Monday, January 5, 2009

Calabar: A City I could Retire in!

Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, is a pleasant, laid back town set on top of a hill, overlooking the Cross river. It was a major port town in the East and approximately a third of the slaves were transported out of Africa through here. It is the home of the Efik people , Efik also being the language they speak here. Parts of the city house beautiful colonial buildings which were shipped frame by frame from Europe. The host family we were staying with--their house was shipped from Germany!

It is also home to the 19th century Scottish Missionary, Mary Slessor who is known to be the champion for abolition of inhumane traditional practices like the killing of twins! You see her tomb in the photo below.

We passed by one of the oldest churches in the region, the Duke Town Church built in 1904.

Cross River state is also home to the best conservation initiatives in captive breeding of primates, one species of which is actually found only in this region in the entire world.

Also as everyone who heard we were going to Calabar said, it is the cleanest city in Nigeria with rubbish trucks and garbage bins (though the christmas spirit did allow for some littering!).

The Calabar Museum, housed in a building constructed in 1884, is the best in Nigeria and was quite different from the other museums in Jos and Lagos, in the sense that it had actually preserved complete furniture and other items from 18th and 19th century. It had a numerous photocopies of excerpts as well as original books, journals, newspapers. What caught my attention were vociferous writings of foreigners against colonisation and the slave trade and also a record of the education policy which claimed to register the private schools that existed during that time and wanted to structure the curriculum.

A short trip by speed boat took us to Creek Town, a small settlement near Calabar. After a stroll under the streaking sun, we cooled down with minerals in a cute bar called the "Abuja Bus Stop"! Another town a boat ride away is Oron, from where, boats depart for the neighbouring country Cameroon.

The shots I got of the sunset on the marina, I consider my best sun set shots ever!

We stayed with the most adorable host family who fed us and took care of us to the point that I refused to leave at one point:)

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