In this blog post, I have shared the experiences I had on a day in Aba, Abia State. I visited some places with my friend, and also discovered other places we never knew existed in the very town we live in.
What they don’t tell you about being a workaholic is that you will start to lose interest in most of the things that your heart is bound to. I have spent pretty much every other day of this year deeply immersed in work, dropping off things that were getting in the way and focusing solely on what puts food on my table.
Some days, I will want to shut down my laptop and run. Other days, I will hate the outside and everything that it contains. It was on one of those days when the thought of taking a long break and strolling the streets with a friend became unsubduable that I sent Temple a text to come join me for a walk.
It so happened, coincidentally, that Temple found a storytelling competition that he was deeply interested in and invited me back to join him on that quest. Subsequently, he whipped up a two-page itinerary and forwarded it to my email. Being the one who loves to analyze potential expenses into the lowest possible budget, I tweaked the itinerary up a notch to fit in some of the places that were close to each other.
Sitting prominently on our itinerary were Azumini Blue River in Azumini (which I visited in 2020) Akwete Weavers in Akwete, the National Museum of Colonial History, Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saint (a.k.a Aba Temple), both in Aba, and the National War Museum, Ojukwu Bunker, and Amakama Wooden Cave in Umuahia. All these locations were in Abia State, where we both lived.
Today, we visited the National Museum of Colonial History and on our way to Aba Temple, we discovered some hidden gems in Aba.
A Day in Aba – The National Museum of Colonial History
The National Museum of Colonial History is located at 6 Ikot Ekpene Road, Aba, Abia State. Established in 1985, the museum is home to artifacts, monuments, relics, and artworks. It is divided into 8 bays that cover the history of Nigeria through Pre-Colonisation, Colonisation, and Independence, as well as relics of the slave trade and collections that marked Nigeria’s evolution as a nation.
When we got to the museum, we were asked to pay a non-refundable fee of N200 (Emphasis on that because a few minutes in I got extremely bored and wanted to get out of there). There were some secondary school students who were using the museum when we checked in, and we were asked to tag along with them.
I wouldn’t want to blame my loss of interest on the fact that we were not the main focus of the tour, because I have been to a museum of colonial history in Bayelsa state where I was the only one being taught, and yet, I felt suffocated.
Museums are not it for me, I didn’t bother trying to get a piece of information or two because in no time, what came as outright boredom graduated to an unbearable cramp. That was when they lost me. I went into one of the compartments, found myself a seat from heaven, and sat a very satisfying sit.
Unknowingly to me, there was one of the bays up against the wall where I sat, and when the students got to that part and faced me, it was difficult to tell whether they were looking at the photographs or at me. But I couldn’t care less because I, too, am a work of art, so they were welcome to watch me.
Later, I learned that the museum has a total of 415 historical collections, 310 ethnographic objects, and 151 archeological objects. All of these and yet all we, or perhaps just I, saw were the photographic displays of historical events in black and white with little write-ups under each. Taking pictures of the arts in the museum is not allowed.
Outside the museum was a restaurant where you can enjoy local delicacies on wooden plates. The restaurant has retro aesthetics which sent a wave of nostalgia all over me. I didn’t eat there but I heard their meals are worth every dime.
I was a tad bit disappointed by the experience but I’m somewhat drawing joy from the fact that the one who dragged me there had his expectations met short as well, so it’s an almost lose-lose situation. (Laughs wickedly)
How to Locate the National Museum of Colonial History, Aba
Aba is so straightforward a town that one can hardly get lost here. From my house at Abayi-Umuocham, I took a Tricycle to Rhema University and took another Tricycle from there to Aba Park where I met Temple. Normally I should have stopped at Bata which is the road that leads to the museum, but I didn’t want to have to search for the place on my own.
I met Temple at the Post Office in Main Park. We crossed over to the other lane to get a tricycle to Ogborhill but were told that we would only be going in circles. The driver advised us to walk down to Aba Town Hall and take one route that only Temple understood.
After all the rigmarole, we ended up going in circles with our legs under the scorching sun. Eventually, we found ourselves at Ikot Ekpene road which is the road that leads to Ogborhill from Bata. The museum wasn’t hard to locate as it was situated almost at the beginning of the road.
After we were done at the museum, we were on our way to Aba Temple when two signboards caught our attention. They read something like National Research Institute for Chemical Technology, and Water Treatment something something for Industrial Training Research. Temple studies Chemical Engineering and I study Biotechnology, so we decided to go see if they will make great places for internships. Boooo! in the highest order. They asked us to come back next time but ain’t no way I’m going back there. Temple sha collected number in case these are things you are interested in. They are at 2 Ikot Ekpene road.
The Handloom Weaving Center
While we were still there, we noticed an opposite building that had something like weaving going on. We headed right in and saw what made the highlight of my day. A handloom weaving center.
I was particularly interested in what these people were doing there because I did not quickly understand the level of creativity that goes into those perfectly hand-loomed fabrics. We learned that the designs of the fabrics depend on the arrangement of the threads, which means before the hand-looming process begins, they plan the pattern by placing the threads in proper positions to give that. They also have a pedaling machine which they use to make embroidery designs on a hand-loomed fabric.
This is an integrated skill acquisition center under the state ministry of science and technology. They provide free skill acquisition training for people who are interested in learning the craft. Who would have thought? They also accept students in related fields for industrial training.
The fabrics produced there are sold to individuals, schools, and organizations, and all the money realized would go to the government. The workers don’t depend on the revenue as they are paid monthly salaries by the government, work or no work. They do not stock these fabrics, they only function on a preorder basis: You make an order, they start working a piece of fabric for you.
The people there were so friendly and they were comfortable answering all our questions, even the silly ones. They also showed us how to operate one of their machines, what a blissful experience that was.
In the end, I figured that this place is being under-exploited as there were so many working machines that have not been in use for a long time because the center didn’t have people to train. While I appreciate this skill a lot more than I am interested in learning it, I really think this place will make a great learning environment and offer an unforgettable experience to anyone who has this call.
We left the handloom weaving center and flew down a tricycle to Union Bank or Okpu Umuobo along Aba-Owerri road, just before Rhema University. From that junction, we took another tricycle to Aba Temple along Okpu Umuobo.
Unfortunately, our visit was not successful because the security man there said we couldn’t tour the church on our own, and there was no guide available at the moment. He asked us to come back the next day for a proper and guided tour of the church, which is the most beautiful church in Nigeria.
We left Aba Temple back to Okpu Umuobo junction and then walked to Rhema University to go take a look. We were denied access immediately and were asked to return in mid-April when the school will be in session.
As we left with our faces sagged with disappointment, we found an open-space bookseller who had really affordable children’s books, and we splurged our money on books to relieve ourselves of the rejection we had just faced. We bought some for our younger ones at home. Each book cost N300, and for thick covers, we just knew it was a huge steal.
I am really really looking forward to going back to Aba Temple and seeing what the inside looks like. I am dying to soak myself in everything that it is made of in humble appreciation of the beauty and awesomeness that one can find when one steps outside after a deep longing.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post?
Let me know in the comments if you look forward to seeing or have seen any of these places.