The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, late on Wednesday said that there were 401 historical and religious sites in Ile Ife that could be likened to those found in the Middle East.
The oba also narrated the mysteries and the histories behind most of the sites that served as the living places for those deities while alive in Ile-Ife.
He said that was why Ile Ife was and, is still, regarded as the cradle of civilisation.
Ogunwusi said that these sites in Ile Ife had become tourists’ sites that are now visited by both local and international tourists, visitors and researchers alike.
Ogunwusi gave the various historical accounts during a press tour of the ancient city ahead of the Tourism Innovation and Development Conference (TIDA) slated for April 24.
The theme of the conference is: “Impact of Sustainable Tourism Development and Marketing of Tourism Destinations on Host Communities”.
The Ooni said that the 401 mystical and mysterious deities, who existed and had their living places in Ile Ife had also defied human science.
He added that the living places of the deities had all become national monuments and tourists’ sites.
He listed some of the deities’ living places as those of: ‘Olokun’, ‘Osun’ and ‘Osara’.
Others include those of: ‘Oke Agbanmere’, ‘Oke Ileri’, Oduduwa, Moremi, ‘Aje’, ‘Agidi’, ‘Orun Oba Ado’, ‘Orisa Oke’, ‘Oranmiyan’ groves, and ‘Ile Igbo’.
According to him, the ‘Olokun’ Grove is the head of the oceans, connecting all the oceans in the world. It used to roar like oceans and changes its colour from blue to green and vice versa.
“The Oke Ileri Grove symbolises the biblical tower of Babel where the Almighty God scattered everybody’s language, till date people come from across the globe to see it.
“’Orun Oba Ado’ Grove is where the remains of our past ancestors are buried and we also have the first place in the world where iron, brass and bronze were discovered.
“’Agidi’ Grove is where a group of Ife people angrily marched to and turned into stones.
“Also ‘Aje’ Grove is where we have the first market in the world, when people started gathering in the world for business purpose, now known as ‘Igbomekun’ market.
“Anthropologists have come to test if actually all these are true and their findings have been positive.
“Oke Agbanmere’ Grove is where the first palm tree in the world is situated, Orunmila lives there,” the Ooni said.
He added that each of these sites was being properly preserved to ensure they did not lose their value and continued to attract both local and international tourists.
Oba Ogunwusi urged Nigerians to visit each of the sites to familiarise themselves with the nation’s rich culture, history and tradition.
“One needs at least a month to tour all the tourist sites in Ile-Ife because they are many,” the monarch said.