Iya Mopo is a goddess turned into a Hill. Like a new bride, Iya Mopo stands out beautifully at 350m in the village of Igbeti (about from 3 hours Lagos and 5 minutes drive from Old Oyo Park) known largely for its marble export. Every year on Easter Monday, as a tradition, the locals visit the place in masse to promote tourism. History has it that she was the goddess of pottery. In the same Igbeti is yet another beautiful story of the Agbele rocks (the symbol of Oyo state tourism board). These naturally occurring rocks formation looks like it was carefully laid on each other. According to myths, the rock is a figure of a woman who stole yams dried openly in the sunlight. Unknowing to her they were owned by a power priest, she became a permanent figure just like the biblical wife of lots. Igbeti also is surrounded with sixteen hills, making it a beautiful call for adventure.
Distance: 2.4 miles out and back
Hiking Duration: 30 minutes
Season: All round
Agbele Rock Formation
I remember when I first saw this tourist site which happens to be the Symbol of Oyo State Tourism Board, I was in shock and wondered how stones could form on top of each other and form to resemble that of a woman with a calabash on her head and a baby strapped to her back.
There are many stories to explain this myth. Some say that, Legend has it that this rock formation was formed when a woman stole some yam tubers from a rocky part of the village which was being dried in the sunlight. And like Lot’s wife, she became a permanent fixture on the spot.
Another story says the woman who was hungry with her child decided to steal the pieces of yam dried outside in the rocky part of the village which unknowingly to her, belonged to an Ifa Priest( a Traditional Priest). As she stole the pieces of the yam well kept in her calabash, she turned away to exit the scene when the Priest got to the scene and having a knowledge of what she has done cursed her and she immediately turned into a rock in her shape (alongside everything she was carrying which included her child).
Legend also has it that she was a goddess(a very powerful one) that suffered from Kleptomania. So despite the fact that she was rich and powerful, her only trouble was that she stole whatever her eyes saw and loved, although she has no need for it. One day while passing by the place where the yams were being laid on the rocky floor to dry which later would be processed into lafun, she stole the yam pieces and quickly kept it in her calabash. When she turned back to leave, she realized that one of the villagers saw her stealing. In a bid to cover her shame, she decided that it was time to stop living among humans and that she would rather turn into a stone alongside with her child than face the mockery that was coming her way, so she turned herself into a stone in anger.
At this point, you are enjoying the story right? Lol. Let me leave you with my side of the story too. Maybe the myths are true or maybe, just maybe God made the rocks to form in this way to celebrate Women being Nurturers. An example of a strong figure of mother and caretaker; ever prepared to be busy with her hands and mind so as to enrich her family and improve her Community.
Written by : Bola John