By TAYO ADELAJA
What is today known as Zuma Rock was formerly known as Zumwa. Zuma Rock located along the main road from Abuja to Kaduna off Madala is sometimes referred to as the Gateway to Abuja from Suleja. The rock stands at about 725 metres (2,379ft).
The phrase “ancient of days” comes to life at the proximity of Zuma Rock. The primitive history of the Koros that settled around the rock cannot give an accurate account of its origin.
According to oral history, the people of Zuba (Koros) migrated to the present location of Zuma Rock on the instruction of their soothsayer in the 15th century. They were instructed not to settle down permanently until they reached one wonderful rock which was what led them to their present state of abode when they found out that the rock had strong spirits.
As pagans, they took ownership of the rock and started worshipping it. They believed so much in the rock because in those days, whenever sacrifices were made according to divination, they were answered promptly and testimonies abound of such happenings.
Then, Zuma Rock became the strongest idol in the old Abuja area. It was said that due to its protective power, no war against the Zubas by any group, was ever successful; both within and outside Zuba chiefdom. At that time, they had no name for the rock.
It was much later when they found out that there were many guinea-fowls within the forest where the rock was mounted that they named it “Ezumwa ba” meaning, place of catching guinea-fowls which can be traced to ancient Igbos.
That was how the rock got its original name -”Zumwa.”
But as the Hausa people started mingling with the early settlers, they could not pronounce “Zumwa,” so they just say “Zuma”, the same thing applied to the Europeans who could not also call it rightly as “Zumwa,” they used the Hausa pronunciation, “Zuma.” Since majority of the people called the rock- Zuma, it became the name with which the rock is known till date instead of the original name in koro, “Zumwa.”
The introduction of Christianity and Islam has, however, prevented most Koros from worshipping the deities as their ancestors did in earlier times. This has also led to the silence of the gods which has also withdrawn their potency according to Ahmad Jibril.
In those days, the people claimed that a clear audible strange sound of door opening and closing is sometimes heard and whenever this happen, the news about the death of a well-known person is heard.
The settlers also believed that there is no spirit at any place around or afar that are as strong as those at Zuma Rock. Another belief of the people is that Zuma Rock is sitting on a very large source of underground water, that if the rock is pulled down, the water that will come out of it shall submerge an unimaginable expanse of land.
Myth has it that, very long time ago that Zuma Rock has been foretold that it shall be at the centre of a very large and densely populated settlement. With the movement of Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja, and recent developments at Zuba, Madalla, Chachi, Zuma, Suleja, Gauraka, Kaduna Road, Dokwa, Dei-dei, Kubwa, and others, an old prophecy is being fulfilled.
Recently, the rock was said to be on fire during the rainy season. Between April and October, natives report that the apex of the rock often catches fire. They attest the happenings to the wonders of the deities and voodoo.
However, Dr. Kistso Ngargbu, a geologist and lecturer at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, notes that: “If it is after rainfall and a particular boulder or broken pieces of the rock got saturated with water, that’s the contact between heat and the main rock body.
In the event that it had to slide because water now serves as a lubricating surface, friction is created. We should remember that our forefathers used to make fire from rocks glided against each other.
That is what could have happened. Rain water got to the surface, lubricated the boulder and then generated a sliding probably based on a sloppy surface, and in the event of sliding down the fire came up.”
The rock also has facial features. It has contours on the surface which depicts the image of a human with visible mouth, eyes, and nose. The natives of the community believe the face represents the deity and ancestral powers protecting and governing the affairs of the community.
Though the site enjoys the visit of different people all year round, it is advisable to visit Zuma Rock during heavy rainfall so as to have the opportunity of seeing the rock on fire.
“I saw a large crowd gather against my agent and I got closer, I saw some boys hitting him and before I knew it, they pounced on me; they beat me up mercilessly, tore my clothes and stripped me naked in public right there in the stadium. They also punched my eyes and pulled my hair,” Aida-Nath Ogwuche alleged.