Visit to Ughelli, Nigeria

Thursday, January 24, 2019
Benin City, Edo, Nigeria
Osas promised to go with us out to visit Ajenure and Emuoboso Edafe. They are a younger couple who live in the town of Ughelli, in the Delta region of Nigeria. I’ve never been down that far in Nigeria before, but the drive wasn’t bad, and by Nigerian standards the road was actually pretty good!
Osas was afraid that his old VW wagon would not make the trip, so he located a driver with a newer Honda Accord who was willing to drive us down. They were at the hotel by shortly past the agreed upon time of 9 am and we started off. It is always humid, but the temperature was pleasant enough that it was fairly enjoyable. Our driver was a bit on the aggressive side in terms of how he wove through traffic, but one gets to the point that you don’t pay that much attention to those things unless it becomes severe.
About two hours later we pulled in to Ughelli, which turned out to be quite a bit larger town than I had envisioned. According to the latest census I could find (which was taken in 2006), it has a population of over 321,000. But it is not a place with much opportunity at this point. It used to hold several large factories, including a very big rubber factory, but they are almost all gone now. The owner of the rubber factory was quite wealthy, and employed a lot of people, but when he died unexpectedly in an airplane crash there were no plans to take care of the factory, and shortly afterwards it closed, all the workers were laid off, and the dead hulks of the large buildings stand slowly rotting away. Everyone hopes another factory will choose to come to Ughelli, but so far none have.
Mr. and Mrs. Edafe have known each other since they were kids, and were married about 8 years ago. They had moved to Benin City, but came back a few years ago because this is home, and it is where all of their families are. So they are raising their four-year-old son Brian there.
Mr. Edafe suffered a stroke a few years ago, and while he has mostly recovered, he must be careful what he does. So they are working on building a small shop where she can sell goods from the front, and in the back he will be able to make items to sell. He is an accomplished welder, and the frame of the furniture we sat on in their living room was made by him. If he gets this going, I’m sure he’ll be able to sell his products, because they are quite nice and sturdy.
After visiting with them for nearly two hours, he took us over to show us his shop in construction. It is located near the intersection of two of the main thoroughfares through town, so he should have plenty of traffic past their shop.
After dropping Mr. Edafe off near his home, we got back on the highway to head north back to Benin City. The sky was heavy with dark clouds even though we are not yet into the rainy season. I’ve been told a couple of times so far that it seems the rainy season is coming early this year – and true to form we drove through a couple of heavy downpours on the way back.
Much to our delight (and surprise) we learned this Honda did indeed have working air conditioning! The driver apparently just enjoyed the warm humid air on the way down, so we rode with the windows open. It is so common for cars not to have working a/c that it never occurred to me to even ask. But with the rain it was much nicer to ride back with the window up and the air being pleasantly cooled!
As we neared Benin City the rain became particularly heavy, and in one intersection we drove down into a pothole the size of a two-car garage and pushed water all the way through. I looked down at the bottom of the door expecting to see water seeping in, but there was none. I’m sure if we’d been forced to stay in the water very long it would have, because I’m quite certain it was above the bottom of the doors!
We returned to the hotel mid afternoon tired, but having enjoyed the trip. Osas had things to take care of, so we said goodby until tomorrow, and we both went to our rooms to take care of other things before meeting up again for dinner. Tomorrow will be a full day of visits around Benin City, and then we prepare for the last Sabbath we’ll spend abroad for this trip.

Photos & Videos

Comments

Mary
2019-01-25

Thanks for the photos of Cody, Osas, and the Edafes. Sad that no one continued with the rubber company since it employed so many people. The comments about transportation, like driving into the water-filled pot hole, sure make your travels unpredictable! Hope the remainder of your visit goes smoothly.

2022-05-20