Travelogue | Minna to Calabar Carnival (Part I) by Jibrin Bala Yikangi.



So a friend of mine linked me up with a friend of his in Nassarawa state, who himself wanted someone who is into cultural things and entertainment in Niger state. So, we got talking with Yahaya, a Lafia resident in Nassarawa state. He (Yahaya) is a regular participant of Calabar carnival. Because of his years of experience and participation, the Cross Rivers State Carnival Commission got him acting as a kind of ambassador and go-between with cultural groups and troupes in the northern axis. The Cross River state Carnival Commission through Yahaya got my group invited to the 2017 cultural parade billed to take place on the 26th of December 2017, a day after Christmas.

 I got talking yet again with the officials of the carnival commission and they asked me to liaise with my state's ministry for culture and tourism of course as a private participant. On my inquiry with the Niger state Ministry for Culture and Tourism I was able to deduce that their invitation came late and would not be able to attend as result of long bureaucratic processes that is going to be involved in participation that late. Anyway, I proceeded with our own private preparations even though the state's preparations weren’t supposed to affect our own.

For transportation to Calabar, I requested the use of an 18-seater bus of a Ministry from a Permanent Secretary from my town, that didn't go through as the vehicle was bad; heartily we got it from my good friend Tanimu Abubakar, a.k.a T black, the GM of N.S.T.A. So the vehicle was released on 24th afternoon.  We sauntered into NNPC mega filling station where both sides of the express way seemed impassable because of the fuel queues made worse by shunters who parked at the middle of the road, the flower beds and the exit gate, all for sake of fuel. We remained at NNPC until evening together with Shuaibu, a staff at NSTA route office, along with the driver Isah Pangu, an old man in fact.

Since we couldn't get fuel, Shuaibu advised that we buy from the black market at 180 per liter at Maitumbi. I weighed the implications of staying through the night at the station and that we "may" not get it at the end of the day; I checked our budget for the journey and I saw that our extra cost could accommodate it.  With Shuaibu and Isah Pangu, we settled to buy fuel the next morning the 25th December before we leave for Calabar ... but at 180? .. this is too much, hehehe, if I thought that price is much I haven't seen anything yet.

So the next morning I joined the driver at the park by 7am. We proceeded to Maitumbi to get fuel, the filling stations that hitherto sold a day prior were all closed, except one, the only opened station sells at 250 naira per liter...God!!! This isn't happening, I muttered to myself. The driver called his supervisor, Shuaibu, to report and asks whether there was any other filling station opened; it's negative, no any filling station opened in town. Oyaya!!! Sullenly, we filled the tank with the hope that when we get to Lafia it would be cheaper, the driver inferred. The tank took 68 liter; shey to get fuel cheaper and in Lafia ba? We are surely going to be in shock of our lives.

Anyway, even the N250 selling station wasn't without a queue. Hmm, N250 and with a queue? A black marketer passing by over heard my conversation with the driver and casually threw in" no buy na, na wetin we dey wait for bedat" ehnn!!!! Well at the time we got to the place, the station hasn't started selling, so we joined the queue and 3 hours later we got fuel after much waiting and "yanga" from the owners of the station. After filling the tank, we proceeded to pick the cultural dancers, as headed by Hajara Angela Musa, five girls in all. We picked up food and water as prepared by the girls as well. Thereafter, we waited at the city gate for the masquerade performers and drummers, about 10 people, to arrive from Bida. My friend, Mohammed N. Hussaini Kudugi earlier on accepted to accompany me on the journey; he too joined us up there. The performers too arrived around 12pm. They upload their props and costumes into the bus. This took about 40 minutes. We finally left for Calabar by 1 pm; isn't it getting late to leave by that time? Asha we go hear wen!!! It was waiting for us surreptitiously all the time sha.
 
Yinkangi (right) with members of his Calabar Parade group
The journey got underway smoothly though. On getting to Suleja the masquerade performers complained of not eating since morning as a result of emergency call I made to them to start coming, for they initially thought the journey was slated for evening; so they hadn't had time to eat and prepare to meet us in Minna properly. I bought some bread so that we wouldn't have to wait to waste time, for in my mind we are going to run behind schedule. The vehicle got moving again. We passed through Zuba, on the expressway through to Nyanya, to Mararraba, onto the way to Keffi. Just about 10 kilometres to Keffi, we parked to eat at a deserted filling station. We had a sumptuous meal of Eje jikafa and Eni zowa, a meal of mashed rice and beans soup. The girls back in Minna at Hajara’s place prepared the food.

We said our prayers and continued our journey. When we got to Keffi town at about 4:30pm, we stopped at a filling station to inquire about the price of fuel. It was 230 naira. The driver said we should top up the fuel, I said no, since he had assured that we could get fuel always at Lafia even at the height of scarcity, we should drive to Lafia for the top up. Moreover, the fuel is just at half tank. I reasoned we haven't lost much, we needed more space at the tank to be able to do our next full tank for our onward journey to Calabar. We postponed buying fuel until we get to Lafia, pwahahahaha!!! ashe zamu ji jiki sosai. So we proceeded to Lafia...


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Jibrin Bala Jibrin is a teacher, poet, playwright and Film actor and director famous in the Nupe film industry. 


Comments

  1. I went to this place in first time with my husband on Tuesday night after work. The inside of this venue NYC was quite big and had enough seats to sit and nice bar area. We had a few things, along with drinks and it was all good!

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