The brave hunter
Over 500 years ago
Over 500 years ago, a brave hunter named Ọ̀gánungánun sojourned away from his hometown in Ile Ife, on a hunting expedition. This was at a time when so many of his people were leaving Ile Ifè to establish their own towns and villages just like their ancestors did. By the time he got to the area now known as Ikogòsì, there were some of his folks already settled down and living in their little hamlets. It was this brave hunter Ọ̀gánungánun who, on a hunting expedition discovered the unusual phenomenon of warm and cold springs flowing side by side. He then rushed into town to inform his people. These brave people then decided to consult the Ifá Oracle in their bid to unravel the mystery surrounding this unusual phenomenon. Ifá told them that this was no coincidence, and that it was the deity of the Warm Spring – Aọ̀ – that had propelled Ọ̀gánungánun’s footsteps to this discovery, being a brave hunter and, by extension, a blood relation of the deity during his lifetime too. Thus, was birthed the story of Àọ̀pẹ́ẹ̀rẹ́ Ìjẹ̀.
Rev. John Sydney McGee
In 1952, Southern Baptist missionary, Rev. John Sydney McGee, from his mission base in Igede, Ekiti, went to the source of the warm and cold springs despite several dissuasions and warnings by locals that a visit to the source of the springs is an invitation of death from the ‘forces’ surrounding these unusual springs. Rev. McGee made his way through the dense forest, up the hill to the source of the side-by-side springs and according to Rev. McGee’s later brief, written account, “After seeing it, I felt that it could be used for a good purpose. The land was later secured through the Baptist Convention to be used as a Youth Camp and the camp was being visited regularly by groups of Baptist youth and adults, along with missionaries and other visitors who came on vacation.
Rev. John Sydney McGee
After Rev. McGee left Ikogòsì Warm Springs, the problem of who would manage the Resort arose. Before long, the once well-manicured lawns and environment became overgrown with bush. Several ornamental plants and fruit trees became abandoned. Squirrels, snakes, and lizards took over the rooms. To boost tourism, the government of old Oǹdó State (which Ekiti was a part of) built a zoological park which started from the second gate and extended towards the poolside on the swampy side of the springs. The park paraded different animals like snakes, baboons, hedgehogs, lions, and many others. At that turn the resort began to experience an influx of tourists again, the economy of the community started to improve, and the population soared. Unfortunately, during the military regime of Governor Abiodun Olukoya in the early 1990s, a careless incident led to the lions attacking and devouring one of their keepers. The governor immediately ordered that they be shot – even as they were still feeding on the carcass of the attendant. That led to the end of the zoo till date.
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