There is an interesting 131-year old woman on Olumo Rock you need to meet. She likes money, knows the colour of money and doesn’t even hide it from you. Of course, everyone likes money, you’d say. But this was just a remarkable experience you couldn’t easily forget. You see, no one hinted me of her existence on the rock before the visit, so I didn’t know what to expect until I began my climb up. Let’s go up to see what I saw.
For starters, Olumo Rock is one of Nigeria’s most famous tourist attractions. It is a massive outcrop of granite rocks of primitive formation from which Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, derived its name.
So we got started with the climb, checked out nice spots along the way until we got to old woman’s part. When we got to the section that ‘belonged’ to her, my tour guides asked if I wanted to see her and her territory. It was optional. I could choose to go the other way; but if I chose to pass through mama’s area, I must be prepared to drop ‘something’. “Even after paying entry fee and tour guide fee?” “Well, yes!” And I had to brace myself to encounter the shrines and rituals that characterized the ‘small village’.
So I asked myself if I really needed to do this. I thought of my mum. Will heaven if I played safe and just take a pass. Or was I overthinking this thing. It might not be that deep, you know. Finally, the adventurous part of me carried the day. I swallowed my spit, shrugged my shoulders, stretched my legs and proceeded to mama’s territory – mumbling and pleading the blood of Jesus under my breath.
After taking some steps and turning some corners, lo and behold I saw the old woman, sitted casually with one of her folks on a bench, gisting away with reckless abandon. I was surprised. Wow! She didn’t look 131. How come?! I turned to confirm from the tour guides again if she really was the one on the banner hanging nearby celebrating her birthday. They nodded in affirmation.
After some Introduction to the place and the people, I was asked to bring my ‘gift’ to mama before taking our leave. I brought out my token, gave it to one of my tour guides who passed it to mama. Then I asked for a personal picture with her… And guess what? I got the shocker of my life!
With disappointment written all over her, the 131-year old matriarch dismissed us in anger – almost yelling at us for having the effrontery to ask for a picture inspite of my measly, meagre and paltry N200. What?! Have I offended the gods? ‘Is that how you use to do?’
I did a quick conference with my legs and dashed out of the place before she changed her mind. The guides later told me that visitors usually gave her more than my 200, say 1k, 2k or more; but that the minimum was still the 200 I gave, so I need not worry. Apparently, ‘enu mama tife’ (mama’s mouth is now wide), said one of the guides.
Indeed, mama was only trying to survive and adapt to the times we are in. Recession had also hit Olumo, and the value of money was no longer the same. So you can’t just sit there and judge her. She’s got dependants, you know – both human and spiritual. So let’s let her be. We love you mama. It’s not easy to live that long. Doesn’t come cheap. Enjoy 😊