Igbo Kwenu: You Know You're In Eastern Nigeria When...
Life 'across the Niger' can be a bit of a start for people who didn't grow up in the region, especially those born and bred in a city like Lagos.
The language for one is different, so is the socio-cultural terrain and even the food.
But like everywhere else in the country, the drive and unmistakable passion of the average Nigerian is evident. Perhaps even more so because the Igbos, who are indegenes of eastern Nigeria, are known for their commerce and industry.
So, what are some of the things that are evident to a first-timer in any part of the east whether you're in Umuahia, Enugu, Abakaliki, Owerri or Awka?
You know you're in Eastern Nigeria when you encounter the following:
1. You spot aki na ukwa and okpa on the road
As bole and groundnut is to Lagos and kokoro is to Ogun state, so are aki na ukwa and okpa to the east. There isn't any town in the east that doesn't offer these street foods. You'll find them in traffic and street corners.
Aki na ukwa is a combination of coconut (aki) and roasted breadfruit seed (ukwa) and they're wrapped together in a transparent polythene bags shaped in an unmistakable cone.
Okpa on the other hand is made with flour from bambara beans and looks just like moi-moi, albeit deeper in colour, and tastes different.
2. You pass several army checkpoints
Army checkpoints have existed in the east even before the era of IPOB. While other regions have good, ol' police or even Federal Road Safety (FRSC) checkpoints, the east boasts several checkpoints manned by men of the Nigerian army who mostly are a thorn in the flesh of commuters.
3. You spot women riding motorcycles aka okada
Because what a man in the east can do...you know the rest.
One of the things visitors to the east find most intriguing and amusing is women riding okadas. For many women in the east and even parts of South-South Nigeria, especially in the villages, commuting is done via okada, which they call machines.
They ride their machines to the market to sell their wares, to take their children to school and even to social events like meetings and the occasional wedding/burial ceremony.
4. You see buses that look like they should have been phased off the road 10 years ago
Buses in the east invent the remix of old. Not only do some look so worn-out that you wonder how they're able to make the daily commutes, many are old model buses like the infamous J5 buses. But move, they do. They make the long, treacherous journeys both within and between states.
5. Everywhere becomes like a ghost town by 10pm
While things have improved in recent times, there's still a largely non-existent night life in the east. You can write off any long-distance movement as early as 8pm and as for going to drink with the boys, you're better off doing this within your householde.
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