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Gateway to Abuja


Text by Chu Jiwang

In November 2009, I traveled to West Africa with a Chinese delegation to participate in the first China-Nigeria investment and trade forum held in Abuja, capital of Nigeria.

For foreign investors, Nigeria is a country full of opportunity and risk as well. The Niger River is the mother river of West Africa which gave birth to ancient West African culture. As one of Africa’s most populous countries, Nigeria is called the “cradle of African culture.” Nigeria also boasts rich natural resources yet to be developed. But at the same time, it is also a country with one of the poorest security situations in Africa. According to our guide, due to political instability and tribal and religious conflict, hijackings occur often, so the roads aren’t very safe. Because of this, he warned us relentlessly not to go out alone, especially in the evening.

Even so, when asked which countries are the best in the world, Nigerians won’t hesitate to reply that U.S.A. is the best, U.K. second and Nigeria third.

After the forum wrapped up, we hoped to visit some places of interest. Our guide sighed that there weren’t many places worth seeing except mysterious Zuma Rock.

Our bus rolled over a vast plain, and we could see tropical grassland and continuous farmland extending beyond the horizon. With fertile soil and ample rainfall, the farmland looked ideal for planting crops. After a 40-minute drive, a huge bare rock crept past the horizon into the sky. The hill-like monolith was the legendary Zuma Rock.

The monolith is known for a fa?ade carrying a human face. As we approached, we could make out the eyes, nose and even shiny forehead. A legend relates how the huge rock came to be: The ancient Greek god of sea, Poseidon, invited his elder brother Zeus to dinner. The lobster he served was so delicious that when it was gone, Zeus sucked on three pebbles that were covered in juices after being used to roast the lobster. One pebble was used by Nigerians as the central marker of its borders, one was lost without a trace, and the third ended up as Zuma Rock.

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