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A great concept for all African cities

Nigeria Tour Update from latest edition of Africa Travel Magazine


By Jerry W. Bird..

“I am Abuja, federal capital of Nigeria since 1991. I am located in the heart of Africa's most populous country, and confident about my future as a world center and magnet for cultural, adventure, educational and leisure tourism in the magical lands of Nigeria beyond my borders. My broad, well maintained paved streets, attractively landscaped boulevards and modern overpasses keep the traffic flowing at a smooth pace, morning, noon and night - and with wide cinemascopic vistas in every direction, there's no feeling of being hemmed in by gridlock. Being in the Nigerian heartland, I am adjacent to the states of Kogi, Niger, Kaduna and Nassarawa. During Carnival week festivities in late November, visitors will see the culture of all 36 states on display in rhythmic, pulsating music, durbars on horseback, camels from the far Sahara, and exotic tribal dances. It's an unending kaleidoscope of colorful regalia, fun activities, parade floats, tribal masks and costumes unique to the various states. Born in 1976, I am considered a model city for all of Africa, and one of the world's handful of totally planned cities.

I am proud of my posiiton as a magnet for world class meetings and events. For example I just finished receiving visiotrs from over 60 countries, including heads of state, at the Africa- Latin America Summit. You should have seen the pomp and ceremony at the Hilton that week. Here are some current comments about my lifestyle and attractions from a variety of U.S. visitors and residents from other countries:

"Originallly from France, I have lived and taught school in Abuja for five years, and appreciate the easy going lifestyle and friendliness of the peope. Here, we enjoy a comfortable year round climate and really appreciate the absence of mosquitoes and similar insect pests. It's good to know that this city is virtually malaria free."

" I was very impressed by the recent renovations that were being made at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport and was pleased to learn that the Nigerian government was really serious about improving the infrastructure of its airports for incoming tourists and business people."

" Your exciting Abuja Carnival rivals those in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Mardis Gras in New Orleans - and this was only the seocnd year. Many say, Latin America's carnivals and music originated here in Nigeria."

"My impression of Abuja was that it is truly a 'City of the Future' set in a scenic environment which reminded me very much of Denver, Colorado."

" Located approximately one hour by air from Lagos, Abuja has excellent conference and accommodation facilities."

"Throughout Abuja there is much construction going on and the people truly exhibit an excitement about living in what is perhaps the most modern city in Africa."

"We were quite surprised at the relative ease in our processing through immigration and customs. Much to our pleasure, we were told that both the Ministry of Aviation and the Ministry of Tourism have done an excellent job in alleviating the extreme bottlenecks that travelers were accustomed to experience upon arriving in Nigeria. "

Excerpts from The Guardian (Nigeria) by Andrew Iro Okungbowa and Stella Agbala "Here in this country where we have well over 350 ethnic and linguistic groups, diversity of culture, diversity of language, diversity of foods, and unity in diversity. We owe it a duty to ourselves, the rest of Africans and to African in Diaspora to showcase what is authentically Africa and what is authentically ours." President Obasnanjo/ Obasanjo was flanked by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Professor Joy Ogwu; Culture and Tourism, Professor Babalola Borishade; and the Chairman of the Abuja Carnival, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, among others, He said: "In the next four days, you will see the different forms of art, dances, different aspects of our way of life, boat regatta, masquerades, that would be breath-taking in one spot."

Referring to the unique nature of the carnival, Obasanjo said that it is to ensure that the amount of time and money people would have spent travelling round the country to see her beauty and people had been reduced and brought to one spot in a holistic manner. "We have come together, all as Nigerians, in one spot; we have brought together what will take anybody who has to go over Nigeria days and even months in a space of few days.''

T he carnival debuted last year as part of the Federal Government's dream to promote Nigeria as a tourist destination. Also, it is to promote and expose Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to the world as a promoter of tourism as well as showcase to the world the cultural beauty and business opportunities that abound in the country. Last year's celebration was almost marred by outcries and criticisms by some Nigerians, especially religious organisitions, which saw the event as fetish and profane. But the President addressed these charges when he informed the nation that among others, it was meant to promote Nigeria and her people to the global community.

With nothing short of joy and excitement, the President said the carnival is to be entrenched as a yearly celebration that would give people room to explore Nigeria. "You are all welcome to a splendid view, splendid feel, a splendid taste of what is Nigeria. It is with great pleasure and joy and satisfaction that I formally open this year's Abuja carnival to the glory of God and mankind," he declared.

Editor's note: We have interviewed many indiviiduals and government officials during our stay in Abuja, before, during and following the Abuja Carnival. This will be part of a special edition of Africa Travel Magazine and Air Highways to Africa.