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#Pulse36 Day 12: Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

One lesson about hosts: Your host in every city will almost always determine the type of things you’ll find.

Amoto isour host in Owerri. He’s a medical student on posting.

Our planfor the day was to try out whatever food we could find, and also, check out OgutaLake.

The firstthing we learn about Owerri is that this tiny city has the highest number ofhotels in the entire Southeast. Coincidentally, or not, the highest HIV rate inthe east, is also from Imo.

Addhighest rate of female genital mutilation to that.

The mostpopular bus stop in Owerri is Control. It’s where you’ll see the most iconicchurch in the town, the one that greets you as you arrive into Owerri fromOnitsha.

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting storyplay

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

(Pulse36)

Beforeheading for Oguta, we found a solution to our morning hunger in a tinyrestaurant at Control.

“What’syour name?”

“Ujuwhich soup do you have?”

“Egusi,Oha, Draw…”

“GimmeOha Soup.”

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting storyplay

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

(Pulse36)

There’ssomething quite interesting about Oha Soup. The leaves aren’t sliced with aknife. They are plucked by hand. Uju said it’s so the flavour isn’t lost.Someone I know once said it’s really just because slicing is more difficult.

None ofthat mattered the moment the Eba and soup landed in front of me.

Less than30 minutes later, all four of us; Chris, Amoto, Jesuloba and myself, wereheaded for Oguta.

Fastforward to us reaching Oguta, then taking a bike to the Lake itself.

Follow our #Pulse36 travel stories on Instagram @pulsenigeriatravel

The firstthing you notice is that while you visit this lake as a tourist, for the peopleit’s a means to life.

There arepeople being ferried to the other side carrying everything from handbags tofarm produce.

On oneside of the banks, you’ll probably see a fisherman setting his nets. On theother side, you’ll find women washing.

This isEkene.

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting storyplay

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

(Pulse36)

He’s theboatman we settled for. He’s 26, has two kids and a free spirit.

It’s fromhim that we learn that Oguta Lake has some Civil War significance. But I’ll getto that.

Our firststop on the Oguta Lake is the place where two waters don’t mix.

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting storyplay

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

(Pulse36)

Accordingto Ekene, the two rivers were male and female; brown being male, green beingfemale. Husband and wife.

But theyhad a quarell, and have been separated ever since. In fact, there are twoseparate shrines where their worshippers go. Although according to Ekene, youcan call on any of them from any of the two shrines.

“Sothey’ve been separated all these years and can’t find a way to make up?”

Follow our #Pulse36 travel stories on Instagram @pulsenigeriatravel

“Yes,”Ekene said.

“They arepetty,” I said jokingly.

Nextthing I know, Ekene was looking right into the water, saying in Igbo how thelake should forgive him, because he’s just a boatman trying to make a living.

I shut upafter that.

Moral ofthe story: Respecttradition in communities you visit.

We headedback, and made a stop first at what appeared at first to be an 18-hole golfcourse.

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting storyplay

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

(Pulse36)

But rightunder this abandoned golf course is Civil War bunker used by Biafran Forces.

Theentrance looks like this, but the people we met there said it’s so large, thenext exit is at a road we couldn’t even see from where we were.

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting storyplay

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

(Pulse36)

Theproblem we now had was that the bunker has now been blocked.

Accordingto the people, the state government had the entrance of the bunker blocked,because kidnappers were using the place to hide their victims.

Herdsmenwere passing through with cows and we took the chance to speak with one of theherdsmen.

His nameis Garba.

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting storyplay

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

(Pulse36)

He’s fromKebbi State, but the cows aren’t his. They belong to an Alhaji who lived inOwerri. He seemed to get along really well with the people we met at the golfcourse, and they called him friend.

We had toleave and head back to the banks where Ekene picked us from.

We gotthere, took a few photos.

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting storyplay

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

(Pulse36)

And somemore.

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting storyplay

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

(Pulse36)

And offwe went, back to Owerri. And then we thought, wouldn’t it be nice to just dropby at the mosque to see the city’s Imam? It sounded like a solid plan. This isa predominantly Catholic state. They rever priests more than anything else.Would be interesting to get some perspective on religious co-existence.

The Imam,Dauda Onyeagocha.

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting storyplay

Ogwuta Lake has an interesting story

(Pulse36)

He’sIgbo.

“When theking of Owerri sits down at an event and is offered kolanuts, it is firstpassed to my family. My family is responsible, traditionally, for first eatingfrom the kolanut.”

Even moreinteresting is the fact that he was born Muslim.

It’spretty common for Western media to paint Nigeria as Christian South and MuslimNorth, when that’s really just lazy thinking.

Follow our #Pulse36 travel stories on Instagram @pulsenigeriatravel

We askedabout how the predominantly Christian Owerri people treat them.

“Igbopeople don’t have any problem. Do your own, I do my own.”

He eventold us of when a non-Muslim contributed to the building of the mosque. 50,000naira.

That saysa lot.

Now, thisdoesn’t mean there still won’t be bigots. It just means tolerance trumps it.

Therereally wasn’t a better way to end the day. With hope.

Read previous episodes HERE

*All photos were shot on the Samsung Galaxy S8+.

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