The consciousness of promoting domestic tourism by the government and individuals is gradually taking shape in Nigeria as the ancient city of Igbeti came alive during the Easter period for the annual Igbeti tourism Carnival , an event that is gradually making its way into the world tourism calendar through UNESCO and other tourism organization.
During the festival, business activities and hospitality sector were positively affected, all the hotels in Igbeti and neighbouring communities were fully occupied, cab drivers and motorcycle riders also testified to increase in patronage during the festival. Restaurants and bar owners enjoy great patronage too, with most of the recording unprecedented sales, they couldn’t wait for another Easter to come around for Igbeti tourism carnival
Bosun Oladele , a lawyer and politician who is also an indigene of the town said “ since the carnival was initiated , we have been having influx of tourists from different part of the world , and one of the challenges we had at initial stage was accommodation, but today we’ve have new hotels , restaurants and other recreation centres and I believe before the next edition, there will be more standard hotel in Igbeti for tourists and fun seekers.
Apart from its closeness to Igbo Oba, now old Oyo National Park, the centre of activities in the ancient oyo town, Igbeti is also blessed with large deposit of marble, surrounded by 16 mountains and hill including and stones images that have historical relevance to the community
Oke Agbele and Iyamopo are two major mountain that attracts tourists in the town, the stone image in oke Agbele , according to oral tradition is a picture of a woman with her baby strapped at her back and load on her head, a beautiful structure to behold, some said its formation is as a result of weathering while some are of the view that it happened real.
Iyamapo hill is another tourists delight in Igbeti, though not the same height with that of Idanre but has similar historical background with Idanre hill, while the people of idanre lived on the hill the people of Igbeti uses iyamopo as an abode to hide during the war. Relics of a barricade, is still much more on the mountain , also two cave and a suspended lake were on the mountain too
Oladele, a member of the National Assembly who is also one of the chief promoter of Igbeti Tourism Carnival told our reporter that “ The mountain was a save habour for our people from the invaders during war. They used to come here to seek refuge and after they had all climbed the mountain, the prepare draw soup like okra, and others and pour it on the mountain from the barricade so that it became difficult for those pursuing them to climb”
The suspended lake on Iyamopo is called Orogunmeta , it is not like that of Ado Awaye, because it usually dry during the dry seasons but the mystery behind orogun meta according to oral tradition is that three women who are married to the same husband formed the lake, its depth was not known but caution was made for people not to deep their legs or hand in search for the depth because it could be dangerous,
Sango cave is another site located on Iyamopo, it is not far from orogun meta lake, Sango is the of thunder, and he is one of the kings in Old Oyo, its cave is not too big but it look different from other known cave around, it has a hollow entrance where tourists sat to take pictures, some of his devotee and those who know its cognomen were singing the panegyrics, a custodian of culture and tradition simply identify as Ajayi said the devotee use to come and worship Sango during Sango festival, he said people do come and eat ,drink and enjoy themselves
Iyamopo cave is also not up to five minutes trek from Sango’s cave, it is ascended through a slope, not many people could reach the cave because after ascending the slope one still need a physical fitness to jump or climb about 3 feet up before getting to the cave, it is wider and than that of Sango, it accommodates more people and tourists were thrilled with the performance of little boy who was chanting and entertaining people with his melodious voice.
The whole exercise was fun, no ritual or any form of traditional rites were performed during the tourism festival, it provides an avenue to interact , makes new friends and for photographers and petty traders to make money as people were buying water biscuits chewing gum and others at rate higher that what they sell on a neutral ground for instance the price of pure water was jacked from N10 to N15 naira while chewing gum and sweet of N10 suddenly became 3 for N50, photographer did not go below N200,00 per picture , and they all enjoy great patronage.
Away from climbing of mountain by tourists and indigenous people, the organizers of Igbeti tourism carnival also present an award from mountain climbers, best students, and winner of Ayo games at the grand finale, Also an award was presented to deserving members of the community in recognition of their contributions to the community development and advancement of tourism in the community
Speaking with our reporter on the annual event, Hon Bosun Oladele, a federal lawmaker representing Orelope, olorunsogo and Irepo Federal constituency at the National Assembly said “the tourism event is an annual event organized to bring people together, to promote domestic tourism and showcase the heritage we have in Igbeti to the world , it is fixed during Easter period because will have time to come travel down and those who are around will also have time to hang out with their friends and enjoy themselves
Oladele while revealing the plan and mission to sustain the event and enlist it in UNESCO heritage site said “ we are making progress towards that direction, the organization behind this event that is Igbeti tourism group is a group of like minds, people who are passionate about the progress and development of the community , we task ourselves, and use our influence to facilitate one things or the other, we had a short time plan the event and thank God we achieve great things we hope subsequent edition will be better
Zito Peller, an international magician while commending the organizers of the event suggest that entertainment by celebrities in the music industry and indigenous arts should not be missing in an event like this, apart from building confidence in the local art if they share stage with reigning musician, it will also attract more people
Taiwo and Kehinde Akinbiy, tourists from Lagos joined their friends to be part of the event, they commended the organizers for initiating the festival and wish to see more things added next year “ this year is better than last year , and I hope to see improvement next year” said Taiwo, who was around last year.