Welcome to Kaduna
How I wish I could read the late Uncle Bola Ige’s book ‘Kaduna Boy’ all over again. The book detailed his life experiences, humble beginning and travails as he was brandied away from his humble abode in either Esa-Oke, Osun State or Ibadan, Nigeria to a northern part called Kaduna to live with his grown elder sister who used to bring money and foodstuff home. She lived in Kaduna and was already working(petty trading mostly) so he later went to join her. He hawked after school, was an houseboy in his sister’s house, ground pepper on the stone, cooked the meal and generally went through the harsh realities of life at a young age. Until he left his sister’s house for another relative’s place who had two wives and several children, a disciplinarian as well. This is a book you have to read if you want to learn about his story. It’s a timeless piece. However, this write-up isn’t about Uncle Bola Ige or his travails but rather, passing through Kaduna brought back memories of that book which I had read years back when I didn’t even know I would ever visit the state.
History tells me that Kaduna remains the unofficial political capital of the northern region. In case you don’t know, Kaduna was founded by the British in 1913 and by 1956, had become the Capital Territory of the former Northern region, and later the capital of former North Central State, made up of the two colonial provinces of Zaria and Katsina. Well, ‘lemme’ not bore you with history.
After my sojourn in Zaria, I had a quick tour of Kaduna with my tour guide Mr Bitsu who took the time explaining to me the different historical sites and tourist attractions in the state. I saw the sites where Boko Haram unleashed their mayhem especially the military base that was bombed sometimes ago. I visited both the northern and southern part of Kaduna where muslims and xtians live respectively.
I saw the Arewa House which was the residence of Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardauna of Sokoto) a former Premier of the Northern Region, and the first Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. The House is located on Rabah Road off Ali Akilu Road in Kaduna. After the assassination of the Premier following the coup d’état in 1966,the edifice was then taken over by Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1976 and was transformed to a Centre for Historical Documentation and Research.
I saw the Lugard Hall, another edifice that was named after Lord Fredrick Lugard, the first Governor General of Northern Protectorate. In the current administration, the Lugard Hall is still used as the Kaduna State House of Assembly Chambers. The building is magnificent, fascinating and attractive to tourists.
Space would not permit me to write about the famous Zaria city walls, the Sultan Bello National Mosque which has the Abdul Wahab Folawiyo bridge in front of it, River kaduna brigde where water flows to the top of the bridge during rainy season. Southern kaduna is after the kaduna central market where the popular gold merchandising is carried out, along Ahmadu Bello way, christians are safe in the southern part while muslims live in the northern part. I saw the Ahmadu Bello stadium, Yakubu Gowon way, Lagos street roundabout,Katsina street roundabout, Emir of Zazzau’s palace.
I saw the decrepit nature of the popular Nigerian Defence Academy, Jaji, with tattered roof that has been dealt with by sun and wind, blocks of hostels that have seen better days. Yeah, there is no maintenance culture in Nigeria. No wonder our national monuments lie in ruins. The Assemblies of God church where Boko Haram struck was also seen, especially the site of the blast. The hole is still there on the road. Saint Gerard’s catholic hospital for accident and emergency victims located on kakuri road, kaduna refinery,kachia etc
During all this time, I forgot all my fears about Boko Haram and its mayhem while the sight seeing lasted. I even forgot that a friend had expressed to me the previous night, her misgivings about having to stop over in Kaduna to see a friend. She had once escaped a riot in time past. Well, the state looked to good to be true especially for a first timer like me. I just found it incomprehensible that so much carnage had happened in this place.
However, there were still crowds in the central market, the street was not lacking in its usual hustling and bustling and to a keen mind, you could actually be deceived to believe that it was still ‘uhuru'(business as usual) while in actual fact, nobody knows what would happen next. And for the entire north, it is no longer ‘uhuru’.
Funnily, as usual with my mum, she remembered she had relatives around Kawo in Kaduna and was telling me I could have visited(which part of the world does she not have relatives?) She wanted me to visit people I had never met…the hilarious part was she was panicky about ‘BH’ while I was going and I deliberately called to inform her when I got to ‘KD’ and all her fears seem to fled.
I could not have a taste of their fruits many of which I could not identify except ‘dabino’ which is in the FCT. Yes, they have big mangoes and carrots, not the usual ones I grew up knowing. Yeah, extremely large mangoes and carrots with all its green root.
Ask me if I would love to live in this town still…..I do not honestly think so but its a place to be. However, I fell in love with the GRA in Zaria along Sabongida. The air in zaria is cool, the environment, friendly and the people, very warm and hospitable. I love Zaria. Indeed, there is unity in diversity.
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