A Day at Yankari Game Reserve

It will take more than a week to tour the whole of Yankari Game Reserve, the guide mentioned to us. He spoke knowledgeably about the reserve, like they all do, and passionately. I always admire them when they do so. They give you hard facts and details I can only have in my memory when I know I am sitting for an exam tomorrow.

We could only see the reserve for about two hours due to the time we had. We drove past different species of antelopes; deer, waterbuck, African Antelope, etc. At one point, we had to get off the truck to walk on foot in the reserve. The guide wanted us to see the Marshall Caves. Some caves archeologists believe to be occupied by human beings a very long time ago.

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There are lots of interesting stories about the caves. There is the city centre and where you have a story buildings of caves. In the building, the caves are interconnected making it easy for the owners to move from one cave to another, and from first floor to the second. Thy were 59 of them in total. By virtue of the location of the caves, the guide mentioned it was difficult for anyone to spot the people there. Perhaps it was a hiding spot carefully chosen by the people to hide during the slave trade.

The best thing I enjoyed there was visiting the Wikki Warm Springs, which I learned has a year-round constant temperature of 31.1 C. Yes, point 1. The guide mentioned. He couldn’t miss that.

It is a beautiful natural warm spring. You cannot visit the reserve without seeing it, or better, swimming in it. It is like going to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower or visiting Cairo without going to the pyramids. It’s the best thing in the reserve. Seeing the natural warm spring is one thing, swimming in it is something else. It was that great of an experience for me and my friends!

Me swimming in Wikki Warm Spring!

There are other side attractions in the park aside the Marshall Caves and the natural warm springs. There are more than 20 water wells I heard being sunk a long time ago. Different bird species. A museum of artefacts of animals found in the park. From the park, you can reach the borders of Taraba State, Plateau State and Gombe State. At some point, the animals have to be pushed back into Bauchi when they start moving farther away.

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The government recognized the revenue potential for the reserve and is currently building a landing strip. Not sure how this will affect the ecology of the park, considering aircrafts would be making a lot of noise.

The easiest way to reach the park is to fly to Gombe, then travel by road for about 2.5 hours to the park. The airport in Bauchi has no scheduled commercial flight. Except if you choose to charter an air plane like an Arabian Prince or book a small size chopper from Abuja. For those with minimal budget, Bauchi is accessible via road from Kaduna State, Jos and of course Bauchi (coming from Kano State).

Accommodation starts at 9000 NGN. There are many rooms, including hostels. A restaurant is available to place your orders. The place was recently renovated, so facilities are quite still okay.

Only turn off is the area boys that roam freely in the building area and try to take your bag from you. So watchword is not to carry any bags while walking around in the reserve, especially when going to the warm spring. And do not feed them any bananas. Do not be scared, the baboons aren’t dangerous, but it pays to be cautious.

In Summary, the reserve is worth visiting if you have never been to one before or you aren’t looking for something extraordinary, like the Masai Mara or Serengetti in Kenya.

For more photos of the park, follow my Instagram channel @sadiqgulma.

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Children are The Leaders of Tomorrow; Youths are The Leaders of Today

“I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing toward being a champion.” 

-Billie Jean King

The weekend of August 12th was quite interesting as I listened to an amazing set of individuals invited as speakers at the TedxMaitama event that held in Abuja. It was the second Tedx event I attended. The first was the maiden edition of TedxStrathmore in Nairobi, back in 2014 I think. TedxMaitama wasn’t dull at all. It staged speakers from almost all sectors, entrepreneurs, public sector, creatives, international organizations and civil society, etc.

One of the most interesting things I learned was Nasir Yammama’s plan to send Jollof Rice to Space via a helium powered balloon (follow the hashtag #JollofRise next week to keep up with the success). For those of us who do not know Jollof Rice, it’s simply like cooking rice and stew together and it should come out as orangish redish or rather, tomato colour. It’s what Kenyans call Pilau. It’s all part of Nasir’s company plan of empowering smallholder farmers in rural communities.

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Another speaker Sadiq Abdulkadir, an architect presented something new in the architectural practice of Nigeria and quite interesting that amused the whole crowd. He was using virtual reality for demonstration of architectural designs. It was marvelous the first time I saw him and tried his solution 4 months ago at an exhibition of Nigerian Institute of Architects  in Abuja. With my interest in built environment, his solution would be something that I could use or see more of hopefully in the future.

A TedxMaitama attendee trying out architect Sadiq’s new dimension in visualizing building architectural designs

Anyway, what compelled me to write this post is what the digital media entrepreneur, Japheth Omujuwa mentioned in his talk about children being the leaders of tomorrow. The speaker narrated how when he was in primary school, his teachers mentioned to him that they (children then) are going to be leaders of tomorrow. Moving to the next level, secondary school, he was told the same thing at Kings College. Another step forward at the university, a student union leader stood in front of a lecture hall which Japhet was present and addressed them as the leaders of tomorrow. Cut the story short, he rejected the leader’s notion that they (Japhet them, already grown as young adults) are the leaders of tomorrow.

Omjouwa didn’t believe that that‘tomorrow’ hasn’t arrived yet. Something must be wrong. Awareness and self-awareness are absent in us. That is what’s missing in the mind of many of us (youths) today. We are simply not aware that we are the leaders of today. Instead, we have narrowed our thinking to assuming that the leaders our teachers and elders always refer to is the political leadership; being president, governor, a senator or the likes.

Japhet asked a simple question to the crowd, referencing some of the young entrepreneurs/innovators invited as speakers who are already making giant strides in their endeavours, especially Nasir Yammama who was recently listed as one of the Forbes 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in Africa. “Can you say Nasir is not a leader today in agritech?” Omojuwa posited. You simply cannot. His social enterprise, Verdant Group, has impacted more than 25, 000 small holder farmers in Nigeria and the number will rise in the coming years.

Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean being a political leader. In fact, the Merriam Webster’s dictionary defined a leader as someone who influences people. so how many of us, through different roles and avenues have influenced one or two other people. How many of us have made strides in sports, in civil society, in entrepreneurship, in research or whatever else you are doing. Being a leader shouldn’t be taught as when no one stands before you, in fact you are a leader when everybody is ahead of you and you guide them from the rear. It’s simply the awareness we should possess. A very interesting article from Harvard Business Review says that “you can’t be a good leader without self-awareness. It lies at the root of strong character, giving us the ability to lead with a sense of purpose, authenticity, openness, and trust it.”

I couldn’t agree more with what Billie Jean Kings says as well, “I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing toward being a champion.”  If we are a little more self-aware of what is going on, then we will take control of a lot of things going on. We will stop the wrong assumption that the tomorrow they told us while growing up hasn’t arrived. We will take more charge of what we do and feel confident and positive.

Japheth Omojuwa making his point about awareness

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How Do We Become More Self-aware?

Don’t giggle at me when you read the next sentence. Start meditating. I know I know. Many people think of mediation as a foreign thing. I remember when I visited a resort owner and pitched him the idea that I would love to have people come to their cool green park and meditate. He concluded that it was an oyimbo (how white people are called in Nigeria) idea. It was my idea. I am not oyimbo.

Meditation simply allows you to be in the moment. To have yourself simply immersed in thinking of one thing. And thereafter, have reflections of what has transpired in your life. It’s what the Savages of Sirvana recommended to Julian, the successful Harvard Lawyer who sold his Ferrari, abandoned all what he had and travelled to India on a journey of self-discovery, as narrated in Robin Shirma’s book, “the monk who sold his Ferrari”.

Anyway, you and I do not own a Ferrari, but what am simply saying is you should endeavour to have more self-awareness in whatever you do and meditation yoga, is one heck of a great idea to. Writing down your plans and priorities, asking trust friends, taking psychometric tests and getting regular feedback at work are among the 5 things this article from Harvard Business Review recommends.

The tomorrow our teachers informed us while growing up has arrived. It is today. If you cannot agree that you are a leader in what you do, it is simply because you have refused to take action.  So actually, children are the leaders of tomorrow, and youths taking action are the leaders of today.

“The only difference between the people off stage and the people on stage was that the people on stage had taken action and moved forward despite their fears.”

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