“They call it the forest of a thousand demons, We went there and although we found no demons, the ambiance surrounding the forest still swathes our imaginations till this day”
Igbo Olodumare, a world within our world, robed in plush vegetative apparel, is simply a mystifying place, and just as its name implies, it is ‘The Forest of the Almighty’.
The mysterious forest was first brought to notice by two of Pa Fagunwa’s great works – Ògbójú ode nínú Igbó írúnmolè & Igbó Olódùmarè; and was later translated to English language by the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka. He described the forest as the forest of witches, wizards, spirits and a hundred more mysterious things. He wrote of giant snails and crabs, he wrote of things that makes one wonder, things that sparks the fire of wanderlust a the reader’s heart. This same forest is present on our land, the land of Oke-Igbo, Ile Oluji-Oke Igbo L.G.A., Ondo State. Pa Fagunwa is also a native of Oke-Igbo himself.
The enchanting forest is a two-hour journey from Akure, the state capital. The people of Ile-Oluji are mostly cocoa and oil-palm farmers. They also make a living through palm wine tapping which is also major characteristic occupation in south west of Nigeria.
Twenty minutes to the entrance of Igbo-Olodumare, there sits a bizarre-looking village which the people regard as the age-old ‘guard’ of the ancient forest. A visitor cannot but get distracted by the picturesque Ògèrìwèsé Rivulet- the first attraction in the mysterious forest, which the people believe possesses spiritual ability to prevent evil creatures from entering into the village and also neutralize any form of charm evil-minded visitors attempt to take into the forest.Igbo-Olodumare is a rugged terrain, densely punctuated with beautiful inselbergs of varying sizes in-between which thick forest covers intertwine.
Continuing along the footpath leading from the river, a t-junction leads to a place called Òkè-Lángbòdò and a place called Ìsálú Òrun- it is from this two places that one links other parts of the forest. It is said that Ìsálú Òrun is not a place where visitors are allowed to go because the place is believed to be the residence of the spirits. The entrance of Òkè-Lángbòdò is marked by a small opening under a big granite rock where prayers are made before entering the mystifying forest. Also at the entrance is a sculptured figure of ancient hunter which Pa Faguwa mentioned in his novel, being a human being before he was supernaturally turned into a rock. The entrance of Òkè-Lángbòdò forest was the exact point the writer described as the site of the occurence. The peak of Òkè-Lángbòdò has ever constituted a daunting challenge for adventurous rock-climbers visiting the forest due to its steep and slippery slopes. Nevertheless, a visit to the forest will not be completely gratifying without an ascent of this hill. On its ascent, one is treated to panoramic views of the entire forest, enchanting landscapes bedecked by the rare ewé àkokò plants adorning the hill tops. Ewé àkokò plant is used for the coronation of a new king in the land.
Another important attraction in the mysterious forest is the Aginjù Ìdákéróró (the forest of absolute silence). It is said that the silence in this forest is so palpable that communication becomes a problem between two people standing 4m away from each other. One of the most popular attractions in the mysterious forest is the stygian ‘Bottomless Hole’.
Some people believe that the forest is filled with all the mysterious things that had been said about it (especially in the award-winning novel), while some believe they’re all lies. Nevertheless, a visit to the Forest of a thousand demons keeps you craving for more adventure, therefore we say “seeing is believing”.