Behind Ogba hills in Ogbunike LGA in Anambra is a cave that has served for years as an escape, hideout and also was a place of refuge during the Nigerian Civil War. There are about 317 steps that lead into the tunnel. At the entrance, visitors must take off their shoes and also women during their period are not allowed to go in. About ten tunnels lead into the main chamber of the cave; the main cave consists of a massive structure with a big open chamber of about 5m high, 10m wide and 30m long at the entrance. A stream flows out from one of the tunnels into a rapidly flowing river (River Nkissa). Every year in May, a celebration known as “Ime Ogbe” is undertaken to commemorate the discovery of the caves.
Less than two hours’ drive from the city of Onitsha is yellow signage welcoming you to the beautiful cave in Orumba South LGA, Anambra. Ogba-Ukwu cave in Owerre-Ezukala town is considered the largest cave in West Africa. With four rock-shelters, two waterfalls and other intriguing features, it forms a complex rock formation with roomy compartments large enough to take in a considerable population. At the centre of the cave is one large area said to have been the living room of the ‘god’ of Owerre-Ezukala. According to the locals, one of the compartment, accessed by the aid of stone steps, has an old elephant’s foot standing, long dead and dry.
The Caves of Awhum Fall, Enugu State | Image: Idoko-Negedoz
“Awhum” sometimes written as “Owhum” but pronounced “Ohum” is a limestone cave in Udi LGA, about a thirty-minute drive from Enugu, capital city Enugu State. The limestone cave snakes through a stretch of steep-sided and picturesque hills, which had been dissected in different parts by channels of flowing streams. The foot of the caves is about 300m long with twin cascades of waterfalls. The first intrudes the cave, while the second and also the biggest stands at the far end of the cave. During the day, from the roof light sips through the cave from the small sinkholes and illuminates the caves. The flowing stream along the floor is glistened by the incident light.
These caves are prehistoric and are believed to have been the abode of a community of early men. Edegbake, the smaller of the two, is said to conveniently accommodate 50 people while Oghodoghodo has a larger capacity and can take up to 200 people. A slow-flowing stream runs through Edegbake and there is a prospect for amateur fishing, excursions and general relaxation. These caves can be found near Fugar in Etsako Central Local Government Area, Edo State.
The Marshall caves | Image: Olobo Hamza
Located inside Yankari game reserve in Alkaleri LGA, these caves with numerous networks of hollow openings and artistic textures served as a settlement many centuries ago sheltering communities from wild animals and invaders.
Iho Eleru – The Cave of Ashes
In Isarun, 24km south of Akure, Ondo, south-western Nigeria is a rock shelter formed by the overhang of a massive block of gneiss at the foot of an inselberg. In 1965, Thurstan Shaw, the famous archaeologist, found the bones of prehistoric man, dated to over 8,000 years B.C. in these caves. In the recent past, this cave was lit on with fire by farmers who farmed around the area, hence its name in Yoruba – Cave of Ashes.
Twenty kilometres away from Ado-Ekiti in Ado Local Government Area, the capital of Ekiti State, is Esa cave in Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA, which is believed to have shielded the people of the town during the internecine wars in the Yoruba kingdom. The caves are demarcated into various rooms of low heights and can accommodate about 30-40 people. Inside the caves is evidence that it was once a place inhabited a long time ago.
The Amanchor cave is located in the Amanchor community, a hamlet in the Etiti community of Edda (Afikpo South) LGA, Ebonyi State. The cave has an entrance with a natural step-like structure; which is supported by a wooden ladder constructed by the community. The entrance to the cave is 6 metres tall. The cave has three tunnels; the second is called the ‘window’ which opens into the ground floor of the cave. From the ‘window’, one can view the floor of the cave. The third opening is referred to as the “door” of the cave. An annual festival known as Orie-Ogba is usually celebrated in the cave on the last Orie (one of the four market days in Igbo cultural calendar) of the year in December.
Located inside the Ezeagu tourist complex in Enugu are Iheneke lake, Ihu-ogba cave and Ogbagada waterfall. The cave which was discovered during the Biafran war when people were in a deep search for hiding places used to be the habitation place of the Umuagu people in Omughu Obeleagu-Umana community until a heavy rainfall that resulted into a lake lead to their departure. There are two major narrow tunnels with three chambers that lead into this cave. Like every other cave in Nigeria, the people believe the place is the habitation place of the Ogba spirits.
Olumo Rock Caves
The popular Olumo rock in Abeokuta, Ogun state, has three main caves. During the old days of inter-trial wars, these caves are known to have saved the Egba people of Abeokuta.