The trees on Ibeno Beach, green and fresh, line up along the curved sand strip. They extend almost as long as the beach itself, up to 45 km, across 20 villages from Ibeno to James Town, both in Akwa-Ibom State. The sand is white. The water is blue. Seagulls scream. It is the longest sand beach in West Africa.
In the mid-1880s, a group of Ibeno chiefs asked the Calabar Mission of the Free Church of Scotland to send them a missionary. In December 1887, missionaries arrived at the estuary of the Qua Ibo River, on Ibeno Beach. The Qua Ibo Mission became one of the most successful Christian missions in Nigeria.
From land, visitors watch gas flares from offshore oil platforms far away in the Atlantic. In 2010, an oil spill from ExxonMobil received media coverage.
The beach is considered among Nigeria’s cleanest and most secure. In December, a Christmas funfair is usually held. A dance event, called the Bum Makossa Dance Festival, is often organized, as is the Miss Bikini Beach Carnival. Visitors sun-bath, water-sport, and play beach soccer and beach volleyball.
In the evenings, the water is serene and the breeze washes onto the beach. The water, reportedly, could rise up to 30 metres above sea level and recede up to tens of metres.
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, editor, journalist, and curator. He is Editor of Folio Nigeria, where he profiles innovators and facilitators in culture, art, photography, business, activism, and health. He has vast experience working in literature. He has sat on the judging panels of The Gerald Kraak Prize and of The Morland Writing Scholarship. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria's first queer art collective, and Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. For three years, Nov. 2016 to Apr. 2020, he led the transformation of the literary blog Brittle Paper into a continental powerhouse, ideating and administering The Brittle Paper Awards, the first by an African publication. His work in queer advocacy has been profiled in Literary Hub. In 2019, he won The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among "The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians." He completed a collection of short stories in 2016 and his novel in 2020. Find him on otosirieze.com or on Twitter & Insta: @otosirieze.