ABA to CALABAR — the road fell away…

3rd May 2016

Day 47 of ± 189
The ‘hand of struggle, reaching for freedom’. A post-colonial monument? Photo by Martina Bright

Aba — wow. A shock to the eyes, perhaps previously only imagined to be expected occasionally on this trip, however it was still hard to comprehend once we saw the underbelly of this Nigerian town.

Left: another angle of the hand reaching for the freedom of the skies. Right: the challenge ahead. Photos by Jussi Eskola
Canada Tom marvelling at the scenes surrounding us. Photo by Martina Bright

Dipping down into the valley at Aba’s lower end, the heavy grey of the sky accentuates our sink into the lakes of the road. Pulling Earth and sky even closer, four pillars of thick black smoke rise from smouldering piles of tires, left and right, polluting the lungs, the dirty grey-brown stream and the already smothered atmosphere. Tuk-tuks, hordes of cars, trucks and taxis form a blockaded maze of lines moving back and forth at an inching snail’s pace amidst a cacophony of horns, puffs of exhaust fumes and loud vocal interaction — we are perhaps in the midst of the imagined stereotypical Indian street or overpopulated Asian city.

On the way into Aba — a blur of yellow and grey. Photos by Martina Bright

As we didn’t experience Lagos, Nigeria’s and actually Africa’s largest city of 21 million, Aba served as a good replacement excerpt experience to feel the effects of Nigeria’s overpopulation. The depressiveness of this visual image is obvious for us observing from the outside, yet appears to go unnoticed by the people in the thick of it. However, I doubt it goes acceptingly unnoticed, instead it is just normal and a tolerated fact because it is a problem that is spiralling out of control and unchangeable by each individual alone. Yet it is clear to see that the physical effects cannot be blindly passed through, as we watch people cover their mouths and noses against the choking smoke and penetrating smell of burning rubber and belching cars.

The road completely disappeared — how the truck didn’t fall flat on its side, we don’t know. This section of road just beyond (behind the camera, as viewed below) caused us to have to turn around and navigate the gigantic hole all over again before changing to another route recommended by the locals. This is when a large Bedford truck becomes a less clever option than a scooter. Photo by Travis Groh
The view after the crevice in the road. We were told it was not a vaguely possible or good idea to try and navigate further. Photo by Guðbjörg Birta Bernharðsdóttir

But what we’ve got to remember, judging harshly or negatively from the outside is unhelpful — every country must go, it seems, through its own industrial revolution and periods of change and growth. It’s particularly unfair to judge when the country in question has been affected by waves of oil corruption and environmental destruction brought in by ‘perfectly developed’ 1st-world corporations, all in the race for higher profits, and all at great cost to local development, growth, and surrounding natural resources.

→ Read UNTAPPED: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil by John Ghazvinian for a traveller’s interesting, accessible, informative and well-written insight into the expanding African oil addiction.

Digging for ‘gold’ — another mine, something we often saw. Photo by Martina Bright
Scenes en route to Calabar. Photos by Martina Bright
Happiness in Green, over the ‘Akwa Ibom’ River (?) Photo by Martina Bright
Tomorrow Day 48: 8th.May.2016 — Akwa Akpa and BEYOND

*Check out Jørn and Lukas’ 3 videos created from the first couple of months of footage from the trip down below, before further footage was either lost or stolen:


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Shani