Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Let us go to Okwa by Leonard Akwo

 Less than 20 days from today will be first October. To Nigeria it is a day to reminisce their independence from the colonial masters. it is a day where the union jack was brought down for the green and white. Where our coat of arm was venerably displayed. The horse and eagle which represent our strength and resilience as a people was chosen to form our coat of arm. From Abuja to every local government headquarters, a public holiday is observed. Every one make their way to the stadium for a March past, the old and the young alike, march in a stately pride chanting the freedom song. We gather together as a people to recount our national progress since 1960.

In Okwa, the 1st October is taken to a whole new level. No other festival is celebrated more than this. From the list to the greatest of indigenes, no one is left out. New clothes are sewn specially for this day. If you ever have an idea of how Christians celebrate Christmas or how Islam celebrate sallah, then you probably have got a clue to how intense 1st October is considered here. Neighbouring communities, from Nigeria to Cameroon, flock in their numbers to Okwa only for this day.

Okwa is a village located in the very heart of the Cross River National Park. A village in Buentsebe ward, Eastern Boki, Boki Local Government of Cross River State. 

The only reason we celebrate the first October is because it is the Nigerian independence day. Maybe, considering our remoteness, this is one thing we do, to strongly remind us that we are Nigerians. Yes I just said that. It is about the only thing left, connecting us to this  great nation. And yes we love to be identified as Nigerians. We would give anything to retain this identity, whether or not there is anything to show for it. More than anybody else in this country - the presidency inclusive we adore this nation. We love Nigeria so dearly.

It is a good time to breeze in. To have a first hand view of who we are, what we do, and what makes us altogether different. It is a good time to behold the endowment of nature in its purest of forms. A time to behold the crystal clear rivers flowing only with the ardour of untainted originality. A time to have a first hand romance with cool natural air exhaled from closely knitted virgin trees - never before cut down. It is a good way to know the people, their culture, how they survive, how they get along with nothing provided: school, Healthcare or any other infrastructural or social amenity a people only deserve to have for belonging to a nation.

So join me. Let's go to Okwa. Call it a solidarity stroll. Call it a picnic or tour. But one thing I can assure you is the fact that you would never regret you ever visited. It's a good time to enrich your experience, or headline as a journalist. It's a good way to feel the pulse of a people and justify your oath of office as a politician. It's a journey everybody should take. 

Leonard Akwo, writes from 
Boki, Cross River State 

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