According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from 11 July 2016 the certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is valid for the life of the person vaccinated. This lifetime validity applies automatically to all existing and new certificates, beginning 10 days after the date of vaccination. So the question is why is Nigeria now changing the old Yellow card to a new one which they supposedly called the eYellow Card. Will the new card have micro chip or is it because of the barcode that is in front which we can see from the image.
I am worried because how many borders in Africa, if you are traveling by road will have the barcode reader? Will this new card be recognised by other countries? or it is just Nigeria alone?
The following instructional cards were posted online this week and I went on to test the website.
Daura is the second major town after Katsina in Katsina State. It is also popular because it is the home town of Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.
I have just a day to explore Katsina for the Durbar Festival which I primarily came to document is the following day and I leave for Kano after the parade. After lodging at the hotel and going out to get a few things, I stayed put in my hotel room while making arrangement for going round the following day. My host in Katsina, Abdulkaque had to go to work the following day.
The morning started with me trying to get across to the keke guy that will take me around town. On inquiring at the desk the distance between Katsina and Daura I decided to hire a cab that will take me around town and then we will go to Daura. Arrangements was made for me by the hotel manager and I got a cab driver/guide that speaks good English and Hausa. This was a big plus for me as I have discovered that you need to understand a bit of Hausa to be able to communicate effectively. After going round Katsina as pointed out in this guide, we set out to Daura.
The trip to Daura is almost two hours and the different views along the way was quite interesting.
Daura is a town and also a local government area in Katsina State. It is said to be the spiritual home of the Hausa people having been the ancient seats of Islamic culture and learning.. It is the second emirate in Katsina State, and is referred to as one of the 'seven true Hausa State' i.e. 'Hausa Bakwai'.
The seven true Hausa States are Biram, Kano, Katsina, Zazzau, Gobir, Rano and Daura, which are ruled by the descendants of Bayajidda's sons with Daurama (the last Kabara of Daura) and Magira (his first wife).
On arriving Kaduna by train via Rigasa, I took a cab to town to meet up with a friend.
After a while we set about looking for a hotel for my stay. I can hear you asking why I didn't book a hotel online before leaving Lagos.
As part of my safety plans I prefer a local telling me the safest part of town to stay, that is where I will book a room. I am not familiar with Kaduna, so it's better to rely on the expertise of a resident.
We went to about two hotels, mind you I was on a budget, but I did not like any of the place. Then my friend remembered that the Air Force has a guest house. So we went there to check it out. So there is a hack when you stay in the Command or Air Force Guest House. If your friend or relative is an officer with proof of identity, you get a discount. The place is secure, right in the middle of town, with okay amenities (I am still on a budget here).
That settled, I got down to organising a guide and ride for my trips. As usual I do have a list which i showed to my friend. Arrangements was made for the following morning.
My ride came around the following morning and there was an issue. My driver do not speak a word of English, and his colleague was able to pass but not enough to have a conversation.
My trips were in Northern Kaduna, Southern Kaduna and Kaduna town itself.
So we started off with Southern Kaduna which is the Nok Museum and the Matsirga waterfall.
It was about two hours and thirty minutes drive to Nok junction, we asked for direction to the museum. It started raining heavily as we got to the museum and luckily for us we met Mr John Fom, the assistant chief protection officer. His duties includes protecting and preservation of the cultural artifacts that are left, ensuring the safety of museum visitors and preserve the buildings. We got talking and he told me about the history of the museum and the Nok culture after which he then took us into the gallery to see the pictures depicting the story of the Terracotta.
There are three castles in Ghana and several forts along the coast of Ghana and were built by Europeans and were all used for trans-atlantic slave trade.
The first of the castle is the Elmina castle. It is built around 1482 by Portuguese, under the Leadership of São Jorge da Mina. The second one is the Osu castle in Accra. It used to be the seat of the government of Ghana. It was built in 1661 by the Danish. The last and the youngest castle us the one in Cape Coast, which was built in 1665 by the British. By age, the Cape Coast is the youngest castle.
The cape coast castle was built when Slave Trade was at its peak. When built, a dungeon has the capacity to take a thousand men, separated from 300 women at a particular time. The slaves were held in the castle for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of three months depending on the availability of the British ships to take the cargo away.
This history is never told to pass judgement. It is never told to pass accusing fingers at a friend, No. It is never told to open old wounds or to remember the sufferings that our forefathers went through. But it's simply told to educate one another. The history is told because of education.
These were the words of my guide in Elmina Castle, Elmina Town in Ghana. The history of the trans-Atlantic Trade is not complete without visiting Ghana. Ghana has three castles and many forts that were dedicated to the Slave Trade. The castles are Elmina, Cape Coast and Osu in Accra.
This story is a bit touchy to write because it was not a pleasant one but it is a story that must be told to help us question how we live with ourselves everyday.
Driving into Elmina one can not but notice the coastal line on both sides of the road and on entering the town, the history is evident with some of the old architectural buildings that lined some part of the streets and also the main occupation of the people of the town, Fishing.
Elmina castle is a hot tourism spot and is not far from the Elmina fish market which also serves as the major market. It has all the trappings of people trying to sell you something once you are spotted. One cannot dismiss the colourful array of fishing boats that are at the pier nor dismiss the smell of fish that fill your nostrils.
You have to cross a sort of gangway that is above a big gutter to get to the doorway of the castle. Payment of 30GHC is paid at the gate as a foreigner, mind you identification is very important at these places if you are to pay the local price.
I was asked to join a group and a tour guide was assigned to us. About two other tours were ongoing but it was seamlessly done in such a way that teh tours do not affect each other. Our tour guide introduced himself and the tour began.
Whenever I travel I always seek out local food and learn the process of making it if possible.
I grew up in the gateway to the Northern State, that is Kwara State and I have met my fair share of Fulani. Reading the ‘Burning Grass’ by Cyprian Ekwensi was my introduction into the Fulani culture proper.
Back then they will come to the market in their colourful attires, the women with their colourful embroidered jumper top with a cream embroided wrapper to go and the men with their danshiki like with threads bare at the side and their trousers and their sticks. They were always a fascinating site to behold.
I always look forward to seeing them whenever I go to the market and prayed I witness the shiro dance at one point. More importantly is the Wara they make. It is the local cheese made from fresh milk gotten from the cows they rear.
Hearing the recent Fulani crisis made me wondered if they were the same Fulani I loved watching as a child, are they the same Fulani I read in Cyprian Ekwensi’s book? If they are, then something is not right somewhere.
I looked forward to spending some time in a Fulani settlement to study their daily lives and more importantly learn how to make Wara.
I finally got my wish.
I spent some hours with a little Fulani family in their little community and I learnt what the issues are and more importantly the real Fulani are not the ones killing but the Niger immigrants referred to as Bororo.
Having not traveled for a while I started itching to go somewhere for 24 hours, so that means somewhere in the South-West.
I was in Ogbomosho sometimes last year and going through a fellow photographer's page previously I had found this rock like structure that has similarity to the Stonehenge in WiltShire, UK. My thought from the person's caption is to find many of these stones/Rocks.
So I asked from a friend who has been there if he knows someone who lives in the town that can take me round for the period that i will be there. Luckily i got the details of one person that is young and vibrant within the community. I got the phone number and reached out to the person.
Here is one tip I use whenever I am traveling to an unknown place especially within the country. I do my research and look for someone that can take me round or a friend of a friend that have contact in the place. Sometimes I am lucky to find a bike man that is so good to serve as a tour guide.
THE ROAD TRIP
I set out to Ogbomosho on the decided date. Ogbomosho is the next town to Oyo which is another major town in Oyo State and home to the Alaafin of Oyo. The normal car park wahala with the car not getting filled up for about two hour or more. Eventually, we got complete passengers and set out for Ogbomosho. On approaching Oyo from
Ibadan axis you start noticing high influx of trailers and trailer parks. Most of them pass through Ogbomosho on their way to the Northern part of the country. Once we passed Oyo, we encountered lots of trailers all parked at about three different points before getting to Ogbomosho, due to accidents or faulty trailers.
The road from the enterance of Ogbomosho to the town is not that good. You have bumpy road with parts sunken, it is obvious these was caused by trailers due to the fact that the road was not built to carry the heavy loads that the trailers do carry most of the time.
After about five hours on the road we finally got to Ogbomosho. Then another wait for the vehicle going to Igbeti to get filled up. It didn't take long for it was the market day which made it easy to get vehicles going.
THE TOWN CALLED IGBETI
Another one hour trip and we are at Igbeti. I got in touch with Adebayo, my guide for the day once i got into town. On entering Igbeti, what takes your breath away is this huge mountain that has a bit of similarity to the feel you get when entering Idanre, but this mountain is one long stretch that sorts of go on forever. It appears in different part of town.
Far before I got the travel bug all over again I had known of the Ikom monoliths also known as Akwanshi or Atal to some people. I served in Cross-River State and stayed back for some months after my Youth Service days but never got to see all the wonderful tourists sites Cross-River State has to offer due to, one, the places are very far from each other and two, I could not do all the tripping on a Corper’s salary.
Sometimes in December last year I got to tour some places in the State and the Ikom Monoliths was one. If you have ever been to Calabar, the capital of Cross River State you will notice that the monoliths are erected along the Murtala Muhammed Highway. They are about five in numbers and are huge, standing at about six feet tall for the tallest and the lowest is about four feet. This is the picture of the monoliths that I have carried in my head for years and I was excited that I will finally get to see them.
Ikom is about four hours’ drive from Calabar on a good road, but the road leading to Ikom from Calabar is nothing near good right now, so poor for a Federal Highway and the governor is talking about building a super highway which will pass through the forest to God knows where. That is another story for another day.
Well, the journey from Calabar to Ikom was about six hours on a manageable road with some horrible traps in the middle of the road. I finally go to Ikom and on alighting I looked for a bike to take me to my two major destinations in that town, the Agbokim waterfall and the Ikom Monoliths.
We went to Agbokim first and then went to find the monoliths.
ABOUT THE MONOLITHS
According to the dictionary definition, a monolith is ‘a single block or piece of stone of considerable size, especially when used in architecture or sculpture, OR, something having a uniform, massive, redoubtable, or inflexible quality or character.’
According to history, Akwasnshi/Atal as it is called among the Ejagham (also known as Ekoi) people, the ethnic group where it is mainly found, is distributed among over" thirty scattered communities.
The stone monoliths are known by different names, some call it Akwanshi or Atal or Alaptal. They are carved monoliths, of which the origin is unknown, and they occur in groups numbering about 350 stones located in about 35 sites which are located in different places.
The Monoliths are said to be evenly distributed within seven main clans of Cross River State namely; Abanyom; Akaju ; Akpanobong ; Nde ; Nnam in the Ejagham tribe; Nselle, and Nta.
FACING THE AKWANSHI
Due to the fact that they are scattered my bike man has never been on a journey with someone that came specifically just to take pictures and document the monoliths. It was an adventure for both of us. For this reason we started asking where the monoliths were for the sites were quite a distance to each other. There are two popular sites for the monoliths, Nkarasi and Alok. We came across Nkarasi first and the people encouraged us to stop that their own monoliths were more in numbers that the ones in Alok and theirs was taller. We were not allowed to go straight to the monloiths, we have to see the village chief first to explain our mission. We were shown the direction to the chief’s house. He was quite welcoming and gave us a young boy to lead us.
It was inside the bush in an uncultivated area in the village, covered by circular formation of trees with the monoliths in the near center in circles like they intentionally formed a ring to have a meeting. I got a rude shock and awakening, they were pretty small, about 4ft with the smallest to be about 2ft. I was coming with the assumption that I will see some beautiful six feet beautifully carved stones, but alas, my expectation was crushed. I returned back to the village chief to explain what I saw and what I had in mind to see, he laughed and explained that the ones I saw in Calabar were molded by the State government after taking some of the stones away for more study. I asked if there were taller ones and he said they used to be at Alok but have been taken away, there are very few monoliths left.
I asked him about the background of the stones, what is their story. He explained that the story passed down to them was that their fore fathers woke up one morning and found these round molded wet stones, the people were the ones who drew on the stones.
The peculiar design that is common to all akwanshi is that they have eyes, nose, open mouth and some markings that leads straight down which have been said to portray the navels. The monoliths have the same story of just appearing at the spot with the Esie soapstones images. They both are mysteries to the people.
I was happy to get this adventured cross off my list but I felt I have been sold a lie from the images I first saw of the monoliths.
I am not sure what significance they hold for the people, but it will be nice if a proper museum can be built for the monoliths with each history taped to its side. The monoliths are in the open, under the sun and rain, thus they are susceptible to weather for the beautiful designs are already eroding. This is the story of the Ejagham people to be preserved and if I am right this axis is the only place where you will find them in this country.
My last road trip took me to the top of Olumo Rock in Abeokuta, Ogun State in South West Nigeria. Few weeks after that experience, I went on yet another rock climbing adventure, this time to the Oke Ado, a mountain in Ado Awaye situated not too far from the famed town on Iseyin (Oyo State).
The ride (through Abeokuta) was pockmarked with farm settlements and the typical village settings. A landscape of mountains, which felt like a natural fence enclosing the town and guiding the indigenes, welcomed us to the Ado-Awaye community. Like Olumo and Abeokuta, the ancestors of the Ado Awaye people are said to have sought refuge at the top of the mountain during the Dahomey War (18-18).
Locals advised that we (I was travelling in a group) made sure to get someone to take us up the mountain. “And don’t dip your feet in the lake,” they said.
It became clear to us later that the community is used to visitors pouring in solely to climb the Oke Ado Mountain. A signpost by the junction of the street that leads to the foot of the mountain reads: ‘Way to Agelu Jerusalem’ and on turning into the path that leads to the mountain stand a less conspicuous signboard by the Oyo State Tourism Board with the words: “Ado Awaye Hanging/Suspended Lake.”
Face to face with the Mysterious Rock
We later met Pa Adediran Adesegun, the custodian of the mountain, who could not take us up the trail due to age; but he arranged for young Victoria to be our guide. We were given hiking sticks—these unfortunately did not go round—to aid our ascent. The flight of stairs before us was quite wide and easy to climb, but the higher we went the narrower and rougher the steps became.
There are 369 steps to the first stop on the mountain, the Ishagi Rock, arguably the most exciting and intriguing spot of the mountain. It is said that if one prayed here or made supplications, those wishes would be granted. Ishagi an upright boulder, rising up with no form of support. It has been standing like that for hundreds of years. There is a piece of white cloth at the feet of Ishagi, wrapped around the rock by the chief priest whenever there is severe drought in the land. This ritual brings a heavy downpour and when this happens the cloth is washed down to the feet of the boulder.
Footprint of the Elders
We continued the climb to the top of the mountain. The terrain at this point is almost flat, so the journey was quite smooth from here. On the way, I noticed a set of huge depression on the rocks, which instantly reminded me of similar features I saw inside the Egba War hideout (at the Olumo Rock). The patterns are similar but these ones were shaped like the toes on a foot; they clustered together in fours with a little gap between the first one and the remaining three. Story has it that they are either referred to as Elephant foot prints (Not sure if we have elephants in this part of the country) or the footprints of the elders.
(kampala)History of trade and fashion is not complete in the South-Western part of Nigeria without mentioning the art of Adire. This is a tie and dye process of making cloth using the Indigo plant extract and the now usage of caustic soda and dye to make what is called Kampala.
The Yoruba people were known for their trade and thus travels. Story has it that the tie and dye process is synonymous to cloth pattern worn in Mali.
Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State is popular for two things; Olumo rock and the popular Adire Market. There is the issue of where the tie and dye process originated from. The Osogbo people claim it is theirs in alignment to the story of how Osogbo got its name from the Goddess of the Osun River. 'Oso igbo e pele o, gbogbo koko aro mi le ti fo tan' meaning ''Hello deity of the forest,you have broken all my dyeing pots.' This made tie and dye to become their trade. While on the other hand the Abeokuta people lay claim to starting the art way back.
Speaking to Elsat Kampala, a great grand daughter of Iyabode Sunmonu, the person who brought the art of Tie and Dye (kampala) to Abeokuta on who truly started the trade. She gave me her own answer in respect to how knowledgeable she is about the issue, for she was not yet born when her great-great grandmother passed on. We also talk about the history and process of tie and dye.
"Osun State can not beat their chest to say they own the art of Indigo making.The reason is growing up, i was born into this art and many trainees have passed through this place to learn the art of tie and dye. Osun and Abeokuta are so different to each other. Maybe in another world before we were born can Osun claim they started
the art of tie and dye. The art of tie and dye is synonymous to this family. The Adeyanju's family popularly known as Jojoola compound, the address is 16, Jojoola Court, Abeokuta."
If we want to trace the history of the name, the first Iyalode in Egbaland bears the name Jojoola, and she was inaugurated in this compound.
The first set of tie and dye that was made in Abeokuta was in this compound and it's the Indigo dye, which the Osogbo people took up as there own.
From my own understanding that i can deduce so far on the issue of Osun and Egba saying they both own the tie and dye craft, their Oriki (praise poetry) talks to the type of tie and dye they practice. The knowledge they learn from our own great great grand mothers is what they worked on to expand their own knowledge of tie and dye to the extent we do not have similar designs.