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Zuma Rock: its myths and beauty

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IMAGE: Zuma Rock »

It stands tall and majestic bestowing on the landscape the gift of its presence. Like a royal, the other mountains in and around Abuja and Niger State stay a respectable distance from it; actually paying it a kind of obeisance for its royal presence in the locality.
Visitors and tourists to Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, cannot miss it. Zuma Rock, said to be 725 meters tall above its surroundings, 3.1 kilometers in circumference and stands at 623 feet, is one of the wonders of the city. Although originaly located in Niger State, North of Abuja, along the expressway from Abuja to Kaduna, the monolith is indeed quite breathtaking. First time visitors; even residents of Abuja and environs, cannot but pause at the foot of this massive rock to appreciate the wonder of nature.
Over the years, it has remained a major symbol of Abuja’s landscape, despite its geographical location in Niger State. The significance of the rock is furthered expressed by its display on the nation’s N1000 currency bill.
A close look, reveals a sort of human face, looking whitish on the outside. This only adds to the myth of the rock. To most people, especially indigenes, it tells of the mysterious powers, surrounding the rock. This belief seems re-enforced by the story that the strange powers attached to Zuma Rock are responsible for the abandoned proposed five-star hotel that has become a shadow of itself, and now lying fallow, desolate and overtaken by bushes.
Daily Independent investigation unearth different stories on what actually transpired on the hotel incidence. While some attribute the reasons for its abandonment to lack of patronage, a position many fault considering the hotel has not commenced official business, indigenes insist the powers of the deities of Zuma Rock frustrated the completion of the project.
For instance, some inhabitants of surrounding villages, who reside arround the Zuma Rock, such as Gauaka, Dakwa, as well as Madalla Zuba, painted various traditional beliefs surrounding the rock. Many of them, mostly non-indigenes and die-hard Christians, claim that the rock has been responsible for the re-occurring high number of incidents and accidents along the Abuja-Kaduna Road leading to the loss of lives along the axis.
Some even say the inability of the $700 million Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Niger State Government and a Canadian tourism development company, sometime in 2008 to take off, has to do with the mysterious powers behind the Zuma Rock. Perhaps, this is why the beautiful natural wonder has remained in its poor state with no concrete efforts to make it the real major centre of attraction, deserving of such a prestigious mountain.
The story of the abandoned hotel is well known among residents of the area. Even a child can tell a first time visitor what happened to the hotel. According to them, the white men refused to heed the warnings of the villagers not to erect the hotel near Zuma Rock. They not only ignored them but went ahead to commence the construction right at the heart of the rock. This, the story goes, provoked the wrath of the deity of Zuma Rock. The stories of what happened to the white men and their local supporters sound like stories from the Hammer House of Horror series.
The story went on; that those that did not die mysteriously during the period the hotel was undergoing construction, ran away never to come back. From strange boils and snake bites to inexplicable disappearances, the Zuma Rock deity did not withhold its wrath from the doubting foreigners. Though, the tales of Zuma Rock sound and appear like fantasies but the fact that the five star hotel remains uncompleted underscores some of the mysteries related to the rock.
Abdullahi Sanni, has this to say of the rock and the hotel.  “It will never work, most of us were just waiting to see the end, and we were not disappointed. I have been residing in Dakwa all my life. You know that white men think our beliefs are cruel, but I’m very sure that those that survived now have a better understanding of what Zuma Rock is all about. They wanted to build a hotel where prostitutes will lodge and engage in all manners of atrocities, Zuma Rock deity will never agree, it can never happen, not in any place near the Rock,” he says.
He took time to explain the modus operandi of the deity, which he notes does not spare its desecration.
“There was a time that some foreigners also came here and attempted blowing up the Rock with dynamites, those ones saw and witnessed the wrath of Zuma Rock deity. It killed almost all of them but the good thing is that it does not strike without warning. Like when the five-star hotel was almost completed, the Zuma deity continuously issued warnings telling them to stop the construction which they ignored. After the painting of the buildings, the deity launched a vicious attack on them, killing some, and sending others away. They had to abandon their equipment and materials,” he adds
But how can one juxtapose this claim with alleged activities of ritual killings around Zuma Rock?
According to investigations, ritualists operate around this wonderful pictorial wonder-piece. There are sufficient stories around the vicinity to suggest that these ritualists use children and adults for their dirty sacrifices, and while the victims and their families grieve and wallow in abject poverty. The beneficiaries are wealthy men and women, who come in exotic cars to patronize them for different reasons.  Although the Police authorities deny such activities around the rock but, some residents insist it is true.
Joining the Police in denying this ritual angle the Sarki of Chachi, Alhaji Musa Abubakar. According to him, Zuma Rock is never a place for ritual killings, nor any form criminal activities.
He has this to say of the place, “this angle and story is coming to us as a surprise because we have never heard of or had any such incidence in all the years we have inhabited this place. No part of our traditional rites involve killing. We don’t need human sacrifices for any of the rites we perform. None of us have complained of his child or relative being kidnapped or missing and nobody has come to us to make such a complaint; neither have we found anybody in this vicinity who is a victim of ritual killing,” he explains.
But a source insists that a shrine exists within the vicinity of the rock where human sacrifices are allegedly made and that only the high and mighty visit there.
Irrespective of this controversy, the fact remains that Zuma Rock is magnificent and a natural edifice that Nigeria and Nigerians should be proud of and celebrated.

Article Credit: Daily Independent Newspaper

Updated 5 Years ago

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