The Toff-speaking tribe, first settlers in Massange village, where the Farin Ruwa waterfall in Nasarawa State is located, reportedly migrated from the present day Bokkos Local Government Area in Jos, the Plateau State capital. They were followed by another tribe called Arum, and later, Kantana, who were said to have migrated from Bauchi for the purpose of farming and fishing. This is the home of Farin Ruwawaterfall.
The waterfall is found in the Farin Ruwa Development Area, under Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. It is located about 120 kilometers from Lafia, the state capital and 30 kilometers from Wamba town.
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Massange village, which is surrounded by rocks, has 100 houses, with a population of about 5,000.
The waterfall, which is a beautiful sight to behold, flows from top of the hills down to the lowest rocks and makes the entire area to look calm. People from all walks of life are attracted from far and near to see the wonders of God in the waterfall.
The quiet nature of the forest further attracts animals such as monkeys, baboons and gorillas, among others.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that animals always come out as early as 4am and stay till 10am in search of food and shelter. They play around the big rocks and sometimes go into hiding the moment they sight human beings, especially hunters, who they see as enemies. They mostly feed on leaves.
The flow of the waterfall forms ridges on top of the hill, down to the lowest part of the rocks. As it flows down to other parts of the rocks to form streams, it produces different musical tunes. This attracts various birds from far and near to the thick forest. They perch on trees and flowers to enjoy nature.
Because of the waterfall and nature of the place, inhabitants of Massange village are predominantly farmers.
At a distance, the descending water looks like white smoke on the mountains, which gave it the name, Farin Ruwa.
During the rainy season, there is always an increase in the volume of water that falls from the mountain.
The beautiful and calm nature of the region also attracts some ecosystem. This is seen through the abundant life around the waterfall – people, plants and animals.
Daily Trust on Sunday was informed by the inhabitants of the area that it was discovered by British colonial rulers in the 1950s.
Our correspondent learnt that a catering house was established in Massange village, close to the waterfall, for commercial purpose and to protect its heritage. The colonial administration subsequently gazetted it and named it Mayes Forest Reserve.
However, despite this development, Farin Ruwa was relegated to the background until the creation of Nasarawa State in 1996.
It was learnt that water from Farin Ruwa can be used for domestic purposes like washing cloths, utensils and other things.
The water also helps in the irrigation of different crops in response to different weathers in the country.
The presence of water also makes fishing possible in the area.
The waterfall also helps in reducing stress and depression among inhabitants and visitors as it calms the nerves.
As the water descends from Jos Plateau hills, it drops to a total height of 150 meters (492 fit). This is higher than the more popular Victoria Falls, which drops from a height of about 108 meters (354 fit).
During a recent visit by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, he said that with the beautiful vegetation of Farin Ruwa, it would soon become another Nollywood village. He said this in Lafia during a courtesy visit to Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State. The minister was on a two-day visit to the state to inspect the waterfall.
“I have no doubt in my mind that with proper promotion we will turn it around and make it a destination for film and music producers. We will also create around the area, a resort and destination for holidaymakers,’’ the minister said.
He applauded the governor for promoting the tourism potentials of the state and building infrastructure around such sites.
“The governor got it right with the realisation that the major obstacle to tourism is infrastructure. It is commendable that about N3billion has been used to construct road to the Farin Ruwa waterfall. The vision of the governor is laudable,’’ he added.
He announced the offer by NIHOTOUR to train 13 young men and women from Nasarawa State, one from each local government as tour guides.
He further said the creative industry was Nigeria’s next oil field and itemised the successes so far recorded by the federal government in repositioning the sector.
Earlier, Governor Sule explained that the potential in Farin Ruwa waterfall was more than tourism as it has the capacity to generate 40 megawatts of electricity and 40,000 acres of irrigation land for agriculture.
He said that when he visited the waterfall and discovered that the biggest challenge was road infrastructure, the state awarded a N3billion contract for the road network leading to the site.
“We have just taken over the road, which has been completed. I also want to use this opportunity to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the contract for the construction of a dam at the site. I can confirm to you that work has commenced on the dam project.
“With all these in place, I can say that we have completed the cycle; what we are waiting for is for the minister to promote the waterfall so that investors will key into it,” the governor said.
He urged potential investors to avail themselves of the opportunity at Farin Ruwa, saying it is a good location for a conference centre.
Farin Ruwa has been described as one of its kind in Africa due to its height, which is above 450 metres.
Our correspondent learnt that the state government is planning to build a film village at the site of the waterfall for the purpose of ecotourism.
Mr Cyril Yerima, director of tourism in the Nasarawa State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, who described the waterfall as one of the foremost national attractions for the state, Nigeria and Africa as a whole, said the state government, in conjunction with a private firm, would soon set up a firm village in the area.
He said government had opened up the road from Sissi Banki to Manma and would complete the remaining16 kilometers from Manma to Farin Ruwa.
He said developing tourism was capital-intensive; hence the state government was looking for investors to partner with on the Farin Ruwa.
According to him, plans are underway to build more bridges across the six streams between Massange villages to the forest.
He said the state government had earmarked N300million to build a film village and resort in the area.
He also disclosed that the state was collaborating with the federal government to develop hydroelectric power at the lower part of the waterfall.
A 65-year-old retired director from the Ministry of Education, Mr Aniel Yakubu Akpedia, said the community consulted their ancestors, who are believed to live on top of the hills, through the waterfall, especially to make their women bear children.
He also said that for a woman to give birth, she is taken to the waterfall for sacrifice. According to him, she will be given the water to drink, after which she is free to give birth.
For a barren woman, he said a he-goat would be taken deep into the water, and when it bleats, it means the gods accepted the offer. He added that if the goat is slaughtered and there is no blood in it, the sacrifice has been accepted. But if the goat did not bleat and there is blood, it means the gods are angry, and there will be consultation to know why the gods are angry.
“In our language, Mayes means fortune water. Farin Ruwa is, therefore, fortune water because of the benefits attached to it, and it has been there for time immemorial,” he added.
According to him, the second benefit the community derives from Farin Ruwa is fishing. He also said that during wars they consult the oracle there to know whether or not they would win. They also appeal to the gods for bumper harvests during the farming season.
He said that for the gods to accept all their demands during the farming season they would present a keg of buruku and chicken. He noted that the nature of the demands determined the animals that would be used for sacrifice.
He also said the minister’s visit added value to Farin Ruwa because it was exposed to the world through the internet.
He called on the federal government to urgently develop the waterfall and rebuild the only bridge and road that connect the people of Massange to other parts of the state, adding that this would create job opportunities to their teeming youths.
Dauda Jerry, a 40-year-old graduate of Economics from the Nasarawa State University, said the challenge they had been facing in the area was bad road network.
“We are not happy with the situation of the road. During the rainy season we are forced to buy foodstuff in bulk because we find it difficult to cross to neighbouring communities.
“Our ancestors settled in Massange because of farming opportunities,” he said.
A resident of the area, Mr Yauza Yakubu, a retired civil servant from the Ministry of Education, called on the state government to urgently rebuild Massange bridge to enable them transport their farm produce. He added that during the rainy season, nobody from the area would be able transport his or her farm produce.
Mr Emmanuel Agati, a tour guide, said most of the challenges they faced was bad road network.
He also said that a man lost his life on the waterfall because he didn’t follow instruction. ”There is a particular place on the hilltop that people don’t touch or go. We often warn them each time they come around, but they don’t always listen to my instruction; hence the unfortunate incident,’’ he said.
Agati disclosed that there is a big python on top of the hill, which has been there since the discovery of the Farin Ruwa waterfall, adding that it only comes out from its den whenever two black birds appear.
“It has a specific time it usually comes out from its den. It doesn’t come out unless it sees the two black birds appear beyond the rock, close to the waterfall. The moment it appears, one can only see its head. And one cannot snap it because even if you do, the picture will turn black.
“For more than three years now we have not seen it. It doesn’t hurt anybody. Sometimes people who come around sit on its head and it doesn’t harm them,” he said.
Ibrahim Bawa, an engineer and retired civil servant from Wamba Local Government, who came to cash fun, said he always wanted to be at the waterfall to experience nature and appreciate God’s miracles and wonders.
Another resident, Mr Usman Hamidu, director of budget and planning in Wamba Local Government, said he had heard the news about Farin Ruwa but had not visited the area.
He said, “Today I have come to witness the waterfall. We have been hearing about the place, but I have never visited until today. We had some visitors in the council who had not seen it, so I decided to come along with them to enable them see the wonders of God.”
He urged the federal government to invest in the waterfall, and admonished the community to welcome visitors to boost development.
“What really makes me happy is the flow of the water from the top of the hills, which I had never seen in my life,” he said.
Mr Bala Akuna, a farmer resident in the area, also said their forefathers came from Plateau to settle at Farin Ruwa. “We celebrate on top of the hills during festive periods,’’ he added.
He said the recent visit of the minister of information, culture and tourism was quite commendable, noting that if the federal government would construct the road leading to the waterfall, it would benefit not only the inhabitants the community but the state and country in general.
According to him, in the olden days, white men used to land their planes on top of the hills to export farm produce, particularly red oil.
Dauda Mahou, a 75-year-old farmer, told our correspondent that the waterfall had been there before he was born.
He said nobody could cross to the other village due to the volume of water and nature of the bridge, adding that for them to cross to the neighbouring village they would construct local bridges.
“Farin Ruwa belongs to their ancestors. When the white men came we used to take them round the entire village.
“We don’t have schools. Imagine that a place like Farin Ruwa, which is known as a tourist site, has only one primary school with dilapidated structures.
“The state government should build more schools for the community,” he appealed.
He also said that over 100 people had lost their lives due to the dilapidated nature of the bridge linking the community to other places.