Welcome to Kenny-s Blog

#Pulse36 Day 9: Asaba Hospitality is a special kind

I’ll start with a cool story.

Long time ago, when people weren’t really counting, A woman from Nteje, Anambra State, met an Igala man.

Love happened. A child follow. That child was named Nebisi.

For reasons not known at the time of writing this, Nebisi grew up without his dad. So he was raised by his mum, alone in Nteje.

He grew up to become a fine young and strong man.

Now, there’s this tradition in Nteje that involves stubborn cows. Anyone who catches a cow that’s gone berserk, he gets the tail in honour.

Nebisi caught the cow. Thrice. But guess who didn’t get any tails in honour? Nebisi.

Their reason was that he wasn’t a true son of Nteje and so could not get the honour befitting of one.

Follow our #Pulse36 travel stories on Instagram @pulsenigeriatravel

Angry, he wanted to leave Nteje. And his mum had a plan.

She gave him a stone to carry on his head. She said wherever the stone falls, he should make his home there.

And so he crossed and walked. And walked. And walked. Until he got to a place and the stone fell from his head.

Then he said,”Ahaba’m” meaning “I have arrived.”

And white people came along and corrupted the name Ahaba to Asaba.

And so, Ahaba came to be known Asaba.

Our incredible host and guide in Asaba was Chinedu. Most of the time, he’s in Lagos. But he just happened to be in Asaba at the time.

Our first stop was a house. Ochendu’s house. If you’re a Nollywood binge-watcher, you’ll know this guy.

“Asaba is the real Nollywood.”

Every week, between 8-10 movies are shot in Asaba. But who bank rolls these movies?

“It’s the marketers in Onitsha there.” Ochendu said.

“They bankroll the whole process. They have the money to invest in a movie, and they have the marketing and distribution networks.”

We talked about return on investments.

Follow our #Pulse36 travel stories on Instagram @pulsenigeriatravel

“Nothing is certain. The marketers also take a lot of risk. You can invest in a movie and not get as much returns.”

But sometimes, you make a movie and you hit gold. I found out later that it costs less than 900 thousand naira to make the first “Nkoli Nwa Nsukka” movies.

That franchise later stretched into “Season 20″ and raked in over 62 million naira.

She's like the Jenifa of the East. The secret to successes like these remain relatability.play

She’s like the Jenifa of the East. The secret to successes like these remain relatability.

(Pulse36)

There’s a Paid Piper problem.

You know what they say about the one who pays the piper. He dictates the tunes.

These Marketers care about profit, good story or not.

So a marketer rolls out the budget for a movie sometimes, and when he sees that it has great potential, he chops that movie up into part 1 and 2. Or more.

We had a huge problem now. All of us. We were hungry.

“See ehn, e get one place wey I go carry you go,” someone said, “this time next week, you go still dey remember the food.”

And off we went to Iyara Side, a small restaurant somewhere in Asaba.

He was right.

Starch and Banga for the road.play

Starch and Banga for the road.

(Pulse36)

This was like the most banging Starch and Banga, ever.

Now, we have all the energy we needed to see more of Asaba.

And off we went to one of the darkest, yet most important points in the history of this town.

The Massacre Memorial.

It’s on a quiet street in a quieter part of Asaba. The Memorial is made of marble and marks the place where most of the people were killed.

The names of all the survivors whose families could be traced are on this plaque. Many others remain unknown.play

The names of all the survivors whose families could be traced are on this plaque. Many others remain unknown.

(Pulse36)

The most tragic part about this memorial is that it was built, not by the government, but by the people.

In a place where the Government chose to forgot, the people chose to remember.

Stroke of luck.

We were accosted while taking photos by a man who appeared to be in his fifties.

We told him why we were there, and you know what he did? He took us to a leader of the community. The Onuohi of Asaba.

He (middle) had a lot of stories to share, but very little time to tell them.play

He (middle) had a lot of stories to share, but very little time to tell them.

(Pulse36)

From him, we learned some similarities between Asaba people and Benin people. Black, for example isn’t allowed in sacred ground. Asaba people love their white like they love their chill.

And he had a few things to say about October 7, 1967.

“We have forgiven, but we can not forget,” he began.

“Every household in Asaba remembers that day and is filled with sadness. Every family suffered a loss.”

He went quiet for a short while.

“Two men in my family are buried in the same grave from that day.”

Follow our #Pulse36 travel stories on Instagram @pulsenigeriatravel

But then again, many stories, little time. So he directed us to see someone else tomorrow, the Ogbueshi of Asaba.

He assured us that we’ll hear as many stories as we want.

Our next stop was the Landers Anchorage. A place at the bank of the River Niger where The Landers Brothers, some white explorers first touched down in Asaba.

I went looking for crocodiles and Mammy water. I found none.

Chris at the Landers Anchorage. The people we met in the evening didn't seem to know much about the history of the place. They didn't care either.play

Chris at the Landers Anchorage. The people we met in the evening didn’t seem to know much about the history of the place. They didn’t care either.

(Pulse36)

We grabbed dinner and were off. Going to bed, we can only think of one thing;

What stories will the Ogbueshi tell us?

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

Have something to add? Share it in the comments.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *