[TRAVELOGUE] Olumirin Waterfalls Can Generate Billions If Tended

Olumirin Waterfalls

I have read about tourist attraction sites around the world, even ones that are listed among the UNESCO Heritage Sites. While all these sites are unique in their own way, they all have one thing in common – they have been very well tended by the governments of the country they are situated and have in turn become revenue generators.

This writer visited the Olumirin Waterfalls, a tourist attraction in Erin-Ijesha, Oriade Local Government Area of Osun State, in company of students and members of the National Association of Political Science Students, Obafemi Awolowo University chapter. It was a fifty-three kilometer, one-hour drive from the University’s campus gate, peppered with several “gbas gbos” (chit-chats), back-and-forths occasioned by the deplorable state of some parts of the road, and music from Wizkid’s ‘Made In Lagos’ album.

For a site as popular as it is in South West Nigeria, it is surprising that our driver who may have traveled there before, missed the way – a mistake I attribute to lack of road signs. As we approached the narrow road leading to the entrance of the site, a faded sign board had on it an inscription I could barely read. “Welcome to Olumirin Waterfall”, it said in faded colours and one or two washed away letters. The surrounding town looked too deserted for a Friday afternoon. Except for the entrance of the site where several traders displayed chilled drinks and snacks for sale, other parts observed by this writer seemed lifeless. Just as you begin ascending the steps, another signboard, this time clearer, welcomes you to the tourist garden.

[TRAVELOGUE] Olumirin Waterfalls Can Generate Billions If Tended

Olumirin Waterfalls (meaning Olu Mirin, Another god) is a magnificient waterfall with pure white water cascading from a very high mountain believed to have seven layers. According to historians, the Olumirin Waterfalls was first discovered in 1140AD, by Akinla, granddaughter of Oduduwa and founder of Erin-Ijesha town, during the migration of Ife people to Erin-Ijesha. Folklore has it that the Waterfalls found it source from a big pot located at the top of the ridge, a claim this writer could not verify as I only made it to the fourth level in company of five other adventurers as there were no steps beyond the third level and we had to climb using tree roots and wedging our feet between rocks. The fact about Olumirin still remains that, like other wonders of nature around the world, it is a work of nature that transcends human imagination.

But with all the fun as well as fascinating and idyllic scenery therein, I cannot help but introspect about the huge revenue this site could generate for the state of Osun and even the Federal Government of Nigeria if it is not left in the decrepit state we met it as of the time of our visit. There were fears of not moving very close to the extreme end of the steps where there were no railings to prevent a fall and even intense fear of leaning on the railings (where they were available) as they looked like they were yearning to be saved from rust.

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Olumirin Waterfalls

Non-first time visitors kept lamenting about how the site has remained the way it were when they last visited.

Tioluwanimi Adebanjo, one of the students told this writer that the last time she visited, there were sheds which served as relaxation centres, where visitors or hikers (as the case may be) could take a short rest after climbing.

“Look at that spot. The last time I was here with my elder brother, we sat there for a while. It had beautiful flowers and was like a well-tended garden,” she said, pointing in the direction of what now looked like a miniature forest waiting for wild animals to pop out and scare visitors away.

I overheard another adventurer saying “nothing has changed” since he last visited in 2019.

Olumirin Waterfalls

There have been several promises, as far back as 2015, by the Osun State government to pay more attention to its tourism sector. Earlier this year, the state Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Adebisi Obawale, in an interview published in Daily Trust, had said that the state was in partnership with Sterling Bank, Goge Africa, La Campagne Tropicana and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union in a bid to achieve the ‘Osun Tourism Masterplan’. As much as I understand, there are just two other tourist and historical landmarks in Osun State, which makes it difficult to fathom why developing just one that, in my opinion, has the prospects of being a money-making machine could be such an arduous task.

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At a point, I imagined what Olumirin Waterfalls would be like at this age if it was situated in Lagos State. I visualised how it would have been competition for other waterfalls around the world such as the Niagara Falls in the United States or even the Victoria Falls, located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, our Southern Africa neighbours.

I could not help but think about how much the hospitality sector would make from this opportunity that has been given little or no attention. A 2014 data revealed that the main accommodation providers (about eight hotels) at the Victoria Falls, recorded a combined revenue of $23 million from a combined total of 252,800 tourists who visited the site. Similarly, the Niagara Falls, which attracts over 13 million tourists from around the globe annually, generates about $2 billion each year and has a significant impact on the local economy.

Olumirin Waterfalls

For a state whose Internally-Generated Revenue is low, one would expect that the government will look at alternative ways of finding the revenue it is lacking, especially looking the way of tourism which has a remarkable potential to accelerate economic growth, with direct and indirect impact on employment. A public-private partnership may be a good way start. The influx of tourists will be good business for travel/tourism agencies, hoteliers, restaurants, among other stakeholders, if and only if, the government will make tourism a priority.

Olumirin Waterfalls

In as much as the sights offered some sort of therapeutic ambience that inspired this piece, when I visit again, I hope to pen down significant improvements that I expect to have been implemented at the site of the Olumirin Waterfalls sooner than later. God didn’t site such natural wonder in Nigeria and in Osun State for the government to continue collecting a thousand Naira from visitors.

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