At the dawn of the twenty-sixth day of December, Ikoh summoned his mum and siblings into his late father’s hut to break the current development that has been bothering him. Ikoh is the first son in a family of five, 23 years old but can be passed for 17 due to his miniature physique and a trace of childish exuberance in his behavior.
“mama, I called yáll here to tell you that I will be traveling out of the country by the first week of next month,” his sibling let out a loud guffaw when he mentioned traveling but Ikoh’s mum was perturbed as to what has gotten into her son’s head, “my son, you said you are traveling, but what about your father’s farm, how about the money or are you going to travel by foot, who do you know there?”
“Ah ah mama! Which one should I answer first? Well I have some money that will take me there, I met Chief Osai and he helped me with some soft loans, I want to link up with Uncle Joshua in Erfurt, Germany, he agreed that I should come stay with him.”
January 6th, 2013, Ikoh, accompanied by his mother and siblings off to the train station in Enugu where he would board a train that will leave for Kaduna in the next hour. The train arrived in less than the stipulated time and he climbed onto the train, his mother’s whimper can be heard from the waiting room, the train glided and he bade them goodbye with his eyes doused with water.
As a mysophobia, nausea was setting in, the stench from the train was thick, the smell of roasted fish and fufu blanketed the coach. A man who is believed to be hausa from the robe he was wearing was seating just before him, from the rear was a woman with her two daughters who might be 5 and 8 years old, flanked by a florid man who is around 40-year-old, he smells of sweat in his tattered fabric with a Business magazine clenched in his hand, they chattered over a can of maltina all the way through. Ikoh was marveled by the man’s ubiquitousness in knowing a thing about all parts of Nigeria.
After spending about seventeen hours in the train they alighted at the Kaduna train station, Ikoh unfolded his atlas and located the next point of destination, Jibiya, Katsina State, a state populated by mostly hausa-fulani tribe with different culture from his. He went to a local motor park and paid for a ticket to Jibiya. Jibiya- with a high temperature and low humidity- he gulped almost two sachets of water under five minutes, the environment was welcoming with tarred road and other infrastructures. He met his first challenge, a trans-national challenge, crossing the border to an unknown country, Niger Republic.
With no passport he managed to hide himself inside a truck loaded with cattles heading for Tarna, Maradi- a thirty miles journey from Jibiya. In Tarna, Ikoh met other explorers and travelers who wanted to travel to other countries through the sahara desert. They were ushered into a mud house where they met a desert master who knew all the routes in the desert, the house has only three occupants- the desert master and his two wives, the children as the desert master later explained with gusto, took the step of their father as desert masters too, “it is an old profession”, the desert masters told Ikoh when he became askance.
He haggled over the fare and finally settled on CFA 50,000, they spent two nights in the desert master’s house before they began the laborious journey to Wang-liao on camel’s back with little foods and much water that will sustain them through the journey to Wang-liao, 769 miles away from Maradi.
….To be continued
Written by: Ejioffor Ikechukwu alias Lionet