Long ago in a village unknown, unamed a group of families ran for their dear lives, from the hands of their enemies who would show no mercy, after days and nights of walking, they sought refuge in a cave. That cave was a miracle. It provided the basic things they needed – water to drink and wash, vegetation to eat from and nature’s roof over their head to shield them for harsh weather and their enemies. That refuge became their home for generations to come. The world now flocks to that place with a history, to see the wonder of nature now named the Ogbunike cave.
Ogbunike cave is one of Nigeria’s top tourist destinations with thousands of people from across the world trooping there to behold one of the wonders of nature.
This cave is located at “ugwu ogba” in Ogbunike, a town in Oyi Local Government Area, Anambra State (Eastern Nigeria).
Upon entry to the straight, tarred road that leads to the cave, a group of energetic youths walk, sing and dance through the same route as though it was a kind of street carnival. This is a tradition for the Ogbunike youths – to flood the cave as a group on a yearly basis as a respect and celebration of the cave which saved their ancestors during times of war and perils. This carnival like procession happens manly during festive seasons and when many tourists visit the site.
On getting to the cave, a big and black signboard will greet visitors with a welcome message and nine rules written conspicuously in white ink. The first rule states that only the cave manager and his assistants are allowed to operate in the cave. Tourists usually would wonder why until they observe that the cave is made up of a lot of tunnels which can be really confusing and lead to different exits. It is safe to say someone can actually get lost in that cave without a guide because of its many twists and turns.
The second rule states that visitors are duty bound to pay for the upkeep of the cave. This fee is usually collected at the entrance by the cave managers.
The third rule states the official visiting hours which is from 8am to 5pm. There is however a caveat which states clearly that anyone who visits outside the aforementioned official hours do so at their own risk. The reason for these strict rules is left for the tourist to ask upon arrival.
The fourth rule which sparks debate among more liberal people talks about the prohibition of women who are on their menstrual period. Word of mouth goes that the reason for this is that, they want to avoid desecration of the cave. Some also say women who disobey this fourth rule get sinister experiences when they leave.
The fifth rule warns about stealing within or around the cave. For spiritual and security reasons, such acts are not taken kindly.
The sixth rule states that deforestation of the caves and environs attracts a fine of 5000 naira. The greenery around the area gives it a fresh look and saves the water in the cave from drying up.
While the seventh rule advises visitors not to abuse the drinking water at the entrance of the cave which is clean and believed to have certain healing powers, the eighth rule says that all items for sacrificial purposes MUST be dropped in the Ogba River. The Ogba river is dedicated to the gods who the locals claimed saved their ancestors and shielded them from of their enemies.
After reading, digesting and accepting these rules (which we can call terms and conditions) the tourists can now approach a staircase leading downwards which consists of over 300 stairs. These 300 stairs look and sound easy until you are climbing back to the top. At the bottom of the staircase there is an open space where guests are received. It is at this point visitors are asked to take off their footwears before stepping into the cave, the cave is cool with echoing sounds and so many inner caves. There are different cave managers that take people into different parts of the cave.
The further one gets into the cave, the steeper or gagged it becomes as the case might be. Sometimes, tourists have to help each other jump or ascend and descend to higher and lower ground levels, with various sizes of bats hanging pretty on the walls. On this adventurous journey, tourists will have to deep their legs into muddy water, sandy water as well as clean water as can be found in different compartments in the cave.
No one goes into the Ogbunike cave and returns without a story to tell.
Here’s a tour of the cave in pictures.
The Ogbumike cave is one of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
What world wonder do you have in your community? Do share with us in the comment section.