For as long I can remember, I dreamed of organising a tour to Lokoja in Kogi State. Maybe I was biased excited because that’s my state of origin but I couldn’t think of a better place to start my voyage past the South Western states.
Lokoja is a haven of history; from Mount Patti (which is the spot where Flora Shaw coined the name Nigeria) to the first Anglican church in Northern Nigeria, it is definitely a state to visit in.
We had a tour to Lokoja a while ago recently and we loved every aspect of it. It definitely had its ups and downs but it was such an enriching and rewarding trip. The highlights included but were not limited to –
Hiking Up Mount Patti
Sharp hairpin bends, steep slopes, lush vegetation, amazing views and even a church on the hill made the hike up Mount Patti worth it. Before the trip, people had mentioned how driving up the mountain might be quicker and better but we decided we were gonna hike all the way to the top. After all we didn’t go there to play.
We sang, danced up, almost crawled but we made it to the top and it was worth it. The views of Lokoja town from Mount Patti are breathtaking. At the top, you also see the former office of Lord Lugard and NTA still has an office up there.
We understood why this is a favorite jogging spot for the fitfam crew in Lokoja.
Fun Fact – Lord Luggard’s office used to be on Mount Patti and can still be seen there. His wife Flora Shaw coined the name Nigeria while standing on Mount Patti and looking at The River Niger and River Benue.
Getting ready to hike
View while hiking up
Boat Ride on River Niger and River Benue
We’ve all heard of River Niger and Benue. One of the most important ‘landmarks’ of Nigeria and the ‘Y’ on the Nigerian Map.
We went on a boat ride round River Niger and Benue with 2 navy officers. They pointed out how River Benue is cleaner and calmer than its sister River Niger and we also saw the ‘y’ that is shown on the map.
To be able to do this was epic and we were all excited. Also at the dock we noticed that there were marks to show where the rivers reach during the rainy season with 2012 being the highest point. Our guides were also super knowledgeable which is to be expected as they are members of the Nigerian Navy and this is their turf.
Fun Fact – The ‘Y’ is actually a small island in the middle of both rivers.
Dancing in the first Anglican Church in Northern Nigeria
During our ride on the river, the admiral suggested we stop at the village of Gbobe which is a settlement on the bank of both rivers. He told us that the first Anglican Church in Nigeria is located there and we could take a look. This turned into a makeshift drumming competition and some of us can boldly claim to have drummed and danced in the first Northern Nigeria Anglican church.
The church is pretty simple in terms of architecture but is definitely reminiscent of buildings in the North. It was also nice to see it still standing despite its age. We considered this a hidden gem as we probably wouldn’t have seen it if we didn’t have a local leading us.
Exploring the village of Gbobe
After visiting the church, the navy officer took us round Gbobe just to see how they live. They were very friendly, they welcomed us and even showed us where/how they make their food.
There isn’t a lot of development in this village. It was ridiculous to see the nice house of the commissioner of rural development smack in the middle of the community he’s supposedly developing while the rest live in deplorable conditions. One of the villagers also introduced himself as the ‘Tuface Idibia’ of the area and we promised to hit him up if we needed a performer for our events.
Screen Saver anyone?
L-R Naval officer who was our guide, Kogi’s own Tuface
Visiting the European soldiers/African Missionaries Cemetery
Yes we know, a cemetery is meant to be sad but this is the largest cemetery in Nigeria in terms of being the resting place for missionaries and soldiers. We may have jumped over the fence to get a good view of this as someone we met was trying to scam us and get some money from us.
Unfortunately everywhere was overgrown with weeds and I tried to liken it to cemeteries in other countries. They would have been well tended and guarded. Here some of the tomb stones are even broken and it honestly just seems like a random place in the middle of the road.
Saying hi to the dead
This can be found in Lokoja for obvious reasons being that Lord Luggard first settled there. It had pictures and stories of the colonial times and unlike other museums, you’re allowed to take pictures. They don’t usually open on Sundays but they made an exception for us.
The museum is a wealth of history and needs to be kept in better conditions.
There’s a cenotaph sometimes called the Union Jack dedicated to soldiers (both British and Nigerian) who fought in WWI (World War 1). All their names are engraved on a plaque and it was nice to see that this had been done to honor the brave soldiers.
People are not allowed to just walk in there and if the army catches you, you’ll have to explain what you’ve come to do. This was one of the few places that I felt was in great order in Lokoja.