Back to the roots | The Guardian Nigeria News

Dressed in the tradition of local hunters, we set out on our journey to Iju-Odo, the famous town by the famous river where fish with incredible descriptions enjoy the largesse of the Almighty. Iju-Odo was once a thirty-minute drive from Akure. But at that time, the river was not that big. And the fish weren’t so ginormous or so wonderful in taste. The reputation of the different fish found in the river surprised even those who swam in the river with the fish.

Forests were the first to take over the narrow winding asphalt road that the colonial government bequeathed to the Nigerian government upon independence. The jungles followed. In no time at all, Nigeria was praised for reclaiming disappearing Amazon-sized jungles in South America.

Foreign researchers were the first to draw attention to the possible return of ancient fish believed to be extinct in Iju-Odo. It was therefore as research material that these creatures were made available to these aliens. And for nothing or as their leaders said, it was their contribution to knowledge.

But it soon became well known that fish were not Iju-Odo’s only riches. Century-old trees, 3000 years old suddenly appeared. Where have these trees gone? People like them are burnt in California. During the night from Akure junction became impossible to enter. Strange creatures, things that were last seen on earth when humans first appeared, reappeared once more.

To prepare for the trip to Iju-Odo, we had to procure twelve packs of solar panels which we divided into smaller pieces as and when needed. We needed torches, which used rechargeable batteries. We transported six boxes of pellets of different foods. I was particularly looking forward to eating the dodo, fried plantain, fried slowly for long storage.

With the help of a security company, we recruited six security guards as well as four security women. We bought various types of ammunition from them. Because we recruited them from different companies where they used to use different ammunition. We recruited them from different companies so that they could enter our service without prior plots. We have heard so many stories; the scariest part was the one in which the security accomplice killed everyone on the team, stole their things and that was the last time we heard about it. So you had to be careful, very careful.

The danger on the road could not be counted but with our security men and women and prayer warriors all will be well.
As our day of departure approached, we stumbled upon more information from other parts of our area, but we didn’t let them bother us.

We chose a Sunday night for our check out time. It was cool and the sun was calmed by a light breeze. We were all 19 together. There were 10 security men and women. There were four porters and five traveling men and women. As the contents of each load were used up, the carrier would be reimbursed and he would return home. It was the agreement, the arrangement that we made with the carriers, one by one, one by one. Somehow, they must have conspired among themselves to reject this arrangement. They came up with a different arrangement, a very democratic agreement, if you ask me, that when the loading of one carrier was completed, the remaining loads were distributed among the four carriers and the journey continued. We could not refuse, at this late hour, to dismiss them and to look for a new batch of porters. We reluctantly agreed. And that was not good for the spirit of the trip.

We were happy to have retained our federal character. This feat would ruin the trip. We started each day with prayers for God’s direction and ended the day with a prayer of thanksgiving for the success of the day. Two prayers a day. The Muslims among us insisted that their religion prescribe five prayers per day. We argued and argued but they did not give in to two prayers a day. It almost caused a family feud between us but it delayed us two and a half days. At one point, we almost gave up on the trip and returned home, each to their father’s house. After all, we were the ones paying for the trip. And, as the saying goes, whoever pays the piper should dictate the tune everyone should dance to. There was no agreement. Those who advocated the federal character could not agree on how the details should work. But we agreed to continue the journey. Maybe the purpose of the trip didn’t matter. Maybe it was the trip that counted. Yet the trip, for me, had a purpose: I needed to see my friend. We needed to talk, face to face, eyes looking at each other. The words are in the eyes. For years we haven’t been able to do that eyeball to eyeball. What delayed the movement on this trip is that the path, there was no road, was swampy. And the swamp was salty. The deepest the feet could go would be one foot. At the rate we could go, we could do a mile a day. The carriers complained that it was difficult for them to move forward with their heavy loads. This is why their loads fell from their heads, no matter how soft the pillow (osuka) they were using. As the contents fell into the swamp, their usefulness was problematic. Most of our loads were solar panels, clothing, special swamp shoes, and scrapers to get rid of the salt on the shoes. While it was okay to throw away the shoes of the swamps, how do you get the salt out of solar panels, clothing, food?

On the third day of our trip, we waded into kidnappers. Our security was strong and they fought valiantly. Two of our porters were killed and their charges seized and taken away. We come together to decide if the journey is worth continuing if we cannot achieve a goal.