Tag Archive | "Tourism Nigeria"

Zungeru: Nigeria’s neglected birthplace

Zungeru is a town in the present Niger State and can be said to be the birthplace of Nigeria and many prominent Nigerians. The pact bringing Nigeria into being was signed there and a number of colonial relics scatter all over the town.  The first Nigeria’s indigenous Governor-General, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu and the incumbent Senate President, David Mark, were all born there, yet the historic community, which ought to be a tourist centre, begs for development. ADELOWO OLADIPO reports.
LITTLE was known about it prior to the advent of the British colonialists who were undoubtedly looking for a conducive place to settle down. With its clement weather and proximity to Kaduna River, Zungeru, a historical town in Niger State where the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria were later amalgamated, easily caught the attention of the colonialists who used the town as their operational base.
The colonialists, some of whom employees of the Royal Niger Company, had combed towns and villages in a place later to be named Nigeria, prospecting for the company. Lord Lugard, the Governor-General of Nigeria between 1914 and 1919, for instance, was in Jebba and Lokoja where he settled down for a while before he later shifted his base to Zungeru, the then emerging trading point in Nigeria.
With the coming of the colonialists, Zungeru, an erstwhile Gwari-Nupe settlement, shot into limelight and drew people from the length and breadth of the country who settled down there. Being an emerging base of a yet-to-be-created nation and the European lifestyle as well as the desire of many to seek a greener pasture outside their towns and villages, people from different parts of the country were motivated to migrate to the town.
Zungeru served as the birthplace of the Nigeria’s first indigenous Governor-General, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, the late Biafran leader, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the incumbent Senate President, Senator David Mark and many other Nigerians who later rose to stardom in the country. The town is home to European military cemetery, a colonial market,  the amalgamation office, colonial prison, colonial Government House and a bridge built by colonialists as well as many other historical centres.
Sunday Tribune visited the town recently and discovered that Zungeru has been abandoned. All the structures have either collapsed or taken over by the federal highway that passes through the community. However, some of these colonial buildings, though collapsed, still have their foundations intact, except that during the raining season, they are usually overgrown with weeds.
According to Alhaji Abubakar Yusuf, the spokesman of the community, Zungeru has become the shadow of its former self. He said the problem of the town started when late Queen Elizabeth of England instructed Lord Lugard to leave Nigeria for India and Hong Kong with a view to introducing indirect rule in those two countries.
“Thereafter, somebody came to take over from him in Nigeria and the person was Brigadier Thomson Wallace, also of blessed memory. It was this man that complained of harsh weather as well as saying that so many members of the then Armed Forces were falling sick as a result of malaria caused by mosquito bites.
“He was asked to select other suitable places in Nigeria at the period and he chose Kaduna. That was exactly the foundation of what has led to the abandonment of Zungeru till date. Thereafter, Lord Lugard moved to Kaduna, after the completion of his action plan in 1916.”
He stressed that the British military cemetery in the community contained the remains of the first detachment of soldiers of the West African Frontier Force who were buried there, especially those who fought in the World War II. The military cemetery, according to him, consists 50 burial grounds of foreign soldiers and five Nigerians that were buried close to the enclosed cemetery. The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), he said, started in Zungeru.
“We used to have a locomotive engine called Wushishi, now at Minna railway station. We also had a town hall where Lord Lugard used to assemble the community members, which is now a market square in the middle of the town,” Alhaji Yusuf added.
A prominent researcher resident in Zungeru, Malam Mohammed Jibrin, stated that the parents of late Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu worked with the colonial masters for several years as clerks before leaving for Lagos in 1918 after the white men left for Kaduna in 1916.
Malam Jibrin, who took this reporter to the relics of the family compound where late Emeka Ojukwu was born, said even though (he) Emeka and his parents did not come back to Zungeru since they left the town, the fame the family brought to the town and even Nigeria as a whole was enough for the people of the community to identify with him even in death.
“Let us not deceive ourselves; Emeka played an important role in Nigeria and across. I remember him with this simple quotation, ‘How can we be immigrants in our father’s land? We fought to unite, why should we fight again to disunite?’”
He lamented the abandonment of the town, noting that the relics of the colonial buildings in Zungeru ought to have been rebuilt and turned into tourist centres for people within and outside the country.
He said the office where the amalgamation took place in 1914 was still there and not renovated.  According to him, “Zungeru is the home of Nigeria, but unfortunately it has been disowned by its own people. The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Lloyd, was here recently. His counterpart from Australia, Ian Mccogvilce, also visited this town to inspect the relics scattered all over Zungeru. Some people from the United Kingdom came back to Zungeru with enthusiasm to inspect the tombs of their grand parents who died during the colonial days in the town. So, you can see the role this town played and can still play as a tourist centre for both Nigerians and foreigners alike if properly developed.”

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Idanre Hills: a natural wonder in Nigeria

written by Obinna Emelike

Imagine a terrain so high that those at the bottom go about their daily living as if they are in another planet, a setting surrounded by picturesque hills that envelope the inhabitants from incursions and scorching of the sun, while visitors savour a bit of its magnificence and panoramic view from afar.

The terrain is no dreamland or imagery of sort, Idanre Hills is a breathing landscape that also provides a window to the town’s colourful history. From a few kilometres to the town centre, a first time visitor will not cease to marvel at the aesthetics, architecture and thoroughness employed by nature in the  assemblage of hills of various shapes and sizes at Idanre, also called ‘Oke Idanre’ by the locals.

The evergreen landscape surrounding the hills provides fellowship with nature’s best. The peacefulness that pervades the atmosphere, the blossoming civilisation that existed on the hills, the rigours of climbing, a refreshing swim in Arun River, all make the Idanre Hills a wonderful place to visit.

If you are adventurous enough, the tallest of the hills rises about 300ft above sea level, challenges you to a climbing game. Those who successfully dare the peak are rewarded with the very rare panoramic view of the topography at bird’s eye, which is a unique fortitude for ancient residents.

However, you need a little background of the people and their protective hills to better appreciate the nature that adorn the Idanre setting. The people of Idanre had existed on the hills for at least 800 years.
Features on the hills lend proof to this assertion as they suggest that the security that the hills provided for the people of Idanre was responsible for their choice of the hills as their home.

There is actually no dull moment at Idanre.
The action starts with the Great 460 Steps. Climbing THE 460 steps to Oke Idanre is truly a physical challenge. But the six resting points will refresh you before taking you to the hill top. But after these steps, a short walk will take one to the ancient town of Idanre – with evidence of a civilisation that long was.

There are mud and concrete houses, the Owa Palace, residents for chiefs and the king’s wives, burial mounds, a cemetery, a prison yard, court rooms, a school and an incubator for prematurely born babies. The people of Idanre left the hills in 1923.

Again, ‘Omi Opaara,’ a narrow stream on one of the hills, is thrill for visitors. Myth has it that the stream gushed out when lightning struck the hills as a result of a bitter feud between two powerful chiefs. Some visitors make effort to drink from the hill water believed to have healing powers.

The excitement takes you further atop of the hills to the Arun River, a small river on the hill. It is believed that a swim in the middle of the river “will result in an eerie, fuzzy feeling.” Arun River is crystal clear and one can see crabs and a few other aquatic animals, and adjudge the water’s friendly depths.

The more adventurous can also dare the Agboogun Footprints, a more difficult track up the hill and atop the hill because it takes a lot of efforts to get these footprints.
he fact that the footprints can size visitors’ legs no matter how big or small makes the footprints magical.

Yet, a tortuous climb will further move you to a plain where you see a carving on one of the hills that looks like an ark. Due to its semblance of an ark, the carving is nicknamed Noah’s Ark.
If you visit during festivals, you will be home to one of the richest African cultural heritages.

In recent times, MARE festival, a sports/tourism initiative courtesy of Motherland Beckons have being attracting global tourists, investors and world mountain climbers converge at the foot of the hill to dare the towering height in a prized-contest.

Apart from the festivals, the flora and fauna of the hills are also unique. There, special specie of tailless animal called Hyrax will surprise you. Monkeys are also sported near Orosun hills.
The hill also serves as home to a group of bats, as the people hold a unique festival of bats every year.

You may also spot a group of scientists and field researchers, especially now that there is effort at enlisting the hill in World Heritage Site.
Why wait to visit this destination that offers visitors so much on a single visit.

The hill is located in Idanre Town in Ondo State, a 15-20 minutes drive from Akure the state capital.  It is about five hours drive from Lagos and about six hours from Abuja. It is better to go on a four-wheel drive, especially during rainy season because the roads are not to smooth.

Posted in Nigerian News, TourismComments (0)

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