The endless laughter of the alluringly bright water, splashing with glee against the walls of huge rocks, will quickly bring something to the minds of followers of Nigerian literature. That is the romantic depth and environmental richness that colour the poetry of scholar and poet laureate, Prof. Niyi Osundare.
It was the first thought that crossed the mind of this correspondent as he stood, mesmerised, face to face with the Arinta Waterfalls, hibernating in the heart of a community of ageless trees in Ipole Ekiti, a rusty town in Ekiti State.
While Osundare is from Ikere Ekiti, the Orole, Olosunta and other rocks, rivers, animals and woods he invokes in his collections of poems such as Eye of the Earth and Midlife are siblings and cousins of the waterfalls.
Although Arinta is said to be a 10-layer waterfalls, it takes an adventurous zeal to access even the first stair. The reason is that a network of smaller rocks mounts guards across path that leads to the falls. But the adventure is just to add to the fun a tourist has because it makes him feel more fulfilled when he eventually gets to his destination.
Interestingly, Arinta is just about 10 kilometres from Ikogosi Cold Warm Springs, where hot and cold water flows from the same belly of a rocky formation. Unlike Arinta, said to have gained attention only recently in the year –not the way the Mungo Park ‘discovered’ the River Niger –the Ekiti State Government has invested in Ikogosi, opening up the waterfront, building a road network round it, while also constructing chalets where tourists can stay to consolidate their experience.
The Ikogosi project was inaugurated on Saturday, with fanfare that drew many people to the spring.
On the way to Arinta or Ikogosi, it is good to have a stopover in Erijinyan, also not too far from both centres. There the Erin River flows with water and myth. Like the popular Osun Osogbo in Osun State, whose faithful visit for different kinds of blessings, the Erin plays host to people from different places, who believe in its spiritual powers.
Women who are fertility-challenged, for instance, go there. As this correspondent experienced on Saturday, they bath inside the water, with the belief that it will act as a catalyst to their getting the fruit of the womb.
An indigene, Pa Fredrick Ajayi, says the river never disappoints such people.
The 65-year-old says, “Many of them come back the following year with their babies, thanking the Erinjiyan for what it has done. The water is also medicinal. If you have any ailment, once you drink the water, you will get healed. Even my mother told me that it was the water of Erin that nurtured me.”
But perhaps the biggest myth about the river is the fact that indigenes and visitors alike are forbidden from catching any of the big fishes inside it.
“If you take home any of the fish here, if you cook it for the whole day, it will not get done,” Ajayi adds.
Despite the high esteem in which the Erin is held, however, several young folks were seen washing dresses inside it.
In her speech at the inauguration of the Ikogusi Cold and Warm Water Springs, where some 16 entertainers were conferred with Ekiti ambassadorship awards by Governor Kayode Fayemi, the state Commissioner for Art, Culture and Tourism, Chief Ronke Okusanya, said the infrastructural development of the Ikogosi is evident of Fayemi’s resolve to develop tourism sector in the state.
She highlighted facilities there as accessible road, a standard swimming pool, amphitheatre, conference/seminar hall, over 100 rooms of different grades and sizes, 24-hour electricity and water supply, with a good security structure.
Fayemi also noted that his administration considered tourism development and environmental sustainability as one of the key agenda through which he intends to make Ekiti state an attractive destination for relaxation and holiday by building a heliport, world class hotel and accommodation facilities and developing other tourism sites around the place.
A good dream it is that Fayemi says it wants to make Ekiti the tourism nerve centre of the South West.
But it may also be good if he sells a related idea to other governors in the region. Since each of them also has tourism sites, and has been investing in them on different scales, it may be wise if they can align their agendas and plans with the integration agenda they have proposed for the region.
By doing so, they can also succeed in making the South-West a tourism hub of the country. There are enough natural endowments to accordingly build upon.
Last modified: October 25, 2013