Of Calabar and Caleb…aaaaaah

So, Calabar, the ultimate tourist destination, the quintessential UAE-in-state, several oil pipelines away from the Nigerian hustle capital of Lagos where I arrived this city from.
Having but little to go on besides the ‘other people have said’ section of my memory, I sauntered into the city and soon as my feet touched ground, I knew this was rest. I felt different. But it was late and I had an early morning so I zzzz’d off quickly after a cold shower.
Buzzzzzzzzzz. 4a.m and I was up. You guessed it. Because hell, it’d probably take me four hours to get to Transcorp hotel right? Yeah, no. I was to learn later that even if I had been up at 6, I’d still have to wait up for the rest of Calabar to wake up by say 7am.
First day was all right. Session went great, really great. Awesome people everywhere as you all know but this piece isn’t about them. So first thing I did was take a tour of Tinapa, the famed Tinapa. The aesthetic gorgeousness that was the Movie Studio, the unthinkable idea of a free trade zone which Mr. Donald Duke had brought to life right in front of me, a confusing maze of well-intended roads which huddled these gargantuan structures.
Hell, they even threw a passenger train in, the slimmest one in the world I’m guessing. Do not judge me but my tour guide was an okada man who swapped his time, back seat and knowledge of the vast architectural beauty for 300 naira. Besides, by the time we finished the Monday session, it was late. ‘Nothing dey happen for Tinapa this time’ many said to me. But I just needed to see!
Tuesday and I scampered away from the Pearl Ball room of the Transcorp hotel, arms tucked into Patrick’s as we headed for the Marina Resort. The museum, the cruise boats, the gaming booth, the waterside food courts, the tranquil busyness of the scenery, the gentle lapping of the returning water, ‘this water dey come back from journey’ I was told. Despite the number of similar-skinned/dressed humans, I had a hard time convincing myself we were in Nigeria.
Easy for you to go “oh he doesn’t see all of this in Lagos does he?” Well, you don’t quite get it. In Lagos, these places are crowded full of people. If you want to understand how I mean it, visit Lagos, I promise you. Some things you can’t just notice when you’re tucked in a crowd Zaccheus-esque, trying to watch your wallet, your phone, your sibling, and err, private parts.
Wednesday evening I spent at the hotel lounge/poolside bar with Ayezele Mbotu, scribbling away at the script for the documentary ID ‘Hyper’ spearheaded. He gave me two hours of his day, telling me about the trending IKOM festival and how he’d helped it grow.
Thursday was uneventful outside the sessions but Friday was lit all right. The bus tour blew me to pieces then the absolutely brilliant rendering of Sizwe Bansi is Dead by the amazing recovering monologist Charles at the indoor theatre space of the James Ene Henshaw Foundation put me back together. It was a spectacular evening and I applauded on my feet, simply unable to comprehend the level of sophistication of art I’d just witnessed. I felt my passion re-ignited and I couldn’t stop thanking Hoomsuk, Riyo David (No he’s not Brazilian), Mr. James and the other folks who put in work at the centre. Their work with the kids I also found very brilliant and inspiring. I should volunteer here! Also, Beverly Heels, Jasper and Mayfair saw me.
Of course Friday doesn’t end without my idea of ‘walking away’ during the pitch at 3pm. Craig David, I’m looking at you. Terribly sorry about that, guys. Sore memory, I tell ya.
Saturday and the cocktail party was fire. I had these shoes with the price tag still on them so I walked around very little. Gareth looked a bit thicker around the neck, anyone notice? Well, just me then. Alexis wasn’t letting up on her portfolio of Nigerian dances. Woof. I never caught Liz dancing. Not even for a nano-sec. If you’re lucky you did and you don’t have it on video, you’re a threat to global peace. HOW COULD YOU?! Don’t even get me started on Nathan’s ghost walking magic. He was everywhere and he was nowhere. Woof.
Sunday, the day none of you can tell what happened with me. Well except you’re Annevoi Isaacs, the delectable damsel, or Hagan Effiong, the cackle-monster-hunk, or Emmanuel Etim, the thickly-bearded light skinned man I hand bagged around. Or was it me getting hand bagged? Probably.
Anyway, Hagan, Annevoi, me, Alexis and Liz headed to Christ Embassy for the Sunday service. Apparently, Gareth couldn’t come because he feared he’d burst in flames if he did. Weird stuff, Mr. G. Alexis kept at dancing, Liz watched the collapsing-under-the-anointing unfold and me, I just observed them observe the rest of the church. Pictures! Then the sad news.
My flight was frigging cancelled! Less than three hours to scheduled departure time. Ugh. Had to run off to the airport with our pricey chauffeur to sort the rubbish. I was refunded and booked another flight for Monday morning. Unfortunately I couldn’t get back to Transcorp so Hagan and Annevoi took turns to pamper me. Ladies, Hagan is that husband-chef-laundryman you want in your life, trust me. And Annevoi, gosh! Ms. Isaacs is that decent loyal wife you want a future with, guys.
Finally headed out on Monday morning with Air Peace, Mr. Fusion Gospel Meets Runway, Emmanuel Etim and Ms. Isaacs seeing me off. Bye Calabar! And I met tons of gorgeous and quite prim Nigerians. All 47 participants. Totally beautiful minds in their own rights. Woof.
I have to go away now to go find an excuse to return me to that criminally under-hyped city of Calabar!
Promised I’d keep it under 1000. I miss Calabar!


8 thoughts on “Of Calabar and Caleb…aaaaaah

  1. Really beautiful city but more beautiful when it’s hosting the Carnival. Did you visit Gbogobiri the famous SUYA joint? All in all a good place to be.


  2. WOW…I just saw this!!!! im so grateful to be part of the story line ….cant wait to have a tour again with your guys. Much Love!!!


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