All eleven Cross River explorers are in good spirits as we embark on the highly anticipated journey to Calabar, Afi Mountain, and Obudu Cattle Ranch. A diverse and concentrated agenda has been organized by the Nigerian Field Society. Over the next five days, we will delve into the history of Calabar, learn about wildlife and environment conservation, and explore the mountainous region of the Afi Mountain and Obudu Plateau.
On Friday morning, we fly Arik Air from Lagos and arrive in Calabar only one hour behind schedule. The short wait to collect our luggage gives us a chance to admire wooden wall panels that depict nsibidi motifs, an indigenous system of writing.
We climb aboard our bus and enter Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State, which is situated in the extreme southeastern corner of Nigeria. Distinctively different from Lagos, we admire Calabar’s tidy sidewalks, rolling hills, and treelined, flowering gardens. Cross River State boasts ‘The People’s Paradise’, and we are ready to experience it.
Calabar is about 35 kilometers from the Gulf of Guinea in the Bight of Biafra, separated from the Bight of Benin by the Niger River Delta. The area was a well-developed trade area before the Europeans arrived sometime in the mid-seventeenth century. In the early sixteenth century the Portuguese were probably the first Europeans to encounter the Efik, Ibibio, Efut, Qua, and Effiat peoples who had migrated toward the area, today, known as Calabar. Perhaps, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to trade with the Efik villages of Creek Town (Ikot Itunkko), Old Town (Obutong), and Duke Town (Atakpa) followed by Dutch and English traders.
To read more about the Cross River adventure, click here.