05-Sep-2004 -- Sunday 5:45 am - Wolfgang Krause, our driver Matthew, and myself left Abuja to visit confluence 8N 9E. We travelled on the A234 to Keffi and then further to Akwanga where we turned off onto the A3 to Lafia. A couple of kilometres outside the town, we turned off towards Obi and arrived at Awe at 9 am; then we turned towards Tokura. A kilometre outside the town, we parked our vehicle under a tall mango tree, offloaded our bikes, and continued on a stretch of road. After a while, we reached and passed through old Awe town, which hosts the expansive Awe River on its outskirts. There is no bridge to cross this river, however, there were boats to transport people and they were also large enough to carry our motorbikes across. We received a very warm welcome and our bikes were very much admired by the people there. They loaded our bikes one after the other onto a boat and we crossed the river. At the other side, we asked what it would cost but the boys advised us that we could settle on our return, since they would still be there to assist us back across the river. We went through beautiful forests and grassland to Chingirigiri. The little paths were heavily sandy and passable only for "Okadas" (100-125 ccm motorbikes) or pedestrians.
10 km from the Confluence and just outside Chingirigiri, we noticed a storm building up. It got darker and darker but we carried on, always on the outlook where we could find refuge before the storm started. With the storm about to erupt, and approx. 2 km from the Confluence at a small village called Akuroko, we stopped and were promptly invited by the villagers to take shelter in their village. Within a few minutes, the storm erupted in its full force and eventually stopped one hour later. At noon we continued, it was still drizzling and riding proved to be very difficult, as the soaked laterite was as slippery as soap. We managed to get as close as 110 meters to the Confluence. As soon as we had parked our bikes and taken off our helmets, the people from the nearby village arrived with umbrellas for us and escorted us to the Confluence under the provided umbrellas. It did not matter to us whether we were walked under the umbrellas or not, as our clothes were already soaked with water, but we tried to reciprocate the courtesy and respect of the villagers who insisted, and they were happy to provide this service. It must have been a fun filled sight. We arrived at the Confluence at 12:40 pm.
After our visit to the Confluence, we could not decline an invitation to visit their village. The village was very neat and clean. The village head informed us that there was another route back to Dschingirigiri and he delegated one of his boys to show us the way through this alternative route to Chingirigiri. It was unbelievable how fast this boy of approx. 16 years old ran through the fields and grassland. It was about three kilometres before we reached the main path back to Dschigirigiri en route to the river Awe where our bikes were loaded onto the waiting boats, and back across the river. After inquiring how much we owe for the passages, we got the answer to pay whatever we wished. I gave them 200 Naira (US-$ 1.50) and they were all very happy.
Wolfgang had problems starting his bike, so I used this time to take some pictures of the surroundings and as this was going on, an elderly chief appeared. I did not understand what he was saying, but he sounded like he was highly irritated. Someone told me that the domain of this elderly chief covers the whole area bordering both sides of the river. The first thing that came to my mind was that he was probably irritated that we did not seek for his permission to drive around in his area. But this turned out to be a wide conjecture, as the money we gave to his boys was suddenly returned to us on the instruction of this elderly chief who then spent some extra time educating his wards on the need to uphold their age-long tradition of always being nice, accommodating, and above all helpful to strangers in their area without cost. It was most gratifying to notice this kind of gesture from this rural, pauperized settlement.
We arrived back at our parked vehicle around 3:30 pm and followed the same way back to Abuja as we came.