Travelling around the world can be an adventure. It can equally be a hobby. However, it can scare others to death. To these people, traveling is a necessary evil. I have a strange ambition to visit all parts of the world. Notice that I didn’t say all countries of the world. I mean all places. When I say places, I mean spaces. For instance, Nigeria has 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory. My own ambition is not only to visit all these states, but also the Local Government Areas (774 of them) and the seemingly countless communities therein contained. The United States has 50 states many of which are bigger than Nigeria (geographically speaking), I want to visit each.
Some might argue that my ambition seems rather a tall order; hence impossible to achieve even in ten lifetimes. Since watching the movie Around the World in 60 Days as a lonely seven-year-old, my curiosity to see the world has increased. I practically jump at any and every opportunity to know new places. Though I am yet to fulfil this ambition, I know I will make it. First, I have to do my best to travel around Nigeria.
Like I said earlier, Nigeria is so diverse in terms of geography and culture. I was born in Lagos and I haven’t really gone far from the state, though there are many areas in the state to explore. My first real opportunity to travel through Nigeria came during my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) posting. Like most fresh graduates, I had hoped quietly for a “favourable” posting. It was later that I discovered that what constitutes “favourable” posting is a relative.
My colleague, Toyosi Ogunsola, called one evening to tell me (during my gap year while waiting for mobilisation for NYSC) that I had been deployed to Katsina state. A part of me was happy while the other part was not. I had hoped to serve in Nasarawa. What’s the difference anyway? I know only few things about Katsina. The state was created out of the old Kaduna state. It has a predominant population of Fulanis in Nigeria. It is the home state of Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, the governor of the old Kaduna State and the first governor to be impeached; Sheu Musa Yar’Adua, former Chief of Staff to Military Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo; and General Muhammadu Buhari, former Nigerian Head of State. It is also the home state of late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, former President of Nigeria. This was all I knew then about the state where I was purportedly going to spend about a year or so.
On getting to Obafemi Awolowo University where I was to collect my call-up letter and then proceed to Katsina, I checked the NYSC deployment list for my name and lo, I was actually posted to Adamawa! I couldn’t believe my eyes. What did Toyosi tell me? Something must be wrong. Toyosi had never played pranks on me neither did she have any sense of humour as far as I knew. While in this state of confusion, something was very clear to me, I was going to serve in the North. No one could change that fact; at least I would live in that part for three weeks. But why Toyosi would make that mistake was still unexplainable to me.
Well I took it as my destiny to move to Adamawa and make the best out of the experience. While Katsina is in the North West, Adamawa is in the North East. I proceeded to Adamawa without further delay in a journey which lasted 26 hours by road. This is the longest single journey I have embarked on all my life. In this journey, I passed through 15 of Nigeria’s 36 states.
Against all odds, I completed my service in Adamawa and even spent extra three months in addition to the mandatory twelve. During this period, I learnt exciting new things which I shall be sharing with you. If your ambition like me is to navigate the world or discover new worlds, then welcome to the world of travelling.
Photo credit: © Max Power/Corbis