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Renewing our Ties with Asaba

October 10, 2015

From Liz Bird:

A typical Asaba street

A typical Asaba street

From the beginning, a key dimension of our research has been maintaining an active relationship with the community of Asaba, and this visit was no exception. While we have certainly spent a lot of time collecting information and interviewing, we have also been able to spend time talking informally and exploring Asaba a little.

Keke cabs

Keke cabs

We took our first ride in an Asaba keke: the small, three-wheeled cabs powered by motor cycle engines that are everywhere. They have mostly replaced the motor cyles (okada) that used to pick up passengers and crowd the roads – they were banned not so long ago. Although dodging the kekes can still be a little hair-raising, the streets are definitely safer now.

Our visit coincided with the Ineh Festival, the tradition end of the agricultural year – more on that later. For a few days it has been good to have chance to walk around, recognizing familiar faces, and always being greeting with smiles, waves, and calls of “you are welcome.”

Patrick Okonkwo (between Fraser and Liz) offers hospitality at his home

Patrick Okonkwo (between Fraser and Liz) offers hospitality at his home

For instance, during one of our strolls, we happened to go past the home of Mr. Patrick Okonkwo, who we interviewed about his experiences early in our research. He lost many family members in the massacre, and clips from his interview are included in the video we made (see: https://vimeo.com/71894404)

We have seen Patrick several times since, and this time he invited to sit down, meet neighbors, and have cold drink with him. It’s clear that our work is valued by many here, which adds a particularly rewarding dimension to the whole project.

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