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Borgu Kingdom: Tourism Goldmine Waiting To Be Explored

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As the 50th anniversary of the movement of the Bussa People of Borgu Kingdom to New Bussa comes to an end recently, TAYO ADELAJA takes a look at the tourism potential of this ancient kingdom

Borgu is synonymous with tourism. From the era of Mungo Park of Scotland, the Lander Brothers, through the colonial exploits of George Taubman Goldie and Frederick Lugard down to contemporary times, the Emirate has carved a niche for itself as a potential leading tourist destination in the country.

The following natural and artificial tourist attractions are available in Borgu:

Submerged Ruins/Relics of Old Bussa: Situated a few kilometers up-river from Malale and about 39 kms from New Bussa, the ruins of Old Bussa is every tourist delight as submerged buildings, roads and other civil structures can still be clearly seen from the surface of the water.

The submerged ruins and relics are remains of Foge Island. In the period before the impoundment of Lake Kainji, Foge Island constituted the largest and most important theatre of operations for cattle grazers and fishermen in Borgu. For ages, it served as a base for commercial fishing and cattle grazing. This massive island was completely submerged by the Kainji Lake since the mid 1960s.

Jekana Hill: Jekana Hill is situated about 25 km from New Bussa. It is a bold, highly visible rocky outcrop similar to Zuma Rock at Suleja. It can be clearly seen from New Bussa. The Hill is the site of deity worship, dating back into antiquity. To date it remains a refuge for people from far and wide who are seeking solutions to various problems including infertility, insanity, drought, war and epidemics. The Priest in charge of the deity is Ba-Beresuni.

Kubli Hills: The Kubli Hills is a range of hills that extends over a great distance, commencing from Kwara State, running through Borgu territory and terminating in Benin Republic. The Hills can be clearly observed along the Babanna Road. They contain large deposits of feldspars, which is used in the manufacture of porcelain and glass. The section of the Hills that passes through Kubli Village consists of a number of large caves located at the top of the Hill.

Kalli Hill & Ruins/Relics of Old Kalli: Kalli Hill is located 27 km west of Wawa. Many years ago, the hill was surrounded at its base by the inhabitants of Kalli Village who worshipped the hill as a deity. At that time, all forms of drumming was forbidden in the vicinity of the hill. Old Kalli now host a research camp of Kainji Lake National Park, as the original inhabitants have been resettled at Sabon Kalli, new Gada Oli, on the way to Kaiama.

Wawa Moat and Walls: The Wawa Moat was dug round the ancient town of Wawa, in ancient times, for defensive military purposes. The outline of the moat, as well as broken stretches, can still be observed in several parts of the town, particularly about 300m behind the Central Primary School. The defensive mechanism of the moat was reinforced by a system of defensive walls round the town. Parts of these walls can still be observed, especially in the Gambi Section of Wawa.

Kiniyan Cave at Kabe: Kabe is located in Borgu LGA, a distance of about 190 km from New Bussa. The settlement is believed to have been established by a migrating Nikki prince after a succession dispute following the demise of the King of Nikki. The caves consist of 2 natural rock shelters. The Kiniyan Cave comprises of two chambers: the first provided accommodation for a large group, possibly soldiers; while the second served as a secret hiding place for the king’s wives and children. The entrance to the cave is shielded by a large stone boulder. It is believed that these caves provided protection and sanctuary for the people of Kabe in the eras of slave trade, internecine wars and the Fulani Jihad.

Pissa Caves and Walls: Pissa (abbreviation of ‘Gpissare’) is located in Borgu LGA and it is about 200 km from New Bussa by road. At an elevation of 327m, the caves are in 3 stages: stage 1, Pissa Bani has a holding capacity of over 1000 inhabitants; stage 2, Zumwen Swau Gben is about 3 km from entrance to exit; and stage 3, is a rather lengthy tunnel which is yet to be explored due to its great length. The caves provided safe refuge for surrounding villages during wars in ancient times. The military value of the caves was reinforced by 3 layers of ancient walls.

It is believed that the presence of caves, rock formations and city walls lays further credence to the historical linkage between Borgu and Iran, where such rocks are central to their tourist and military industries. At the crest of Pissa Bani is a cleft in the rock, locally called ‘Nenilepaquagu’. It is used to determine the paternity of a disputed child. The child is made to jump over the cleft: If he successfully jumps to the other side, then he is a legitimate child. If he is an illegitimate child, it is believed that the rock will swallow the child.

Konkosso Iron-working Archeological Sites and Caves: Recent discoveries at Konkosso may necessitate a major re-scripting of the history of iron technology in the Western Sudan; evidence of iron works of great magnitude and historical antiquity was discovered in Konkosso.

Scattered over a vast area are over a thousand heaps of iron slag and dozens of mining pits measuring an average depth of 5 meters each. A scientific appraisal of the area by a technical crew in mid 2008 confirmed that the iron deposits at Konkosso are not only of an advanced grade, but may well be the largest discovery in the West African sub-region.

Kainji Lake National Park Eco-Tourism Resort: The development of Kainji Lake National Park (Nigeria’s premier national park) is synonymous with conservation development and tourism promotion in Nigeria. In 1932 Col. A.H. Haywood proposed the establishment of game reserves and sanctuaries in Borgu, Oyo, Wase, Muri and a number of other areas in the then Northern Nigeria. Protracted debates delayed the formation of these reserves for many years until 1956, 1962 and 1971 when Yankari, Borgu and Zugurma Game Reserves were created, respectively. Since then, to ensure their rapid development, the Federal Government in 1979 and 1999 took control of the management of Borgu and Zugurma Game Reserves as its premier National Park, changing the designation to Kainji Lake National Park. The National Park Service, with a Conservator General as its Chief Executive, now manages the Park along with seven other parks in the country.

Kainji Lake National Park is the most effectively protected National Park in the country. The best period for park viewing is between December and June. Two trips are scheduled daily from 6.00am – 7.00pm; tourists may opt for aerial park viewing through the use of power chute. The Park is home to a wide range of wildlife.

Lake Cruise: Kainji Lake is about 135 km long and 30 km across at its widest point, with beautiful beaches, cool winds and gentle waves. It is the perfect location for a memorable family or group retreat.

At New Bussa a 30-seater ‘Water Bus’ is available for tourists who wish to embark on a lake experience. Tourists have the unique opportunity of viewing migratory birds and reptiles, as well as visit the submerged historical site of Old Bussa. Of particular interest is the site where Mungo Park met his death in 1806, while exploring the Niger. Film & movie makers can find the most graphic and unbeatable natural scenery in this environment.

Kainji Dam & Power Station: Power supply in Nigeria started in Lagos in 1896, with the coming of the Europeans in search of raw materials for industries. As they moved from Lagos to the interior, they installed more generators in Ibadan, Enugu, Kaduna and Kano.

In 1950, the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) was established. Therefore, the functions of PWD were transferred to ECN. With the growth of industries and rapid urbanization the demand for electricity soon outstripped supply. This prompted the ECN, in 1951, to authorize a study on the hydro electric potentials of River Niger for large and cheap supply of electricity. On the initiative of the ECN, the Federal Government, in 1953, commissioned Netherland Engineering Consultants (NEDECO), to carry out a hydrological survey of the Niger and Benue Rivers. This was followed by the commissioning of Balfour Beatty Company Ltd., London by the ECN in 1958, to study the hydrological potentials of the Niger around Jebba. The 1961 report of both engineering consulting firms recommended that the first dam in Nigeria be built at Kainji, about 102 km upstream of Jebba. In 1962 the Niger Dams Authority (NDA) was created and charged with supervising the construction and maintenance of the proposed hydroelectric power station at Kainji. Construction work on the dam commenced in 1964 and lasted for four years. By 1968 the dam was ready for commissioning, with four sets of Kaplan turbines. At a height of 65.5m and extending for about 10 km, Kainji Dam is one of the longest dams in the world.

Oli River Tourist Camp: This serves as base for park viewing and other forms of recreation. It is situated in the heart of Borgu Sector of the Kaniji Lake National Park. Visitors are treated to standard catering/bar services. All suites are luxuriously furnished, self-contained, air-conditioned and fitted with satellite and telecommunication facilities for optimum relaxation and easy communication. The Camp has two entry points: the Roan and Lion Gates.

Ibbi Tourist Lodge: The gateway to Zugruma Sector of the Park is situated at Ibbi (about 50 km from New Bussa). Visitors have opportunity to embark on park viewing here. Comfortable accommodation, catering and bar facilities are also available.

Wawa Kob Amusement Centre:  Managed by the Kainji Lake National Park, the Centre is located at the Wawa Office, Borgu Sector. It has among other facilities, an Annex of Oli Tourist Lodge, a Mini Zoo, Museum, recreation facilities, canteen, bar, Africa Hall for meetings and the Weaver Bird engineering workshop.

Swashi Dam and Irrigation Scheme: The Swashi Multipurpose Irrigation Scheme was constructed in the late 1970s by the Niger River Basin Development Authority. It was initiated and designed to provide irrigation water for all-year-round agricultural activities in the wetlands of the River Niger. The lush all-year-round green vegetation in the area is a tourist delight anytime.

Kisra Museum: Kisra Museum is located within the Palace of the Emir of Borgu at New Bussa. It is an exclusive collection of rare historical artifacts of extreme cultural significance to the people of Borgu. Such artifacts include royal paraphernalia of office, charmed military gadgets, preserved European gift items, tambari drums, coronation paraphernalia and judicial instruments, among others.

PHCN Kadariko Golf Course: The Kadariko Golf Club holds the proud and unique status of being the flagship and premier golf club. From the highly elevated crest of the golf course, the sprawling woodlands of New Bussa and environs can be viewed. This includes the location of the proposed Regatta Village, which is to serve as a leading waterside tourist resort. There is the possibility for the construction of a connecting road that may link up the proposed Regatta Village with the golf course, to enable golfers and holiday makers take leisurely walks to the Kainji Lake water side.

Fish Hatchery Complex of NIFFR: This complex contains an array of state-of-the-art equipment for industrial fish hatchery, fingerling production and pond culture management. It is a Mecca for researchers, investors in freshwater fisheries ventures and the general public. It is situated at National Institute for Freshwater Fisheries Research (NIFFR) HQ, New Bussa.

Boat Building Unit of FCFFT: The Boat Building Unit of the Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries Technology (FCFFT), New Bussa specializes in the construction and maintenance of various categories of marine vessels, using a high percentage of indigenous technology and expertise. The Unit also fabricates a wide range of fishing gear and equipment for artisanal and industrial fishing activities. A visit to the workshop is an indelible experience.

Hotels/Holiday Resorts: Several standard hotels and holiday resorts are available in Borgu, to cater for any number of visitors and tourists. These include Kainji Motel, Hydro Hotels, Hotel Holy Year, Lafia Spot Hotel, Hotel Brahmatola and Park Way Hotel, among others. Some of these have swimming pools, internet access, golf course/squash court and guided tour services, among other modern facilities.

Traditional Festivals

The major traditional festivities in contemporary Borgu include Gani Festival, traditional Kibokpen (only performed during succession), Sallah festivities and Fulani Sharo. These festivities attract thousands of participants and spectators.

In the period before the resettlement the holding of annual boat regatta was an important traditional festivity in the major riverine communities in Borgu Emirate. This important cultural activity, which was on the verge of becoming extinct, is currently being revitalized.



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