From Abuja to Zaria and back to Accra

We spent three days in Abuja and continued to Zaria the next day to visit one of the construction sites of my uncle. How much money he will give me on my return to Accra kept ringing in my mind though I had no idea, was highly expectant though I did not intend to spend it at Papillon like my cousin used to do.

We spent two nights between on the journey from Abuja to Zaria. It was so fun a good touristic experience. My uncle was happy to be showing the country and most of all his projects. In Abuja, his architectural designs, supervision and construction of the Stallion Estates was one of his biggest cash cows. I remember we went to his bank branch in Abuja and the amount of money he withdrew was the largest size of money I have carried. My hope of returning to Accra with huge sum of money again emerged.

Then between Abuja and Zaria were lots of villages so we lived in between villages which gave another flavour of the travel. It was a combination of the heavily populated city inhabitants, blurring horns of vehicles, tick walls of tall buildings and the natural habitat of the villages. It brought memories of my first visit to South African. Haven spent some days in Sun City; we went to a natural habitat where at the least opportunity an ostrich will peck your apples. We were told there were other tamed wild animals that never harm guests. I was careful when walking around.

Between Abuja and Zaria, we never found restaurants like they were in the cities. Pepper soup was a common food. I lived on coca cola and digestive biscuits. I don’t like pepper soup and never wanted the experience of eating any bush meat. I am not used to bush meat and till now am not prepared to taste any.

We got to Zaria on the third day. We drove to the Chisco Bus Station to book my ticket for Lagos on my return to Accra. We got a night bus which moves from Zaria in the evening and gets to Abuja the next day. I was told Kaduna was the next state after Zaria. How I wish I had gone to Kaduna. When I was a little boy, one of my paternal grandma’s tenants, Bro. Oko as we affectionately called him, sojourned in Kaduna, it was a great joy whenever he came to Ghana from Nigeria. The joy he brought anytime he returned from Nigeria still lingers in my mind. Including others who came from Nigeria always brought cabin biscuit. Those were the hardship era in Ghana where provision was a luxury. He died in Kaduna. May his soul rest in peace.

Talking about provisions, as little boys, we had gone to watch television in a neighbour’s room. Usually children were only permitted to watch the television from the window with one eye. This neighbour worked at Ghana Broadcasting Corporation so he was fortunate to own twelve inches sized black and white television.  I was told that neighbour was our relation and upon the fact that I was schooling in a preparatory school and very intelligent in school, I was allowed into the room when I go to watch television. One day when we were watching “Skipy” a programme on the television, I looked with amazed and admiration the provisions (milk, milo, etc.) displayed in the room divider. My curiosity led me to move to the room divider to touch a tin of milk, suddenly, the whole provisions dangled unto the floor apparently it was empty tins meant for decorating the room divider. I was so ashamed, the neighbour and the children were so embarrassed I was sacked and never allowed into the room to watch television again. I joined the other children who watched from the window.

The evening soon came and I went to the Chisco bus station to board the bus to Lagos. I bought ‘suya’ (grilled meat) with sliced onion sprinkled with powdered pepper, 2 litre bottled coca cola and a big pack of digestive biscuit for my night journey. This was the biggest meat I have bought. ‘Suya’ was not common in Ghana. The Zaria herdsmen are experts in the preparation of ‘suya’. At the bus station, my fervent prayers were still mounted within awaiting my uncle to give me huge sum of money like my cousin, his son returned to Ghana with each time he visited Nigeria.

Finally he said good bye to me with money to cover my transportation back to Accra and little for food and immigration tips. My hope was dashed; should I cry, Should I smile, I was confused. I don’t know when he left the bus station and when the bus took off to Lagos. I couldn’t enjoy my ‘suya’ neither the biscuit nor the coca cola. We got to Lagos safely and safely to Accra.

Friends were waiting to see what I have brought from abroad and what ‘show’ I will do them. None of their hope emerged. They were disappointed but not more than I was. Much later in life, upon reflection, I appreciated the great reception by my uncle. I came to the knowledge of reality that his son (my cousin) spent monies meant for his school fees and other non-existent educational demands that he placed on his dad each time he travelled to meet the dad. The dad was interested in his education and therefore provided whatever he demanded that will ensure the success of his education.

Till today when I meet many Nigerians, they have not had the opportunity of travelling their own country like I have done and they admire me for that. I saw many historic places that many travellers to and even Nigerians have not seen. Today, I look back and say that, that trip was really touristic which I will always embrace the opportunity to re-experience it again and again.


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