The Onuasu river is remembered as the ancient trade route of the Aros with her Ibibio neighbours of today’s Akwa Ibom state; and Ito, Itu, Asang and Bakasi in Cross Rivers State. It was this river that inspired the naming of the village, Amasu (Ama-asu) and also the creation of Ugboali (land canoe) dance, the best cultural dance in the entire Aro Kingdom. Aros, traditionally, depend on oral records passed on from the oldest person in the community to the younger generation who should keep them and pass on to theirs. Unfortunately, most of them have migrated to the cities and allow such information wither away.

In order to preserve these memories, we have decided to explore the gains of our unique geographical position before the advent of Christianity and during the golden era of Aro kingdom and showcase it to the world. Ultimately, our forgotten place in history would be revived for posterity. We will revitalize our tourism, our natural endowments and reposition Amasu as a country home of choice in Arochukwu.

Reviving the Amasu-Arochukwu Beach:
The Promise of an inland seaport.

It could seem like a paradox when Amasu- Arochukwu is being featured as an exciting and fascinating destination given its present appearance of disenchanted, solitary and desolate inactivity. But on the other hand, the place in recent past has been a centre of great visitation, absorbing the presence of commercial traffic for juridical appeasement of the Long Juju Court and colonial interchanges (colonial military incursion during Arochukwu expedition in 1901). And in addition the Christian missionary (Mary Slessor) settlement at Amasu before their transfer to Slessor Hill, Amanagwu as Slessor Missionary school/library, to date.

Invariably, the commercial traffic pressures which passed and still trickled through Onuasu compromise of seafood of fishes, periwinkles, turtles, vegetables, local salt boats from neighbouring riverine towns of Ikpanja, Agbanyim Ikotofiong, Useh and others to dock at Amasu. They attend the local markets within Arochukwu and adjoining upland towns beyond to sell and buy upland cottage factory products such as chairs, stools, tables, lamps (lanterns), books, dresses, agricultural produce, plantain/bananas, garri, rice, cassava, bags of oranges or worship at churches on Sunday.

Social Environmental Geography:

Viewed from its strategic historical, environmental and ecological position, Amasu has been and continues to be a fantastic gateway to Arochukwu being the southernmost landscape point of the nineteenth semi-autonomous villages. As an estuarial (Martine enclave), Amasuville is at the confluence of two rivulets (the central stream/the Inyong creek). The course of the river flows from the undulating terrains of Utughugwu, Ugwavo, Obinkita and Ibom down to Amanagwu/Ujari and empties at the Amasu confluence point (Asunwankita) whilst the sister river Inyong creek, which flows through the southwest outback waterside fringes of such other sister villages as Amuvi, Atani (mmawuru), Amukwa, Ugbo, Amoba and Ibom. Carrying along its course rich silts of red/brown mud to empty at the same Amasu confluence point of Asunwankita. From this confluence point, the two streams jointly continue into the bigger/broader cross river, which finally empties into the Atlantic Ocean expectedly.

Gateway for Education – Research/Tourism :

Technically, given its geographical position as a terminus place, Amasu, Arochukwu has most of the known and potential advantages of an estuary enclave (river/maritime resources pool) to resurrect as an inland seaport. This, however, has been an uncontested/incontestable position of service to the entire Arochukwu kingdom in the past. An estuary characteristically covers such lowland area with relatively tidal influence or seasonal rain variations of shallow waters/marsh growth-spread. Such areas are usually tranquil-quiet habitat clinic to which most aquatic parents/potential parent-creatures return (organisms reside in) to reproduce and breed their offspring in the cycle of propagation, before returning during appropriate high tide or rainy season, back to deeper waters for growth and repeat the cycle.

Invariably, being part of this theatre of biogenic dramatic interplay, Amasu landmass has been subjected to the various natural ecological convolutions, for which many pieces of evidence abound for mostly agro/fisheries and tourism base industrial enterprises. Essentially, unlike fairytales and myths, this legendary evidence and facts include reminisces by living persons of past periodic and seasonal fishing festivals, safaris, comparable to the international ones that still take place at Argungu in Kebbi and Sokoto states. Critically, for an economic benefit, such exotic scenario could possibly be resurrected with expansion to include water sports like regatta and boat fairs, bazaars, exhibitions and travel/tourism for pleasure and profit. Again all these can only happen after the much talked about – long envisioned dredging of the waterway would have been completely and effectively carried out by the local, state and federal governments combined initiative.

Mazi Henry Ogbonnaya Oji- Patron, APU, United Kingdom Branch.

Ancient Ports:

  • Onuasu Nta (small port). This is the immediate beach area in Amasu which is our starting point.
  • Onuasu Ukwu (big port). This is the next port and is further offshore from the village.
  • Asunwankita. This is the next landmark marine junction on the route.
  • Ibayi Ikpanja (the road to Ikpanja). From here, one could make a detour to Ikpanja village.
  • Nkpukpu Etiti (island). This is a literal island. In the past, our people sojourned here for some extended period of days to fish and dry their fish before coming home to Amasu. During the Civil War, some people took refuge here when the federal troops were approaching Arochukwu.
  • Asang Junction– this is close to Onuasu Bekee (Government Beach). If the weeds are cleared up to this point, ferry boats can access this port on to Amasu. More fish will also flood Amasu waters. In the olden days when this waterway was clear, Abriba merchants and smugglers used to ferry their goods from Cameroon and Calabar to Amasu.
  • Onuasu Bekee (Government Beach). From here one can travel to Itu, Calabar, Cameroun and Bakassi etc.

Clearing The Water ways.

By clearing the waterways the window to economic empowerment is opened, however, the nature of clearing the waterway is huge and very expensive and requires State and Federal presence since it flows through two states, Abia and Akwa Ibom respectively. The length of the creek, according to George Webber in 1913, from Isiori port to the Government beach is six miles making it imperative for us to segment it into phases. The first phase is one-kilometer coverage area and will require full-time personnel to clear the water hyacinth.

From our study, however, water hyacinth is a ‘malignant’ enemy which has grown from the bank of the river and blocked passage of canoes. By its nature, it tends to continue to multiply itself rapidly if it is left to survive for even a short while after it has been cut down. Consequently, constant mopping up is required to halt the growth of the weeds. In other words, as part of the current plans to clear the waterway, provision should be made for a Task Force that would be responsible for regular patrol and cutting down of sprouting growths of the water hyacinth.

Some key persons who are conversant with the malignant behaviour of Water Hyacinth in other parts of the world, cautioned that it was better not to commence Clearing of Water Hyacinth (CoWH) if there would be no plans to regularly mop up sprouting growths periodically. it would not be cost effective to embark on clearing the water hyacinth if they are going to be left to grow again over a considerable period of time after the initial clearing as they tended to grow and multiply at geometric rates.

Consequently, from our research, the clearing will be conducted in phases in alliance with permanent administrative staff from the community to regularly patrol the waterway to check the menace of the weed. This strategy, according to experts, is the best-guaranteed method of maintenance and the people will continually benefit the richness of their natural (agricultural, aquatic etc) resources endowed on their land from the dawn of Creation.

Stage One – Clearing of One Kilometre Water ways.

Our strategy is to start small and build confidence in the community so we can employ local intelligence in exterminating the long stretch of water hyacinth. We will start from the nearest ports; Onuasu Nta, Onuasu Ukwu, Obara, Asuwankita and Ibayi Ikpanja. It will involve temporary recruitment of local workmen and fishermen placed on wages for the length of time this one kilometre would be achieved. And because of the erratic behaviour of the water hyacinth, we will explore the economy values and its maintenance before progressing to the next stage. At this point, we will definitely require logistic support from Government, NGOs, and sympathizers to guarantee our progress as we approach the different stages.