Africa is considered the El Dorado of intoxicatingly beautiful nature and untamed wildness. Explorers and writers about the continent have often written almost exclusively on the natural aesthetics of the continent, describing it with flowery words so sweet you can almost taste them off the pages.
Often, when people tour Africa, it is these things they are focused on. They want to experience the wildness, the waterfalls, the diversity of its flora and fauna. This accommodates the construction of only one narrow narrative. It is seen as the place to go to be closer to nature, to find oneness with the elements. Most times, this is all the reach of this narrative.
More than its physical allure, Africa is a place of history. It has seen the birth of civilizations, witnessed the dawn and night of great empires that left the world with great art and, their people, a colourful heritage to identify with. Its history is entrenched in sweat and grit. It is punctuated by wars, and stories of wars, conquests, mysticism, and ancient wisdom. And we know how well tough and unstraight journeys make for great stories. They entertain, but they are also very important in understanding history, to make sense of our past and forge our future with clarity breasted by the gift of retrospection.
Nigeria holds within its borders, a fine amount of everything: nature, beauty, stunning art, landmarks, and very rich culture and history. Whether you’re looking to be immersed in the natural aesthetics of this place, are simply trying to get a slice of the Nigerian experience, or looking to better understand and appreciate the country and the stories that have shaped it, here is one of them:
National War Museum
It’d be wrong for Nigerians, who have the means to visit this place, not to. It is a trip back in time, the kind no history books and any amount of stories you hear can offer. The place is serene and, you are quickly immersed in civil war Nigeria. The yards of the museum are display centres for civil war relics. These include aircraft used during the civil war, Biafran armoured tanks and huge machine guns with big calibres. There is a large white naval warship among displayed among the relics from the war.
The museum has three main galleries: traditional warfare, civil war, and armed forces galleries. The pictures and the words that accompany them are sure to leave you with an all too real feeling of being there, at the moments in time you’re exploring. The galleries feature pre-colonial weapons, pictures of civil war figures and reflect the evolution of the Nigerian army, and by extension, the Nigerian people.
The museum is located in Umuahia and opens at 10 am. The access fee is around a hundred naira, which is quite affordable, especially when you juxtapose this with the value the place offers.