#Igbeti_FX Day 2: Even the Cold Couldn’t Stop us
Igbeti has a line in its lineage praise that prides it as one of the coldest Yoruba towns during the Harmattan Season. Even at teeth vibrating temperature, the cold was not going to delay us on this trip. Luckily for us, the temperature didn’t test our resolve for long as the cold quickly lifted when we started filling the bus for our first experience of the day some minutes before 6am.
First on our list was to hike to the top of the legendary Iya Mopo Mountain. The enormous mountain standing at about 500 meters high got its name from the Legend of Iya Mopo; a woman who lived (and is still believed to live) in the mountains where the residents of Oyo Ile retreated to after losing their homes to the war: a place now known as Igbeti. They lived in the mountains while mounting an effective defence against their assailants. Igbeti means “Eyi ti a gba ti” in Yoruba which is literally translates to English as “one that cannot be collected” giving credence to the story of resettlement and defensive positioning of the town.
The Igbeti people are very appreciative of the Iya Mopo Mountain. As many Yoruba legends go, there are various stories to explain its importance to the Yoruba country at largel.
By 6:33am, the bus arrived at the base of the mountain and the climbing began. Our tour guard informed us that the mountain had three levels which would afford us different perspectives of the land beyond as we rose in altitude. The Iya Mopo was a favoured hiking site in Igbeti for its appropriately sloped sides and obvious evidence of Stone Age residence. We could see scribbled names on the surface of the rock as we progressed which gave an impression of how well climbed the mountain was. However, our city bones weren't built for this.
We rested often, laughed at ourselves and expressed shock when the tour guard informed us we weren’t at level one yet, took pictures and continued. Iya Mopo’s room was ahead and we NEEDED to see it.
The Iya Mopo Mountain is one of the unadulterated nature sites in Nigeria. Stairs weren't cut into it so it was a tug of war as humans tried to defeat gravity. At level two, the whole group was too tired to go on. We stopped for some pictures of the makeshift stone defence line made by Yoruba warriors. From the look of it, Yoruba warriors stood behind the fence and threw stones at climbing enemies. This was evidently a battle site and the defence line was shaped in rectangular zigzag, making trapping enemies easy. The Yoruba wars of Nollywood felt like a mind kill. These people had strategy, positioning and effective weapon.
The view of the city from this side was breath-taking; the sun was the most golden globe the eyes could register–the haze dimmed house roof into tiny specs of colour. It was masterpiece of uncontrolled human expansion. The intra urban road in the black of its asphalt was like a brushstroke by an artist intended to revive the observer from getting swallowed in the fade of the distant view. Everyone in the group took out their smartphones to take that Pulitzer prize picture. The eyes are an approximated 580 megapixels measured in camera values, no camera could do justice, it was simply magnificent.
The hiking continued after a while. We reached a part of the mountain where the tour guide told us the story of King who had three wives. The 3 water holes before us represented each wife and the two close holes meant the wives were at peace with each other. We joked that the standalone hole was the mean wife because plants did not grow in it like the other two. He also informed us that it was tradition that water was not to be taken from the 'mean' wife’s hole to any of the two other holes or vice versa. Anyone who does such does it at a risk of losing his/her mum. The mean wife must have been really mean.
Iya Mopo’s house is a mouthlike cave with many smaller holes possibly showing evidence of long term residence by a scavenger. The entrance was however the most interesting part. Forming the shape of partially closed mouth it had a clear view of the whole Igbeti lands on this axis and it was almost perfectly aligned with the four cardinal points as the sun rose on one side and is suspected to fall on the other. The question of whether Iya Mopo still lives was left in the Myth Section. It became more important that Iya Mopo lived.
Psyched by the excitement, the whole group decided to reach the top of the mountain against all odds and we did. Stopping for every story our ever-patient tour guard had.
By 8:20am, we started descending the enormous Iya Mopo Mountain in a swell of music, laughter, theory creation and assessment.
We were all famished, our food tour was to continue. Next stop was the Agbele Rock. For it's scenery and food. Stay tuned