By James Ogunnaike
ABEOKUTA—FAMILY members, tourists and residents of Ikija area in Abeokuta, where Olumo Rock is located, have said that the custodian of Olumo Rock deity, Mama Sinatu Sanni, will be greatly missed, following her passing away on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Sanni, also known as the mother goddess of the tourist centre, died at the age of 137 years.
Egba people revere the mountain
History has it that the Abeokuta settlers, Egba people revere the mountain for the natural refuge it created for them during the 19th-Century inter-tribal war.
It is widely believed that the rock, which is being worshipped by traditionalists in Abeokuta, is inhabited by spirits.
The rock has also become an attraction to tourists both within and outside Abeokuta.
Since then, the Olumo Rock, which saved the Egba people from their adversaries, has become an attraction to many interested individuals visiting Abeokuta, in Ogun State.
For many years, Sanni had been another attraction to tourists as she furnished people with peculiar information about the popular Olumo Rock.
She died after a brief illness—Son
Speaking in Abeokuta, her son, Solomon Adio, who confirmed the death of his mother, said she died at her Itoko residence in Abeokuta after a brief illness.
The aged woman died a few months before her 138th birthday.
Adio, who described his late mother as a doyen, lived in one of the enclaves under the rock for more than 40 years where she served the gods of the rock.
He said: “Mama will be 138 years old by August 5. She died after a brief illness. She was the mother of the deity. We are going to miss her a lot. Mama lived her life for the rock, for the deity. She was dedicated to the gods.”
Also speaking on the death of her mother, Mama Olumo’s first child, Mrs Mosinat Amusa said even though her mother died at a ripe age, she was still saddened by her passing.
Amusa, who is 90, however, expressed satisfaction at the life her mother lived.
She expressed confidence that some of her children would continue from where mama stopped.
Mama Olumo’s grandson, Mr Samad Sanni disclosed to journalists that she had since been buried on Thursday night according to Orisa Egun traditional rites.
He said though her family is not from Orisa Egun, her barreness took her to the deity, which she served for the rest of her life.
He said: “We buried her last night, according to Orisa traditional rite. Mama belongs to Orisa Egun, and there is nothing we can do than to bury her in that rite.
“Anyone who is an Orisa Egun cannot be buried outside, they’re buried inside their house, so mama was buried inside her room. All other activities will follow after the burial rite.
“Mama’s family is not from Orisa Egun, but it was when mama was looking for a child, that was what brought mama into serving Orisa Egun.”
On his part, a tourist, who simply identified himself as Abayomi, said Iya Olumo will be greatly missed not only by himself but also by other tourists that visit the Olumo site.
He said: “My family and I are always eager to visit this site because whenever we visited, Iya Olumo was ever ready to tell us different stories about the rock, Abeokuta and Egbaland. She will be greatly missed “.
Ogun govt mourns
Speaking during a condolence visit to the family of Mama Sanni, the Ogun Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr Toyin Taiwo said the death of Mama Olumo would propel more tourists to visit the site in a bid to confirm the story of her death.
The Commissioner delivered a letter of condolence from Governor Dapo Abiodun to the family.
According to the commissioner, tourists who visited the site had always sought her out to get facts and history about the rock and Egbaland as a whole, as such, she had become a tourist site herself.
The letter reads: “When we heard of mama’s passing, as a government, we have to show up here and identify with the family at this moment to condole with them.
“Mama is a custodian of our histories, culture and tradition. We’re going to miss her greatly in terms of the history and truth of Egbaland and terms of the tourism because mama, herself has become a tourist center because of the way people jostle to see and heard from her.
“You should be sure that if somebody has made an impact on humanity, the government is going to do the needful.”
“The IGP has ordered full-scale investigations into the incident to bring to book the perpetrators of the gruesome killings.
“The IGP has further ordered the deployment of specialised operatives of the Police EOD-CBRNE, police experts, and other tactical units from the Force Headquarters for a comprehensive investigation, and immediate interception.”
Amotekun, hunters, vigilante comb forests in search of killers
In an attempt to fish out the perpetrators, a reliable source told Vanguard that the governor has given marching orders to the chairman of the State Security outfit codenamed Amotekun, Chief Àdetunji Adeleye to hunt for the killers.
A source said that the security outfit has made some breakthroughs in its surveillance following intelligence reports.
Chief Adeleye, according to sources, would soon make public their findings on the Owo killings.
It was further gathered that both the vigilante groups and local hunters have been deployed to the forest in the town and environs to smoke out the killers and bring them to justice.