As though everything was meant to fit into place, my trip started with some note of adventure. At the airport lounge in Lagos, I sat on one side of the lounge chair quietly listening to my music and reading my Facebook page, next thing, one blond haired beauty sat opposite me. See ehn, some babes are wonderfully made, some are fearfully made, and then some are fearfully and wonderfully made depending on which "section" you are looking at. Brethren, dem no even gree make the trip start. If this is how the lounge is, what will now happen in Calabar?
I can hear you asking me, "So wetin happen with the babe?"
When I looked at the babe, the pastor in me rose up, and I shouted, Jesus! . . .
Na lie, I no shout, I simply comported myself as a Man of God and the husband of one wife, scanned through my archive of ice breakers and popped the golden one - "Sorry, which nationality are you"
Me: Wow, which of your parent is white?
Damsel: My mother is from Hungary and my father is Delta Igbo
Me: Interesting, how come half-caste children always look finer than either of their parents (that was my own way of saying - "You are beautiful, forget!").
Along with the fact that she is pretty, the sister was as sharp upstairs as she was in her looks. She said she had been filming a documentary that would be running on television soon, and then told of some of the beautiful places she had gone to shoot across Nigeria. The most beautiful part of the discussion was that she promised to read my blog. It is always a honour to meet hard working sisters like that in Nigeria. Shout out to you my sister, in case you read this blog.
Anyway the trip got off to a good start, the only thing was that the sister was headed to Warri to visit with her Mum and I to Calabar to see my customers, soon what the lounge seat had joined together, the airplanes decided to separate.
Calabar did not disappoint. The city looked green, clean and the roads were well done with minimum potholes. The weather was nice and so were the people and their manners. Everyone looked well dressed like one had come to an average income state. People moved about their business quietly without much hassles and I quickly went about mine. Soon I was able to settle and sample the soup (Edika Ikon with fresh fish and pounded yam, and a bottle of drink to push it down) - it took like forever for the food to come, but when it came, it was worth the wait.
Day 2, started off with business as usual, but in my wise Lagos mind, I had to infuse a subtle tour of the city into the barrage of business meetings.
I had read about Calabar in my history books as a child and being there just tickled my fancy. Calabar was the first city of call for the White men in the 14th century when they came to old Calabar on the Bight of Biafra (yes the Biafra of the Civil War was named after the Bight of Biafra). Calabar area used to be called Akwa Akpa in those days too; I guess you did not know. Story even had it that a Mulatto community developed way back in some area of the coast as far back as 15th century (the ancestors of the Murray Bruces). Calabar was the place where Mary Slessor stopped the killing of twins, and true to type, an avenue was named after her in the heart of Calabar. She had also died in Calabar and was buried at Duke Town; her burial place is still there.
Calabar was the place of active slave trade activities where slaves of Igbo origin among others, were shipped to work in England and the then New World (America). From my deduction, Calabar was the route through which the famous Olaudah Equiano, who had been stolen and sold as slave was finally transported to Barbados and then Liverpool. Olaudah in his book, The Interesting Narrative of The Life of Olaudah Equiano, AKA Gustavus Vassa, The African, detailed how he had been moved after he and his sister were stolen from their father's house in Isseke, and moved as slaves across that side of Igbo land until he got the this town on the edge of this big almost endless "river" he had never seen its like before. Relics of slave trade activities are still there till date where they have been collected and held at a museum located around Duke Town.
Calabar is a city of many firsts - It was the first seat of British government, where Lord Luggard lived when that region became the Oil River protectorate. It was also the center of trade ever before Zungeru or Lagos. Lord Luggard’s house which was built in Calabar is still there till date. Calabar is the city of Hope Waddell Training Institution, the first secondary school in Nigeria, the secondary school that Nigeria’s First President - Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe attended. Interestingly, Zik was born in Zungeru and then came to secondary school at Hope Waddell. Hope Waddell is still at its site till date. The first Catholic mass in Nigeria was held in Calabar at 19, Bocco Street, Calabar and the address is still there. The First British war ship to enter inland Nigeria came to Calabar area to enforce the abolition of slave trade. The first translation of the bible into a local Nigerian language was the translation of the New Testament from English to Efik.
Ok, my candid opinion about Tinapa - One: they need to reposition the image of the place and present it as a bouquet of luxury or romantic get-away and retreat for individuals, couples and groups of people, where people can enjoy a holistic holiday, stay in a budget hotel, enjoy well priced foods and drinks, run or walk the tracks, ride bicycles, do some sports, shop at the shopping section, enjoy a beautiful sit out on one the many well-manicured lawns, and a happy musical/refreshing evening at the water park. The bouquet should also include a guided tourist trip, on a tour bus, to the "places to visit" including the Calabar beach. Tinapa can then be used as the base for tourists and holiday makers visiting Calabar somewhat like what Senegambia is in The Gambia.
The Second plan should be to push more people to that section of the state by building a university in that axis. The university will attract people both new and old, and then Tinapa can provide shopping, recreation and accommodation to visitors. All in all, Tinapa is a great idea that needs to be supported.
I enjoyed my every stay in the city of Calabar and really look forward to visiting again soon.