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The Vernacular Architecture of Abua-Central area, Rivers State, Niger Delta

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A bell-less belfry juts into the clear blue skies, spanked on all sides by the merciless rays of the soaring sun. The mud-brick stones of the aged church beneath fortifies the ostentatious poise of the belfry, while its dexterously crafted fascias splash rows of spectacular shadows on its asbestos walls.

This is the oldest church building in Digiriga Community, located in Abua-Central area of Rivers State, southern Nigeria.

In Nigeria’s delta, remain a few of these buildings, sandwiched between clusters of modern-day structures. Within their walls, columns, windows and doors are vivid encryptions of long forgotten stories- those stories and tales that tell our history, the history of today’s Niger Delta.

Recently, we received these amazing photos from a staff of an oil company working in the Abua-Central area of Rivers State. He had been amazed and thrilled by the aged structures of Digiriga, which lie vulnerably unprotected and wilting away on the now-flooded sands of the delta.

Though the old buildings are just a few, nevertheless they still conspicuously document the presence of English missionaries who might have dwelt in the community in ancient past. The type of architecture depicted in the building roofs, columns, staircases, doors and windows suggests one which has been associated with the colonial era.

It is therefore important to note that these types of objects/structures constitute great historical value and touristic potential to their host communities as well as the nation at large.

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Nigerians and the government must make efforts to conserve historical structures such as these, especially the ones locked up in the rural areas, because in such places lie more of our culture undiluted.

History is sweet, history enriches. He who despises history makes mockery of his own future. People with bad hind sights always lack good foresight.

Nigerians must begin to place more value on and begin to learn history. Maybe there are some big lessons to learn; maybe we need to be reminded of those values that held and sustained the society during the days of our ancestors; maybe the way forward for Nigeria is better understood by looking back, maybe… maybe…..

Nevertheless, one truth remains; great economic potentials are locked up in our historical artefacts and objects, and until we begin to appreciate history and salvage these wrecking assets of inestimable worth, our Nation’s tourism industry as well as its staggering economy will never attain its full potential.

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*Special thanks to Mr. Chris Okoro, who out of admiration and concern for the structures sent us these photos, advocating for the protection and conservation of Niger Delta’s  wrecking historical artifacts.

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This article was written by Folarin Kolawole

Founder of Naijatreks, Nigerian-born Folarin Kolawole is a geologist, travel writer and researcher. When not at work, he travels the length and breadth of Nigeria, exploring, taking photos and writing about her numerous hidden tourist potentials.   'Naijatreks' is a product name registered under the Ntreks brand, which is also duly registered by Nigeria's Federal Corporate Affairs Commission. The contents on this blog are re-usable. However, it must be ensured that it is linked back to this blog, and correctly attributed to Naijatreks or the author. Please do not edit, rewrite or commercialize the original works on this blog without direct and written permission from the Founder (Folarin Kolawole). For inquiries and advert placement on the blog, kindly contact us at info@naijatreks.com or naijatreks@gmail.com.

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