Stories from the Road….The wisdom in Ibn Battuta’s words rings true to any adventurer – “traveling leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.”
“Pwol Tyang” (good morning) to the beautiful people of the “home of peace and tourism”. As a visitor to the spectacular plateau state, one cannot help but be enchanted by the unmatched beauty of the multifaceted climate, the rich heritage, and the remarkable sights.
From the towering Wase Rock, cascading Kura falls, the vast Jos wildlife Park to the picturesque Riyom Rock formation, Plateau’s charm is undeniable.
A surprise encounter with an old friend, Ene, introduced me to the wonders of Gboko Ushong Hills in the “food basket state”. There, I met people from the richly diverse Igedes, Tivs, Idomas, and Jukuns tribes.
Visiting the Tor Tiv’s Palace and other attractions like the Montane Game Reserve and Dajo Pottery Market offered a unique insight into the area’s cultural richness.
Kogi state is uniquely situated on the crossroads of 10 states – a notable fact about this place also known as the “confluence state”.
Here, one can marvel at the Okene Cloth, uniquely handwoven with exquisite colored threads. The state also hosts an impressive cultural event like the Ekuechi festival of the Ebiras.
These experiences curated in the “Harmony state”, formerly known as Western Central State, covers a piece of history, like the Mungo Park monument in Jebba.
Niger state is known for its vast agricultural and minerals resources along with housing two of Nigeria’s major hydroelectric power stations – the Kainji Dam and Shiroro Dam. It boasts of the breathtaking Guara falls in Borgu Village, Zuguma Park, the Mungo park’s Cenotaph, and Borgu Game Reserve, which serve as alluring attractions drawing tourists worldwide.
My journey continued to Asokoro, invited by my great-uncle. This part of my journey allowed me to admire the striking Zuma Rock and cultural edifices such as the national mosque, the national Christian center, and the supreme Court.
My travels brought me to Lafia, the administrative capital of solid minerals, and I encountered the captivating Farin Ruwa falls in Wamba LGA. The state was dubbed the “Pearl of tourism” due to its tranquillity and attractions, including the sepulcher of late Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first prime minister, and the popular Yankari Game reserve.
Known for its unique bronze, brass, and ivory artworks, and a place teeming with a profound respect for royalty. It was during this visit to my maternal grandmother that I had the privilege to witness firsthand the magnitude of the royal lifestyle in the Oba’s Palace.
This encounter with the OBA of Benin was an experience like no other, and as I discovered, the state’s blessings extend beyond royalty to its abundant agricultural and mineral resources. During this trip, I also had the opportunity to explore the Benin Museum, Sundanika Hills, and the renowned Emotan’s Statue.
Just as my affinity for the Yoruba people is undisputed, my delight was palpable when Damilola extended an invitation to the land of honor and integrity for a three-day conference. This led to my first encounter with the Arinta waterfall, Fayuyi Memorial Park, and the Ikogosi warm spring.
This region also introduced me to the Egungun Festival, and I had the pleasure of visiting the Agodi Zoological Garden and Mbari Arts Centre. Notable landmarks I enjoyed on this journey included cocoa trees bathed in sunlight and the hills of Oko Marie at Oka Akiko, along with Eboni Lake at Epin mi Akoko.
Continuing my journey, I reached Abeokuta where I explored the Centenary Hall and stood in awe before the majestic Olumo Rock. I also visited Lagos, the second fastest growing city in Africa and seventh worldwide. Here I discovered sites such as Lekki Beach, Whispering Palms, the Third Mainland Bridge, and the Badagry Slave Trade Post.
Lagos, a city whose resiliency is reflected in the saying, Eko Oni Baje oo ( Lagos cannot be destroyed), is an unforgettable destination that lives up to its international reputation.
Ironically, the Home of Peace still holds its glory amidst the security challenges. It’s landscape teems with exquisite historical culture and boasts a trove of mineral resources.
This place is a showcase of nature’s gift to the nation with its soothing temperature, rich vegetation, and noteworthy sites like the enchanting Mambilla Plateau and the Karimbela Game Reserve.
As my journey continued, each state unfolded a different story, from the Draw in the Savannah State to the Centre of Commerce to the New World and finally to God’s own state. The variety of cultures, heritage, sights, and experiences is truly awe-inspiring.
In my travels, whether it was celebrating the Argungu fishing festival in the land of equity or marveling at the tombs of Sultan Attahiru in the Savannah state, the overarching sentiment remained one of awe and appreciation towards the rich cultural and historical diversity encapsulated within Nigeria.
These words offer only a glimpse into the countless stories shaped by my journey as a traveler navigating the eclectic landscape of the country and absolutely affirm Ibn Battuta’s timeless adage.