Warri: Redefining My City, My Home

Warri, Nigeria

Warri no dey carry last, …

well at least based on logistics…
Every day, in the streets of one of the most vibrant cities in the southern region of Nigeria, you’re bound to hear this statement. It is an old Warri adage which indicates the zeal, strength, tenacity and grit a Warri-bred individual popularly called ‘waffarian’ exhibits in character and determination to succeed. So you might be wondering what makes this afropolitan city tick, well, according to some misconceptions from comedians, Warri is widely known for its aggressive locale and inhabitants. However, I’m going to be all tongue in cheek here and say “Warri is awesome”, its people are some of the most welcoming, fascinating and dexterous people you’ll ever meet.

Enerhen Junction

So why did I choose to tell this story? Well, I wrote this piece to shed some light on some of the stereotypes that Warri has become infamous for, improve tourism, business opportunities and change the perception of the reader towards this old popular oil city.

The history of Warri dates back to the 15th century when Portuguese missionaries first arrived, it later became a major seaport for trade activities between locals, Portuguese and Dutch trading slaves, palm oil, nuts, rubber, cocoa, groundnuts, hides and skins. In 1906, it became a central provincial headquarters for the British government in southern Nigeria.

Today, the afropolitan city is a major petroleum/gas refining and commercial business hub in Delta State with an estimated population of about one million. It is located at the lower region of the Niger Delta on the banks of the Warri River, River Forcados and River Escravos. This bustling city is an integration of several local government areas with inter-linking roads joining Effurun, Jakpa, Ekpan, Enerhen, Warri and other neighbouring towns. The coastal region of Warri such as Forcados, Escravos, Ijala, Ogidigben, Ogulagha, Gbaramatu, etc boosts of some of the largest proven oil and gas reserves in the Niger Delta.

Ethnicity in Warri comprises mainly of the Urhobos, Ijaws and Itsekiris with their five main resident monarchs being the Ovie of Uvwie, Olu of Warri, Orosuen of Okere-Urhobo, Pere of Ogbe-Ijaw and Pere of Gbaramatu.  Other minor tribes resident in Warri are due to migration.

The culture and lifestyle of the Warri people are very expressive; this can be witnessed during various festivals like the colorful boat regatta canoe dance, Agbasa and Okere juju, Oda masquerade dance, Omoko dance, Urhobo dance of maidens, Aborebele Oge, Sogbein festival, coronation celebrations, designated market days, traditional weddings and funerals.

The various delicacies are Usi´ and Oghwo soup, Banga soup, Banga rice, Ukodo, Gbagba-fofo (pepper soup with okra) and Fisherman soup, Iribotor (pounded pepper soup), Emugari (Egusi soup), Isifeniya (red Garri and fried pig) Oghwo-revwri bean soup, Ogbono soup, etc.

Delta delicacies. Photo credit: allafricandishesng

Street food is also distinctly tasty in Warri and very accessible, Akara and Akamu by 7:00 am, Bole and fish stew or beans can be easily gotten at early as 10:00 am,

Bole and Fish
Bole and Fish. Photo credit: Enefaa Thomas (@enefa_a)

Puff-puff, maggots, peppered snails, fried pork by 12 noon, bread, kpomo sauce,

Maggots. Photo credit: Joshua Newton

suya, fried yams/plantains and local “mishi” burger by 6:00 pm. Yes, the city can’t leave you hungry; it takes care of its own.

The traditional mode of dressing in Warri is identical amongst the three main tribes with the men usually dressed in a pair of wrapper, lace shirt, a bowler top hat, coral beads or gold chain around the neck with a walking stick to boot.

Photo credit: blog.jiji.ng

The female wears double wrappers and lace blouse, a gorgeously tied head scarf with coral beads or gold chain around the neck.

Photo credit: blog.jiji.ng

Warri women are highly talented in trade activities with varied interests in clothing materials, beads, gold, fashion accessories, cosmetics, interior decors, food processing, spices and ingredients bringing consumers from far and wide to some of the major markets in Warri such as Igbudu, Effurun and Ogbe-Ijoh (Main) markets.

Warri is also a hub of the technology market, with the strategically placed Robson Plaza situated at Deco Road, it’s a haven for phones, tablets, computers, electronics and accessories purchase, repairs and resale.

The city is full of fast-rising communities and booming collaborative spaces with various tech and volunteer initiatives, events and programs to channel your creative ingenuity. These initiatives are inclusive of #NewWarri striving to create a new face for the city of Warri, #CleanWarri for superheroes without capes cleaning and keeping dirt off the streets of Warri, #AndelaLearningCommunityDelta for growing Developers learning to code android and web apps sponsored by Andela, Udacity and Google, Powered People Innovation Hub launched its innovation space in Warri with an aim to teach proper programming skills, software testing and help startups thrive, TEDxOkumagbaAve and TEDxOgunu spreading ideas worth sharing and more recently Google Developers Group Warri catering to developers who are specifically interested in Google products and APIs.

In 2017, my friends and I founded the Warri Tech Network a techpowered community for techies and enthusiasts with an initiative to create a vibrant tech culture, ensure the growth of IT skills like blogging, digital marketing, programming, AI, electronics, lean startups, strategically site a TECH Hub in Warri and also bridge the gap between innovation and collaboration for programmers in Warri. Today, it is run by 5 Board of Trustees with about 70 members.

Uvie, Chukwudi, Igho, Joe, Paul, Omawumi, Kelly. #WarriTechNetwork
Uvie, Chukwudi, Igho, Joe, Paul, Omawumi, Kelly. #WarriTechNetwork

The Warri Pidgin English is the most widely spoken language in the city; it is used in conversations, family gatherings, haggling with traders, transport services, religious grounds, etc. This lingua franca is characterized by a certain local finesse that just rolls off the tongue in a rhythmic fashion; your street credibility is usually ranked by your proficiency of the language, so when you hear a Warri local address you with “Warri!”, you’re expected to scream “Area!…“dem no reach”.

Check out my Friend, Prince Tegaton’s Pidgin App on the google play store 

Although, the Warri people are usually jolly, happy go lucky, they are also highly educated fellows channeling youth development via education with five recognized higher education institutions in its vicinity, these institutions are Federal University of petroleum Effurun, Petroleum Training Institute Effurun, College of Education Warri, Delta State Nursing School Warri, and Nigerian Maritime University Okerenkoko (not yet functional).

Talent is not left out as some of the best comedians, musicians and actors in Nigeria grew up right here in Waffcity. Entertainment, tourism and landmarks are significantly located around the city; these are fantastic destinations for vacations or just weekend visits or sightseeing. They include the Abraka beach located on the banks of River Ethiope, Abraka golf turf and resorts, Red Mangrove swamp, Nana Living History Museum, Floating market Ogheye, Delta Shopping Mall, NNPC Staff clubs, Temple Grill, Club Heavens, AJ restaurant, Shell golf course, Genesis and Lighthouse Cinemas.

Abraka beach. Photo credit: Cynthia Amande
Delta Mall

The economy and business prospects of Warri being a major oil activities nerve center is no longer what it used to be, it has experienced mass emigration of most its oil and gas firms, other enterprises are available but quite few, so don’t expect to earn  six figures or build a budding career in any profession at a get-go. Other economic infrastructures include the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company at Ekpan, the Warri seaport at Ugbuwangue, the Warri local airport at Osubi, Warri international stadium, EGTL Escravos, Shell BP Forcados, Otorogu gas plants at Otor-Udu, the Export Processing Zone which comprises of the Gas city, Ogidigben and the Deep Sea Port, Gbaramatu. The city is also highly ranked with agricultural, mineral and industrial potentials; these prospects include oil palm, rubber, cassava, maize, fruits and vegetables, fish, timber, glass, carbon black and steel billets.

Chevron

The city had to look beyond oil and reestablish itself as a commercial hemisphere with the up-spring of various small and medium scale businesses establishing a new economy. Although it is a slow growth with an even difficult social infrastructure to build on, there is optimism in the air.

Warri, a city once plagued by conflict and youth restiveness is on the verge of great things with its urban economic drive hoping to bridge a gap between the old and the new with a great future in its horizons.

Tell me what you think, feel and love about living in Warri; I’d like to hear from you.

I'm Omawumi Eyekpimi, PKA LeBelleAmi and I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Lots of Love...xo!!!

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