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Calabar is the capital of Cross River State, a state in the Southern region of Nigeria. The town, which was first known as “Akwa Akpa” and later changed to “Calabar” by a Portuguese explorer, was once the “capital” of our great country, Nigeria. In the 18th century, Calabar was the base of the Europeans due to its proximity to the port, and there, they traded in slaves. Slave trade increased among the people until early 19th century when it was banned by the British government, precisely in 1808, and officially ceased in 1842, when the two kings of Duke Town and Creek Town signed a treaty to officially end slave trade. Afterwards, slave trade was replaced by palm oil and palm kernel export. In 1846, with the support of King Eyo of Creek Town, a Christian mission was established between Duke Town and Henshaw Town by the United Presbyterian Church, which  was headed by Rev. Hope Waddell and supported by Hugh Goldie. At this time, human sacrifice – sacrificing of wives and slaves for the burial of an important man – was a common practice among the people of Calabar. The British tried to put an end to this act without success until 1846, when the chiefs requested the protection of the British for Calabar . Although Lord Palmerston, in 1848, refused them the offer, saying there was no need for it, the British promised to treat them favourably if they would stop the human sacrifice practices. After King Eyamba of Duke Town died in 1847, Archibong Duke was selected as the new king, although it was proposed that King Eyo was made the sole ruler to which the elders of Duke Town disagreed. In 1850, the two kings, Archibong Duke and King Eyo, both agreed to suppress human sacrifice. The influence of the British grew among the people of Calabar; the chiefs placed themselves under British protection in 1884; the royal regalia used in the occasion of the coronation of King Archibong III in 1878 was sent by Queen Victoria of United Kingdom. Thence, in 1884, Calabar was named as the headquarters of the Niger Coast Protectorate. Calabar remained the capital or headquaters until 1906 when Lagos became the new headquarter (capital).     References   Feature Image from:  

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This article was first published on 31st July 2018

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