Biafra was an independent country from 1967 to 1970, but fierce repression by the Nigerian armed forces quickly dashed any separatist hopes. Despite the trauma of the war, still felt in the region, the former Biafra is an extraordinary place to explore, with its rich natural and cultural heritage, traditional ethnic groups, ancestral temples and mask cults.
The journey will begin in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil capital, where we will meet the Ijaw fishing community of Okrika Island and learn about Iria rituals and body painting practices, characteristic of south-east Nigeria.
From the coast, we will travel to Umuahia, the former capital of Biafra where the new country was proclaimed on 30 May 1967. Here, we will visit the War Museum with interesting artefacts of the fighting Biafrans. We will head into the heart of Igboland in the town of Ohafia, where we will be able to admire Igbo masks and enter the ancestral shrine that holds some of the oldest surviving statues in Africa (outside museums). We will then head to the Cross River State, a beautiful natural area with forests and creeks on the border with Cameroon. In this river and coastal area we will meet two ethnic groups, the Oron and the Efik, who were once skilled traders, first with the Portuguese and later with the British, and visit the Pandillus mandrill reserve. We will finally arrive in Calabar, one of the oldest colonial settlements in coastal Nigeria, with its old wooden houses, colonial church and museum, set up in the old British governor’s house.
Reconnaissance trip with Leonardo F. Paoluzzi.
Day 1 : Friday 29 November 2024
Outward flight/Port Harcourt (PHC)
Day 2 : Saturday 30 November 2024
Port Harcourt/Okrika Island/Port Harcourt
The Ijaw fishing village on Okrika Island, where Iria ceremonies for girls of marriageable age survive.
Day 3 : Sunday 01 December 2024
The capital of Biafra and the war museum.
Day 4 : Monday 02 December 2024
The Igbo mask performances and the Ohafia ancestral shrine.
Day 5 : Tuesday 03 December 2024
British colonial architecture in Uyo.
Day 6 : Wednesday 04 December 2024
Encounter with the Oron ethnic group, famous for their funerary statues, and meeting with the king.
Day 7 : Thursday 05 December 2024
The splendid palace of the Governor of Calabar and the mandrill preservation project.
Day 8 : Friday 06 December 2024
Boat trip to an ethnic Efik village.
Day 9 : Saturday 07 December 2024
Igbo villages towards the delta of the Niger River.
Day 10 : Sunday 08 December 2024
Port Harcourt (PHC)/Return Flight