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Journey down to Uyo, home of Southern hospitality

By Sunmola Olowookere
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Another point observed which is not a plus is the alarming number of mentally deranged people strolling about the streets, with some of these people having nothing on but their birthday suits.

On a journey down to Uyo, the state capital of Akwa Ibom which is a state in the south-south part of the country and after passing through some states of the south-east such as Anambra, Abia and Imo states, it became clearer that Nigeria is indeed a country peopled by individuals of diverse beliefs, values, cultures and way of life.

Different strokes for different folks, the English would say. The way of life of the Igboman is different from the Yoruba man. The Ebira man is different from the Hausa man. It goes on and on. In instances when the differences in our ways of life become too apparent, forbearance an patience can only save the day in order to forestall conflict.

However, our diverse ways make us (Nigerians) a special breed. Though this attribute of the country has its downside, it has some benefits too. One of these is that it made our coexistence interesting and with each passing day, we learn more on how to tolerate ourselves and cohabit without much friction.

A journey down to Uyo, when one builds in the time that would be wasted on maneuvering the damaged portions of roads, the traffic logged areas, the unexpected traffic jams at intervals and the short break taken for passengers to refresh themselves, is up to twelve hours.

My team embarked on the trip in order to attend a 1 day workshop in Uyo, the capital city of Akwa-Ibom state. Despite the long hours which we were likely to spend cooped up in a bus, we were excited because so much has been heard about Uyo’s lovely landscape, beautiful scenery, exciting tourist’s centres and the hospitality of the people.

Hence, the four of us travelling from this axis; two participants from Ondo and two participants from Ekiti were full of expectations of having a swell time during our stay.

We got to the bustop around 6a.m. Things got off to a bad start as the boarding of the bus was delayed due to a fault. The manager, to compound matters did not deem it fit to inform the passengers on time about the development.

When the passengers waited around endlessly and began to lose patience, they demanded for a refund of the money that had been already paid for their tickets. It was only then that he saw the need to do the needful by informing them of what went amiss and why their journey was delayed.

Eventually, the fault was fixed. We took off around 10 a.m. There was a female youth corps member travelling with us; Joy. She was an embodiment of the southern hospitality that we heard about.

She was very helpful, hospitable and giving. We became friends before the trip was over. Her banters with our male counterparts served as a diversion to ease our boredom.

When we got to our destination, we also received a warm welcome at Ibom Hotel and Resort where we were lodged. We were welcomed with a glass of chilled juice. The total ambience of the whole surroundings made us to relax as we were totally fagged out from the long trip. The atmosphere was very cool. A bell boy showed us to our rooms.

Later in my room, the euphoria that engulfed me from the Uyo people’s hospitality and the warm welcome we received at the hotel nearly proved to be my undoing.

It was a five star hotel which had the trappings of all that go along with such an edifice. Now alone in my room, I began to inspect the environment. Then I discovered a mini refrigerator inside the cabinet.

My eyes opened wide as I beheld the content of the fridge; spirits, liquor, beer, energy drinks and soft drinks. I quickly texted my colleague about my find.

I beamed with a smile as I took a bottle of a soft drink from the surplus supply to quench my thirst. I started to sip it, sitting on a comfy sofa inside my room.

As I was going through my phone, I saw that my colleague had replied me that nothing inside the fridge was free; they were for sale.

I grew still  as I remembered the taxi driver who took us down to the hotel telling us that a bottle of water goes for N400, I wondered how much a bottle of the soft drink would cost me. That night, I slept like a baby.

I was exhausted from the long journey. During the journey, one of the most noticeable things in the eastern part of the south is the conscientious efforts the Easterners make to achieve food-sufficiency. Nearly all the houses on the road we passed planted cassava, yam and vegetables in front of their houses. Mostly, everyone planted cassava and Ugwu vegetable. Indeed cassava is the staple food of the Igbos.

Farming is a trend that is not so common in the south west. Most of us in this part of the world have lost track of this valuable culture. Some of the things that families get from their backyard farms before, they now buy from the market.

The Igbo man’s contentment is evident in his way of life. He eats his staple with his vegetable and goes out for an event by strolling. They live like kings in their abode. Most of the elderly men and women had their Lady motorcycles with which they move about.

Each house is surrounded by a parcel of land which is cultivated to plant cassava. The houses they built are not immediately visible due to the cultivated farms in front.

Another point observed which is not a plus is the alarming number of mentally deranged people strolling about the streets, with some of these people having nothing on.

They roamed and loitered unrestrained around the streets. Ideally, the governments in Anambra, Imo and Abia states need to really do something about it especially this time when it has been discovered that some people pretend to be mad so that they can hide under that to commit crime.

These people should be packed off the streets in order to forestall any of such occurrence happening again.

However, the security in these areas was tight with securitymen on patrol such as the police and the army. They were encountered every few metres on the expressway. And àt Akwa Ibom, we encountered immigration officers who stopped vehicles and asked passengers where they were from. Why they asked about this, only God knows but I am sure they have their reasons.

Uyo, the capital of Akwa-Ibom state is a lovely city which we must have loved to explore but unfortunately, it rained and poured the next day when the time came for us to go for sight seeing. We could only watch the waving fronds and branches of the exotic trees in the surroundings from the dry comfort of our rooms.

Owena Press Limited (Publisher of The Hope Newspaper), Akure

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