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5 things I miss about Olumo Rock


Now that several new improvements have been made at Olumo Rock, I cannot help but look back at the pre-improvement days with some nostalgia.

Over 20 years ago when I made my first trip to Olumo Rock, the only aids (though those are major aids) were the flight of steps carved into the rock which take you from the bottom to the first level. At the first level, there is also a concrete balcony which makes it possible to walk around the curve of the rock without any rock climbing apparatus and risk of falling off. One could also stand there to admire the beautiful spectacle of Abeokuta without getting height-sick. I do not know these were built (but should find out) and accepted them as integral parts of the rock. This part of the climb is still the same and it used to be the easy part and was as far as some people would go. As years passed, with each phase of improvement, the challenge associated with surmounting each level decreased.

In memory of Olumo Rock of years past, I now present this list of the 5 things I miss the most as we continue our climb up the rock.

1. The climb over irregularly sized boulders
We would stop to admire cowrie-studded statues while contemplating the next challenge – climbing through a corridor formed by two huge rocks over boulders of different sizes sporadically scattered through. The most able climber would take the lead hopping niftily over these boulders and would lend a hand to pull up other climbers coming behind. Several years ago, ladders were placed against the taller boulders to assist climbers.

2. People hauling drink-filled coolers up the rock
There were no restaurants and even though an assortment of vendors hung around the premises selling soft drinks and other snacks some visiting groups would bring their food and drinks in large coolers and haul these all the way up the rock. It was fun to watch them navigating these boulders while everyone in the group chimed in with the best strategy for getting past ‘that next rock’ – it gave meaning to group effort.

3. The jump over the rift between two rocks
Once out of the rock corridor, we alight on a higher level of the rock, take a break to relax and breath in the fresh air. We could walk around the relatively flat surface of this layer of rock and enjoy the even better scenery all around. There is a part of the rock where it is possible to slide down back to the previous level but it is real tough coming back up the same way. We decide to give it a shot on our way back but for now, the way is up. But alas, there’s a rift between the rock on which we stand and the next one which leads to the top. It looks like the rock split into two all the way down to the bottom. We ask how to get across, “jump”, the guides answer. They offer to carry anyone who is unable to jump. Naturally, you ask the obvious questions. “What happens if you do not make it across?”, “Has anyone ever had an accident here?”. The guides say “No, no one has ever had an accident here” and the reason? “The spirit of Olumo would not allow it”, they tell us this in all earnestness. Now there is a bridge built across this rift. Crossing it takes a simple stroll.

4. Tall tales
I miss having the guides assure visitors that the “spirit of Olumo will not allow you to fall” or “spirit of Olumo will catch you and return you to the top” if the visitor jumped short of the target destination.

5. The view of the rock

I miss the picturesque view of the rock unmarred by human influence. But wait, there was already human influence in this view that I hold sacred in my mind. So in all probability, the changed view will grow on me. And new experiences will present themselves.

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