The most prominent feature of Ikere-Ekiti, the second largest town in Ekiti State, are its steep hills and rocks. Three of them are storied: the Olosunta, Orole, and Ugele Hills. The first two, located in the northern and southern parts of the town, are regarded as abodes of deities.
For nine days every July or August, the Olosunta Rock is the site of a festival of remembrance called the Jona-Olusonta, meant to honour the Ikere warriors who fell in a battle against the Oyo Kingdom. At this event, the chief priest, the olukere, sacrifices a large cow to the rock. Unlike at the other rocks, people are not allowed to visit the Olosunta Rock outside the festive period.
According to local lore, the Orole Rock has supernatural origins. The myth goes that during a slave raid by the Oyo army, the Oyo soldiers decided to rest at a spot just before Ikere-Ekiti. When they stood to continue into the town, the ground beneath and around them began to rise into an inselberg, ultimately reaching a height of 1,000 ft, leaving them isolated up there. The soldiers couldn’t escape due to its steepness and so jumped off it to suicide. Today, the Orole Rock, the highest point within the Ekiti and Ondo areas, looks like one half of an egg. While it is frequented by worshippers of the deity of prosperity, the hill is open for climbing and picnics.
Beside the Olosunta Rock is the Ugele Hill, with its large cave said to have space for a thousand occupants. Ikere people were said to have sought refuge in it during wartime. After the wars, it became the venue for traditional wrestling matches during the Ogun Oye festival.
During the Yoruba civil wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, Ikere-Ekiti was the only Ekiti town to remain unconquered, a status attributed to its two deities on the hills. To this day, local worshippers look to the deities for the overall welfare of their town.
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a Nigerian writer, editor, journalist, and curator. As Editor of Folio Nigeria, he profiles innovators and facilitators in culture: business, art, photography, music, activism, health, food. He has extensive experience working in the African literary scene. He is currently the chair of judges for The Gerald Kraak Prize, for African storytellers exploring social justice, sexuality, and gender, and he was a judge for The Morland Scholarship. He was an editor at 14, Nigeria's first queer art collective, and Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. From late 2016 to early 2020, he led the transformation of the literary blog Brittle Paper to a standard platform, creating and administering The Brittle Paper Awards, the first by an African publication. His work in queer visibility advocacy has been profiled in Literary Hub. In 2019, he won the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among "The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians" by Avance Media. He completed a collection of short stories in 2016 and his novel in 2020. He has an MA in African studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. From 2017 to 2018, he taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him on otosirieze.com or on Twitter & Insta: @otosirieze.