Iva Valley Coal Mine: The Source of Mmri Ocha
The cool breeze flitted here and there; and the air smelt of freshness, the vegetation looked greener than ever since the last time I hiked here. Melodious sound from birds and other animal echoed all around the forest. The journey to Iva valley coal mine was a bumpy ride and our vehicle got stuck in the sandy road several times. We have been on the lonely road for too long that our driver became irritable.
“Are you sure this road leads to the coal mine.” My friends asked. I nodded in agreement as I spotted the yellow river flowing with ease behind the thickets of bushes. The firewood was still stacked at the same spot where I saw them last time. Our vehicle struggled with the massive track left by trucks that plied the route. Then we passed a makeshift rickety bridge and our keke napep tilted to the side. I held my breath afraid that that we might fall off soon.
The road looked deserted except from the fresh trail left by vehicles. At the far right was the high way that led to Onitsha. There was a kind of unnerving silence around but it was broken by the splashes of Mmri Ocha.
The driver hissed as our vehicle got stuck again in a sand dune. We alighted so as to reduce the burden of the vehicle. We spotted some abandoned dilapidated buildings around but our mind was on the mine so we never gave it a second thought. The crashing sound of Mmiri ocha was also closer than ever.
We got back into our ride and continued our journey. We stopped when we saw a deserted tunnel. “Is this the coal mine?’’ we sighed disappointingly but there was no one to answer. A vegetable farm adorned it front, and we were sceptical of going through it as we did not want to step on the plants.
|ugu vegetable farm|
A truck roared by and I immediately flagged it down. The driver said he had no idea of any mine around. We had no choice but to explore by ourselves so we skipped over the vegetables to get to the entrance. Out of the tunnel flowed clear pristine water through a channel. Mud was used to create a walk way by the left corner. We marvelled at the site. I wondered how the miners crawled into the dark hole not minding if it will collapsed on them, besides it, some series of steps led to God knows where.
|glimpse of the tunnel|
The other building which was shaped liked an upside down funnel attracted us; we followed the body of water towards it. Some parts of it had chirped off so we walked into it with caution. What we saw blew our mind. We carefully stooped to feel the water flowing out of it. The coolness stung our hands but we didn’t care. This tunnel had a concrete walkway and canal. The temperature was cool but darkness shielded the end of it.
|the second tunnel|
My daring friend suggested we explore it but I declined as the tunnel didn’t look safe. I wandered what animal had taken over this place as it abode. I wondered what lurked in the shadows. I wondered if it watched us as we giggled and chatted inside.
Our driver grew impatient he roared his engine to alert us. We ignored him. We decided to trace the water. As we stepped outside into the light I was lost in reverie, all the abandoned building made sense to me. I could see the administrative building bustling with life, the miners blackened by the coal armed with shovels and pick axes streaming out of the tunnel with coal in their buckets. The train whistling from a distance, the colonial masters barking orders at the miners and the women with their babies strapped at their backs selling all sorts of assortments to them. My friend woke me up from my day dream, and then we saw a huge chasm besides a building, we moved forward to catch a glimpse, then we saw the canal emptying into a stream!
The splashing sound increased, I almost ran out of breath as it dawned on me that this was the source of Mmri Ocha. My friends and I were delighted, so these were the grooves of trees I couldn’t get pass the other time. We giggled, laughed and almost cried, in fact it a joy only a true adventurer or explorer could feel. Our driver watched irritably as we behaved like excited children, he roared his engine once more and drove off. This time we had to run after him, he stopped at a distance then we joined him.
|the water emptying into Mmri Ocha|
|my friend getting a glimpse of the spectacle|
|our angry driver zooming off|
At the roundabout in new market Enugu capital, there stand statures to commemorate the late 21 miners that were shot by the British colonial policemen in Nov 18th1949 for going on strike. Our driver said the exact spot was where they were killed. May their gentle souls rest in Perfect peace.
Hiking the hills of ekoyi iheaka