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Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park In Jamaica

de Jacquie Gerste
Jacquie Gerste
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- Vineri, 08 Septembrie 2017
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Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park(pronounced A-be-o-ku-ta*) is located a few yards off the Dean’s Valley Road in Westmoreland. The centerpiece of this rustic eco-tourism destination is an almost Olympic-sized pool which is fed by water that is channeled via an aqueduct from the nearby Sweet River.


Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park took its name from the community of Abeokuta, which in turn got its name from the city in southwest Nigeria. When the Yorubas, who came to Jamaica as indentured workers, arrived in this part of Westmoreland, they thought it looked so much like the Abeokuta they had left behind that they gave it the same name. Abeokuta is part of the old Dean’s Valley Water Works Estate, a sugar plantation that at one time covered 2,200 acres.

Abeokuta’s pool

The estate changed hands many times and eventually became known as Dean’s Valley, which is also the name of the community. The adjoining community took the name Water Works.


I grew up not far from the Dean’s Valley / Water Works area and knew of ‘Bekuta,’ as everyone calls it, but had no idea then of its significance. Later, I would hear that Dr. Olive Lewin, O.D., cultural anthropologist and musicologist, now deceased, had found and recorded the music of people there who spoke an African language. I was intrigued that anyone in Jamaica had preserved their native language and wanted to know more. I didn’t know then that Africans had come to the island as indentured workers after the abolition of slavery.


One night as my mom and I watched a documentary that was based on Laura Tanna’s book, Jamaican Folktales and Oral Histories, she screamed and pointed to the screen. Tanna had interviewed several residents of Abeokuta, and recorded their stories. My mom had recognized one of the interviewees whose name I’ve now forgotten but who I’m sure has passed on.

Abeokuta Finds New Owners

In 1980, part of Dean’s Valley, which included Abeokuta, was sold and two years later passed by descent to Owen Banhan, one of the new owner’s sons.

"Daddy" Banhan

According to Owen, known as Daddy, it took several months for him to clear the almost 15-acre property of thick brush. Once cleared, he and his wife made a surprising discovery — the ruins of the 18th century Dean’s Valley Great House, the pool and aqueduct.


Seeing how the nearby Roaring River Park had been transformed into an eco-tourism spot, the Banhans set out to do the same at the place they christened Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park.

Taking a dip

The Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park was opened officially in January, 2003 by Florentina Adenike Ukonga, who was then the high commissioner of Nigeria to Jamaica.


It was after reading about the opening that I visited Abeokuta and met Daddy and his family. I’ve been back several times, the latest last weekend.

On a clear day, you can see Negril from here

Much has changed as Daddy continues to prepare the property to accommodate the increasing number of visitors and locals who come to enjoy this peaceful oasis with sweeping views of Westmoreland. On a clear day, you could see as far as Negril, which is about 26 miles away.

Aqueduct leading to Sweet River

Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park is garden of ginger lilies, ferns, taro plants, croton, palms, thickets of bamboo, etc. Nature lovers can follow the aqueduct to the source of the river, a leisurely 15 minute walk away. It is from here that they can view the rock that reminded the Yorubas of Olumo Rock, which had provided their ancestors refuge at the other Abeokuta.

Fish pedicure anyone?

For those who can’t or don’t want to swim, the pool offers another option: a fish pedicure. Dip your feet into the water — it’s a bit cool — and an inch-long carp, known as the doctor fish, will begin to feed on the dead skin on your feet. It tickles at first and the fish disperse at the slightest movement, but if you sit still long enough, you’ll enjoy a temporary exfoliating treatment.

Fish pedicure

Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park is open daily from 9 - 6 p.m. It’ll cost you $5 to enter, $4 for a guided nature walk. If you’d like to stay for lunch, that will be another $8, $10 if you prefer to have fish. Prices are in US dollars.

If you want to read more on Abeokuta, check out:

Rock it Over: The Folk Music of Jamaica, Dr. Olive Lewin
Jamaican Folktales and Oral Histories, Laura Tanna


* Nigerian author, Wole Soyinka who was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, visited Abeokuta, Westmoreland in the 1990s. I remember seeing a video of him on television pronouncing the name, which is how I call it now. I searched online but couldn’t find the clip.

Watch "A Day at Abeokuta Nature Paradise Park, Jamaica" on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUX-2NplE7A


https://m.facebook.com/Abeokutajamaica/photos/a.404780909548246.116485.404760172883653/859027847456881/?type=1&source=44&refid=17
3 Likes Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Lushore1: 3:16pm On May 14, 2015 More pictures...
2 Likes Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Lushore1: 3:18pm On May 14, 2015 More pictures....


Watch "Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park - Dean Valley Water Works, Jamaica - To book call 877-651-7867" on YouTube


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz4BlKFKdUQ
2 Likes Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Lushore1: 3:59pm On May 14, 2015 I know what you’re thinking right now,Abeokuta in Jamaica? How come?


The Abeokuta Private Nature Park is a Heritage, Health and Eco-Tourist Attraction located in Dean’s Valley Westmoreland Jamaica, commissioned on the 5th of January 2003 by the Nigerian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Florentina Ukonga. The 13 acres natural park is a sight to behold, in beauty and with a hill that oversees an original "plantation farm" that was once home to black slaves some hundred’s of years ago.


At the Abeokuta park is one of the oldest swimming pool in Jamacica,the pool which goes back to over 300 years ago, with near Olympic dimensions being 71ft long and 47ft wide ranging from 4 to 10 feet in depth.
The relationship between the Abeokuta Nature Park and Abeokuta in Ogun State (Nigeria) was a direct link over 300 years ago when the first slaves that were taken to the Parish of Westmoreland were brought to this Plantation from Abeokuta, Nigeria. The Park also has its own "Olumo Rock", a almost typical size to the one here in Nigeria.


A nature park that stands on its own, in beauty, size and a pleasure to the eyes. Its natural therapeutic value has been why thousands of people all around the world always go to the resort. Among famous Nigerians who have been to the park include, Former Nigeria President,Olusegun Obasanjoand Prof.Wole Soyinka.


http://asirimagazine.com/testtemplate/diasporabuzzthe-beauty-of-the-abeokuta-in-jamaica/
10 Likes 2 SharesRe: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Lushore1: 4:04pm On May 14, 2015 Abeokuta Nature Park


The town of Abeokuta, Nigeria is directly linked to Abeokuta, Jamaica for over three hundred years. This occurred when the first slaves that were taken to the Parish of Westmoreland were brought to this Plantation from Abeokuta, Nigeria. The Park itself occupies 13 acres of land on a hill that was the original Plantation Yard. The remains of the Great House still stand magnificently fashioned from pure cut 2' thick stone. On the property is the oldest swimming pool in Jamaica which goes back three hundred years, with near Olympic dimensions being 71ft long and 47ft wide ranging from 4 to 10 feet in depth. There is a rope swing too!


Mineral Water is supplied to this historic pool and a "Kiddie Pool" via an aqueduct ¼ mile long. Beginning at the riverhead, water flows constantly and ends in two separate waterfalls. The therapeutic value of the Mineral Water has been highly touted in the relief of Arthritis as well as muscle or bone problems due to the concentration of Iron, Calcium, Chloride, Magnesium and several other natural minerals.


The view from Abeokuta Private Nature Park is quite spectacular and breathtaking due to the "bird's eye" altitude encompassing the distant ocean, spreading fields of sugar cane.


http://abeokuta.coolnegril.com/
3 Likes 1 ShareRe: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Lushore1: 4:22pm On May 14, 2015 I remember that sometime ago, I made a promise to my readers that I will be reproducing Wole Soyinka’s (Bros Kongi) historical analysis of a slave settlement in Jamaica called BEKUTA. I am with this publication now fulfilling my promise.


The story of BEKUTA as told by Bros Kongi is contained in his book "YOU MUST SET FOURTH AT DAWN - MEMOIRS" published by BOOKCRAFT.


As a lawyer, I know the legal implications of the following: "All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part, in any form".


What I am doing from today is in total breach of the above. I know however that the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka a.k.a. "Bros Kongi" will not jail me for this. And neither will he carpet the Nigerian Tribune. It is ever on Bros Kongi’s mind that the Nigerian Tribune was founded by the sage Papa Obafemi Awolowo in 1949. It is equally instructive that Professor Wole Soyinka had the following to say on Papa Obafemi Awolowo on page 10 of "YOU MUST SET FOURTH AT DAWN" while talking on his friend, the late Professor Ojetunji Aboyade:-


"Oje had been my Vice-Chancellor at the University of Ife - later renamed Obafemi Awolowo University after the death of that politician and sage, Obafemi Awolowo, a first generation nationalist of Yoruba stock who never lost his political fire until his death in 1987".


With the above settled, Nigerians will like the story Wole Soyinka has told about BEKUTA in his book. The Wole Soyinka book is a book that contains all that must be said about Nigeria since 1914. Those who are preparing a centenary celebration of the amalgamation of Nigeria must read this book. It is a book of history. It is a documentation that will make Nigerians know the events of their existence as citizens of the country called Nigeria. YOU MUST SET FOURTH AT DAWN - MEMOIRS of Wole Soyinka is certainly a must read for all Nigerians. I am about reading it again for a fourth time.


We will serialize the BEKUTA story on this page and except for the interlude next week to write about Papa Obafemi Awolowo’s post humous birthday, we will continue with the serialization until we finish with the BEKUTA story in March. I wish you all a happy reading:-


BEKUTA AS TOLD BY WOLE SOYINKA
"In 1990 - in my mental calendar, the Year of Mandela’s Release - when he made Jamaica one of his first stopping points for his reunion with the living world, I made a startling discovery on that same island. If Mandela was retrieving the space of freedom on a global scale, I was also discovering a micro-world that was founded in freedom. Thus did I embark on a pilgrimage that would begin as sentimental, and evolve into a morbid attachment.


The timing of my presence in Kingston, Jamaica, with Mandela’s - even though we never did meet on that soil - imbued my discovery with an indefinable sense of augury. But then, let it be recalled that, like a large portion of the world, I had carried the Calvary of Nelson Mandela and the struggle against Apartheid South Africa on my shoulders for longer than its continental replacement, the horror of an Abacharised Nigerian nation. Apart from participating in the mandatory FREE MANDELA marches, disinvestment campaigns, lecture sessions, a UN anti-sanction-busting commission, etc. etc, I had presented an early student play at the London Royal Court Theatre - the Invention - on the insanities of the Apartheid system. Decades after that production, I titled a collection of my poems Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems and, it seemed the most appropriate gesture, as I prepared for Stockholm in 1986, to dedicate my Nobel acceptance speech to him. (That was the speech in which, to my eternal chagrin, I listed Montesquieu among the contributors to European racist thinking - may the shade of Montesquieu find it in his ancestral heart to forgive that libel!).


To find myself again in Kingston on a lecture engagement in 1990, for the first time in nearly fifteen years, just as the entire city was emptying itself out for Mandela, was already more than sufficient. It was a symbolic gift that I regarded as personal, not shared with the millions of ecstatic hordes that had laboured for, and now celebrated his freedom. To discover a portion of my own homeland in that far-off place at the same time - now, that was a miracle that could only be wrought by a Mandelan avatar!


For it was only on this visit, my second ever to that island, that I was made aware of a slave settlement called Bekuta, a name that immediately resonated in my head as none other than the name of my hometown, Abeokuta. This centuries-wide reunion with my own history sent a tingle down my vertebrae - an encounter with descendants from my own hometown, Abeokuta, on a far-flung Caribbean island, in the hills of a once slave settlement called Jamaica?


The group of slave descendants who founded the settlement, in flight from the lowland plantations, had sought out a hilly terrain that would prove near impenetrable for their pursuing owners, but one that would also remind them of home. They found it in the county of Westmoreland and settled among its rockhills, naming it Abeokuta. Ade Adefuye, the Nigerian High Commissioner in the West Indies had already become acquainted with this history and could not wait to arrange a visit. What was only an academic, though exciting, discovery for him and others was, in my case, a most affecting experience. I found it strange indeed that, during my first visit to Jamaica in 1976, for CARIFESTA - the Caribbean Festival of the Arts - no one had thought to mention the existence of this settlement, or propose that we pay it a visit!


A famous Nigerian, now also deceased, had preceded me on this voyage of a private discovery, I was informed. This was Fela Sowande, a composer, but a totally different spirit from his younger and more famous namesake, the ‘Afro-beat King’ and iconoclast, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Sowande had been completely overwhelmed - he broke down in tears. This older cousin would exact his emotional revenge on me some years later, unintentionally, for it was his symphony - Obangiji, based on melodies from our common birthplace - which, unexpectedly swarming out of violin and cello stings of the Swedish orchestra on the Stockholm stage, as I moved forward to receive the Nobel award - nearly succeeded in making me a victim of the shamelessness of tear ducts. It was a brief, but tense struggle! The rockhills of origin stood me in good stead but, it could have gone the other way. (The horror of it - the immediately pressed, ribboned and sashed master of ceremonies, the Swedish Prime Consort himself, compelled to lend me his handkerchief!) Really, the Stockholm ceremonials should not spring such surprises on middle-aged susceptibilities!


As the island slowly recovered from the hangover of Mandela’s visit, I could not wait to answer the call of Bekuta. There, I encountered one of my yet living ancestors, the oldest inhabitant of the settlement, frail, as one would expect a being of over a hundred years to be. Now, let no one dare tell me I do not know an Egba face when I see one! The parchment tautness of her face, the unmistakable features of the Egba death-mask, captured so immutably in Demas Nwoko’s painting Ogboni, attested her origins distinctly against any skeptical voices. Not much motion was left in her body, else her body rhythm, I was certain, would have reinforced what her face pronounced. As she became bedridden, she ordered her bed moved to the window that overlooked the rockhills. Now, all she sought was that her eyes would open and close on those rocks, dawn and dusk, until her final moment.


She was the sole survivor of the original settlers. Her voice was still remarkably strong. Did I imagine the unmistakable Egba twang in her Jamaican patois? Of course I did, but what a conceit to let linger in the resounding chambers of one’s head! Oh yes, the real name is A-be-o-ku-ta - never did music sound so tanned, so ancestral in authority - but it gradually became corrupted to Bekuta. I tell them all the time - the name is A-be-o-ku-ta, but how many of them can remember that! They don’t even remember what it means, not less I remind them. I was a child when we came here. When our people dance for you and cook you fufu, ewedu, jogi and other foods from home, no one come tell you that we descendants of slaves from A-be-o-ku-ta. But yes, much has been lost. The government help a little, they come here sometimes, bring visitors, and the local council preserve our history by staging shows every year. We observe the seasons of the gods…. "Sango, Obatala, Ogun"…we used to have a babalawo, but I don’t think anyone remember how to read Ifa anymore… some of the children go away and never return…. In fact, the best dancers are the older ones, they the ones who keep our traditions alive. They teach their children, but the children not very interested. They only do these things when there are important visitors, so I don’t know what going happen when the older ones die off".


http://tribune.com.ng/news2013/index.php/en/politics/item/5778-wole-soyinka-s-bekuta-1.html
3 Likes Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by tpiadotcom: 4:31pm On May 14, 2015 why did you not add Jamaica to the thread title.
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Lushore1: 4:35pm On May 14, 2015 tpiadotcom:
why did you not add Jamaica to the thread title.


Fixed, thx....
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by tpiadotcom: 4:38pm On May 14, 2015 ^thanks.


i was a bit lost at first.
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Lushore1: 4:47pm On May 14, 2015 tpiadotcom:
^thanks.

i was a bit lost at first.

I felt thesame way when i first saw the article online..lol, but honestly jamaica has suddenly become top of the list of country to visit for my summer holiday....
1 Like Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by tpiadotcom: 5:00pm On May 14, 2015 Jamaica is a tourist destination.


Never been there though, maybe some day, maybe not.
1 Like Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by scholes0(m): 5:45pm On May 14, 2015 Looks beautiful and pristine
At first, I thought it was Abeokuta, Nigeria.
What is the motivation behind the naming?
2 Likes Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Lushore1: 6:03pm On May 14, 2015 scholes0:
Looks beautiful and pristine
At first, I thought it was Abeokuta, Nigeria.
What is the motivation behind the naming?


The town of Abeokuta, Nigeria is directly linked to Abeokuta, Jamaica for over three hundred years. This occurred when the first slaves that were taken to the Parish of Westmoreland were brought to this Plantation from Abeokuta, Nigeria.


Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park took its name from the community of Abeokuta, which in turn got its name from the city in southwest Nigeria. When the Yorubas, who came to Jamaica as indentured workers, arrived in this part of Westmoreland, they thought it looked so much like the Abeokuta they had left behind that they gave it the same name. Abeokuta is part of the old Dean’s Valley W


4 Likes 1 ShareRe: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Lushore1: 6:21pm On May 14, 2015 More pictures...
3 Likes Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Nobody: 2:09am On May 15, 2015 Nice.I like Jamaican food..yum yum
1 Like Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by lastnogood(f): 7:30pm On May 15, 2015 This is where my mom's family in Jamaica come from, unfortunately we aren't descendants of Yorubas though!
1 Like Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by lastnogood(f): 8:17pm On May 15, 2015 Luckily I was with my grandma while liking thru this article. We descend from indentured workers who came from India to Jamaica.


I told my child's father that I feel a very close connection to him somehow even though we are from 2 different places. Now I know it wasn't just a feeling!!!
18 Likes Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Lushore1: 12:54am On May 16, 2015 lastnogood:
Luckily I was with my grandma while liking thru this article. We descend from indentured workers who came from India to Jamaica.


I live in Canada, so this is a round journey, and very ironically I'm expecting a child any day and her father is Yoruba.


Anyways, my mother's family is from Westmoreland , Sweet River to be exact. My grandmother said she was born in maylersfield, but grew up in sweet river and knows bekuta and dean's valley very well. My mother's father family is from that place as well.


I told my child's father that I feel a very close connection to him somehow even though we are from 2 different places. Now I know it wasn't just a feeling!!!


Good luck with your pregnancy and yea i believed we are all connected to each other somehow. Jamaica was not known by most people to have any cultural link with yoruba compare to cuba and brazil so it was a really surprice when i found the article.
7 Likes Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by tpiah11: 5:04pm On Oct 27, 2015 .
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by baby124: 6:22am On Jan 04, 2016 Interesting but nothing new. My grand father used to talk of relatives that went to Brazil as indentured servants, and they used to go back and forth. Nigerians have been traveling before and after slavery as free people. Not every Nigerian left Nigeria as slaves.


Even a friend's father talked about Yoruba's that went to the Caribbean as workers centuries ago. This was at least 8yrs ago. And he didn't mention Jamaica.
1 Like Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by IamOpemipo(m): 10:30amFp


Lalasticlala
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Keneking: 3:01pmJamaican franchise
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by apesinola001(m): 3:01pmNice one
1 Like Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by apesinola001(m): 3:02pmBeautiful
1 Like Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by sukkot: 3:04pmthese fat white people are ubiquitous. hedonistic pricks
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Demmzy15(m): 3:06pmJust look at how foreigners are trying to reconnect back to their roots, unlike some people trying to do attache by claiming to be Ugandan Jews!


**spits on their flatheeads**
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by JohnXcel: 3:06pmNice...


And great name too 'Abeokuta', Yoruba for 'Under the Rock'.
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Danielmoore(m): 3:06pmYoruba Brazil (Santeria) north Argentina Cuba Haiti
Igbo's Barbados Dominican republic southern USA
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Kobicove(m): 3:07pmHow interesting...they even have a dish that looks like jollof rice
Re: Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park in Jamaica by Danielmoore(m): 3:07pmYoruba Brazil (Santeria) north Argentina Cuba Haiti
Igbo's Barbados Dominican republic southern USA


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