The poem below is about a cave called Iho-Eleeru also known as Cave of Ashes), tucked away in the thick forests of Isarun village, Ondo State, South-western Nigeria. Of great significance is this cave in the history of the Yoruba people as well as West Africa because the skeletons of prehistoric man dating as far back as 9,200 B.C. was discovered at the cave during an archeological exploration of the area by Prof. Thurstan Shaw. Many ancient pottery works and flint cutting tools (used by ancient dwellers at the cave) were also excavated along with the skeletal remains. The skeletal remains are the oldest ever found in West Africa and dating revealed that there existed human habitation in the region long before the existence of Oduduwa or Ile-Ife. This had therefore constituted a strongly debated issue among Yoruba traditional rulers in southwestern Nigeria. You can read more and see more photos of the cave and some of the excavated artifacts at The Discovery of Iho-Eleeru: Cave of Ashes.
In Isarun land, so far away [A Poem]
In Isarun lands, so far
hid a timeless orifice.
A hole so stygian, inside like the night
A tunnel, ensconced in granite
Air so light, its heart, without life
Temperatures at 40° Fahrenheit
In past times, its shelter, a shed it gave man…
In 9,200 B.C. here dwelt a home for Yoruba man;
So old, far older than Oduduwa.
We’ve been told… that from Arabia, we arose
This cave, so elusive like an abalone,
Though narrow, yet so high its throws;
Reposed in a cocoa grove
Alone, so bold, its pose;
Our history, it holds, we probed, it told
In silt sands spread below
Lay its numerous gemstones
Chalcedony and flint, as big as the toe
edges as sharp as a hoe…
tools for people of old.
White on the rocks, ashes like snow
From fired pots, we were told;
To this, the cave,its name owned:
”Iho Eleeru ni o!”
(Related Post: The discovery of Iho Eleeru: The Cave of Ashes)Tweet