Friday, November 16, 2007

Trip to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria

Bob and I went to Abuja this past week for a conference held at the Sheraton hotel.

Abuja, centrally located in Nigeria, is a 50 minute flight from Lagos and has been the federal capital of Nigeria since 1991. It is a planned city and was chosen to be the new capital in Nigeria in 1970 as the population of Lagos was exploding and the government saw the need to move to a politically and ethnically neutral part of Nigeria. The city construction started in the mid-70’s but moved very slowly and it was not until 1991 that it officially became the capital. Construction in the city is still ongoing. The infrastructure of Abuja is very different from Lagos as the roads are wide and smooth and the power is nearly constant. The other bonus is that okadas are outlawed in the city.

At the foot of Aso Rock, you will find the main government offices in an area called Three Arms Zone (executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government). Bob and I were pretty busy while in Abuja but I did get out with a coworker/friend Sharon for two mornings on a running tour of Abuja. We ran from the Sheraton Hotel past the National Mosque and the National Ecumenical Church (Christian) to the National Assembly buildings. In front of the National Assembly buildings is a large bronze statue called “The Mandate”. I have been reading travel books and the internet in search of the significance of the statue but have not come up with anything concrete. All around the base of the statue are life size bronze figures of people from many Nigerian tribes from the Gwari people, who were the nomadic people that occupied Abuja prior to it becoming the capital, to the Fulani, Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa people. The guards walked around the statue describing where each person was from. I got a number of pictures of the statue before someone started yelling at the guards for letting us take pictures without permission. This is when Sharon and I said thanks and ran off to the next site, which was Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We approached the tomb from its backside and took some pictures. As we were leaving a guard was trying to get our attention by shaking his finger at us but we just said good morning, waved and ran off back towards the hotel. We later read the ordinary people are not to get close to the tomb. Oops!

Here are some photos. The sky cleared up over the course of the week but initially there were many flight delays due to poor visibility caused by the West African trade winds called the Harmattan. Upon moving here I was amazed to find out that from November to March, fine dust particles are blown south from the Sahara Desert significantly reducing the visibility. I have been told that many people have respitory problems during the Harmattan.

To read more about Abuja, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abuja
To see some more pictures, go here: http://www.proav.de/photopages/abuja/
Sheraton Hotel: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=343





































4 comments:

IamMBB said...

Cool pix! The problems with the Saharan sands reminds of a similar situation in Beijing where winds from the west carry in dust to such an extent that breathing becomes problematic. The Chinese are planting a green zone to the west of Beijing to try to act as a natural block to the dust.

Anonymous said...

It is nice to know that foreigners do appreciate our capital city, I HOPE YOU HAD A TASTE OF OUR FOOD TOO

Ewanfoh Obehi Peter said...

Nigeria is no doubt very beautiful both culturally and in her natural state… A lot of people are out there trying to appreciate her, but can the corruption and disease infested mindset of me and my family first stop deceiving the people? We can truly build our society and indeed be proud of it, if we can realize that it’s our sole responsibility to do so…

HIGHCHIEF said...

Nice one. Nigeria has a lot of tourist attractions. Abuja is just one. good work#