Philips Akwari

Onitsha from The Eye of a Passers-by

Onitsha is a very important trading post in Nigeria. It is located at the bank of the Niger River with the Niger Bridge as its most important landmark. It is a major passage for most Igbo travellers going to and fro Lagos or anywhere in western Nigeria.

Personally, there is a nostalgic feeling whenever I pass through that bridge. It always reminds me of my childhood days when we used to holiday in Cotonou Benin Republic during the long summer holidays. On the way to Lagos, getting to the bridge reminds us to brace up that the journey has started and while returning back from Lagos, getting to the bridge helps us feel some relief that the journey will soon be over.

However, one of the most striking features of the city is its architectural uniformity. Onitsha is the city with the highest number of 4-storey buildings in the country. This is because the city was totally destroyed during the Nigerian civil war between 1967 and 1970. However, it was rebuilt a few years after the war by the inhabitants of the city making it the fastest city to recover from the destructive impacts of the war.

Unlike many cities in southern Nigeria where I have lived or paid visits, I have never had the opportunity to visit the city of Onitsha except by passing through it. Whatever perception I have of the city is always that of a passerby. All the photos were taken from a moving vehicle.

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