Beyond giving refuge in troubling times, the Ogbunike Caves are a spiritual bastion and a hidden gem from the Nigerian Eastern region. The Ogbunike Caves are a collection of caves which have been in use over centuries by local people for whom the site carries spiritual significance. The site was said to have shielded hundreds of people in the dark in 1968 and 1969 to escape harm during the Nigerian Civil War. For the locals and soldiers who hid and lived in the caves for weeks, it was a familiar territory. For outsiders, it is a complex maze of caves they could never understand.
It is also said that slave traders during the pre-colonial period hid in the caves from where they planned and executed their raids. The safety and refuge that the caves have provided across different periods of history is part of the reasons why they hold special importance to the indigenes of Anambra and, by extension, the Eastern region of Nigeria. The Ogbunike Caves are a system of many caves that are linked together by small tunnels and passages. They take their name from Ogbunike, a town in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State where they are located.
The caves are celebrated at “Ime Ogbe” every year.
Ogbunike Caves are associated with living traditions for centuries. The site still retains its historical and spiritual significance for the people. The caves are celebrated at an annual festival called “Ime Ogbe” in commemoration of their discovery. The biodiversity of the historical site is still intact. According to UNESCO, the integrity of the site can be attested to by the presence of the primary forests around the caves. The Nkisa River flows by the side of the caves into which the water from the caves drains and empties itself.
At that point, the difference in temperature is felt between the water in the river and the water from the rocky caves. The entire site is within the ranges of undulating hills and valleys which stretch across other communities and farmlands. The water around the cave is also thought to be divine. Water perpetually drops from the roof of the caves at some parts. Spiritualists believe that it is healing water and many come to collect the water for varying purposes.
It is a UNESCO Tentative World Heritage Site.
It is said that Ogbunike Caves were discovered by a man named Ukwa from the Umucheke family of Ifite-Ogbunike, about 4000 years ago. According to legends, the caves were created by a deity called Ogba who, they believe, lives within the caves. The caves draw much of their spiritual significance from this belief. Some of the indigenes come there to worship. They point to many phenomena in and around the caves as proof of their belief.
The caves are situated in a valley with tropical rainforest. To descend into the valley where the caves are located is to walk a lengthy walkway made of about 317 steps which was said to have been constructed by the state government in the 1990s. At the end of the walkway, there is an open space which is used as a reception point where visitors are required to remove their shoes by tradition. The main cave consists of a massive structure with a big open chamber of about 5m high, 10m wide, and 30m long at the entrance. There are ten tunnels at the main chamber leading to different directions. Within the tunnels, there are big chambers and other tunnels, some of which are interconnected.
Ogbunike Caves are one of the networks of caves in Nigeria.
The Ogbunike Caves are like the ancient cave temple of Arochukwu in Abia State of Nigeria. The caves are a symbol of justice. They are one of the networks of caves in the country. Ogbunike Caves have an attractive waterfall at the Northwest part of the cave that could be compared to Kalambo falls in East Africa. Beside the portion of the river flowing beside the caves, there is a table land of about 5-by-5 square meters used as a relaxation spot by visitors to the caves.
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