A Recap of the Borders Within Trans-Nigerian Road Trip 2016

12 September 2016 | by Innocent Ekejiuba

For forty-five days, nine Nigerians under the umbrella of Invisible Borders Trans-African Organisation travelled across Nigeria on a project tagged “Borders Within 2016”. The mission was to illuminate the multiple histories that continue to exist in a post-colony, by exploring ethnicities, religions, and visions of modernity.

Participants

The participants first met on May 12, 2016: Austin Irabor, the driver, Innocent Ekejiuba, project manager, Emeka Okereke (photographer/film-maker and artistic director of Invisible Borders), Emmanuel Iduma (writer and Invisible Border’s director of publications), Yinka Elujoba (writer), Yagazie Emezi (photographer), Eloghosa Osunde (photographer), Zaynab Odunsi (photographer) and Uche Okonkwo (writer). During the five-day retreat at Chaka Resort, the artists and administrators got to know each other better and also talked about their questions, expectations and interests with regard to the road trip.

Collaborations and Team Work

Yagazie and Eloghosa: Yagazie and Eloghosa collaborated in Benin, setting out for Evbharhue and Okada villages together while the rest of the group went elsewhere.

Zaynab and Yinka: Zaynab and Yinka worked together to produce blog posts composed of photographs and text that complemented each other. In Osogbo, they also collaborated on Yinka’s project on spirituality.

Emeka and Emmanuel: Emeka and Emmanuel have over the years produced collaborative efforts that can be described with words like ‘spiritual’, ‘intriguing’, ‘engaging’, ‘powerful’ ‘important’ and ‘crucial’. They carried on in this fashion on this road trip.

Yinka, Uche and Emmanuel: Yinka, Uche and Emmanuel wrote the blog post tagged “There is a Fear That Binds”, a conversation in which they pooled their experiences in Aba, Calabar, Yola and Maiduguri.

Zaynab featuring Yinka, Uche, Austin and Innocent: Zaynab’s camera obscura project became a learning experience for Yinka, Uche, Austin and Innocent as all four pitched in.

The Roadside Intellectuals: The Roadside Intellectuals was a podcast published during the road trip. It focused on matters arising on the road trip, interspersed with found sound, popular music, soundbites from interviews, readings, and much more.

 

Encounters

On the road trip we met with famous writers, historians, traditional rulers, public officers, visionaries, veterans and survivors of the Nigerian civil war and officers of the Nigerian Army. We also encountered armed robbers while we were in Calabar and this raised security concerns from some of us and our travelling companions.

On Museums, Monuments and Public Archives

We visited the following museums: National Colonial History Museum (Aba and Lokoja), National Museum of Culture and National Unity (Enugu), National War Museum (Umuahia), National Museum of Colonial History (Aba), Old Residency Museum (Calabar), National Museum Makurdi, Lamido Adamawo’s Palace Museum (Yola), Gidan Makama (Kano) and Gidan Dan Hausa (Kano).

We also visited monuments including the Asaba Massacre Memorial in the company of Mr Charles Okonkwo and the Sodeke Memorial in Abeokuta in the company of Mr Opeyemi Ajala. We also visited, Opa Oramiyan in Ile-Ife, the Osun Scared Groove in Osogbo, and Mount Patti in Lokoja.

On Maps, Routes and Roads

We relied heavily on Google Maps for navigation. The app proved capable and accurate when we moved from Lagos to Benin and from Benin to Warri, but for the trips from Warri to Asaba and Asaba to Enugu, we had to rely on the expertise and knowledge of friends who ply the routes constantly.

Travelling through cities from Calabar up until Lokoja, for security reasons we visited bus parks to enquire as to the fastest and safest routes to our next destinations.

From South to North

Going from southern Nigeria to northern Nigeria proved to be a test of our resolve. The pre-conceived notion was that the north (especially the north east) was a no-go area overrun by insurgents. Our travelling companions (the Diamond bank media team) opted to take a detour after Yola and reconnected with us on our way out of the North. Our travel to Maduguri was possible because of the report we got from members of the 23rd Brigade Command of the Nigerian Army that the route was safe and therefore no need to fret.

On Lodgings and Accommodations

We were unsure of what to expect from the hotels we were to lodge in for the 41 days that were to follow. Arrangements had been made with the hotel booking company Hotels.ng to help secure good lodgings, but this is Nigeria. A country where ‘good’ varies from city to city.

Our first experience was Eliko Hotel in Warri, and it was a write off. It filled me with a sense of foreboding and uncertainty going forward with the hotels we had booked on Hotels.ng. However, The Best Western Hotel Elomaz, Asaba proved to be a stark contrast. It was undoubtedly the best hotel we lodged in during the road trip. All the other hotels fell somewhere in-between.

Partners and Sponsors

Peugeot Automobile Nigeria provided us with the trusty Peugeot Expert Teepee that ferried us through the unpredictable roads of 25 Nigerian states. They also provided us with after-sales representatives in the 16 cities we visited.

Diamond Bank were not only our financial sponsor; they were also our ally. For most part of the journey, we travelled with the Diamond Bank media team led by Nkem Nwaturuocha.

Nikon provided us with cameras and camera equipment that helped us document our experiences with ease.

Pulse TV, Olisa TV, KTravula, Wana Wana Blog, TSA and YNaija were our media partners. We owe them our gratitude for helping us keep the crowd warm as we travelled.

Friends and Guides

We owe a depth of gratitude to the friends and guides who took us around their cities and ensured that our time was maximized, and that we experienced the best their cities had to offer.

Thanks also to friends like Kabir Aregbesola and Mr Achulu, whose financial assistance was crucial.

Acknowledgement

We’d like to thank everyone who hosted and helped us in all the cities we visited:

  • Benin: The Osundes, Mr Sunny, Mr Osiete, Tope Adegoke Mark, The Creative Writers Society.
  • Warri: Mr Achulu and friends, FGGC Warri, Mr E. Jeroh, Pa Ayomike.
  • Asaba: Kene, Mr Charles Okonkwo, Iyase of Asaba and Ogbueshi Augustine Ndili.
  • Enugu: Barr. Enoch Uchechukwu, Barr. John C. Ifebunandu, Mr F.C. Eze.
  • Umuahia: Victor Okusanya, Dami, Ebenezer.
  • Port Harcourt:  Nnegi Omuku, Mr Clifford, FGGC Abuloma, Mr Michael Uwemedimo, Professor Alagoa, the family of late Elechi Amadi.
  • Aba: Dr Emezi, The Museum of Colonial History.
  • Calabar: Liman Okoli, Mr Moses Effiong.
  • Makurdi: Mr Baki and Mr Andrew Aondosoo Labe.
  • Yola: Lawrence, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, Hon. Commissioner of Information Yola State Ahmed Sajoh, The Ministry of Information, The 23rd Brigade Division of the Nigerian Army.
  • Maiduguri: Fred Daniel.
  • Kano: Inua and Ismail.
  • Lokoja, Ismaila and Ali.
  • Osogbo: Ileowo Kikiowo, Ahmed Mustapha, Kabir Aregbesola, The Government of the State of Osun.
  • Abeokuta: Opeyemi Ajala.

For more on the outcome of the project visit: www.borders-within.com 

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