Before I visited, I heard so much about the city. I feared I was going to be disappointed, not because it wasn’t a great place, but because it may have been over-hyped.
When it comes to places, like it is with people beauty is relative. If you grade a city based on tall buildings and futuristic architecture, awesome looking sky-scrapers with the mirror-like things on the walls, etc… then maybe this is way down your list of beautiful cities. However, if like me, you are drawn to vast beautiful landscape, green fields, natural resorts, rich culture, etc. then you would love Calabar as much as I did!
was not at all over-hyped, in fact, it exceeded my expectations.
Calabar is a city in Cross River State
, coastal southeastern Nigeria
. It has an area of 406 km² and a population of 371,022 (I don’t know why this is important either, but you wouldn’t think I did a good job if I didn’t give you these stats)
Not to patronize you, on my drive from the airport, I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. I had heard so much about Calabar that I immediately thought when I arrived, I would see people dancing on the streets in their colorful traditional dance costumes or something. But no, it’s a normal city, it’s just so peaceful and happy! The very first thing that caught my eye about Calabar was how beautiful the streets were.
The people are so nice as well. They are so proud to be from Calabar (I know I would be too if I were from there), but they would talk for hours (or maybe days if you let them) on how great Calabar is.
On my second day there, I went with my friends to the fish market. For those of you who just went “what???”, Yes, it is literally a market just for fish! at 5pm in the evening, the fishermen return from fishing and display all their catches. For me, this was phenomenal as I was seeing fishes you’d only expect to see in a documentary or something. We bought a fish that fed a family of 10 for two days! (Yes, this is true!)
We also visited the slave-trade museum. Personally, I found this slightly less thrilling and more emotional because I had not expected that level of realness in the museum. It felt like an actual tread down a road I never really walked before. It was so surreal. There was a replay of certain events from the slave-trade era and the audio had such emotions that I started to feel a bit uncomfortable. But it was worth it in the end.
Now the well talked about CALABAR FESTIVAL You cannot talk about Calabar without mentioning the Calabar Festival.
The Calabar Festival is without a doubt, the biggest tourism leisure and entertainment program in West Africa. It attracts close to a million guests from all over the world every year.
The festival lasts 32 days. It starts off with the Tree-Lighting ceremony on the 30th of November and culminates in the Thanksgiving Ceremony on 1st of January the following year.
I call it culture at its most beautiful.
Was it the people, the city, the serenity, or the aesthetics? I don’t know what I enjoyed the most, but all of these put together, is why I fell in love with Calabar.
I would visit Calabar every year if I could. If for nothing else, at least for a dose of rich culture in the form of the Calabar festival.