I’ve heard much about a warm water meeting with cold water as one of Nature’s wonder but I never knew it is located in Nigeria.

I took the bull by its horn when I visited in April 2015 to witness it for myself.

Mheen! It is real. I got to the source, we were not allowed to touch it but just standing a feet away from it felt close enough.

We could feel the heat and see the steam. I could tell it is almost hot enough to made Eba.

Immediately, I began to imagine what the story behind this wonder could be. I was like ‘could the surface source be heating the water?’, ‘What about the one in the deeper heart of the earth?’ ‘Glory be to God,’ I concluded at the time.

Taking my inquisition away from the side, I went in search of answers.

According to Wikipedia, the Ikogosi Warm Springs is a tourist attraction point located at Ikogosi, a town in Ekiti State, South-Western Nigeria.

Flowing abreast the warm spring is another cold spring which meets the warm spring at a confluence, each maintaining its thermal properties.

These unique attributes are what makes the spring a tourist attraction in Nigeria.

Research suggested that the warm spring has a temperature of about 70oC at the source and 37oC at the confluence.

In 1952, Southern Baptist missionary, Rev. John S. McGee, from his mission base in the nearby Ekiti town of Igede, went to the source of the hot and cold springs, about which he had heard from the Ikogosi people.

Initially, he was discouraged from doing this, for reasons of the tradition he had heard from the local residents, which was that nobody should ever visit the source of these two streams, because of the idea that to do so would be to invite death from the supernatural forces that were responsible for this strange, and most unusual, feature of nature.

In spite of these “warnings,” Rev. McGee made his way through the bush/forest, up the hill to the source of the two side-by-side springs.

According to Rev. McGee’s later brief, written account, “After seeing it, I felt that it could be used for a good purpose. I discussed the possible use of it with some of the Mission and (Nigerian Baptist) Convention friends.

“With the growing interest of Royal Ambassador work, and youth work, we felt that it could best be used by building a Youth Camp.

I took it up with the Ekiti Association and we decided to build a camp for our R.A.s and G.A.s. The land of about 28 acres was secured through the Convention.”

The Baptist Mission architect, Rev. Wilfred Congdon (located at the Baptist Mission in Oshogbo) drew the design and plans for the original (16) buildings, which were built in this order: the swimming pool, fed by the warm springs (built in 1962); a combination dining hall, large kitchen and storage areas; eight (8) small cabins, each of which could house sixteen persons, with sleeping, bath and toilet facilities.

By 1972, all the buildings of the original Nigerian Baptist Convention camp had been completed, and the camp was being visited regularly by groups of Baptist youth and adults, along with missionaries and other visitors who came for vacation/”local leave.”

According to a letter from Mrs. Doris McGee, “In 1968, we had 734 people stay at the camp either in the 12 camps or retreats, or on local leave or vacations. Already in the first four months of this year we have had 322 people in seven camps or retreats or for rest.”

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, following the Biafran Civil War, some public opposition to the Baptist Camp began to develop, particularly as the McGees resisted public/military use of the camp, as they gave firm priority to the religious events and groups for which it had been built.

News from the Lagos area alleged that the facility being developed at the warm springs was the work of the (U.S.) Central Intelligence Agency, for political purposes.

By early 1971, news of the Baptist Camp was becoming much more known by persons (outside of the Baptist Mission and Nigerian Convention) who saw possibilities for the development of a commercial, tourist resort.

By December 22, 1973, the government had opened its guest house which was located by the warm springs swimming pool, and the following month, January 18, 1974, the McGees received word that the government was taking control of the swimming pool, the Baptist Camp’s featured attraction.

From that time forward, the activity at the camp significantly declined, with the McGees continuing to manage the facilities (other than the pool) from their Baptist Mission residence at Igede, until their retirement from Nigeria.

When the McGees retired from Nigeria in July, 1977, Rev. McGee was installed as “Chief Akorewolu of Ikogosi,” by the Loja of Ikogosi Ekiti, in a ceremony that occurred on 1 July 1977.

This followed Rev. McGee’s having been installed as “Chief Gbaiyegun” by the Onigede, Chiefs and people of Igede on March 10, 1957. And in 1961, Rev. McGee was given the “Prestigious Beaded Walking Stick” by King Aladesanmi the Second of Ado-Ekiti, on behalf of the Ekiti Baptist Association.

Unfortunately, for the future of the Baptist “Warm Springs” Camp at Ikogosi, when the McGees left, there was no Mission or Convention person available or willing to manage the camp, and in 1978, the entire property was sold to the Nigerian government by the Nigerian Baptist Convention, for the price of three-hundred thousand Naira.

From that time forward, there was always the hope/intention of developing that area for tourist purposes, but it was not until the past three or four years (2011-2014), that the Ekiti government under the leadership of its Governor, was able to enter into an agreement with resources which have been able to develop the facilities to their current high level.

Just for the record, for those who may be interested, any of the current, renovated buildings which have a STONE portion of their exterior, are buildings which were preserved from the original Baptist camp.

For the new development, there is a resort located at the spring today which makes it more conducive and a place or relaxation – for days.

Author: Taofeek Ayeyemi