The 5th session of the Seven Wonders of Nigeria Zoom Conference kicked off with the host, Amb. Ikechi Uko welcoming everyone and talking about the impact the webinars have made in such a little time. He also shared his excitement about the panellists on today, show. Shortly afterwards, he introduced the first speaker, Sam Adeleke of TravelWithSam
Sam started by expressing his gratitude that he is a part of the Seven Wonders of Nigeria project. His first mention was the Farin Ruwa Waterfalls in Farin Ruwa LGA of Nasarawa State. He discovered the falls by chance, having arrived Lafia, the capital of Nasarawa where the hotel manager told him about the falls. It was a long journey getting to the falls, about a 5-and-a-half-hour ride on a bike. Sadly, there were no chalets, as opposed to their availability by someone he met at the Governor’s Office.
His next destination was in Taraba State. The Mambilla Plateau in Gembu. It was another long haul and he emphasised that for him, it’s about the journey and not the destination itself. Along the long ride, there were beautiful sites like the Gashaka Gumti, etc. From there, he talked about the Osun Osogbo Grove and spoke extensively about the place, highlighting the efforts of the late Adunni Olorisa, Susa Wenger. The Ezeagu Caves Complex in Enugu was up next on his list, before rounding up with the Ikogosi Cold and Warm Spings in Ekiti State.
The second speaker was Peace Iyare of Peaceful Sky who started her presentation with the National Museum of Colonial History in Aba. From Sam Mbakwe Airport to the museum is about 1hr. the museum was commissioned by General Ike Nwachukwu. It has a collection of several exhibits, such as old Nigerian currency, slave trade relics, and many ethnographic materials. She also pointed out there are some affordable hotels close to the attraction.
Her next destination is about 5mins drive from Aba – the Akwuete Fabric Weaving spot, where some of the most beautiful local fabrics are made. From there, she moved to the Amakama Wooden Cave in Uzuakoli in Bende North LGA of Abia State, about 5mins from Umuahia. The cave can contain about fifteen grown humans. She also talked about the Ila-oso festival in the location.
Her next destination is the Golden Sand Beach in Ndibe, Afikpo North in Ebonyi State. It’s a great place for sunbathing, and several water activities. Her last attraction was the Jabi Lake, Abuja.
CEO of Niaja Explorers, Bolaji Seun has been to 33 states in the country and has seen 18 waterfalls. His first attraction was the Agbokim Waterfalls in Ikom LGA in Cross River State. He mentioned that the road to the waterfall is quite bad. He however shared a funny story how his local guide told him that the mermaid, locally known as mammy-water, stays there.
His next destination too was a waterfall, Marafa Zungu Falls in Rukuba, Bassa LGA of Plateau State. He emphasised that Nigeria is truly blessed with several waterfalls. Yankari Game Reserve, Bauchi State was next for Bolaji Seun. He narrated a funny story how monkeys came to steal bread from his room. He then talked about the Wikki Warm Spring with clean blue waters. Also, he got to see the marshall cave, where the people used to hide in the olden days from enemies.
He narrated an experience how he encountered some Fulani herdsmen and had to plead with them that he is just a tourist out to promote the region. Lucky for him, they spared him and even gave him a place to spend the night.
Idanre Hills in Ondo State was up next, and he mentioned that it is one of his favourite places. He talked about the beautiful views from the top. His final destination was the Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State. He talks about some of the extraordinary attractions at the place. He wants the government to give the place a facelift, because it is an important tourism destination in the country.
Up next was the first lady of tourism journalism, Justina Opanku. Unfortunately, her presentation was disrupted by poor network. Not to keep the audience waiting indefinitely, Dr. Raphael James of the CRIMMD Museum came up next. An author, tourist, and researcher, among other things, Dr. James started his presentation by stating that he has been to 32 states and he only slowed down because of his encounter with the dreaded Boko Haram militants. He had been to over 300 sites in the country and his first pick was the birthplace of Ajayi Crowther, the first African bishop of the Anglican Church.
He emphasised the need for the State government to seize the opportunity to develop the place, seeing the importance of Ajayi Crowther in the history of Nigeria, being the man who translated the Holy Bible into Yoruba and Igbo languages, as well as compiling a Yoruba dictionary. He mentioned about a 200-year old tree which Ajayi Crowther was tied to after he was captured still standing.
His next trip was to Kwara State, where he climbed to the top of 500ft high Mount Brabakani in Okuta Kingdom. Standing there is an armoury for the old West African Frontier Force (WAFF), the military force formed by the British in their colonies in the region.
Dr. James took the audience to the Forest of a Thousand Daemons in Ondo State. The place was made popular by the Nigerian author, D.O. Fagunwa in his book written in Yoruba language which was translated by Prof. Wole Soyinka. Dr. James narrated and experience while inside the forest. According to him, he couldn’t tell exactly if he saw a demon, but something got into his eye and it stung. However, his guide told him to close both eyes, that the spirits want to give him a message. With no choice, he agreed and when he opened his eyes, they were clear.
Moving on to the Onyeama Mines, which proved valuable to the British government during WWI, because coal became valuable towards winning the war. Dr. James mentioned that Lord Lugard visited the place in 1915. He mentioned that the place has caved in and it is not exactly safe for solo travellers, because of the presence of miscreants. He called on the state government to develop the place because it has great tourism potential.
Dr. Raphael James then talked about his place the CRIMMD Museum in Ejigbo, Lagos state. There are artifacts dating back to the 1884 Berlin West African Conference in the museum and about 332 biographies, among several other interesting relics like copper money, stamps, etc.
He rounded up by clearing the air about the 1929 Aba Women riot. He pointed out that from records available, it actually started at a village, called Oloko, before it moved to Aba, and later to the old Calabar Province.