When you think of Ikot Abasi, you think of the Bridge of No Return. You think of Lord Lugard’s house. You think of the Women’s War Memorial.
I want to tell you of a lesser known but incredibly exciting sight hidden in the bushes right next to the water that you have probably never heard about.
We heard stories, all sorts of stories about it. After so many trials and errors in trying to open it spanning over a century, it just sits there. No one tries to open it anymore. It has faded into legend. A sight and a story to excite us young ones and to drive our imaginations wild.
I was taken on an excursion by my Father to see this sight some years ago. It was amazing that I had lived next to it for so long and never knew such a thing existed. Returning to see it again brings a feeling of nostalgia that I can’t help but smile at.
It’s a massive cube, built of solid concrete and measuring about two meters on every side.
On every side of it, you can see scars from over a century of chipping and hammering and even blowing up. From these scars, one can clearly see that it is made of multiple layers of concrete, each successive layer harder than the one preceding it. I guess this is probably why no one was willing to keep trying to break it open.
The tour guides always have intriguing stories to tell about this concrete safe. Each guide tends to add his own flavour to it, just to keep the audience wide-eyed as they walk around what would ordinarily have been a pretty boring sight. In the middle of these different stories, there are a few consistencies and it’s from these consistencies that I will tell my own version of the story.
Slavery had been abolished since the mid-19th century, however, it was still going on down in the hinterland. In fact, Ikot Abasi was said to be a major point for the sale of slaves and this fact is evident in the many historical landmarks found in the region. From the bridge of no return, to the slave houses and bunkers where they were stacked, waiting for transport.
This illegal slavery was attracting the attention of the authorities all over the African continent and eventually, they got to Ikot Abasi.
It was said that the Slave masters had to leave in such a hurry that they left a lot of their things behind, including a locked concrete safe filled with God knows what. This was in the late-19th century. And so, for about a hundred years after they left, the occupants of the land kept chipping away at the safe, hoping to find unimaginable treasure inside.
This whole story could be true, or it could simply be a story. I believe it though. I believe every word of it. Call me gullible, but I love mysteries. They intrigue me. And what could be more mysterious than a giant concrete safe in the middle of nowhere?
Maybe, just maybe, next time you’re in Ikot Abasi, you should ask to see the unbreakable safe.