Monday, 14 September 2009
BY ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA
CALABAR, the capital of Cross River State is one of the cities hosting FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Nigeria. Known as ‘Canaan City,’ Calabar was also one of the hosts cities of the World Youth Championship held in 1999.
Background: The city played a significant role in the political evolution of Nigeria, as it was once the seat of power for the Oil River Protectorate, Niger Coast Protectorate and Southern Protectorate. Calabar also featured prominently as one of the trading centres and ferry points through which slaves were exported out of the shore of the country during the ignominous slave trade era. It is on record that over 2.4 million slaves passed through the city’s seaport in the heydays of the obnoxious trade. From 1967, when 12 states were created out of the former four regions of the country to this day of 36 states, the city has remained a capital. One of the smallest of the host cities, beside Ijebu Ode, the most visible element that will assails a visitor’s sight is the culture of hospitality.
Checklist of leisure Spots
EXCEPT for Lagos, Calabar boasts of the highest number of well-primed entertainment and leisure spots in the country.
Dining out: Calabar is noted for its unique culinary feature, especially the vast array of Efik menu that visitors will find tempting. In all the nooks and crannies of the city, you are sure to find different eateries in operations. One of the most visible locations in the city is the Ndidem Usang Iso Road formerly Marian Road. This long stretch of road in the heart of the city is one sure place where leisure seekers will find comforting. The list of eateries include Genny, Mr. Fans and Mr. Biggs as well as Sweet Sensation. While Etta Egbe Road, where the University of Calabar is located, Calabar Road and Murtala Mohammed Road – from the J. U. Esuene Stadium end to Watt Market are some of the popular roads to catch fun too. Apart from these locations, Housing Estate also has a number of spots to sample. One of them is Duke’s Place, which, besides its fast food centre, has a section devoted to traditional Efik menu. The Chinese restaurant of Mirage Hotel beckons as well as that of Pyramid Hotel and Conference Centre. A visitor is also sure to have good dining spots in some of the well-apportioned hotels in the city such as Channel View Hotel, Metropolitan Hotel and La Chateau Hotel. Marina Resort is another good spot for dining out and harvest fun in the city. Located at the Duke Town end of the city, it is a water front resort, which once harboured the Calabar jetty, has been turned into a leisure city of sort where the locals spurn different leisure packages ranging from food to drink.
Old Residency: For a treat of the historical antecedents of Calabar, Old Residency is the place to visit. The building, which once housed the colonial government, is both a historical and master architectural piece to behold. It houses, among others, a museum of the relics and memorabilia of the old history of the city; ranging from the people to the economical and political exploits. After a tour of the complex, one can seat out at the restaurant section for food, music and drink. The Governor’s lodge, which is part of this complex, is just a distance away from the Old Residency. It has a good landscape outlay with the Calabar River serving as its backdrop.
Old Calabar, Duke Town: These are two sections of the city where one can feast on the nature and colour of the old settlement, as most of the buildings are monuments to the great past of Calabar. Some of the schools, institutional buildings and complexes that tell the tales of the old city are still in existence. One of the living monuments of the city is the Hope Waddell Training Institute (1895), which is one of the oldest colonial schools in the country. The late Nnamdi Azikiwe was a former student of the institute. Other historical monuments in the city include the oldest post office in the country, the first general hospital, the first social club in Nigeria (The Africa Club) and one of the earliest military barracks in the country.
Eco Tourism: Calabar also has a rich blend of eco tourism elements for people to exploit. Some of the spots within the city include: The Drill Ranch, which is actually one of the oldest of such centres and is devoted to the care of primates such as monkey, drill and chimpanzees. Afi Wildlife Sanctuary is an offshoot of this centre, as the wildlife sanctuary located in Afi forest, outside of the city is a sanctuary dedicated to drill, monkey and chimpanzee in their natural habitat. Besides a day tour of the sanctuary, one can stay over night or as many days as one so desires, as it has lodging and camping out facilities where one can savour a wilderness experience. Bird watch is also another activity here as well as safari. Afi Mountain Canopy Walkway : The Afi sanctuary is also where the Afi Mountain Canopy Walkway is located. It is an intriguing and creative walkway— a series of suspension bridges linked to platforms on trees. It affords aerial view of the forest and elicits great excitement walking on the delicately balanced creation. Just like The Drill Ranch in Calabar, CERCOPAN too is situated within the city and is a centre for breeding of primates with conservation education, enlightenment programmes and researches undertaken too.
National Park – Calabar is also home to one of the nation’s eight national parks and one of the rain forested parks with Okomu National Park in Edo State as the second. The park, which has two distinct sections, Oban and Okwangwo, with one of the sections extending to the Cameroun, plays host to rich varieties of fauna and flora. One of the rare species of the park is the forest elephant, which is endemic to the park.
Agbokim and Kwa waterfalls: These are two sites to also sample enchanting ambience of nature as they both have enticing landscape and waterfall. Their heights reach the heavens with water cascading down in such torrential momentum to form great pool of water at the base.
Ikom Monoliths: Found in Ikom, some distance away from the city, the monoliths represent the enduring history and art of the people, as these are carvings and writings that date back to hundreds of years.
Aqua Vista Holiday Resort and Farm: Is a rare facility tucked away in the calm area of Anantigha (Messembe Close), Calabar. It has a natural appeal that features palm trees. It has good accommodation, dining and wining facilities while some of its leisure features include sporty facilities — volleyball and tennis.
Obudu Mountain Resort: Formerly the popular Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort, it remains the prime tourism product of the state. Located in Obudu, it has a good landscape made of the Obudu rolling hills and plateau. The temperate climate of the resort is what recommends it to visitors, as it is located about 1,576 metres above the sea level and has 22 steeple and snake – like bends that take one from the base to the top. Beside the lodging facilities, the resort has ample leisure and entertainment facilities for patronage. It also has a natural enclave as Becheve Natural Reserve (BNR) . The resort can either be accessed by land or air, as there is the Bebi Airstrip located few kilometers to the resort. The state government has recently acquired an aircraft to service the resort making it now easier for daily air flight to the place. Tinapa Business Resort: It’s supposed to be the signature attraction of the state but is yet to be fully operated, however, with the Amber Tinapa Hotel and the entertainment arcade in operation, a tourist can visit the resort for a ball. The numerous facilities now in place such as the shopping complex and the Nollywood Studio are sights to behold.
Tourism Village: This would be one of the main spots for leisure during the game as the traditional tourism village with it cultural and entertainment ambience would be an open theatre for all sorts of fun filled activities ranging from musical concerts to theatrical acts. Millennium Park: With a lovely and attractive garden and arcade, the Millennium Park should be another spot to visit for rollicking moments. It is located some distance away from the stadium and the tourism village.
Mary Slessors’ Tomb: Mary Slessors was a Scottish missionary who lived and worked in Calabar. she was noted for fighting against the killing of twins. A statue of a woman carrying a baby in one of the roundabouts in the city is dedicated to her memory while grave other known as her Mary Slessors’ Tomb located at Eyamba Street cemetery in Duke Town near the Marina Resort, has been preserved as a tourist site in the city
Airport The city has an airport known as Margaret Ekpo International Airport. It presently operates local flights with regular flights to Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. From the airport one can easily access any part of the city as well as the state and its environs for anyone interested in making a detour to places like Uyo, Aba and Port – Harcourt
Tour packages Cross River State Tourism Bureau (CRSTB) is the state agency in charge of tourism development and promotion in the state. Their office is based at Arikpo Okoi House at Calabar road, a visitor to the office would gain more insight to the tour packages available. Also visit Grand Trip Tours at the airport and Executive Tours, among others, for tour packages.
Ekiti celebrates Udiroko
BY GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR RECENTLY, Ado Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State was agog with festivity, as the city hosted this year’s Udiroko Festival. Before the commencement of the festival, the city was in expectant mood, with every path and road properly cleaned. A true reflection of one of the virtues of Ado people, who are known for their cleanliness. In fact, a lyrical description was composed in the past to describe Ado people. It says, “Ira ule Ado me’tipise fifin seree” — Ado citizen with their usually clean heels. The yearly cultural feast forms the basis for reunion, which the people look forward to every year. Natives and well wishers come from far and near to celebrate a unique age-long festival. In accordance with this tradition, this year’s celebration started with Ijoko Awon Agba (Gathering of Elders), an acknowledgment of the unique position of elders in the affairs of the community. Other activities that heralded the final ceremony included Ewi’s Football and Quiz Competition for the youths of the community; Prince and Princess’ Night and Cocktail Party. The grand finale, which held on Tuesday, September 1, at the palace of the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, attracted a large turnout. As tradition demands, the Ewi, who is the highest authority in the land, meets his subjects from the various communities under his jurisdiction on a particular day in a year. Such sessions are held under a particular Iroko tree within the palace. In ancient time, the warlords would present their progress report, which included their conquest. Udiroko Day represents the beginning of a New Year, a time to appraise what they have achieved and what they needed to do to move ahead in the New Year. However, as modernisation crept in, the meetings became moment for celebration. And commendation must go to MTN for making the celebration memorable through its involvement in the various activities of the weeklong festival. Since the telecom’s firm got involved in the festival, it has become more elaborate and widely publicised. Speaking on his company’s support for the festival, Olaolu Osundina, Regional Marketing Manager, MTN, South West, said this is to reinforce the ‘Can do’ spirit of the brand. “We are using the medium to associate and showcase the beauty of the African culture to the world,” he noted. He said the company is using the festival to not only drive brand affinity, but also live the passion of the people and empower the host community. According to him, his company is passionate about promoting the African culture. “We are rooted in our culture as Nigerians and Africans and we are proud to be a facilitator of that celebration,” he said.