Historical tour of Asaba | Places to visit in Delta State
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead to where there is no path and leave a trail - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have not seen any Nigerian explore Asaba like the other states in Nigeria, so I thought to create a trail.
Asaba is the capital city of Delta State and it's strategically positioned on a hill by the Niger River, overlooking Onitsha which is across the Niger Bridge. Unfortunately, it's location made it a colonial capital of the Southern Nigeria protectorate.
As a Deltan, I read and heard a lot about the history of Asaba while growing up. Some notable history include the infamous Ekumeku war and the Asaba massacre. The Ekumeku war was the longest resistance against British imperialism in Nigeria while the traumatic Asaba massacre happened in the wake of the Nigeria civil war, when the Federal troops killed almost thousands of civilians.
You guessed right....The above history was sufficient to make me pack my bags and visit the town for the weekend. I was eager to know what had become of the town. So, In 2016 I bought a plane ticket, booked a hotel and chauffeur and off I went.
I arrived at the international airport which is state owned and I thought it was quite impressive. Shamefully though, no international flights goes in or out of the state. I gather that the runway is not the best for large planes.
The driver, who I had pre-booked with Best Western Hotel (where I was lodging at) was already waiting to pick me. He was a young man and quite excited to show me around his town, though he kept saying "not much here to see". Well, I had my itinerary and was hoping to take him places in his town he had never see or heard about. It is safe to say that we were both drivers.
OUT AND AROUND IN ASABA
1. The Monuments
As we drove around, navigating our way to the tourist attractions in the town, I couldn't but notice the many monuments at every corner especially along the Nnebisi road. Each of the statue tells a story.
From the statue of the Omu (the Women's Leader and voice), to Princess Ojife (patriot and savior of Asaba). As I earlier mentioned, Asaba was a town that deeply experienced slavery. As the story goes, the people cried to the gods for help and a human sacrifice was required which Princess Ojife offered with her only daughter to save the Asaba people. *deep history*. Basically everyone who played a key role to what we know as Asaba today, was honoured with a monument. I captured some below.
2. Grand hotel Asaba
The Grand hotel sits on the Niger River and it's a nice place to enjoy the sedate atmosphere. The hotel is massive with almost everything a hotel should have; a salon, bar, restaurants, Niger river front, conference halls etc. The driver insisted I visited, so I honoured his request and took a walk around.
3. St Josephs Catholic Church Asaba
St Joseph has existed for over 100 years. The Catholic Church building is a stonethrow from the Grand hotel.
"Historical myth has it that there was a spiritual battle between humans represented by early missionaries and a goddess called Onishe believed to be residing at a portion of the River Niger where stones were being collected to build the church".
"Just as it took time to build the cathedral, so also it took time for Catholicism to penetrate into the territory called Asaba because the inhabitants then did not easily buy into catholic faith. It was a Herculean task for the early missionaries who were initially from Lyon in France to spread Catholicism". Naij
4. Landers Brother Anchorage Monument
The anchorage is a kind of memorial in honour of the Lander Brothers who anchored in Asaba in the 18th century during their expedition to discover where the River Niger entered the Atlantic Ocean.
The anchorage overlooks the River. In the compound, there's a museum, the monument and the building which is the final resting place of many missionaries that came after the sordid reign of slave trade.
The Lander brothers, Richard and John, are said to have been adventurous freaks. Actually, the museum houses the boat that was used by them, artworks and text materials detailing their exploits in Africa. Unfortunately, I was unable to see it. When we arrived the premises, the gates were unlocked giving us hope that someone might just be available to take us on a tour, but nah!. It was closed. So we looked around and left.
5. Best Western Plus Elomaz Hotel
I lodged at the Best Western Plus in Asaba for a night. It was a very decent hotel and the security was super tight. I noticed a lot of top government officials and executives where lodged there as well. Breakfast was complimentary and was a variety of choices. I recommend the hotel.
After my tour of Asaba, it was time to return back to Lagos in preparation for the week ahead. I got dropped off at the airport two hours before my flight, so for some extra comfort, I paid to stay at the lodge. It cost about N2,000.
Final thoughts on tourism in Delta State
Travel is like knowledge. The more you see, the more you know you haven’t seen – Mark Hertsgaard
I have visited Asaba twice and it has been an amazing experience each time. The rich colonial history of Asaba along with its strategic location makes it a great place for tourists to visit in Nigeria, especially the history buffs.
Thanks for reading always. Please share with us if you have ever visited Asaba or learnt about the history. We are all about travelling and learning here.
Till my next adventure, be kind to one another.