This kingdom boundary rampart ditch extends for 160 km and is over 1000 years old. It's association with the Islamic Queen of Sheba legends may date to the same period. This is the first definite proof that state formation occurred in the rainforest zone at the same time as in Africa's savannah zone. Bilikisu Sungbo's grave is a national monument, but not yet the great ditch she had ordered her slaves to dig .. but the ditch needs protecting.
Vertical sided ditches of hardened laterite (natural soil mixture of clay and iron-oxides) show how the ditch profiles were originally dug. Together with the bank of spoil heaped up on the inner side, the combined height can be as much as 20 metres. Trees above this gigantic ditch help protect its sides from the forces of nature. Where these trees have fallen or been cut down, partial collapse has been the result. The smooth-sides of Sungbo's Eredo attest to a previously unknown quality of workmanship, as the normally rapid slumping of these mud features into a V-shaped cross-profile means that the original construction shape is not seen. Trees inside the Eredo ditch are now being removed as respect for Sungbo's powers declines: the tree in the bottom right of this picture has now been cut down. In view of the original Eredo course over the Basement Complex clays being deliberately moated along much of its length (see picture below), it is possible that the ditches in these vertically sided stretches were dug deep in an attempt to reach the water-table or else more clayey sub-soils which would retain water during and after the rainy season.
The moat here becomes 5-7 metres across - probably the widest stretch of open water along it's 100 mile course. Taken together with the enormous trees, the similarity with natural fressh-water swamps is at once apparent; and it was in the dark swamps that evil spirits were believed to dwell.
The Eredo moat was only just over 1 metre deep and it's banks were low:it was not a physical but a spiritual line of defence - percieved to be peopled by swampland demons, who surrounded and protected the kingdom over one thousand years ago.
|Bilikisu Sungbo is supposed to have dug the Eredo
kingdom boundary. Sheba's legendary status has grown over the centuries;
but all images of her have been done by non-African's. However, the Bilquis
story goes into some detail about Bilquis' hairy legs; and the anonymous
love in the Song of Solomon describes herself as "I am black but comely
... look not upon me because of my blackness".
The practice of absorbing and accommodating local shrines within Islam also needs to be taken into account; and the early C20th 'discovery' of this shrine to Bilquis was intially greeted with much scepticism - though it is now a site of pilgrimage by both Muslims and Christians.
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