OLUWOLE IGE, in this report, chronicles the many peculiarities of the mysterious Edan stream in the ancient town of Otan Ayegbaju in Osun State said to be as old as the town itself, neither age, civilisation nor religion has reduced its power as a force of nature to reckon with as till date, no one dares fish in the river, in spite of the abundance of aquatic life the stream provides sustenance for.
Otan Ayegbaju, a rustic community sandwiched in-between intimidating mountains has its presence in Boluwaduro Local Government Area of Osun State, and exudes a beauty, so alluring, yet natural, that captivates many people on a first time visit to the town.
Approaching the community from Eripa town through a steep slope, the first impression is that of a serene environment, mostly inhabited by aged citizens, farmers, artisans, traders and local government employees. On entry into the community, one is welcomed to a peaceful environment devoid of the hustle and bustle characteristic of urban areas.
At Otan Ayegbaju, there are many prominent family houses that have over time, become established institutions. One of this is the Oba Nla family house, one that is not only a foremost royal family but is also renowned as the home of a popular stream which, since time immemorial, has come to represent a significant model of worship, taking on the form of a deity.
The ancient stream, which is said to possess mysterious powers, is called the Edan stream. According to residents of Otan Ayegbaju, Edan stream has spiritual healing powers to prevent and cure guinea worm disease.
Aside possessing such healing properties, although the stream has much fishes within its marine presence, it is a taboo for anyone to fish in the stream or eat any of the fishes that dwell in this natural habitat. The stream, which flows from a high mountain and cuts across the town to join other water tributaries from adjoining communities, predates the earliest settlers of Otan Ayegbaju.
Nigerian Tribune’s investigations revealed that no one since the early times till now, had successfully discovered the main source of the stream, even if it is known to descend from one of the mountains. According to residents, history has it that attempts had been made in the past to ascertain the source, but such ventures had proved unsuccessful.
Interestingly, the story that has been passed down various generations is that the goddess of the stream is a nursing mother, who appears at the bank of the stream and vanishes at will.
As a result of its acclaimed healing powers and its potent ability to cure guinea worm, many traditionalists and other categories of herbal medical practitioners besiege the stream, especially during the rainy season to fetch water for healing purposes.
Some persons are also said to come from Europe, America and other parts of the world to pray at the stream and also fetch the water.
A visit to the community by Nigerian Tribune revealed that the river is a huge tourist attraction.
Some residents who shared experiences of the influx of people who came, especially to visit the stream, stated that it was time for the state government to channel the mysterious Edan stream in order to further make it one of the tourist attraction centres in the state with a view to making it a source of revenue generation.
Speaking with Nigerian Tribune, 75-year-old; Pa Peter Alalade, whose house is located near the Edan stream said:
“This stream has been in existence before our great grandfathers. What I know about the stream is that they don’t fish in it. They use it to cure anybody afflicted with guinea worm disease.
If you drink water from this Edan stream, you are automatically immune against guinea worm.
“If somebody is afflicted with guinea worm, he can drink water from the stream and bathe with it and the disease will go off.
This stream has been here from time immemorial. We met it here. Nobody dares fish in this stream. There was a time some people got some fishes in the water.
When they got home and tried to cook them, they discovered that the fish could not be cooked as they were still fresh even after several hours of cooking. They had to return them into the stream,” he said.
Pa Alalade added that,
“there was a time the government planned to construct a kind of drainage to channel water from the stream. In this community, some people have formed the habit of throwing refuse in the stream and this is not good at all.
The government that promised to channelise the stream only carried out such plans on some part of it and abandoned the project.
“I want to appeal to the Osun State government to complete the channelisation of the stream for easy flow.
This is important because Edan stream passes through the length of Otan Ayegbaju to other towns, including Ada and Iree,” Alalade remarked.
Speaking on whether the stream is worshipped like a deity, another resident, Moses Oladele, stated that
“it is possible that they may be worshipping Edan stream in the olden days, but now they are not worshipping it again.
The advent of Christianity and Islam has overwhelmed our culture and traditional beliefs”.
He said further that the mysterious powers possessed by the stream would not allow anyone go there for any fishing purpose.
Another native of Otan Ayegbaju, who identified himself as Pastor George Faleti Olorunayo, explained that,
“it is believed that Edan stream flows from the mountain of Agunloko, but nobody knows its source.
But, it flows from that place into the town. The goddess of Edan stream is a nursing mother that straps her baby to the back.
“The stream goddess sometimes comes out in the afternoon around 12.00pm to 1.00pm. So, people don’t go to the stream around that time to fetch water.
There was a time she appeared to a young lady who went to fetch water from the stream and warned her to never visit the stream at that particular time.
The young woman defied the goddess warning and she went back.
“When she returned the second time, the goddess was angry and she beat her with the cloth she used to strap her baby. When the young woman got home, she died. This incident occurred about 25 years ago.”
He further explained to Nigerian Tribune that,
“The stream, which is from the mountain has compartments inside the big stone that can be likened to a room. So, if you move from one compartment, you will see water and if you proceed to another compartment, you will also see water. When we were kids, we used to enter the compartments until we got to a place where we became afraid and we would retreat.
We were usually warned by the elders in those days to be very careful of exploring the compartments of the stream inside the mountain.
This is because when an individual reaches a certain level, he or she may not be able to come out again.
“There was period a big python was sighted in Edan stream. At Agunloko spot, where the stream flows from, the rainbow appears there too sometimes. The stream cuts across the community and bursts out at a place called Arinoyun and in Ibokun, Iragbiji and Ada.”
Mrs Ronke Nihinlola, another resident, also confirmed that the water from the stream has healing powers.
“This water can cure guinea worm disease. It can be used in different ways to cure guinea worm. Anybody afflicted with guinea worm can dip his or her legs inside the water and the guinea worm would come out.
“Some of our indigenes here usually scoop the water in bottles and take it overseas for use.
People like the water from Edan stream very much. Fishes in the water don’t run away or hide when they see people. They would just stay and watch you. The water is also effective to cure barrenness in women.
If they drink it, they would conceive and bear children.
“I have seen the goddess of Edan stream before. I was in the company of another person on a visit to the stream when we saw the goddess. We were frightened and we ran away.”
The Edan stream tradition continues to defy civilisation as the belief of the people in its efficacy remains strong and no one dares to breach the unwritten code of behaviour around the stream.
– Nigerian Tribune