Anyone who has passed this route doesn’t need any further explanation.
Over the Christmas holidays last year, my dad and I were to undertake a fun road trip from Abuja to our village in Anambra state. While we deliberated over the best routes, I suggested we pass through Milliken hill road and what I got was a loud “God forbid!”
My dad went on to tell me how the road gave him nightmares as a child, and it was too dangerous to go there with me. When I retorted that I had driven through it in 2017, his eyes went wide as discs, then he shook his head and replied, “the problem is that you don’t hear word.”
He doesn’t even know the half of it (LOL).
Milliken Hill road is a 4.8km long and narrow highway at the cliff edge of the hill, constructed in colonial times due to coal discovery on the hill. It was named after the head engineer who designed the road. Beneath the hill is Iva Valley, the popular old coal mines which gave Enugu its slogan — the coal city.
Just like we see snake roads in Hollywood movies, Milliken hill road winds up the hill and is bounded one side by a solid rock and at the other by a deep valley where people plunge to their deaths. The road has many sharp bends along its course and this had caused several accidents in the past. However, driving through the road can be a beautiful experience because of the plush greenery and the trees that form a canopy or natural tunnel over the road. You get the picture.
From the state’s capital, Enugu, the road leads to Ngwo village where the popular Ngwo pine forest, caves and waterfalls are located.
One day, while living and working Enugu, I and a friend decided to take a trip to Ngwo to hike and chase waterfalls. It was less-than-an-hour’s journey from the city center, so i thought it would be okay to drive there.
Food packed and car fueled, we set out, using Google Maps (more on the horrors of using Google Maps in Enugu later).
This would be a great time to mention that, the night before, I had read all about the haunting of 21 miners who were unfairly massacred in Iva Valley coal mines and how their cries can still be heard till there. Read about the legend here.
On the way to Ngwo, when Maps told me I was driving over Iva Valley, I was partly excited that my adventures were materializing before me. On the other hand, the road was frighteningly new to me so I had to completely concentrate on grabbing the steering wheel a little more tightly than I normally would. Thankfully, we got to Ngwo in one piece, had the time of our lives and took amazing pictures.
On the way back though, I felt I was a bit more familiar with the road and since the road was a bit lonely this time, I decided to drive slowly and make a video. I was able to capture the meanders, greenery, the tunnel-like canopies the trees formed over the road, and many other things I had no idea about. It was all very thrilling.
The next morning, I thought to review my Instagram Story which was full of random videos and pictures I had taken of my trip.
While watching the video of my drive through Milliken hill, what i heard sent chills through my whole body.
Almost at the end of the video was a loud, frightening shriek that echoed throughout the hills and through my phone.
“Was that a scream?” “How did I miss that yesterday?”
I immediately posted it on my main page and asked my followers if I was hearing right. Their reactions were the same. Some said I should leave Enugu immediately (LOL).
I try not to think too much about it. Till today, a part of me still hopes that it was the cry of an animal and not what we’re all thinking.
Though it now has a complete makeover — smooth roads, streetlights and concrete kerbs — Milliken hill, to me, will always represent something dark and esoteric, another mystery that has not been solved.