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.
The northern part of Nigeria has one of the if not the most beautiful landscape views, I will keep saying this.
On taking account of States visited in Nigeria, the Northern part and some part of the South-East are yet to be covered fully in my travel diary.
So i set forth on planning my trip. After a long project that took about two months, I was set on a break for a while. I looked at the calendar and decided some days before Sallah will be great. Covering the Durbar festival in Kano this year was high on the list. I set out for Abuja from Lagos, had a sleepover and head out for the train station in Idu.
I went online to check the schedule for the train ride to Kaduna from Abuja. I did not want to leave with the first train so i opted for the second trip. You can check the train schedule at http://nrc.gov.ng/ to know the station, departure and arrival time as well as fare.
The website is fair to navigate but there is room for improvement.
I arrived at the train station with the aim of getting a first class ticket but I was told it's fully booked. So I paid for coach which cost N1,300, while first class is N3,000. Your ticket has your seat number like in the plane as well as your coach number. You can not just sit in any coach you have to follow the procedure.
Visiting the northern part of Nigeria is high up on my list when I made my travel list for the year. Yes, I always make travel list which comprises of festivals, States, Cities, Countries I want to visit in the year and then the struggle to achieve them sets in.
I am always conscious of places I am not conversant with especially when language barrier is key. The northern part of Nigeria has some of the if not most beautiful landscape scenes i have seen so far in my traveling the country.
On my list was capturing the big Durbar in Kano this year. It is said that Kano holds the largest and biggest Durbar gathering in the whole north. So i set out to cover three States in 10 days. The States were Kaduna, Katsina and Kano.
I am a list person whenever I am traveling, this has always helped me with achieving my trips. Before I left Lagos I had mapped out my list for the three States, and gotten associates that will help me over there especially with translation.
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.
Earlier in the week Lagos State hosted it's first ever Tourism Summit themed 'Destination Lagos: Towards a Sustainable Tourism-Driven Economy.'
Present were captains in the Hospitality, Entertainments, Arts, and Tourism Industry. The Chief Host of the event is the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Mr.Akinwunmi Ambode with the Former President, Republic of Ghana, His Excellency, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, as the Keynote Speaker/Special Guest of Honour.
The event which took place at the Convention Centre of the Eko Hotels & Suites, in Lagos State, will hopefully give meaningful shape to the Lagos State Tourism Vision.
The mission of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode is to develop tourism through the provision of necessary infrastructure and facilities to make Lagos one of the most welcoming cities to local and international tourists.
This he iterated while delivering his Special Message during the event. "Lagos cannot survive without critical infrastructure development," says Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.
This is evident to the massive infrastructural development that is ongoing at the same time in different part of Lagos. It is key that the infrastructures that will make Lagos a major tourism hub on the continent be laid down.
It's Friday, the weekend is here and the kids are on a short break. The question that parents struggle with most of the time when kids are on break is majorly where do we take them for fun? The mall has always seem like the next place to take them, get them to see a movie, fill them up with pizza or any other unhealthy food in the mall's food court and back home. This is not a very healthy and fun way of treating your kids to a day out.
If you live on the mainland, then the JJT park in Alausa, Ikeja is the place to take your kids for a nice weekend outing.
Named after three main figure who ruled Lagos at different era. JJT is the acronym for Johnson Jakande Tinubu.
This park was name after Brigadier Mobolaji Olufunso Johnson, Military Governor of Lagos State, May 1967 - July 1975; Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, Governor of Lagos , October 1979-December 1983; and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor of Lagos, May 1999- May 2007.
THE MERGED BURST
The main attraction of this park is the merged bust of the three former governors of the State. It is erected in the middle of the 54 flags representing the African continent. It is a larger than life size statue. Guessed it would have been made with stairs but because it is near the Lagos State Assembly and the Lagos State House, security is of paramount essence.
Another thing I found educative in this park is that each of the 54 flags has the country's name, Capital, currency, flag colour, and size engraved on the plaque holding the flags. It was funtime for my nephew and I as we played country and capital with flag colours. This is a very cool learning technique with fun incorporated.
It was the 2018 edition of the Lagos Boat Regatta on Sunday. Lagos is known for its water body and that is what makes Lagos to be the iconic city it is.
The water ways contributes a lot to the economic development of Lagos thus making it the economic capital of Nigeria. Lagos is similar to New York city with its combination of Islands. While New York is made up of Boroughs of Islands, Lagos is divided into mainland and the Island with different communities formed on the Island. The three main Islands in Lagos are, Lagos Island, Victoria Island and Banana Island. Lekki, Ajah and the other water front axis are also part of Lagos Island. The exploration of water tourism is a must for Lagos.
There are many water communities with unique tradition, culture and way of life that contributes to the tourism ecosystem of the state.
The Boat regatta showcase these communities to the people, teaching them about their tradition and customs.
A set of criteria was used to judge the competitors with a winner at the end of the event. Contestants were judged on
1) Boat decor: How beautiful their boat was decorated
2) Deity and History: Some boat has a deity on board which is very important to the community.
3) Group Choreography: The performance by the group aboard the boats
4) Orderliness and routine by each group
The group from Lagos Island stood out for their costumes and boat decor. It was fun to see and i really wished there more boats to see.
Later in the evening we went on the #LagosTourismCruise of the waterways from Lekki to Victoria Island. It was a breathtaking view.