I can’t deny, I felt some fear; there was water on all sides, and land was about a hundred meters away. I know how to swim, but I hadn’t put my skill to use in years. So, anything happening to the boat would have been a terrible inconvenience to, say the least. Nonetheless, the experience would still have been worth it, because so far, being on the water watching birds fly by, and feeling the wind on my face, was the most surreal experience I had in Delta. Despite my uncertainty, I enjoyed it.
It was my second day in Delta, and I was on my way to Onya, the hometown of our editor’s father-in-law. In fact, he, Papa Onyenokwe, was the reason I, along with some colleagues, were in Delta. We journeyed all the way from Lagos to participate in his funeral ceremonies which started in Warri and ended in Onya, a village on the bank of the river Niger. Onya is inaccessible by road because none of the many contracts awarded by the government for road construction have been carried out. So, there I was, cruising in a canoe with an engine that sounded like a faulty generator, ignoring any anxiety, and making videos.
I returned to Lagos a while ago and looking back, the entire trip can be described as a movement with the flow. From the journey to Delta, the mild chaos that accompanies celebrations of life, and the return to Lagos, every step I took revealed itself. Everything, from accommodation, to companionship, and my trip on a boat, presented itself, and all I had to do, was go with it. It was quite surreal, even though the acts themselves were routine. Plus, the freedom of not having to think about my next move gave me time for random observations. The highlights of which are as follows:
- Nigeria Is Huge.
Seeing acres of verdant land, stretching out for miles on either side of the highway during the trips to and from Delta, reminded me of our country’s expanse. Living in Lagos’ hustle, bustle and congestion blinds you to this fact. Travelling cross-country, also made me wonder why thirty-four percent of Southern Nigeria’s population have to leave their hometowns for the smallest state in the country if they’re to make a decent living or gain any form of exposure. Why is there no industry or commerce in Nigeria outside of four or five states? Overall, it made me grateful for the privilege that living comfortably in Lagos affords, and sad that most of our resources lie wasted because our leaders can’t see past greed.
- There’s Nothing Like Family.
There’s nothing fascinating about Papa Onyenokwe’s family; it’s like any other, with the usual dynamics on one hand and peculiarities on the other. Sometimes, however, an experiential reminder, with the right ingredients, shows us that simple, everyday things like family, can be beautiful solely because they exist. It’s an exhibition of many of life’s wonders for those who can see. Looking at the family tree from Baba Onyenokwe down to his great-grandchildren is like staring at a coherent, complex tapestry made from threads, of genetics, chance, and circumstance. A beautiful work of art.
- The Right People Spice Things Up.
So, everyone I spent time with, from my travel companions to Papa Onyenokwe’s family, was super chill. The smooth nature of the journey was aided by the conversations held, and the reminder of familial beauty happened because Papa’s family let me in. No need for ice breakers, just straight conversations. By the way, did you know that the name Suya, is actually the name of the spice used in producing this snack, not the meat itself? I didn’t either, I discovered this when one of my colleagues, bought this meat that looked exactly like Suya, except it was called Seere. Who would have thought? Moving on.
The right people make every experience interesting, no matter the form it takes. So, if you’re to go on a trip, and have the option of choosing your companions, try to ensure that they’re the right ones.
My trip to Delta was routine in fact, but in experience, it was flavored with friendship, bits of novelty, and a hue of surrealism.