The Risk Of Being A Calabar Man (I) BY JUSTIN UDIE


First, who is a Calabar Man or Woman? Culturally and as it rings a bell, a Calabar man is an Efik person but in this context, I’m defining a Calabar man a little different from that and I mean both man and woman. Be patient and read on 😃

In July 2011, I was preparing for the NYSC passing out parade at the Minna township stadium when my Big Uncle Xyztus Ikwun rang me up. I pulled out of the parade to meet him and because it was the first time, I couldn’t quickly figure him out among the bystanders. When I finally did, we greeted and he said “Your mother told me you’re here, how is Minna?” “Minna is fine sir. We are preparing to go” I responded. After a few minutes of other related discussions and intro, he asked me, “So what are your plans? Where are you returning from here?”
“Well, I’m going back to Calabar” I responded confidently. My uncle looked at me with an expression of pity though not showing a sign of surprise. I could sense from his face that he didn’t like the idea or my decision or didn’t just make any sense. By that time, I guess he perceived the ‘Calabar man’ in me; born in Obudu, did my primary and part of post post-primary in Obudu and completed it at Govt Science School, Akamkpa; a few miles away from Obudu. I moved a few miles further and did my first ever undergraduate degree at the University of Calabar proper, where I even learned the Calabar language 😊

Whilst that was running through my mind, Uncle XyZ asked a rhetorical question, “What is it about Calabar and our people?” At this time, I was a little bemused 🤨 He gave me several cases of Obudu people in particular that he knew were either trapped in Calabar or did everything they could to remain in Calabar for whatever reasons. And because of that, Federal Character quotas and opportunities for the ‘Calabar man’ get filled up by other people. His narrative and campaign was short and punchy to me. He was very plain and forward with his advice: “Don’t return to Calabar my kid brother. There is nothing much in that city for you and for now. Move into Abuja. Make no mistakes, there would be challenges. You must ‘swallow a dose of patience’ and after a while, you’ll figure it out”.

Yeah, we did discuss a few more things and I was asked to ‘fall in’ back to the parade. I kept reviewing my Uncle’s piece of advice until after my POP, I decided I wasn’t returning to Calabar. His advice and my response turned out to be one of the best engagements in my life journey.

I was a complete stranger in Abuja. Everywhere was honestly strange. The driving on Abuja roads, the hustling and bustling, the Culture and cosmopolitanism, and ultimately the mindset, was different. In Abuja, people are after connections and networks, meetings upon meetings, contracts, politicking and buying and selling ‘real’ real estate. One Oga is coming from Lagos, another from Kano or Taraba and they’re to approve one contract worth billions. The Kind of money I’d never heard even Donald Duke mentioned on TV that Calabar was discussed in Abuja gardens in the evenings over pots of spicy #isiewu and a mix of beer 🍻 and red wine 🍷 Abuja appeared well diversified, open and challenging unlike in Calabar where people seemed to be stuck with CRBC, the Governor his Commissioners and PAs. It was then I started recounting The Risks of being a Calabar Man! It dawned on me that I could have been anything in Calabar but like a Cat 🐈 that poses around at home because it hasn’t gone to the jungle to see how Lions 🦁 and Tigers 🐯 feed.

What then are the overall risks and opportunities? Would you like to read Part II of this story?

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in this article are strictly that of the author, Justin Udie, and does not represent TheLumineNews or its agent.


Development Consultant, Writer, Editor-In-Chief/Publisher, Public/ Motivational Speaker, Public Affairs Analyst/Commentator, Social Mobilizer of high repute.

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