It was a very long journey travelling from Abuja to my hometown. I was only six years old. We arrived at the village at about 3:30pm. ‘Big Mama’ as we fondly called my grandmother was there to give a warm reception. Exchange of pleasantries with relatives and other neighbours with series of ‘welcome’ that filled the air was next. Grandma served a sumptuous meal. It was actually a rare delicacy.
Suddenly, I innocently broke the ‘mealtime silence’.
“Daddy, remember you promised to take me to the village river.” I said in my tiny voice.
“Yes, we’ll go this evening so that we can be able to leave for the city very early tomorrow morning.” He replied. That was exactly what I wanted to hear. I responded immediately with smiles.
Dad beckoned on me after the meal and now we’re set to go on my ‘anticipated adventure’.
After some minutes of walking in a fairly narrow road with Dad holding my hand firmly as we walked slowly down the fairly slippery rugged hill. The villagers were passing to and fro. Many of them were in groups and yet a few others walked on their own along the bushy path leading to the village river. The road was quite busy that lovely evening.
Imaginations were now building up in my head. I was trying to picture what the river looked like. Dad had once told me that the water continuously gushed out of a large stone ‘hanging in the air’. This boosted my enthusiasm as a young child full of eagerness to learn new things about my environment.
After walking for a few more metres I could now perceive the sweet scent of fresh water that filled the air. I was now hearing voices chattering in a distance. Sooner than I expected I beheld a beautiful scene. The village river was a wide one.
“This river is known as Akoo. The river is customarily divided into three zones: the left side is for the women, the right side is for the men, and then a central inner area which we’ll still explore.” Dad explained as I watched keenly.
The village river was fairly deep as we stepped in with Dad still holding my wrist firmly. The water almost got to my shoulders while it barely reached Dad’s waist. We had already removed our shirts and trousers which were carefully hung on tree branches on the river banks alongside our slippers. The experience was simply awesome. All my life then, I never knew people could bathe in such large waters without being drowned. I’ve never experienced ‘sinking and floating’ on such fast flowing waters.
Dad now told me to come with him to see the source of the water.
“Oh my God!” I exclaimed and asked immediately, “Daddy what is this?”
“A waterfall.” He answered smiling. I was thrilled at the sight. As young as I was then, I was so much scared of heights. Meanwhile, there were no tall buildings around our city house except the church tower in the centre of the town.
“What is that big stone up there?” I asked Dad pointing upwards. I saw waters forcefully gushing out from the huge mass of rock which seemed to be hanging in the air. The waters rushed out sliding through the cliff of the rock and poured down on the flowing river with powerful thrusts.
This natural spring serves as the major source of water for the community. The villagers with their water pots usually stand on the rocky base of the heavy downpour intercepting the waters as they rushed down thus filling up their vessels. I still observed the series of events going on with my young awestricken mind.
Dad had told me the myth about the place. The name of the waterfall, Akoo actually originated from the huge stone – the source which our ancestors worshipped as the god of fertility and vegetation. Little wonder the arena was filled with such aura and much glory was accorded to the river by the villagers, even till date.
Dusk was speedily setting in and I was still keenly observing the rock as the waters gushed out, watching from one crevice to another, admiring the green shrubs as they danced to the music the waters were playing.
“Let’s go.” Dad said tapping my back.
“Oh no…Not yet!” I cried. But he maintained that we have to go because nightfall was fast approaching.
We walked out into the open river once more, sweeping my legs against the tidal flowing streams. I was filled with fulfilment and excitement. We hurriedly put on our clothes; at last I can now tell my childhood friends something about my hometown. The waterfall really made my trip an admixture of bewilderment, awe and fun.