Travelogue ~ Finding Jewel in the Savannah ~ Isah Aliyu Chiroma



The early harmattan breeze blew through the hairs on my skin as the sun was rising, I caught a glimpse of the city through the words calligraphically displayed at the entrance gate to the city. It reads the name of an ancient city, "Welcome to Gombe".

A city where I found jewels in the Savannah. I found myself enjoying the serenity of the environment. The city was a full moon in the dark night, filled with radiant brightness of calmness. The culture and hospitality of the people are unique.

The first day in a city you have never been to will make you eager to see around the city and catch what it looks like. I arrived at the city early, when light had already approached darkness. It was a new place as this was my first visit to the city despite the proximity of my state with it.

Cars and motorcycle screamed along the beautifully tarred roads in the city. I got the address to my accommodation after alighting from the car that drove us from Bauchi and landed us in the city of Gombe. I make a call to a friend to walk me into the hotel. It was Mujahid Ameen Lilo, my first meeting with him. Our feelings were too much for words, we shook hands warmly and made towards our room. It was a calm environment, a good place to flush out the itching words on my heart onto the blank papers I held in my bag. I took some rest and we head out to the National library in Gombe, venue of the Jewl writing workshop that I had come to attend. We hailed a Keke-Napep which was perfect for the trio of Mujahid, Alee, and I. Alee Mamman Lawan, whom I had first met in Abuja, had come together with Mujahid the previous day from Kano.   

On our way to the Library complex, I watched the people walking along the road. I told myself this was a new city for me, let me learn about it. The city was a land of nature. Trees lined the roads with the compliment of flowers to beautify the city. Soon, we arrived the library which was still under construction. We were welcomed very warmly by the curator of the program, Adamu Usman Garko and we sat to have discussion with some participants from the Jewel Writing workshop.

It was already dusk when the closing ceremony of Jewel Writing workshop ended. The night had already knocked at the door to take over the day. To see the city at night, we took a walk along our way back to the hotel. Gombe at night was full of moon light, shining brightly. The roads were almost empty with some of the roadside shops already closed. I thought about this city that people close early back home compared to my own state of Bauchi.

With stressful looks on our faces, a Keke-Napep drive completed our journey back to our hotel.  But the rest we craved was still far away as we took on discussions about our country, the Biafran war, and trending issues in our society against the picture of the future of the country. Sleep could not come even after we realized it was already twelve midnight. We all suggested to go to bed not because we were tired with our discussion, but just so we can wake up early in the morning and get the first bus. The sleep we hoped could not come easily come for me; I penned down parts of this travelogue before sleep took me in.

Soon, the light was off. For us to catch some sleep before the dawn prayer. I slept like a log of wood and woke up to hear the Imam of a nearby mosque completing the Fajr prayer. I was sad for missing this important first prayer of the day. We got up and prepared to take checkout of the hotel.  

In the morning hours, as in the night, the city remained calm and silent. You encountered only a few people outside. We were in haste to get the first bus. At the Dukku Park we separated and bid each other bye. I rode on Okada to the Gombe Line Park because that will be the best place to get a vehicle to Bauchi. I arrived early and collected the bus ticket and settled down on my seat before the bus got filled up. Soon, we drove out of Gombe city with my heart already missing the state. I missed the moments I spent with my creative-minded friends. Memories of the discussions I had with my two friends, the faces of the people we met, the scenes of Gombe that we left behind, and most importantly of the man behind our gathering overwhelmed me. I kept telling my heart to have some ease that someday I will surely come back to this loveable city to see more of it and continue learning the people's culture.



Isah Aliyu Chiroma is a poet, short story writer, and essayist from Bauchi State. He is student of Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto and member of Hill-top Creative Art Foundation as well as the Association of Nigerian Authors, Bauchi chapter. He also belongs to other literary groups such as Bauchi Young Writers, Poetry club UDUS, Caliphate Art and Literary forum.