Calabar

Calabar (also referred to as “Canaan City”) is a city in Cross River State, south southern Nigeria. The original name for Calabar was Akwa Akpa, from the Efik language. The city is adjacent to the Calabar and Great Kwa Rivers and creeks of the Cross River (from its inland delta).
Calabar is the capital of Cross River State. Administratively, the city is divided into Calabar Municipal and Calabar South LGAs. It has an area of 406 square kilometres (157 sq mi) and had a population of 371,022 at the 2006 census.
The original town was known by the Efik name Akwa Akpa. The spelling Calaba remained till the British came and pronounced Calabar as Calabah. The neighboring town of Ataba took over the name and its Efik/Qua/Efut/Biase/Akampkpa indigenes became known as Calabar (pronounced Calabah). Calabar is a large metropolis today, with several towns like Akim, Ikot Ansa, Ikot Ishie, Kasuk, Duke Town, Henshaw Town, Ikot Omin, Obutong, Bakassi, Biase, and Akamkpa.
Seaport City
As far back as the 16th century, Calabar had been a recognized international seaport, shipping out goods such as palm oil. During the era of the Atlantic slave trade, it became a major port in the transportation of African slaves. Most slave ships that transported slaves from Calabar were English, with around 85% of these ships being from Bristol and Liverpool merchants. Old Calabar (Duke Town) and Creek Town, 10 miles northeast, were crucial towns in the trade of slaves in that era. The first British warship to sail as far as Duke Town, where she captured seven Spanish and Portuguese slavers, may have been HMS Comus in 1815.
The main ethnic group taken out of Calabar as slaves were the Igbo, from the neighboring Igbo land. African-American writer and slave John Jea was from the area. There was also a small mulatto community of merchants with links to missionary and other merchant colonies in Igboland and Lagos, and across the Atlantic.
First Nigerian capital city
The city once served as the seat of government of the Niger Coast Protectorate, Southern Protectorate and Oil River Protectorate. It was thus effectively the first Nigerian capital city.
Landmarks
The city was the home the first social club in Nigeria, The Africa Club, and hosted the first competitive football, cricket and field hockey games in Nigeria. Among the city’s firsts were the first Roman Catholic Mass (held at 19 Bocco Street, Calabar – 1903) and the oldest secondary school (Hope Waddell Training Institution – 1895) in eastern Nigeria. The school later produced the first President of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe.
The city has an international museum, a botanical garden, a Free Trade Zone/Port, an international airport and seaport, an integrated sports stadium complex, a cultural centre, one of the most prominent universities in the country – the University of Calabar, a slave history park and several historical and cultural landmarks. It also has several standard hotels, resorts and amusement parks. The former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor lived in the old colonial palace in the city, under an agreement that led to the end of his country’s civil war, before fleeing extradition to Liberia in March 2006.
The Tinapa Resort, a development by the Cross River State government, lies to the north of the city beside the Calabar Free Trade Zone.[9]
The Cross River State Annual Christmas Festival held every year attracts thousands from within and beyond Nigeria. The festival, includes music performance from both local and international artists. Other annual events include the Calabar Carnival, a boat regatta, fashion shows, a Christmas Village, traditional dances and the annual Ekpe Festival.
Climate
Under Köppen’s climate classification, Calabar features a tropical monsoon climate with a lengthy wet season spanning ten months and a short dry season covering the remaining two months. The harmattan, which significantly influences weather in West Africa, is noticeably less pronounced in the city. Temperatures are relatively constant throughout the year, with average high temperatures usually ranging from 25 to 28 degrees Celsius. There is also little variance between daytime and nighttime temperature, as temperatures at night are typically only a few degrees lower than the daytime high temperature. Calabar averages just under 3,000 millimetres (120 in) of precipitation annually.
Political authority
Calabar has three principal landlord kingdoms, namely the Qua Kingdom of Ejagham (Ekoi)/Bantu origin, the Efut and the Efik Kingdoms. The Qua Kingdom has the Ndidem of the Qua nation as the Grand Patriarch, the Efut have the Muri munene as the Grand Patriarch, and the Efik Kingdom patriarch is known as the Obong. The Efik political authority as it concerns the Obong is hinged on a political tripod: Creek Town, made up of Ambo, Cobham and Eyo; Old Town, made up of Obutong; and Duke Town, or Atakpa, made up of Duke/Archibong, Eyamba, Ntiero, Henshaw and Cobham. Each leg of this tripod at one time or the other was ruled by a separate Obong. Within the last 100 years, a gentleman’s agreement to merge these three zones into one, with a single titular head as the Obong, and the distribution or opening up of the title to all Efik wards, was reached. Each of the aspirants to the throne is eminently qualified, none no more so than the other. The title of the Obong of Calabar had been held by Nsa Effiom and Ekpo Nsa in the 17th century; these two gentlemen were from the Henshaw ward. Attempts by the Henshaw to have an Obong resulted in a war in 1870. The Henshaws did not attain this title again until within the last 50 years, when David Henshaw became Obong. Cobham Town, from which Bassey Ekpo Bassey hails, had its first and only Obong recently. All this was made possible because of “the contract”.
Calabar Kingdom
Before the colonial period, Calabar, originally known as Akwa Akpa, was a kingdom with the City of Calabar as the site of government, the Obong of Calabar as the ruler and the Ekpe secret society as the stool on which the Obong of Calabar sat.
Calabar people
Calabar people are mainly people from the Greater Calabar district – Calabar South, Calabar Municipality, Akpabuyo, Bakassi, Biase, Odukpani and Akamkpa, but as commonly used in Nigeria, the term “Calabar people” could also refer to the indigenes of Greater Calabar as well as the people of the original South Eastern State of Nigeria who are at present the people of Akwa Ibom State and Cross River State.
Calabar is one of the oldest trading centers in Nigeria. The city is set on a natural hill overlooking the Calabar River. Calabar was established as a center of slave trade by the British in 17th century. It became the biggest colonial administration in Nigeria in the 18th, 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. At the end of slave Trade, the city was a major port for Palm Oil trade and commodities exports and imports from the South East of Nigeria. It became the Capital of Niger Coast Protectorate and later the Southern Protectorate capital of Nigeria. Currently, Calabar is the Capital of Cross River State of Nigeria. The city is a major center of tourism in Nigeria. The Calabar Carnival is the largest street cultural festival in Africa. The Carnival holds in December of every year and attracts thousands of visitors and guests from all parts of the world.
Like other major cities in Nigeria, power supply could be a major problem. The Federal Government of Nigeria is currently developing a major plant near the city to boost domestic and industrial power supply. Water is easily available in the city and it is of very good quality. Other attractions include the Slave Museum, Calabar Free Trade Zone, Tinapa Business and Tourist Resort, Cultural and Civic Center, Calabar Port and University Campuses amongst others. The city is a few hours drive to the Obudu Ranch Resort which had hosted many Presidential Retreats and conferences in the past. There is an airport which has connecting flights to other major cities in Nigeria
Calabar is about 1 hour from Lagos by plane. Calabar is about 25 minutes from Port Harcourt and has an International Airport – Margaret Ekpo International Airport.
Calabar is 1 hour flight from Lagos and a 4 hour drive from Port Harcourt. From Lagos you can travel to Calabar by Road with Peace Mass Transit, Akwa Ibom Transport Company Ltd, Cross Lines, and The Young Shall Grow Motors all at Ojuelegba. Their departure time is between 5.30 am and 7:30 am daily. It takes about 12 to 15 hours drive from Lagos. With the development of the city by the present administration, the city flight schedules have increased and you can now get a flight in or out of Calabar every day. Also the major airlines in the country have their presence felt in Calabar and have flights to and from major cities in the country; they include: Virgin Nigeria, Arik Air and Aero Contractors. Their flight schedules can easily be found at their respective websites. Don’t forget visas!
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