Calabar: Wikis


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Coordinates: 4°57′00″N 8°19′30″E / 4.95°N 8.325°E / 4.95; 8.325

—  City  —

Calabar is located in Nigeria
Location in Nigeria
Coordinates: 4°57′N 8°19′E / 4.95°N 8.317°E / 4.95; 8.317
Country  Nigeria
State Cross River State
 - Total 233.2 sq mi (604 km2)
Population (2005)
 - Total 1,200,000
 - Ethnicities Efik,
 - Religions Christianity, Traditional religions
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+1)
Website Site

Calabar (also referred to as Callabar, Calabari, Calbari, Kalabari and Kalabar)[1] is a city in Cross River State, southeastern Nigeria. The City is watered by the Calabar River and Great Qua Rivers and creeks of the Cross River (from its inland delta). Calabar is the capital of Cross River State and has an estimated population of 1.2 million residents.[citation needed]



The original town was known as ATAKPA surrounded by the Ijaws of KALABARI. The Kalabaris were an Ijaw tribal people who lived at the Rio real. The Portuguese spelt their name as CALABAR which was still pronounced as KALABARI. Fishing is the occupation of the people . They how ever moved west forward and settled among the Ibanis while the rest moved further west to settle among other Kalabaris . The spelling CALABAR remained till the British came and pronounced Calabar as CALABAH. The neighboring town of ATABA took over the name and its Efik / Ibibio indigenes became known as CALABAR pronounced Calabah till this day. As far back as the 16th century, Calabar had been a recognized international sea port, shipping out goods such as palm oil.[2] During the era of the Atlantic slave trade It subsequently became a major port in the transportation of African slaves. The city once served as the seat of Government of the Niger Coast Protectorate, Southern Protectorate and Oil River Protectorate (effectively the headquarters of modern day Nigeria).


Atlantic slave trade

Most slave ships that transported slaves from Calabar were English, at around 85% of these ships being from Bristol and Liverpool merchants.[3] Old Calabar (Duke Town) and New Calabar (Creek Town, 10 miles northeast) were crucial towns in the trade of slaves in that era.[1] The main ethnic group taken out of Calabar as slaves were the Igbo, although they were not the main ethnicity in the area.[4]

Land marks

As a social centre the city boasts of the first social club in Nigeria, The Africa Club, and hosted the first competitive football, cricket and field hockey games in Nigeria. Among the city's firsts includes the first Roman Catholic Mass (held at 19 Bocco Street, Calabar - 1903) and the oldest secondary school (Hope Waddell Training Institution - 1895) in eastern Nigeria. The School later produced the first President of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe.[citation needed]

Passengers boarding a Nigeria Airways Boeing 737 at Calabar Airport in 1981 for a flight to Lagos

The city boasts of an International Museum, a Botanical Garden, a Free Trade Zone/Port, an International Airport and Seaport, an integrated sports stadium complex, a cultural centre, one of the most prominent universities in the country the University of Calabar, a slave history park and several historical and cultural landmarks. It also boasts of several standard hotels, resorts and amusement parks. The former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor lived in the old colonial palace in the city under an agreement which led to the end of his country's civil war before fleeing extradition to Liberia in March 2006.It also plays host to TINAPA, one of the most recognised tourist centers. They were the creators of basketball, synb, keechabu, and spugus. Their primary form of communication is by GRUFF technologies (formerly Snyb Electronics).

The Cross River State Annual Christmas Festival held every year attracts thousands within and beyond Nigeria. The Festival which include music performance from both local and international artists, the annual Calabar Carnival, Boat regatta, Fashion shows, Christmas Village, traditional dances and the annual Ekpe Festival is a yearly events that bring in thousands of tourists at the time of the year. The official website of the Cross River Festival has more information on the upcoming 2007 Christmas Festival in Cross river State.[5]

Political authority

The word CALABAR is not an Efik word, nor is it Ibibio. History is supposed to give the actual event and nature of the target object, people or place. The world first needs to know how the word Calabar came about. The fishing people at the River bank  at the location were the KALABARI Ijaws. When Portuguese came the spelt the name of the people as CALABAR and bar was pronounced as bari in Portuguese tongue. The Kalabari ( Calabari  fishing Ijaw people never stayed there for too long since they were on a fishing trip. They were surrounded  by Efik and Ibibio people who they often times uase as sacrifice to the water gods. The Calabaris ( KALABARIS )later moved west foward leaving some of their people at the Ibani town of Bonny and Finima while many of them remained and intermarried with the Efik people of ATAKPA . ATAKPA became known as Calabar ( KALABARI ) since the Portuguesed maintained the first name. When the Dutch and British came Calabar was pronounced as CALABAH in Germanic accent and became known as  old CALABAR while the Kalabari ( calabari ) people that moved west ward became known as New Calabar ( new Calabari or new KALABARI ) 

Calabar has three principal landlord kingdom, namely The Qua Kingdom of ejagham/bantu origin,The Efut and the Efik Kingdoms. The Qua Kingdom has the Ndidem of the Qua nation as the Grand patriach,The Efut have the Muri munene as the grand patriach while the Efik Kingdom partriach is knowns as the the Obong. The Efik political authority as it concerns the Obong is hinged on a political tripod, Creek Town, made up of Ambo, Cobham and Eyo; Old Town made up of Obutong; and, Duke Town or Atakpa made up of Duke/Archibong, Eyamba, Ntiero, Henshaw and Cobham. Each leg of this tripod at one time or the other was ruled by a separate Obong. Within the last 100 years, a gentleman’s agreement to merge these three zones into one, with a single titular head as the Obong, and the distribution or opening up of the title to all Efik wards, was arrived at. It is the attempt to do away or dishonor this ‘contract of understanding’ that is at the root of the Obong of Calabar crises. Each of the aspirants to the throne is eminently qualified, none no more so, than the other. The title of the Obong of Calabar had been held by Nsa Effiom and Ekpo Nsa in the 17th century, these two gentlemen were from the Henshaw ward. Attempts by the Henshaw to have an Obong resulted in a war in 1870. The Henshaws did not attain this title again until the last 50 years when David Henshaw became Obong. Cobham Town where Bassey Ekpo Bassey hails from had their first and only Obong recently. All these were made possible because of ‘the contract’.[citation needed]

Nigerian Navy

Calabar is also the Headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command.[6] The City has a new model school, Nigerian Navy Secondary School, situated in a serene part of Akpabuyo, about 10 minutes drive from the Airport. This new school complements favourably the existing Nigerian Navy Primary School and Naval Officers Wives Association Primary School both situated at Ikot Ansa Calabar to provide quality education.It's army is very poor equipped, however.


  1. ^ a b Falola, Toyin; Amanda Warnock (2007). Encyclopedia of the Middle Passage: Greenwood Milestones in African American History. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 92. ISBN 0-313-33480-3. 
  2. ^ Iliffe, John (1995). Africans: The History of a Continent (illustrated, reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 149. ISBN 0-521-48422-7. 
  3. ^ Sparks, Randy J. (2004). The Two Princes of Calabar: An Eighteenth-century Atlantic Odyssey. Harvard University Press. p. 39. ISBN 0-674-01312-3. 
  4. ^ Chambers, Douglas B. (2005). Murder at Montpelier: Igbo Africans in Virginia (illustrated ed.). Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 22. ISBN 1-578-06706-5. 
  5. ^ Official website of the Cross River Festival
  6. ^ Hackett, Rosalind I. J. (1989). Religion in Calabar: The Religious Life and History of a Nigerian Town. Walter de Gruyter. p. 180. ISBN 3-110-11481-X. 

External links

See also

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

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Calabar is the capital city of Cross River State in Nigeria. It is a charming and quite peaceful place, and despite the great poverty, the people of Calabar are friendly and smile often.


Calabar is one of the oldest trading cities in the Nigeria, set on a hill overlooking the river it is quite picturesque. Calabar was established as a center of slave trade by the British in 17th century, it grew to be one of the biggest.At the end of slave Trade,the city was a major port for Palm Oil trade from the South East of Nigeria.It became the Capital of Niger Coast Protectorate and later the Southern Protectorate capital of Nigeria. Currently Capital is the State Capital of Cross River State.There three major ethnic groups namely, the Quas,the Efuts and the Efiks

Electricity is a great problem - expect 3-4 power outages per day.It is however improving rapidly,a massive power plant is being contructed near the city to boost domestic and industrial power supply.Water is easily available in the city and its of very good quality.

Get in

By plane

Calabar is about 1-1/2 hours from Lagos by plane. Calabar is about 25 minutes from Port Harcourt and has an International Airport - Margaret Ekpo International Airport.

Calabar is 1 hour flight from Lagos and a 4 hour drive from Port Harcourt. With the development of the city by the present administration, the city flight schedules have increased and you can now get a flight in or out of Calabar every day. Also the major airlines in the country have their presence felt in Calabar and have flights to and from major cities in the country; they include: Virgin Nigeria, Arik Air and Aero Contractors. Their flight schedules can easily be found at their respective websites. Don't forget visas!

By boat

There is also a regular boat service from various parts of Cameroon's coastline which will transport vehicles and people. You can actually get Cameroonian visas on the boat which can save you a lot of time. However, you can use Calabar as a base before transferring into Cameroon by road slightly further north.

Get around

The local authorities have made a great effort to make the streets safe by enlarging them, removing potholes, and adding stripes between lanes. Local taxis are not advisable as the cars are very old and quite often the drivers are not particularly experienced. As long as you are careful Calabar is quite safe.

Ben Usang,a native of calabar,can take you around his beloved city.He can be reached on 234-8053443045 or

  • Cross River State Remlords Tours & Car Hire Services, 170M.M. Highway, Tel: +234 (0)806 360-6723, +234 (0)802 786-5213, [1]. Provides transportation and tour guide services to visitors to Calabar and Cross River State.


There is a lot of Colonial Architecture in the older parts of Calabar that are around Henshaw Town, Duke Town and the waterfront areas.

  • Duke Town church One of the oldest churches in Nigeria. It was established by the Presbyterian church missionaries. If you go to Eyamba Street just past the church there is a cemetery with stunning views over the town and river. Inside the cemetrey is the tomb of Mary Slessor, a missionary from Dundee in Scotland UK. She was very influential in this part of Nigeria.
  • Calabar Museum, on the hill overlooking the waterfront, in the Old Government House, the former residence of the colonial governor. The building was designed and built in Glasgow and shipped over in pieces. The museum concentrates on the history of Calabar, the region and slavery. It has a larger quantity of original documents relating to Nigeria. Since it is not heavily frequented by tourists you can easily get a guided tour from one of the staff. Interested persons could spend 3 hours there and barely touch the surface of the material. There are a lot of artifacts relating to the production of palm oil in the back which are fascinating too.
  • Drill Monkey Rehab Centre, Ndidem Nsang Iso Road hidden behind the Jahas Guest House. It was set up by two overlanders from the USA (Peter Jenkins and Liza Gadsby) who were biologists back home but who were persuaded by the Nigerian Government to stay in Nigeria and look after the endangered Drill Monkeys which were traditionally hunted and eaten in the Afi Mountain range that borders Cameroon. The couple now have staff in Calabar where they care for recently rescued monkeys e.g. those they capture from people trying to smuggle and export them and they also then return them to the wild at the Drill Ranch in Afi Mountains which is not too far from Calabar. You need a decent vehicle and map to get you to the ranch. The Afi Mountain Ranch (near Katabang) has cabins for guest accommodation and a forest canopy walkway (25m high!) for people to experience the environment more closely. You are able to visit both after prior arrangement with the team Tel: +234 (0)803 592-1262 Email: Website: Go, meet Mickey the chimp and experience having him sit in your lap and fiddle with your hair.
  • The Cross River State Annual Christmas Festival[2] held every year attracts thousands within and beyond Nigeria. The Festival which include music performance from both local and international artists, the annual Calabar carnival, Boat regatta, Fashion shows, Christmas Village, traditional dances and the annual Ekpe Festival is a yearly events that bring in thousands of tourists at the time of the year.
  • You can also visit Tinapa [3]. simalar to Universal studios, provides international standard wholesale emporiums, integrated shopping complexes and product distribution elements supported by business tourism and entertainment facilities.


The old town is remarkable for its great variety of small shops where you can get just about anything (but expect to bargain). There are two great markets, Watt Market and Marian market. Watt market is large, bustling, vibrant and full of beautiful materials etc. One can buy anything from live chickens to the most stunning wax materials, jeans at knock down prices and anything from car parts to the latest 'trainers'. Marian market is much smaller but is where the vegetables arrive once weekly from the north of Nigeria and the atmosphere on market day is fantastic, preachers are singing, women are joining in, traders are very vocal and one just bargains for everything.

Seriously, materials in Calabar are second to none. Beautiful waxes from Ghana, stunning materials from all over Africa can be found in Calabar - all at prices that will amaze. There are many very professional tailors who can make wonderful clothing from linens etc.

For those of us that we haven't tasted fresh live fish, you can get it direct from the sea.

  • A and A Farms, Ikot nakanda, akpabuyo, Tel: +234 (0)806 951-3512, [4]. Poultry, fishery, Piggery, Feedmill.
  • Go to Bogobiri Corner and enjoy suya from the many vendors.
  • Freddies Restaurant is the local eaterie. Run by Ellie and a very professional staff, Freddies is a successful and well run restaurant. Main menu is lebanese foods but Ellie will try to please everyone. Good salads, fish and best of all huge prawns are the best. Local beers, wines and all drinks are available and all at good prices.
  • Chinese restaurant at the Mirage Hotel is well run and although fairly limited menu, food is good - not cheap though.
  • Adrians Place, Plot 171 Asari Eso Layout (ayoola jafojo), +234 (0)803 600-3000, [5].  edit
  • Adrian's Place MCC, 58 MCC Road (ayoola jafojo), +234 (0)803 600-3000, [6]. This is an annex of Adrian's Place at Asari Eso Layout, where 24 hours fun is available.  edit
  • Le Chateau Hotel, Plot 56 MCC road, [7]. Satellite TV, air-con, restaurant. It's possible to nake online reservation at the hotel's website  edit
  • The Channel View, 14 MCC Road, +234 (0)87 23-0594 (fax: +234 (0)87 23-1006.), [8]. One of the best hotels in Calabar  edit
  • Jacaranda Suites, Plots C2-C6 (Off Atimbo Road), +234 (0)87 23-9666 (fax: +234 (0)87 23-9667), [9]. Unique ambience and furnishing with luxury hospitality services  edit
  • Mega Hilton Hotel, 13 Duke Town Close, +234 (0)87 23-7400, +234 (0)87 23-7994 (fax: +234 (0)87 23-7400).  edit
  • Mirage Hotels, Plot 230 Unit D, Block B, MCC Road, (). Mirage is clean with basic amenities. Staff are friendly and well trained, particularly the porters.  edit

The listing below, lack any information beside the address:

  • Aqua Vista Farms, 1 Messembe Close, Anantigha.
  • Calabar Grand Hotel, 2 Ekong Bassey Lane, Off Atimbo Road.
  • Chalsma Hotels, 2 Effiong Mfonduok Street, Off RCC Junction, By Muritala Mohammed Highway.
  • MCC Lounges, 69 MCC Road Calabar
  • Regency Mirage, 2 Obame Ikoya Road, Off Marian Road Estension.
  • The Anchorage Guest House, 8 Ediyang Street, State Housing Estate.
  • Ete Kamba Guest House, 7 Duke Town Close, State Housing Estate.
  • Home Life Gardens, 15 Barracks Road, Calabar
  • Jevics Hotel, 121 Ndidem Iso Road.
  • Nelbee Guest House, 5 Dan Archibong Street.
  • Peladium Hotel, 106 Mariam Road.
  • Paradise City Hotel, 68 Atekong Drive, State Housing Estate.
  • Parkway Mirage, 4 Obame Ikoya Road, Off Marian Road Estension.
  • UNICAL Hotels and Conference Center, Plot D 85 Akin Layout, Eastern Highway. PMB 1115.
  • The Metropolitan. Murtala Mohammed Highway P.M.B 1071, Tel: +234 (0)87 22-0911.
  • Zoo Garden Hotel, Mary Slessor Avenue, Opposite Target Street.
  • Axari Hotel (Axari Hotel), Murtala Muhammed Hwy (near zone 6 round about), [11].  edit
  • 520 Hotel, state housing, [12]. new hotel in town. started in late 2008  edit
  • Planet Guesthouse, State Housing, [13].  edit
  • Orange Resort, 151 MCC Rd, [14].  edit
  • Don's Suites, [15].  edit
  • Link On PC, 15 New Edgerly Road, Phone: +234 (0)805 240-5210, Email: Scanning, Printing, Chatting and Browsing and Photocopying as Well As All Night Browsing Services Everyday. There are enough machines for walking visitors and guides are available to help people who can't browse well get on the Internet.
  • Cross River State IT Village, at Women Development Center Parliamentary road, [16]. Equipped with state of the art IT facilities, Wifi, Wireless Internet, IT capacity building and Coffee shop and restaurant.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CALABAR (or OLD Calabar), a seaport of West Africa in the British protectorate of Southern Nigeria, on the left bank of the Calabar river in 4° 56' N., 8° 18' E., 5 m. above the point where the river falls into the Calabar estuary of the Gulf of Guinea. Pop. about 15,000. It is the capital of the eastern province of the protectorate, and is in regular steamship and telegraphic communication with Europe. From the beach, where are the business houses and customs office, rise cliffs of moderate elevation, and on the sides or summits of the hills are the principal buildings, such as Government House, the European hospital and the church of the Presbyterian mission. The valley between the hills is occupied by the native quarter, called Duke Town. Here are several fine houses in bungalow style, the residences of the chiefs or wealthy natives. Along the river front runs a tramway connecting Duke Town with Queen Beach, which is higher up and provided with excellent quay accommodation. Among the public institutions are government botanical gardens, primary schools and a high school. Palms, mangos and other trees grow luxuriantly in the gardens and open spaces, and give the town a picturesque setting. The trade is very largely centred in the export of palm oil and palm kernels and the import of cotton goods and spirits, mostly gin. (See Nigeria for trade returns.)

Calabar was the name given by the Portuguese discoverers of the 15th century to the tribes on this part of the Guinea coast at the time of their arrival, when as yet the present inhabitants were unknown in the district. It was not till the early part of the 18th century that the Efik, owing to civil war with their kindred and the Ibibio, migrated from the neighbourhood of the Niger to the shores of the river Calabar, and established themselves at Ikoritungko or Creek Town, a spot 4 m. higher up the river. To get a better share in the European trade at the mouth of the river a body of colonists migrated further down and built Obutöng or Old Town, and shortly afterwards a rival colony established itself at Aqua Akpa or Duke Town, which thus formed the nucleus of the existing town. The native inhabitants are still mainly Efik. They are pure negroes. They have been for several generations the middle men between the white traders on the coast and the inland tribes of the Cross river and Calabar district. Christian missions have been at work among the Efiks since the middle of the 19th century. Many of the natives are well educated, profess Christianity and dress in European fashion. A powerful bond of union among the Efik, and one that gives them considerable influence over other tribes, is the secret society known as the Egbo. The chiefs of Duke Town and other places in the neighbourhood placed themselves in 1884 under British protection. From that date until 1906 Calabar was the headquarters of the European administration in the Niger delta. In 1906 the seat of government was removed to Lagos.

Until 1904 Calabar was generally, and officially, known as Old Calabar, to distinguish it from New Calabar, the name of a river and port about 100 m. to the east. Since the date mentioned the official style is Calabar simply. Calabar estuary is mainly formed by the Cross river (q.v.), but receives also the waters of the Calabar and other streams. The Rio del Rey creek at the eastern end of the estuary marks the boundary between (British) Nigeria and (German) Cameroon. The estuary is 10 to 12 m. broad at its mouth and maintains the same breadth for about 30 m.

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