Ogbunike cave

EXPLORING OGBUNIKE CAVE AND ALL THAT LIES BENEATH IT

by Mercy Rotimi

What is in Ogbunike cave that makes it stand out amongst other tourist attraction sites in Nigeria? If that is a question you may have been asking, this article is worth reading.

Ogbunike Cave is one of the most famous tourist attraction sites in Nigeria. It is said that the cave was discovered by a man named Ukwa of the Umucheke family of Ifite-Ogbunike.

It is also believed that a deity called Ogba created the cave and dwelled within it. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

History of Ogbunike 

Ogbunike is one of the towns in the Umu-Iguedo clan. It is believed that Iguedo, the daughter of Eri, birthed Ogbunike.

On the other hand, Eri was considered a mythical being thought to have come down from the sky and existed around A.D. 994. 

Ogbunike Cave Location 

The Ogbunike cave is located about 15 km east of Onitsha in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra state. The cave made the Ogbunike town famous and also one of the most frequently visited places in Nigeria.

Read also: Ibeno beach Tourist centre in Nigeria. 

Notable Features of The Ogbunike Cave 

  1. The cave

The Ogbunike cave is a collection of caves believed to have spiritual significance, as a result, annual festivals are held to commemorate the discovery of the cave. 

The cave is situated in a valley and is said to provide refuge for anyone who runs into it. Indigenous people and soldiers used it to hide during the war, especially during the civil war and the slave trade era.

The Ogbunike cave has a walkway of about 317 steps which are nicely carved out to aid easy ascent and descent from the cave.

At the end of the walkway is an open space that serves as a reception and a point where visitors remove their shoes.

Traditionally, it is required that any visitor who would like to go into the cave must go barefooted throughout the journey in the cave.

Also, women having their monthly blood flow should not go into the cave. This is considered an abomination as they are considered unclean. 

A signpost at the entrance to the cave reads, “Ifite Youth Movement Warning: No entry except by permission. Remove your shoes before entering the cave. Ladies under period banned. Receive receipt after payment. Herbalist or spiritual ceremony in the cave is banned. Deforestation of caves will be prosecuted. Defaulters will be prosecuted”. 

At the cave entrance is a massive open chamber about 5 m high. Several tunnels opening in different directions are in an open section at the entrance. Each tunnel contains big chambers with several other tunnels, some of which are interconnected.

Within the cave is a camp of bats of different sizes, which are harmless but believed to be guarding the cave. 

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  1. Water streams 

In the cave lie several streams, one of which flows into the fast-flowing river Nkissa. 

Water drips from the mouth of the caves, and these water droplets are believed to be divine and have strong therapeutic powers hence the name, healing water. 

The meeting point of the stream and river surprisingly has a warm and cold feel—a warm feeling from the cave and a cold sense from the river. Beside the river is a tableland where visitors sit for relaxation during the tour.

Read also: The best 10 places to visit in Kwara state.

  1. Paintings

There are a lot of graffiti paintings on the wall by visitors and indigenes, although this act is not prohibited.

According to the oral tradition of the Igbo, a god called Ogba once lived in the cave; in the middle of a large rock. He was an all-seeing spirit and could see through the opaque caves.

He could also detect when someone has committed a crime. If anyone commits a crime and is reported, they are taken to the Ogbunike cave and asked to pass through the cave.

If the person comes out successfully at the other end, they are believed to be innocent. But if otherwise, the individual was said never to return alive. 

  1. Tunnels

There are ten tunnels in the main chamber leading in different directions. Within the tunnels are big chambers and other tunnels of varying lengths, some of which are interconnected.

In one of the tunnels of the cave, three small passages lead to a place where there is a crocodile, a tortoise, and a talking stone. The talking stone is called “Nwanyi Akpanyi” by the indigenes. 

In some parts of the caves, one will have to crawl to find your way. Until this moment, some indigenes come to the cave to worship the deity. Celebrations are done to honour the significance of the cave in old and recent times. 

As a famous saying in the Igbo language goes, “iman gaba iru inokata gaba azu,” meaning “one does not begin a journey and suddenly turn back,” it is said that one must not leave the cave in the same way in which you came. So visitors have to crawl out of the cave through another passage. 

Many entry and exit points make the journey shorter than expected.

To the North of the Ogbunike caves are attractive waterfalls.

  1. Festivals

Every year, indigenes hold an “Ime Ogbe festival” to celebrate the caves and the spirits that dwell in them. These festivals attract tourists and indigenes from all across the world.

The Ogbunike cave has gained much interest in the Nigerian Movie Industry when considering shooting a movie with a realistic yet mysterious outlook.

Significant boundaries of about 20 hectares to the closest residential house have been marked to protect the Ogbunike cave from the threat posed by human encroachment.

Read also: Top 10 Historical sites in Nigeria.

Conclusion

In contrast with the belief of the Igbo people, geologists and geographers who have visited the place explained that the caves were formed due to erosion that occurred over time.

They also found geological formations such as curtains, stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. 

If you are looking for a tourist site, one which will give a feel of culture and ethnicity, the Ogbunike cave is most certainly a choice. The tour to the Ogbunike cave promises to be a great one.

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About Author

Avatar of Mercy Rotimi
Mercy Rotimi
Rotimi Mercy is a Nigerian writer whose lifestyle centres around her family, teaching children and young adults, reading a book, or surfing the internet. This gave rise to her converting her speaking abilities into writing skills.
She writes on various niches such as; lifestyle, health, and Career.

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