Aug 11, 2010

Landscape that Takes Away the Fear of Death

It is true that the likes and dislikes of humans change with time. My hobbies has always been reading, travelling and writing. As time went on however, I discovered certain passions of mine that must find their ways into my list of hobbies. One is the love of a beautiful environment. Thus I have always wondered why our authorities cannot encourage people to grow trees around their homes as part of the beautification of our dear city of Jos as part of the effort towards making it a tourist haven. My love of a beautiful environment goes beyond a concern for a city. To watch a beautiful environment, I sometimes work into the country side and sit watching the landscape. Thanks. God has given us some of the most astonishing scenes you can find in Nigeria.
One of the most amazing landscapes in the world lies behind the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies Kuru. There are beautiful landscapes in different parts of the world. This is one of them. It stretches from behind NIPSS to a distance of about twenty kilometers into Irigwe land and beyond. In between these extremes, lie the mining towns of Sabon Gidan Kanar and Gero.
Plateau State is so called because of its table nature. It is elevated above surrounding states and planar at the top. The planar nature is that feature of the land that allows one to see unhindered for miles. This is coupled with the fact that the land falls within the savannah or grassland region of the nation. The only time distant portions cannot be seen is in the dry season due to poor visibility which is caused by dust. There is the additional problem of desiccated vegetation that usually turns gray.
On the other hand, a combination of human and natural activities has worked to make the extensive landscape the wonder that it is. During the rains, the green vegetation and farmlands combine to give it the appearance of some sort of an infinite rug. There are also rock outcrops, hills and valleys channeling springs into rivulets and eventually rivers. At times one could see cattle grazing in the land. Ironically the red lateritic heaps of mining waste have also added some effect to the general splendor of the landscape.
About four kilometers behind NIPSS, exist an earth dam, a legacy of the Amalgamated Tin Mines of Nigeria, ATMN. It was built to conserve water which was channeled to the mines some nine kilometers away through huge pipes about a meter and a half in diameter. That dam has turned out to be one of the most appealing features across this vast scenery. The beauty of the landscape, it appears, is better appreciated when standing on the dam itself. One could stand there beholding the water it holds or turn in the opposite direction to behold the vast landscape. The relics of a settlement in front of this dam have managed to endure over the decades. This settlement that was once inhabited by miners happened to be where I was born. Thus the good memories of my happy childhood is the single most important factor that has often drawn me to this damn where I stand and recall certain events of my childhood life. Each time I visit the location, I get the feeling of a fulfilling picnic. My Sundays are often boring. I usually visit the dam on Sundays.
On one of such days, I realized that watching the landscape seem to take away some fear from my mind. There is something about it that seems to take away the fear of old age or death. As they saying go however,” one man’s delight is another man’s irritation.” I then invited some people to come visiting the location with me to see if they have the same experience as I did. They indeed confirmed that there is a magic in the scenery that got them feeling that living and watching it could make someone die peacefully. Peacefully here does mean absence of pain where the cause of death is supposed to be painful but the feeling that one has nothing to regret by dying.
As a kid in the seventies, I have witnessed students of the Nigerian Defense Academy camping at the dam which they used for military exercises using boats. The military exercises around the dam have since stopped for reasons not known to me. Besides that, nobody seem to realize the significance of the beauty that covers this extensive land some ten kilometers in radius. This is despite so much talk about making Plateau State a tourist haven. I have however seen the desperation of local people in search of places of relaxation. In Jos, they either go to Ray Field Resort or the game reserves which have been neglected. My experience with those locations is that I usually end of feeling more miserable after a visit to any of these locations and have often wondered why people have not discovered this huge land across the old tin mines up to the volcanic hills of Miango. The place beckons for attention. It will amount to hypocrisy for the authorities to fail to notice this vast and awesome tourist resource that is perhaps bigger that anything previously listed as an attraction in Plateau State Nigeria.

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