Lokoja is definitely one of the most important benchmark of our colonial history. At every corner of that city stands a monument that tells the story of the events that shaped pre-colonial Nigeria.
- Team Myafurika.com visited Kogi State during the weekend and our first stop was at Lokoja. Lokoja, the capital city of Kogi State may not be very popular amongst regular Nigerians. However, the ancient city prides itself as the first British settlement in Nigeria. A relatively small town trapped between hills and rivers, Lokoja is definitely one of the most important benchmark of our colonial history. At every corner of that city stands a monument that tells the story of the events that shaped pre-colonial Nigeria.
We got to Lokoja on Friday, 13th January at about 5 PM. Guys, there are three things the ancient town has in abundance— Hills, Water and Hotels. At the corner of every street stood two to three hotels. I’m not exaggerating. This came as a surprise to us as Lokoja does not particularly boast of a very significant number of visitors. We had moved to at least five hotels before we settled for one. That evening we had an evening cruise of the town and myself especially was impressed by the quiet but very soulful nightlife of the town. Lokoja is a sweet place, if for nothing, for its soothing quietness and serenity. A break from all the rofo-rofo of the “big cities” abeg.
The next morning, on Saturday, we set forth for our first place of visit, the mount Pati. Did you know that Lord Frederick Lugard, the first governor-general of Nigeria settled in Lokoja? Did you know that he, along with his British administrative officers lived and worked in Lokoja? Well, now you know. Infact, most of his administrative officers died in that town and were buried there. Well, we visited Mount Pati, where Lord Lugard lived with his wife, Flora Lugard, formerly known as Flora Shaw, the same woman who christened Nigeria. Therefore, at a point in time, (before Lagos and ultimately Abuja) Lokoja, Kogi State, was the first capital of Nigeria. Surprised? Wait till you read more about our expedition in this historic city.
Why Mount Pati then? Because it was a dwelling place for the governor-general himself. Yes, Lord Frederick Lugard and his wife lived on Mount Pati, so we visited.
Lokoja is a town of many hills, however, towering above these hills stands the gigantic mount Pati. “Pati” is derived from Nupe, and it translates as “Hill”. Nupe, because they were the original inhabitants of Lokoja even though the ancient city now boasts of a host of other ethnic groups that completely overwhelms the Nupe/Bassa population in the city.
The trip from the gated entrance of the mountain to the flat top of the mountain was absolutely intriguing. The hairpin road made it even jaw-dropping. Imagine driving in reoccurring sharp twists from the base of a mountain to the top of it. Lord! Oh, we took some pictures midway.
And we could see — faintly, because fogs — a view of Lokoja annex from here, while still on our way to the top of the mountain.
When we finally got to the top of the mount Pati, I could barely hold my excitement. Right there before my eyes stood the house where Lord Lugard used to live— eat, sleep and wake. The structures may have been over a hundred years old but they still stood!
Truth be told though, the state of the buildings reeks of years of negligence by the Kogi State government. The main door as seen from the picture above has been long extricated, paving an unrestricted entrance into the house. The walls of the house have been riddled with hundreds (possibly thousands) of signatures by tourists as seen from the pictures below.
A stone throw away from the house stood his rest house, and just in front of his rest house stood a statue of Lord Lugard and his wife, Lady Flora Lugard.
Aside from serving as the dwelling place of the first governor-general of Nigeria, Mount Pati also serves as the host of the state television service, NTA Lokoja, and also the most popular radio station in the state, Grace FM.
We left the Mount Pati filled with the awe of visiting such a significant place in Nigeria’s history, but there were actually many awe striking places we would visit. Lokoja is one hell of an incredible place. More to come on our sojourn of this under appreciated place.