I was sweating but I didn't care. My knees were still stinging from their multiple encounters with the gravel, but I didn't care. I was struggling to catch my breath but still, I didn't care. I could no longer smell the heavy city air. It was replaced with air that was thick with history, culture, and pride. I was on top of Olumo Rock in Nigeria.
The mount is located in a city called Abeokuta, meaning "under the rock". At first when my mum suggested we visit this place of interest, I didn't care. But as I made my way up the stone steps, blanketed by trees that looked as though they were there to witness the 19th century inter-tribal wars of the Egba people, I soon realised I did.
I found myself climbing, jumping, and of course falling. I pondered about the Nigerian health care system as I leaped over a gap similar to the one which James Franco traps himself in for 127 hours. I made it! But not without getting acquainted with the beveled rock. I will admit that I imagined myself as Lara Croft, scaling this huge rock in an attempt to save the world, except I was in a red Zara playsuit and not a sleek black ensemble.
Around every bend there seemed to be a Coca-Cola sign labelling each cave with "Egba War Time Hideout". Each time the now irregular path forced me to turn right or left I expected to see a cave with walls intricately etched with carvings. However, one left turn opened up into a round that was inhabited by priestesses. Their huts delicately stood on the rock. The ground was pattered with the shadows of the trees that hung airily above. The mouth of an elderly woman, who was adorned with cowrie-beads, moved as softly and as freely as the breeze that danced around us.
My mum, as though she had tapped into my thoughts, told me that she was probably whispering blessings upon us. This was my last discovery, before I reached the top.
The people in the city below going about their daily lives resembled ants. Multitudes of cars whizzed past but their noise could not quite reach me, the cacophony of the city was almost swallowed by the rock.
Hard terracotta roofs were framed by lush green forest - the juxtaposition reminded me of my own. London born, Abeokuta roots. This was somewhat of an epiphany, that my London-ness and my Nigerian-ness could coexist. That they were completely different but of the same picture, the same person.
Essentially I walked up a rock and learnt a lot about myself - I guess mother knows best.