When I first saw the post by Mr. Nwadike Chidibiere about the Azumini River Tour, organized by De Paddy Anyatonwu, I was elated. I was even happier when he wrote that everyone should give reasons why they want to visit the Blue River.
I commented, giving my reasons, one of which was to see the beauty of nature.
I got selected and what I saw yesterday during the trip was beyond my wildest dreams.
Right from the outset of the journey, I could feel the buzzing energy of the inbound tourists, not just from Abia state, but also from Akwa-Ibom, Imo, Lagos and Asaba (Delta state).
The intermixture of divergent age grades, social status and career men/women was astonishing. We all got off on the right foot immediately, chit-chatting on numerous topics that triggered the latent intelligence of everyone.
As we journeyed, whenever I got a breather from the heated debates, I immediately peep out to take some air and remind myself that we are not actually going beyond Abia state. Most often than not, people travel to numerous states, sometimes outside Nigeria, just for sightseeing. But here I was, going to see a wonder of nature within my own state, Abia.
This epiphany brought two questions to my mind.
1. Why haven’t I heard about this river before?
2. If it is such a wonder, why hasn’t it been widely publicized, at least in Abia state?
I had no answer to my own questions.
As we drove into the compound of HRM Onye Enweali of Azumini kingdom to seek his blessings, anxiety started brooding in my being. In such moments, I usually feel a vague unpleasant emotion in anticipation of something, especially if it is mysterious.
But as we left the Eze’s palace and drove to the site of the river, I immediately felt peace. Why this happened, I cannot explain. I just felt……relaxed. It was almost as if I had been there before.
As I alighted from the bus, I gazed ahead and saw the river. The sprawling green and blue colour was fulgent and bedazzling. The fluidity of its movement was so charming and appealing.
The river was very calm and was not under any pressure to impress us.
If the river was a woman, she didn’t care about her new suitors that might seek her hand in marriage. She didn’t shake her round African buttocks to mesmerize the men, neither did she tone her skin to appear fairer and beautiful than her fellow women. Instead, she continued her daily business, knowing fully well that the “right” suitor will not need to be impressed because she was already dignified.
My imagination kept on drifting until I was interrupted by our tour guide’s voice, Mr. Felix Waboso, the President-General of Azumini welfare Association.
Mr Felix Waboso mentioned so many startling things that made me dumbstruck.
However, one made me feel so nostalgic.
He said that King Jaja of Opobo was taken through the Azumini Blue River, and he pointed us towards the route that was taken by the europeans. When he pointed towards that route, I started picturing the actual scenario.
For a moment, my eyes became misty.
You know, even though I love history a lot, there are some negative events or happening that I always wish never happened.
To confirm my discomforting historical thoughts, our tour guide showed us a canoe that has lasted over fifty (50) years and I immediately imagined my ancestors on that quondam canoe during the Biafran war, fleeing from Nigerian soldiers that were armed to the teeth.
Again, my eyes felt misty.
As we moved to the other side of the river, I couldn’t help but think about some things our tour guide, Mr. Felix Waboso said.
According to him;
1. The people of Azumini kingdom perceives the river as divine and it is being worshipped by some denizens of the community. In their local dialect, they call the deity “Nene Bu”.
2. The river is flowing from Aba. When coming from Aba, the water is not blue, but on entering Azumini, it changes colour.
3. The river has six (6) natural beaches.
4. When the river gets to “Imiri Itutu”, (same river, but on the other side), the water starts producing periwinkles.
5. The water produces transparent pebbles.
6. It also produces sand for glass production. At a time, Imo state started a glass extraction plant. This plant was feeding the glass industry in Aba.
7. The water doesn’t mix with the Atlantic water because salt water and fresh water doesn’t mix.
8. The river was a strong slave trade route during the trans-Atlantic slave trade era.
9. King Jaja of Opobo was sold through this route from bonny.
10. Mysteriously, if you are from Azumini kingdom, no river in the world can drown you.
Now, my bewilderedness is this. Why will such a place with so much history be left to rotten away?
To you reading this write-up and you have some money for investment or you know someone who is capable, kindly sink your money in this place.
It can be developed and used as a tourist site.
Alternately, you can revive the glass extraction plant that has gone moribund.
The river has six natural beaches, so you can set up a relaxation point, with motels/rooms where couples or families can go holidays.
A lot can be done here if we set our hearts to it.
My advice to investors would be to visit this site and see things for themselves.
Afterall, the use of sightseeing is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are”.
By Aaron Elekwachi