Old Oyo National Park:Conserving the Historical And Archaeological Relics of Old Oyo Empire.

Old Oyo National Park​ was established​ to among other objectives preserve the culture, historical and archaeological features in the abandoned sites of the then capital city of the ancient Oyo Empire.

In this report, BODE DUROJAIYE was among those who embarked on eco-tourism excursion to some of the relics of former  Old Oyo Empire at Oyo-Ile, Bara, and Koso.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria had recognized the significance of cultural tourism in national development.​ 

This is reflected, first in the cultural policy launched in 1988, in which tourism and mobility of people within Nigeria is recognized as a major factor of cultural growth and development.

Secondly, the establishment of seven National Parks by the decree in 1991, which was later repeated and replaced with Act of Parliament in 1999.​ 

This was intended to place cultural factors in their proper perspectives in the country’s tourism development schemes.

Old Oyo National Park is one of the seven National Parks in the country.

It is located in Oyo State in the South-West of the country.​ A network of fairly tarred roads surrounds the park, making it possible to reach with relative ease.

Travellers from Eastern part and Lagos/Ibadan axis can enter through Ilorin/Igbeti, to come into the park through Jokoro, Tessi Garuba or Apata routes.

While those traveling from Central Benin Republic can come in through Yashikira Kosubosu-Igbeti to enter the park through Alaguntan route.​ Visitors from Kainji Lake in Niger State can come in through Kaiama -ishi –Soro to enter the Park through Soro gate.

The abundance of cultural features both within and outside the Park makes it a combination of an ecological, cultural/historical centre.​ The site of Oyo-Ile now in ruins, located in the north-east corner of the park was the capital and hub of the ancient Oyo Empire of the Yoruba race.

This empire was one of the first states to emerge in the forest and the coastal region of West Africa , and was also the most culturally advanced.

It reached its peak between the 17th and 18th centuries.​ Several ancient history and -political sites both inside and outside the park are associated with Oyo-Ile.​Among these are Igboho, Ipapo-Ile, and Koso.​ At one time these sites served as the capital of the empire.

Alaafin Sango is believed to have committed suicide at Koso.

Other cultural sites include the royal cemeteries at Igboho and Bara, both required development, the Antete shrine at Ikoyi –Ile, (where there is a pot containing swarm of honey bees which is used to fight for the people of Ikoyi-Ile, by stinging enemies to death).​ This myth can be attested to till today.

Thee are also the Ibuya pool (a good potential for water recreation), River Ogun, and Yemeso Hill (with several old settlements at its base.​ It abhors a lion’s den).

What is more, the largest concentration of archaeological and cultural sites as well as relics is found at Oyo-Ile, with more than twenty of such identified.

They include, four concentric defence walls around the former ancient capital city, Mejiro industrial sites (consisting of blacksmithing, iron forgery sites, and grain milling sites), a large water reservoir for dry season utilization, Esu and Ogun shrines, as well as  the palace of the Alaafin alongside the town hall and Akesan market.

SEARCHLIGHTS investigation further revealed that host of cultural artifact littering most of these sites including grinding stones, earthen pots potsherds, snags, snail shells, mud walls, tomb stones, mound of ashes and charcoal are still discernible with this abandoned old settlement site till date.

Old Oyo National Park is not only  about wildlife based but has archaeological, cultural and historical sites.​ In certain sites of the Park are numerous beautiful and marvelous sceneries of fascinating rock formation like “Oke Agbele” looking as though they would topple over the next minute.

Other areas of interest such as Agbaku, Idi-Are, and Mejiro, had formed large caves that served as save Haven during wars in the olden days.

Mountaineering is equally possible at Igbeti, a support zone on the way to Oyo-Ile range of the Park.

Also worthy of mention is the museum at the Park’s​administrative head –office in Oyo town and Akoto tourist camp that display exhibits of cultural, archaeological and historical values for eco-tourists delight.

Furthermore, there were dominant species of animals such as Cobs, Western hartebeest, Buffalo , Giraffe, Roan Antelope, Waterbuck, Velvet monkey, Python rock, Ostrich eggs, Savannah , Elephant, and Nile crocodiles.

Speaking in an interview, former Conservator of Park, who is now the Conservator General of National Parks Service, Mallam Ibrahim Musa Goni, said the Park was established to preserve the culture, historical and archaeological features in the abandoned sites of the then capital city of the ancient Oyo Empire at Oyo-Ile, Bara and Koso.

Goni explained that Old Oyo National Park also protects the watersheds of Ogun and Tessi Rivers, as well as preserve conserve and manage representative samples of indigenous flora and fauna of the South-West geographical region of the country.

He stated further that it is also to encourage and promote sustainable abundance and growth of biological materials for zoological and botanical specimens for scientific research and education.

​The Conservator General further disclosed that in line with the transformation agenda of President  Muhammadu Buhari's administration, the Federal Government has increased chalets at the Park from eight to eighteen for adventure tourists and researchers.

“Besides, there are some on-going projects, such as, power, construction of Sepeteri/Akoko base camp road, activities and recreational centres with indoor games, and packaged tours.​Packaged tours provide for tourist’s cultural display, guided talks, and visits to the relics of Oyo-Ile”.

Goni therefore called on Nigerians to patronize National Parks wherever they are located, in order to be properly educated on wild fauna and flora, as well as enjoy and appreciate the aesthetic, spiritual, and ecological values of nature in the maintenance of a healthy environment.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.