Journey to the peaks and plains of Koma

Going to Koma is like going to the south-end of the earth; scraps of information about Koma people tell you they are primitive. Based on that I assume I am going to meet a race of people...

KUBWA, A Town Where Every Car Owner Is A Transporter

First darkness and then light. That is the best way to savour the beauty of a town: to arrive in the thick of night and wake up the next morning to capture the scenery...

MAKOKO, Once Upon A Slum

If you have once walked through the maze of streets on the lagoon-side shanty town or if you’d ever rode in a canoe through the labyrinth of murky waterways that bisect the houses-on-lagoon...

OLUMO, The Rock That Gave Birth To A City

‘Olumo’, translated as ‘What God Made’, it is where the story of Abeokuta began. The name is also an abridgement of 'Olufimo,' meaning where God ends it in...

COCONUT PARADISE of Badagry

I have a fixed idea of a pretty picture of a coconut paradise. It starts with a sun-soaked beach with a Caribbean character; a place where the ocean rages and roils, where waves race and rise...

Friday, 14 March 2014

Journey to the peaks and plains of Koma

  
Going to Koma is like going to the south-end of the earth; scraps of information about Koma people tell you they are primitive. Based on that I assume I am going to meet a race of people who would be no less different from the voodoo-practicing characters that peopled Skull Island in the epic King Kong movie. Going to Koma is not a luxury travel; the terrain dictates how and when you arrive. Setting out from Kaduna at the break of dawn, I arrive under a blanket of darkness by 8 p.m. 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

TENANT’S TALE: Three lives, one fate

The first time I met Bolade, we were both teenagers. Our families were next-door neighbours in a twin duplex located on King’s Avenue in an upscale neigbourhood of Ikoyi, Lagos. Our parents were somehow reserved, so there was no room for us to interact. She was an only child, while I was the eldest of three sons in a family of four. She was a beautiful girl, pretty and adorable. I was too young to understand why her parents moved out of Ikoyi.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

MAKOKO, Once Upon A Slum

If you have once walked through the maze of streets on the lagoon-side shanty town or if you’d ever rode in a canoe through the labyrinth of murky waterways that bisect the houses-on-lagoon fishing enclave that stretches seamlessly along the coastal district of the city, you’d have charming memories of the underside of this effervescence community of Lagos. Tagged the “Venice of Lagos”, the Makoko community, which stretched seamlessly along the coastal fringe of the Lagos lagoon from Yaba to Bariga is one fairy tales of the city which is better experienced than being told about.

OLUMO, The Rock That Gave Birth To A City

‘Olumo’, translated as ‘What God Made’, it is where the story of Abeokuta began. The name is also an abridgement of  'Olufimo,' meaning where God ends it, in reference to the inter-tribal war of 1830 to 1833. Climb the rock. Take in the energizing and soul-reviving fresh air. View the city below. Catch a glimpse of the breath-taking scenery as nature and technology meet at the foot of the rock.

WELCOME TO TAKUM


Town where day breaks at 5:45 am, and sun sets at 6:15 pm

You will find my town interesting, says a long time friend of mine when I ran into her and informed her that I was heading that way. But I arrived the town in a foul mood, dogged by foul weather. The journey to the town is long and laborious. Eight hours long from Abuja. It leaves me sore and sombre. I arrived tired and tetchy by 5 p.m., under the threat of an overcast frantically, searching for accommodation. The unfolding landscape dismayed me. Sprawling old buildings, un-tarred, brown ochre roads made muddy by rainfall and chaotic circus of motorcycles traffic. Rustic.

IDANRE, Hills of Nine Wonders

In the small hours of the morning, when a few cock-a-doodles announce the break of dawn and a grey blanket of mist impairs visibility, the hills give off the “Tower of Babel” effect, leading into the heavens. As the sunrise above the broad rim of hills, and the first ray of light fight its way over the horizon, the veil of mists evaporates revealing an imposing hill formation that encircles the town. I gape at the intimidating backdrop in every direction. Having arrived the town at twilight, my perception is quickly reversed in the light of the new revelations. The town is dwarfed by domineering hills against which it nestled. Neither small by population nor by settlement size, the town of Idanre stands a Lilliputian at the feet of exalted hills. Long before the Idanre Hills made the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in October 2007, it had attained fame and attraction as one of Nigeria’s tourist centres. Today, the hills, 3,000 feet tall lunging after the skies, are jaw-dropping wonders.

COCONUT PARADISE of Badagry


I have a fixed idea of a pretty picture of a coconut paradise. It starts with a sun-soaked beach with a Caribbean character; a place where the ocean rages and roils, where waves race and rise against the pebbled sands of the beach, tall coconut trees form a bewitching backdrop and the sun, a coppery ball, sinks on the edge of the horizon at a point where water and sky meet giving off a colorful contrast of blue against orange. There a bevy of beachgoers frolic about in seductive swimsuits. Their chatter and laughter rend the air; an orgy of uninhibited fun, tempered with √©lan and exuberance–a depiction of youthful innocence that reminds you that life is worth living. Such a hedonistic haven is not a figment of imagination; it exists somewhere in the sprawling swathe of the Badagry coastland.

Friday, 15 February 2013

ITAGUNMODI: Poor, Gold Town


A community, rich in gold, talcum and topaz, but chained to a destiny of poverty and underdevelopment...




In the commercial city of Ilesha, a prominent town in Osun State, one community’s reputation resonates as a gold-mining town. A little enquiry reinforces the fact.
“Can you direct us to any gold mining location around here?”
“There are many; which one do you prefer?” a middle-aged man asks.
The nearest, the most accessible or the largest - One camp fits the bill.
“That is Itagunmodi,” he says without hesitation, and adds in a thickly accented Ijesha dialect: “It is the most popular.”

Getting to the community is easy. A N100 fare and a 16-minute ride in a five-passenger jalopy to a destination that is almost equidistant from Ile-Ife and Ilesha. The road tunnels through a verdant forest dotted with roadside hamlets. With a conviction that I am on my way to a modern-day El Dorado, I look forward to see bustling scenery, reminiscent of gold mining camps in Ghana or South Africa. I hope to see a swarm of men entombed in pen pits, heaving pickaxes, digging away at the earth’s bowel or panning in shallow streams for the precious metal.

As soon as we arrive in the town, my quixotic expectation dissolves into shards of disappointment. Nothing glitters in the sight that greets us. The town of Itagunmodi wears an Old World aura; drab and dust-coated. Its wretched-of-the-earth ambiance is an eloquent indication of a town ‘playing catch up’ with time; the people’s outlook, coated with dross of lethargy - a lack of gold rush mentality in the community; and obvious absence of treasure hunters digging and panning for gold - the sight, the sound, the smell, mesh in to a lackluster scenery. In place of dynamism, the town was dormant. I feel like a man who set out for Calcutta but suddenly finds himself in the middle of the Kalahari.
Where is the gold?


Monday, 14 January 2013

KUBWA, A Town Where Every Car Owner Is A Transporter


First darkness and then light. That is the best way to savour the beauty of a town: to arrive in the thick of night and wake up the next morning to capture the scenery; like photography, where negative prints slowly turns to sharp-coloured photos, sights and sounds etch on your senses, filtered through mellowed rays of light from the rising sun. That way, the novelty lingers.