Monday, November 16, 2015

Nigeria Notes Part 12: November 6, 2013 - Lokoja

We arrived at the Lokoja marine police station in the  early afternoon.  I think it was the hottest day yet!  We were given our life vests and sat on bench under a wonderful ancient tree.  There were cunning little lizards (8 inches long?) that ran up and down it trunk.  A lady officer came out with a spackle bucket of water and plopped hte cutest little toddler boy into it!  He was adorable!  He just sat and played in that bucket, splashing away, until finally his mother came and took him out and led him back inside.  And he never uttered a word or a sound!

While all this was happening, other men were arriving and joining us on the benches.  Some were dressed in traditional clothes.  Others were wearing beautiful expensive looking suits. That’s not to say that the traditional outfits were not beautiful!  They were lovely!  But there was such a contrast between the two!  The men in the suits were certainly much, much warmer than those in cotton.  

Underneath the giant tree outside the
Marine Police Station in
Lokoja, Kenji State,

James and Kingsley, from IG’s church were there in their “PJs”.  Two of the men in suits were pastors who work in the Governor’s houses of their states.  One was from Koji State.  Once as a representative of the Housa tribe region in the north.  One represented the Ebo tribe, and one represented the Yoruba tribe.  There was also a photo journalist who came with us and took lots of photos.

Big boat! (the one in front)

The Marine Police boats were quite large
and each had an outboard motor.

But just in case, they each had a groovy paddle
that looked like it had been hand carved!

On our way to the sand spit

The sand spit was probably about a mile away.  We couldn’t see it from the police station but as we approached, it came clearly into view.  

This is where we were going.  This sand spit divides the Benue and Niger Rivers, splitting Nigeria in two.

In this arial view, you can see that the Niger River is brown and the Benue River is green.  And very strangely, when they reach the confluence, they do not mingle, but continue to run side by side.
This is seen as a symbol of the division among the people groups
who reside in Nigeria, the reason we came all this way;
To pray for unity.

What happened next was strange and the only frightening thing that happened in our whole time in Nigeria. The other boat made it safely to the point of the sand spit but our boat kept on going, heading for the far shore on the Benue River side.  It was eerie, as we passed from the brown Niger to the blue green Benue.  That was when we noticed what we had been told; that the two rivers do not mix, but flow side by side, brown up against blue green without mingling.

We couldn’t understand why the other boat had landed on the spit but we were continuing on to the other shore.  As our boat acame to rest on the bank, and the police officer jumped out, grabbed the rope and stared hauling us in, Darlene loudly asked, “Why are we separated from the other boat?”  The officer said not one word.  Again Darlene spoke up, “Why are we not with the other boat??”  Still the officer was silent.  He continued to haul our boat in.  Everyone else was silent too.

Our friendly, AK47 bearing police man who
scared the daylights out of us!

I can only imagine what was going on inside Penny, Darlene and Bob’s minds, but my stomach was sinking.  There was a scraggly looking village on the top of the bluff above us and I began to think that we were being kidnapped.  This was more of an adventure than I had bargained for!  Then, suddenly, the officer threw the rope back in the boat, jumped in and started to pole us back out into the current.  Bob grabbed a paddle and helped and we were once again headed to the sand spit.

Darlene, grateful, indeed to back on track!

And there were Richard, IG and the rest waiting us.

We found out later that it was an innocent mistake.  When our police man heard that we were going to pray he automatically assumed we were going to the church in the village on the top of the bluff!  Those were an incredibly scary three or four minutes!

What's an adventure without a little heart stopping action, after all!

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