Exploration, like other means of relaxation, is one of the hobbies of man that is difficult to discuss these days, owing to the dwindling financial crisis that has enveloped most parts of the world. With more people losing their jobs and the take-home pay not being enough to take people home, the curtains seems to have fallen on exploration and other acts of tourism.
When I set out on a fateful, sunny Saturday morning to visit the much talked about Oguta Lake, Nigeria’s second largest lake, I was caught in my own world of imagination on what to expect, which angle to focus on and what my general assessment of the lake, and its people, would be. I was deeply engrossed in these, when the car took off at Douglas Road, Owerri, the Imo state capital. After a 20 minutes drive, 40km out of the capital city, we got to Oguta Junction at Mgbidi and we boarded a motorcycle that conveyed us to the water-side where my expectations, as a tourist, were modified.
The lake lived up to its expectation in terms of its size which spans as wide as the eyes can see and as deep as the mind can imagine, but what was unexpected was the non-existence of the usual interference, by the regulatory bodies, to make the site more tourism-friendly. In the case of Oguta Lake, apart from the boats procured by the Imo State Tourism Board to convey tourists across the lake, little modifications has been done to modernize the lake. The scene that welcomes you is that of a community tightly bond to its means of livelihood, the Oguta Lake.
Residents of the Oguta community are majorly fishermen, artisans, farmers and craftsmen who depend on the lake for their livelihood. The most predominant boats are the locally manufactured ones, both young and old, readily throwing themselves at the river. A beautiful sight to behold, especially when one is used to sirens, horns, screeches and fast tempos that characterize the city life. The people of Oguta and the Lake are embodiments of the desired mutualism between man and nature which has much eluded various parts of the world.
On Oguta lake, the fishermen and other lake users are not the types that are in the desperate quest for money, but people that happily go about their daily lives, getting maximum satisfaction from their environment. This made me re-evaluate myself and the reasons why I’m in my profession, whether for the meaning or the money.
The Oguta Lake resort is another place every tourist should visit. It is not noisy and full of activities, but generally quiet, serene and green. The resort is a place where one can go to for personal evaluation, meditation and re-evaluation, when the first evaluation has yielded little or no results.
The resort has facilities that are expected of a resort. It has a 12-hole standard golf course; a children’s playground, a lake museum, a standard lawn tennis court and other expected amenities. In addition, one can take a tour on boat across the length, breadth and width of the lake especially visiting the area where the lake converges with another river.
For a first time visitor, I would recommend a tour round the community on a motorcycle, although the road is car- friendly. Being on a bike allows the tourist to have a first-hand experience of the community and its serenity and fresh air. I would also recommend a dip in the Oguta Lake. The water is cold (not freezing cold) and has a soothing effect which rejuvenates the dead cells of the body and the spirit. It could also serve ailing relationships, if both parties agree to the experience.
I went to the lake with an aura of confidence, thinking that I was the happiest guy on earth, but soon realized that happiness is not defined in terms of state, status, cash-at-hand (and in bank), education, and profession, but is really about enjoying and being satisfied with who you are.