Travelogue: Chess Coach and Arbiter on a Tour of Old Oyo Empire (Part 1)


by Olawale Oyeleye


I had an exciting trip recently and would love to share it with everyone interested in this little but massive trip of mine. I have never considered going to any tourist attraction site all my life. All I do is go to venues where there are chess tournaments within Nigeria, or schools for chess coaching or homes for chess home classes (looking forward to international experience in arbitration).

So for the first time in my entire life, I joined others to go on a tourist attraction site. I was very reluctant actually when my wonderful friend, Irantiola Gbenga, of Guzeartworld wooed me to tag along. With a little encouragement from my wife, I accepted the offer and decided to enter an unchartered territory by me.

The Oyo State Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism organized the 2-day tour, tagged “Know Your State” and the list of the places to visit were Agbele Hills, Iya Mapo Hills, Oyo Ile and Ibuya Pool. We set out around a few minutes to 9a.m from Ibadan. Of course, the vehicle drove through Ogbomoso and arrived at Igbeti around 1:30pm. Plus the stops and all, the trip was about 5hours to the first rendezvous point.


Agbele Hill is situated at Igbeti which is nearby to the villages of Aiyetoro and Idiko-Ago. According to folklore, we learnt the naturally occurring rock formation actually resembles a woman with a basket on her head and a child on her back. There were different stories as regards the rock which includes the story of Lot’s wife in the bible. We were told there that a woman went to make a sacrifice in the middle of the night and the herbalist told her not to look back on her way home which she disobeyed and turned to the rock. 

Another story was that it symbolised a woman who stole yams that were dried openly in the sunlight. Unknowing to her they were owned by a powerful priest on her way she turned into a rock.

Another version described the rock as a goddess who despite her fame, wealth and prowess in wars, was a kleptomaniac. One day a passerby saw her stealing yams from the hills, in a bid to shield her pride, she turned into a stone image. (With the height of that rock, I personally don’t want to believe these stories except it can be proven that people who lived in those times were GIANTS). Of course, that what makes the rock more intriguing is the mythology around it.

I actually enjoyed the scenery, and appreciated the wonders of the rock and its surroundings. I think the Oyo State Government or even the Federal government can make this site more attractive to allow foreigners all over the world to come around and enjoy the view. I think the Nollywood, and Nigerian Artists can also use this site for videos and all to show case some historic sites in Nigeria.

(to be continued…)

Oyeleye Olawale is a certified Chess in School Instructor and a licensed National Arbiter.


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