Ogba Ogbunike

Ogbunike Cave

Useful Information

Location: At Ogbunike, near Onitsha market town, Oyi local government area, Anambra State.
At the border of the Niksi River.
(6.185855, 6.906072)
Classification: Speleologysandstone cave Lateritic sandstones of Campanian-Miocene age.
Light: none.
Dimension: L=350 m.
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: Dr. M. Ann Edington (1984): Biological Observations on the Ogbunike Cave Systems, Anambra State, Nigeria, Studies In Speleology, Volume 5, 31-38, William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust.
F. F. Mutoe-Okafor, H. C. Gugnani, A. Gugnani (1996): Skin and serum reactivity among humans to histoplasmin in the vicinity of a natural focus of Histoplasma capsulatum var., Mycopathologia 134 (2), p. 71-74.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1989 surveyed by Szentes, an Hungarian speleologist.
1996 study about histoplasmosis infections amongst the locals was made by Mutoe-Okafor et al..


Ogba Ogbunike is known to the locals for a very long time. It was used as a hideout from slave hunters. Ogbunike Cave is located in the mid-west region of Nigeria, near Onitsha and the Niger River. It is a location where Africans hid from slave raiding parties during the African holocaust period.

The cave consists of a network pf chambers, crawls and tunnels on two levels. The lower level is 100 m long and drains an underground river. The upper level is twice as long and dry.

Sandstone caves are very rare, and typically very small. This cave is extraordinary big for this type of caves. It was formed by tectonic forces, which produced weak zones in the rock. Physio-chemical and biological weathering and of course erosion formed the cave. And as the cave has a rather long history, there are also human alterations.

The cave contains a large bat colony which produced a large deposit of Guano. This guano is the basis to a rich and diverse invertebrate fauna, but also the reason for histoplasmosis infections. In 1996 a very interesting study about histoplasmosis infections amongst the locals was made by Mutoe-Okafor et al. (see bibliography above).

The cave is very well known in the area, so it has a certain amount of visitors every year. Because of religious traditions the visit of the cave is only allowed with bare feet. Actually there are numerous rules for visitors, and so a sign at the entrance reads "Ifite Youth Movement warning; no entry except by permission. Remove your shoes before entering into the cave. Ladies under period banned. Receive receipt after payment. Herbalist or spiritual ceremony in the cave is banned. Deforestation of cave will be prosecuted. Defaulters will be prosecuted." Unfortunately painting graffiti on the wall is not forbidden, so many walls are full of them.

According to oral tradition of the Igbo, there was a god called Ogba who lived inside the cave in the middle of a large rock. Despite the opaque nature of the rock, he was an all-seeing spirit who could detect crimes, especially, theft. When someone was accused of some sort of crime, he could prove he was innocent by entering the cave. The guilty ones never returned alive.

Among the locals the town is called Ogbunike, and the cave is called Ogba, like the god. However, the English name used by the tourists is Ogbunike cave. From Ogbbunike follow the road down to St. Monica's Secondary School, at the end of the school fence is a shack where the carekeeper, Mr. Daniel Oguelina, 53, welcomes visitors and collects the entrance fee. A short track leads 50 meters to a valley, a trail with 311 steps leads down to the valley floor some 50 m below, where the cave entrance lies.