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Ado Awaye: the quiet Nigerian town surrounded by myths and legends

3 min read

We are in Nigeria.
Ado-Awaye is an ancient, timeless site.
From Lagos, it takes about 4 hours to drive to the mountain through Ibadan and about 3.5 hours through Abeokuta.
Founded in 1500, the neighboring mountain communities Ado and Awaye were amalgamated over centuries into the single powerful monarchy Ado-Awaye, once ruled over by the Alaado, the King of Ado, a disgraced crown prince from the larger Oyo kingdom.
According to history, the Alaado was struck by a spiritual attack while visiting a neighboring community for a ceremony and recognized that the attack had come from his kinsmen, but he couldn’t stop it.
Before he died, he pronounced that anyone who sat on his throne during the period of what should have been his natural life, would pay with their life. So, for the following thirty — five years, the throne was left vacant and other kings rose in clout and renown.

Hiking the Ado Awaye mountain takes roughly three hours depending on your speed, and most of the terrain shifts between rock and forest, beginning with rough steps carved into the mountain.
En route to the top, you’ll encounter numerous ancient sites, including Oke Ishage, or Ishage Rock, said to be the bringer of rain for Ado-Awaye.
When rain is needed, a priest will visit the boulder and cover its bottom half with a white cloth to usher in rain. As a result, the town experiences rainfall for three to four days non-stop.
Some also believe that those touching the rock while making a wish will see their wishes granted.
Actually this rock has been feared to fall off by locals because of its position on the mountain. However, since the very beginning of the town, it has never moved.

On the way up the mountain, you’ll come across the Esè àwon Àgbà, Yoruba for “footprints of the gods”, scattered all over the mountain in either clusters or singular forms. Historians theorize these small footprint-sized holes were used for grinding stones several centuries ago, even if mythology deems them evidence of walking deities.
During the hike, you’ll also come across the “Elephant” which is actually a fallen tree trunk forming the illusion of an elephant’s head. This tree trunk has been on the mountain for years now and will remain so because the fallen tree still has its roots firmly sunk in the soil.

And eventually, when you’ll reach the mountain apex, you will be rewarded by a view of Iyake lake, one of only two so-called suspended lakes (a lake on top of a mountain) in the world.
According to the legend, beneath Iyake, lies another world, a parallel existence ruled over by a goddess of fertility who lives inside the lake itself.
Either way its exact depth is unknown, and legend says that none who enter the lake ever return.
Rumours are that a foreign company had sent three engineers to determine the depth of the water. This assignment would cost the lives of two out of the three engineers as they were sucked into the water, leaving the third to narrate the story.
It’s also rumored that if one puts their foot in the hole near the lake known as Agbómofúnyàké, Yoruba for “collects child and gives to iyake” when it’s filled with water, the person will be dragged to the bottom.
However, some people believe this feeding might be spiritual and mean ‘feeding of the soul’.
Not all mythology surrounding the lake is sinister though, as it is also said the lake’s water can cure all sort of ailments and disease when used to bathe, and they also use the water to cure infertility.

Images from web – Google Research

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