea level. Its physical attributes include Owa’s palace, Shrines, Old Court, Belfry, Agboogun footprint, thunder Water ( Omi Aopara). It also has diverse and variegated eco-systems of flora and fauna. Idanre Hill contains very important bio-physical and land form features. It is one of the most awesome and beautiful natural landscapes in Ondo State and Nigeria.

 

Added to its beauty which fires human curiosity is the fact that the entire people of Idare lived on these borders for almost a millennium.  Festivals make the site a living tradition. For example, the Ogun festival which is partly celebrated on top of the Hills during October, and Ife festival which spread over a period of 7 days. Apart from the festivals, the Flora and Fauna of the hills are also unique. There is special specie of tailless animal called Hyrax. Monkeys are also sported near Orosun hills. The hill also serves as home to a group of Bats and the people hold a unique festival of Bats every year.

 

Idanre Hill also plays host to a group of Scientists and field researchers. It is also used by film-makers as location for many of their films. In addition Nobel Prize winner for Literature in Africa Prof. Wole Soyinka wrote his longest poem titled “Idanre and Other Poems”.  If you want a “Hilly” experience, then Idanre Hill, Ondo State, Nigeria is the place to be.

 

 

 

 

 

OBUDU MOUNTAIN RESORT

(By Austin Jacobson.)

The team made a stop-over at the Agbokim Water Falls, one of the greatest natural heritage that this country has been endowed with.  The Agbokim Water Falls is situated on a hill top with a channel of seven different rivulets that lead and form the falls. Deep down the falls are natural forests with mangroves which surround the falls and make the environment serene and peaceful. Obudu Mountain Resort is a paradise in Nigeria, starting from the unpolluted fresh air, the chilled weather that can be compared to winter period in Europe.

One interesting thing about the Obudu Resort is the feeling of walking in the cloud, especially in the morning and evening when one sees the cloud hovering within one’s touch; with the longest cable car ride in Africa as well as a unique aerial walkway (through the cloud) forest. For those who are inclined towards the supernatural, it brings the feeling of being close to one’s creator. Obudu is a place where one can easily find pure natural milk and honey. The cattle of Obudu ranch produce the milk. Despite its cold nature, the place produces pure honey. There is even a honey factory in the ranch and a very nurtured cow named Donald Duke.

 

According to Edwin, one of the tour guides working in the resort, the weather at the resort can often get so cold that the visibility within the resort will go very low. For nature lovers, Obudu offers one of the most naturally preserved nature reserves called the Becheve Nature Reserve Obudu Plateau that is supervised by the Nigerian Conservative Foundation (NCF).  In the plateau, there is the 60 metres canopy walk way, Leventis tree platform for birds and watching pen tree groove where monkeys could be seen jumping from one tree to another. One cannot leave Obudu Mountain Resort without taking a ride on the cable car. The Cable is the longest in the world from one point to another. It moves in the air like an airplane, but glides downwards, making it look like it is descending. From Obudu, the team moved to Alok, a historic community in Cross River, where we have the stone heads, otherwise called the Monoliths. The stone heads are placed in an open museum and it connotes the historical background of the people in the early days of civilization.

 

 

 

 

NATIONAL WAR MUSEUM

Custodian of the history of Nigeria’s most momentous event. …housing the famous OJUKWU BUNKER from where the Biafra war command operated during the Nigeria Civil War.

 

By Okorie Uguru – The Nation Newspaper

At the end of the Nigerian Civil War on January 15, 1970, the Nigerian government of the day declared there was ‘no victor and no vanquished’. It was aimed at putting the ugly episode of the war behind and speeding up the process of national reconciliation and healing. While the civil war lasted, various sophisticated weapons were used. Some of these deadly weapons were fabricated due the exigencies of the war. Outside the appurtenances of war, civilians were also involved in the process of not just fighting, but psyching up the minds of the people to forge ahead despite the deprivations that comes with war. Different media of mass communication were used.

 

The war was a watershed in the history of Nigeria as a country. The experience, many agree, is such that makes the resort to arms and war as a means of conflict resolution not an attractive option. It is in this spirit that the Nigerian War Museum, Umuahia was established. The museum’s location was chosen because it is where the bunker housing the famous shortwave radio “the voice of Biafra “was transmitted from. Voice of Biafra was the mouth-piece for Biafra during the war. The National War Museum, Umuahia, the Abia State capital has the highest collection of the Nigerian civil war weapons that are no longer in used. The weapons are from both the Nigerian military and the defunct Biafra.

 

The place has become a tourist site that attracts hundreds of people daily. They come from within and outside the country for see the war artifacts on display. To some it is to relieve the periods of the war through items on display while to others it is for study purposes. There are yet others who come simply for curiosity. The museum is located at Ebite Amafor in Isingwu Autonomous Community in Umuahia North LGA. It is off Umuahia-Uzuakoli Road. The war museum is very popular so locating it would pose no problem as any cab or the commercial tricyclist could take one to the museum. There are no longer commercial motorcyclists in Umuahia.

 

 The museum was commissioned in 1985 on a large expanse of land. It has three galleries that covers traditional warfare, the armed forces and the Nigerian Civil War weapon galleries. War relics of war being housed in the museum include weapons used during the pre-colonial civil disturbances, warfare materials used during communal and inter-tribal wars and those of the Nigerian civil war. After paying the entrance fee, a tour of the museum kicks off from the prehistoric war section where some of the weapons that were used for war are on display. On display are spears, shield, bows and arrows, metal war vest that warriors used to protect themselves are also on display.

 

The end of the old war weapons section leads to the Nigerian Armed Forces gallery. There were the ceremonial uniforms of the army officers, pictures of some past military leaders are also on display. For those unfamiliar with the military insignia that differentiates the ranks in the military, this gallery offers tutorials. From this section, one then walks to the gate of the bunker that housed the Radio Biafra of the defunct Biafran Republic. Just at the entrance is the flag the Biafran flag, red, black and green with the rising sun in the middle. There is also black and white pictures of the Nigerian leaders that were victims of the war starting with January 15, 1966 coup of Kaduna Nzeogwu.

 

The bunker is about 30 feet deep and on both sides of the step as one walks down are picture of protagonists of the war from both Nigeria and Biafran side of the divide.  Inside the bunker are the transmission studio and the huge transmitter of Radio Biafra. The bunker was a perfect decoy and very difficult for any enemy aircraft to locate without any prior information, especially with the undulating hills in the area. The bunker has two stairways for entrance and exit. The tour of this section of the museum is arranged in a way that the tourist would water through the main entrance to the bunker and exit through the back.

 

Scattered in the expansive premises of the war museum are different obsolete military weapons. Looking at them in their obsolete state, one wondered how many lives some of these weapons must have terminated. Was the course worth the lost? Has the nation learnt from this sad chapter in the Nigeria’s nation building process?  Has the huge cost of this war made the nation value the need for peace and dialogue as the best method of conflict resolution? The army weapons on display include anti-aircraft guns, Squid Mortar MK4 anti-submarine gun said to be carried by the Navy warship N.N.S.Nigeria, according to the explanation by the side of the weapon, it is an ‘ahead throwing weapon that was used to destroy enemy sub-marine.

 

It was mostly deployed for demolition of suspected mine fields along the channel for the safe passage of Nigerian Navy ships during the civil war’; the Biafran Red devil armored personnel carrier; the famous Ogbunigwe (Ojukwu bucket) launcher; artillery gun 105mm Howitzer, the gun was said to have been used by the Italians during the Second world war in 1943 and that the particular weapon on display was used at the Aba/ Ikot Ekpene axis during the Civil War; NAF 102 Donier 27 aircraft. According to the history of the plane, it came, it came from Luftwaffe Training Mission; NAF 181 Donier 128. The Donier 128 for reconnaissance.

 

When The Nation visited the museum, some renovation activities to protect the artifacts were going. One could also see however that the place not well funded. The indoor gallery was not well lit as there was no light. It was just a small electricity power generation set that was supplying light, because of that the interior was poorly lit.  All said and done, for those who never experienced the Nigerian Civil War, they may not appreciate it to the full without visiting the national War Musuem, Umuahia, for those who did, they could relive the period by visiting the place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUKUR  KINGDOM

…1st World Heritage site in Nigeria.

By Aisha Saleh Michika

 

A three hours’ drive away from Yola, the capital city of Adamawa state, would lead to a kingdom not particularly worth envying by the standards of 21st century living; a world heritage site and listed among the seven wonders of Nigeria.

 

Located between Madagali and Gulag, and politically under Madagali local government of Adamawa state, lies Sukur Kingdom. More journey hours await as climbing the mountain where in spreads the actual realm is as challenging as it is amazing. Reason? You wonder how these people created a foot path of stones from the foot of the mountain to the peak—much like modern interlocking (it would be hard to swallow if modernity did not actually get its idea from them). It could be a joke but, who knows?!!!

 

The initial thoughts of this reporter were that it would be easy given the existence of a foot path leading up the mountain, but perhaps, I got it all wrong. It was not easy at all. The scorching sun added to the anguish because the climb was in the mid-afternoon which is just not the right time. “You have to be early not to find the climbing too torturous,” Simon, my guide said as a suggestion for the best time to engage in the venture. The heat contributed to me throwing up along the way. I totally lost hope when we reached a resting point. Simon sought to know if I really wanted to do this to which I responded, “Yes.”

 

Armed with belief I said to myself in a strong voice: “I shall make it to the top”. That was how I managed to reach the first gate with the courage derived from the two friends-cum- escorts that accompanied me—Maxwell and Aliyu. Astoundingly, the first gate had its own story to tell, which is amazing to me. Does that mean each step we take has its own uniqueness? I wondered. At the first gate were two entrances of visibly varying sizes: big and small. The big gate, I gathered, is for everybody’s use while the small gate is for the king only. The Sukur people have a belief that the king is not supposed to share the same passage with ordinary people; therefore the king has his own passage in most of the gates. Sacrifice is also being offered at the gate by slaughtering a goat. The bones of the goat get buried in the middle of the road and the skin of the goat is tied from end to end by a special method. Gradually, the extended goat-hide disappears and this is taken to be a sign of appreciation from the gods. Another thing is that it signifies an assurance from the gods concerning protection from all evil and an additional blessing in all that they do.

 

At this point, I was already weak but because I want to see more about this kingdom with the wonderment feeding on my mind as to what is next, I got the courage to move on. On getting to the second gate, things became more interesting. It was like these people really have a uniqueness that makes their dwelling recognised as a world heritage site. At the second gate we met a guard known as Daikarba, he is also the chief blacksmith. His duty alternates between guarding that very second gate and also the king’s grave yard. The puzzling thing about this Daikarba is that he is not at liberty to see the king face-to-face as if that happens, “something terrible” would befall the king or the people. Once it is late, Daikarba allows nobody passage beyond this point—no matter who. Daikarba has his house not far away from the gate and there he lives with his family. That is hardly incredible but at the house one could behold two different trees with plenty of awe to their existence. The trees share a single root which the Sukur people believe is not normal and they call it the forbidden tree. They hold the belief that anybody who touches the tree is bound to become a transvestite; having male and female organs. I could not believe it. “It is just a tree,” I said to myself.

 

THE BENIN MOAT

…One of the largest man made excavation in the world.

 

(Culled from Wikipedia)

Part of the world’s largest and most ancient earthwork, a complex system of moats and ramparts spread over some 6,500 square kilometers—the Benin City Walls consist of a set of inner and outer interlocking rings originally built to delineate the royal precinct of the Oba, or king, from the surrounding area. Built to an original height of more than 18 meters, and a length of 1,200 kilometers, the Iya was constructed in three stages. It was finalized around 1460, at that time being the world’s largest earthwork. The earthworks attest the development of urbanization and rise of state societies in sub-Saharan Africa, a process that began in the seventh century a.d. and culminated in the founding of the Benin Kingdom of Bronze and Ivory in the fourteenth century.

 

The Benin City Walls were ravaged by the British in 1897. Since then, portions of the walls have gradually vanished in the wake of modernization—large segments cannibalized. However, significant stretches of the walls remain, enclosing innumerable red earth shrines and vernacular elite architecture with red-fluted walls. Though the walls and moats have been protected by national legislation since 1961, no conservation plan exists. The earthworks need to be mapped and assessed, a public awareness campaign launched, and a plan for long-term management developed.

 

For any visit, nature is always more alive at the spring as the warm and cold water springs mesmerize visitors with their uniqueness, tranquility and aesthetic beauty. Truly, the spring is so peaceful that you cannot wait to enjoy a cool dip in the naturally heated swimming pool. You have reasons to try out this wonder destination, next time you think vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

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