SCENES AND SIGHTS ON THE ADO AWAYE SUSPENDED LAKE
Dr Gamal Sankarl
Ebedi International Writer From Ghana
Saturday, 26th March, 2022 was the date. It was my 7th day in Nigeira since my last visit to this popular African country, five years ago. My first visit was in September 2017, during the Adire Heritage Festival in Lekki.
That first visit was by the kind courtesy of the Baobab Awards International. On that visist, I received an award for Culture and Community Development, an award in recognition of my literary initiatives and interventions in Ghana. This indeed is a moment worth remembering.
But on this particular first Saturday of my second visit, I was having a sober reflection and reminiscing on my week since I arrived in Iseyin for the Writers Residency.
Then a knock landed on my door. I reluctantly dragged my feet, got closer and opened the door, wondering who could be interrupting my sweet moment of reverie. It was Fakunle Busayo, a fellow writer and resident.
He had come to enquire from me if I would want to join him for an event being attended by some executive members of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).
This request appealed to the author in me, so I gladly obliged, took a quick shower, got dressed up and off we went.
Outside of the residency, we hailed a motorbike. I jumped on it, sitting right behind the rider. Fakunle sat behind me. Sandwiched between them, the rider started the bike and we headed towards an eatery where we met four executive members of ANA.
After exchaning pleasantries, we joined them in a family van with a seating capacity of six and drove off to Ado-Awaye, also within the Iseyin catchment area. After a couple of stops to ask for directions, we arrived our exact destination in approximately 45 minutes.
We were nicely welcomed by the host of the event who briefly shared with us the history of the traditional area. He also mentioned the natural resources the land is blessed with and emphasised that the current focus is to make the Iyake suspended lake a site for tourist attraction.
The mention of that got my attention. I was curious and wanted to see how a lake could be suspended at the peak of a mountain.
As I would later realise, I wasn’t the only one curious about it. Fakunle was too. And so we decided to go see it.
We asked the host for directions and immediately made our way to the reception area where visitors first stopped to get some briefing before making a climb.
Upon getting there, we looked around hoping to speak to a tour guide. We didn’t see any in sight. We sat for a while and waited at the base of the hill.
Whilst seated I asked myself whether I was ready for this. First, I was sick and was gradually recovering. Besides, I wasn’t properly attired for this so why jump on such an adventure?
Whilst still brooding on this, some high shcool students came along. They were on an excursion with their teachers and passed by Ado-Awaye to see the Iyake Suspended lake and the Elephant tree as well.
Seeing and speaking to a couple of them distracted me from thinking through my decision to make the climb.
A short while after, two young boys of an average age of 12 and 13 came over and asked if we wanted to climb. We replied in the affirmative. They handed to each of us a stick/rod and led the way without saying much.
We followed their lead, beginning from the base of the hill. I held in one hand a stick and a bottle of water on the other. Lifting my head, I could see several steps on the staircase made of sand and cement moulded blocks.
There were about 372 steps as mentioned by the tour guide. And these steps helps visitors to cover just a quarter of the total distance from the base to the peak of the hill.
Still resolved to make the climb, I took each step grudgingly. At different points in time along the path to the top, I had to take breaks and rest my soul which pantheth for breath. I was literally huffing and puffing.
But my guides were understanding and patient. They sat with me when I needed to and did so with so much calm, as evidenced in their demeanour.
The role of the two young boys who came along as guides was crucial to my success on this climb. As we made the climb, there were times we had to take a break and rest.
My guide in particular was kind to double as my photographer. He took delight in capturing every single step of mine through the journey.
He took both photos and short videos. He seemed enthused about it even though my session was just one of many he had done that day.
Maybe he was simply fascinated about the make of my phone and wanted to have a feel of it as long as it was in his care.
It took us an average time of 50 minutes to make the climb before getting to the peak of the hills. When we submitted, I felt a sense of accomplishment and relief.
It was an extreme sport that required endurance from beginning to end. At a point when the climb seemed unbearable, we met some of the students descending and they assured us we were almost there.
Their assurance that we were almost through to the summit was really helpful and hopeful to me in particular. On a couple of occasions, I recall asking myself, ‘Who sent you?’.
The child in me wanted this adventure and dared the adult in me to take a chance. Looking back, I am glad I took the chance to advance. This is a sight seeing I would love to have some other day.
At the summit, I saw how wonderful God is and how beautiful His creation is. At the peak, I felt I was on top of the World. It felt really exhilarating.
I felt closer to God at that height than ever before. It is not much of a wonder that I exclaimed with excitement that: ‘God you are wonderful!’.