Want to see Nigeria’s best kept secrets? jump to social media, like Tour Nigeria
Congratulations to the individual behind the Instagram account, Tour Nigeria. They have done well, I must say. Thanks to them, I may now see the previously unconsidered possibility of a Nigerian product that is not Nollywood films, Afrobeats jingles, fossil fuels, or football.
For real, there’s a ton of snapshots to gawk at on their page — so much so that, I cannot believe it, that this familiar Nigeria landscape now appears quite picturesque.
If they hadn’t made these pictures completely free to anyone to look at, there would have been absolutely no way for them to describe the lovely spots they capture to anyone. And if they’d not clearly declared that the spots are indeed in Nigeria, who would have thought they were?
So, imagine this:
Five pretty young women are in the middle of a lake, I think. The sun is up. This is a picnic. They’re sitting on a rocky island in this middle of the lake. Not one guy is in sight. Which is okay, duh; nothing says a guy must be included when ladies go out to have fun.
Then the ladies get up, drinking glasses in their hands. Stylish, casual dresses flowing in what looks like a soft breeze. They hop in the air, do a little twisty dance, in slow motion, then everything stops. And it is all repeated. Ah, this is a looping video.
The question that comes to my mind is not: who are these good looking people? It is where is this good looking place? I’d like to see this place. I go to the caption. It says: Crush Rock, Ushafa, Bwari, Nigeria.
Well, I will be darned. This… is… Nigeria? Please, play that video again.
As a person who is involved in brand storytelling and things of the like, I do know the tricks to making a picture look nicer than it really is. Lights. Camera angles. Cropping. Colour correction. You know, the works.
When you look at the video closely, too, you’d see that the setting might have been cleaned up so it’d look more picture-perfect—weed yanked out from the surfaces close to the lake, ground swept and cleared of trash, etcetera. It is what you do when you need to do a make-believe — you embellish the tale, you stage the scene.
But no colour correction can transform an arid, colourless scene into a natural formation that is as fascinating as a jagged edged majestic rock structure, accessorised by gently rippling waters that are in the calming colour of teal.
As it turned out, I am not the only one wishing to go see Crush Rock. Throughout the comment section, there are people, who from the way they sound are Nigerian, praying for the opportunity to take a trip to some of these pretty Nigerian locations with the Tour Nigerian crew.
“I am a photographer,” one writes, “and I would love to tag along on future trips, with a free drone coverage [of the sights]. All for the love of culture.”
For these fans, there are dozens of other places to go with Tour Nigeria, if they are so inclined. Sukur Kingdom, it of rolling lush hills; Agbokim waterfalls in Cross River State; Nkalagu Crushed Rock, Ebonyi State; Benin bronze and brass crafts market, Eronmwon; the transparent waters of Wiki Warm Spring at Yankari Game Reserve, Bauchi; Art Tech District, Abuja; the Yusufari Sand Dunes, Yobe; the extremely-hyped Obudu mountain range, Cross River; the rustic, idyllic, fabled Idanre town, Ondo; and so on and so on.
Again, we must be honest with ourselves, yes? The Tour Nigeria Instagram page delivers a painstakingly curated impression — complete with a cinematic colour scheme, too. For instance, if you’ve ever driven by or boarded a canoe to Makoko, you’d know that the lagoon around the slum isn’t as sparkly, the canoes aren’t all swathed in pastel yellows and purples, and the stilted huts aren’t as comfy.
Besides, how does one travel to these locations around the country? Once you arrive at the Emir’s palace in Kano, yes, you may strike a nonchalant pose, be certain the burnt brown walls are in your shot, time your camera and wait for your phone to deliver an enthralling photograph. The way to Kano, though, what’s that like?
It seems the owners of Tour Nigeria know this. Perhaps they know this because Tourism Nigeria, although it walks, speaks, and dresses like a private organisation, is owned by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation. They do understand that we all, in light of the pervading unpredictability of the country’s security situation, have these persistent questions about safety and accessibility.
That’s possibly why they have this syrupy Tony Robbins quote under one of their pictures: “Don’t be afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited of what could go right.”
But it’s a good start, isn’t it? Destination Marketing is less about telling and more about showing. For this country, Tour Nigeria has the oak needed to grow a mighty tourism market, if you can use such an expression.
They are aware, for example, that many young people would like to see their rest of the country outside their own hometowns. Some of them, like the content creator Odenike Oresanya, are even building commercial concerns and content community around local tourism.
For her and others like her, the veteran travel entertainment company, Goge Africa, presents a tourism business course.
In November 2021, Tourism Nigeria itself staged an open Zoom meeting. They called it the South-East Tourism Stakeholders Forum — for everyone to “come listen and lend your voice to topics that can transform our tourism, travel and hospitality sector.”
If all works well, in the near future, organised businesses may spring up along the veins of the Nigerian heartland. People may even make money. And maybe white people will start taking safaris in Yobe State.
Who knows, stranger things have happened.
In the meantime, I’d still like to see that Crush Rock pond and shoot slow-mo reels of my own.