HISTORY books tell us that Mungo Park—a Scottish descent (1771 – 1806), seventh in the linage of thirteen siblings and of peasant parents though relatively well-off, was the progenitor of the river Niger explorations. Park, an explorer of historical repute, was credited to have discovered the river Niger, which later claimed his life in the town of Bussa—a location in the Northern part of Nigeria, the farthest navigable points of the river Niger, closest to the rapids. Little did Park know that another small island tucked in along the shores of the river Niger, would later to be conquered by the one who dared, against all odds. Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, CFR made that history on November 25, 2023, being the first and only Governor of Anambra State present and past, to brave the River Niger torrents, the swamps of the coastal lines, the thorny bush parts, and the impassable forest thick dessert grasses into the heart of this forgotten community of Olumbanasa popularly known as Olu in those good old days in Anambra West, where mud houses, and uncouth hamlets still dotted the neighborhoods albeit closely knitted together in one communal life of reminiscence.
Early in the months of September through November, while I usually sit at my small corner of the Exco Chamber during meetings, I listened with keen interest of the debates of whether Mr. Governor should really visit the community of Olu or not. The arguments were quite intense, and for the most part, emotional, bordering majorly on the perceived perils and inconveniences of making such a trip by a person of such an eminence such as His Excellency. Should he be subjected to such grueling journey; part on boat, part on Keke and still another part on motorbike popularly known as Okada and finally on foot? Some even professed that river demons or other uncanny river spirits might be at work and may cause havoc while His Excellency is on such an expedition. Mr. Governor regularly smiled at such insinuations and nodded repeated as if in agreement while he listened intently to all the pros and cons. Piercing through the heart and mindset of His Excellency, one could see zeal, determination, sympathy for the people so-far-excluded from the larger community to which they belonged, and the humane spirit of His Excellency to bring hope and succor to the people of Olu. A community without any motorable road, water, hospital, electricity, nor a decent livelihood. A desolate community, forlorn, forgotten and for the most part thorn-apart by a persistent state of nature—the crisis of Odekpe, Ala and Onukwe communities with the former sacking the later from their homeland, being a stronger force. Such has been the fate of Olumbanasa Anambra West Local government Area in the twenty-first century Nigeria and of today’s World of Cyberspace.
A.ITags: Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo