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[Nigeria]Nigerian glossary



Filed under: bradt,friends,travel — kevin @ 08:34

My trip finished up back in Abuja, after another unpleasant journey. This time I just missed the first New Bussa to Suleja car and the second one took four and a half hours to fill. Then we had a blowout just outside Bida, with the driver whinging that somebody had cut his tyre. I was pretty sure it was more likely just down to lack of maintenance, given that the car’s exhaust had already dropped off, most of the door handles didn’t work and most other parts were damaged or worn out.

Dropping in Suleja gave me my first opportunity to use one of Abuja’s big green buses. They have a little desk for the conductor, behind the driver, where he collects your money before letting you through a turnstile. I noticed that occasionally they’d let passengers on through the back door instead, ensuring that they weren’t counted by the turnstile, I wonder where the money from those fares went?

The next day was my last chance to see Dave before he headed home, we went to Sitar Indian Restaurant for lunch. I’d never been there before, it’s very good but also very expensive.


My last Kabba weekend?

Filed under: friends,travel,VSO — kevin @ 20:08

It has been a long time since my last weekend in Kabba, so I was glad when the Kabba Boys got in touch to invite me again. A large group of VSOs, Irish embassy staff and various others descended on Kabba for conversation, beer, crazy golf and even hungover hiking.

The Kabba Boys are moving to Bauchi later this year and their final Kabba party will be after I leave Nigeria, so this was probably my last weekend there. The next few months are going to be full of “last”s, building up the combination of sadness and excitement that comes with finishing something.


In Abuja

Filed under: friends,tech,VSO — kevin @ 15:42

I just travelled down to Abuja for tomorrow’s VSO Leavers’ Forum. They’ve still not quite explained what it’s for and what we’re going to be doing (helpful as apparently I’m facilitating) but it’s a good excuse to meet up with lots of people.

The journey down was uneventful and I was having trouble staying awake, as usual. It is always amazing to see the change in scenery caused by the little rain we’ve had so far. Bright green grass is starting to cover the deep red soil and the dust has washed off everything, making it all look fresh and new.

The bush taxi journeys have been more enjoyable since I got back from my holiday in April. At Schiphol I bought myself a set of noise cancelling earphones (Sony MDR-NC22, review), the idea being that I can listen to my iPod without having it turned up to ear-destroying volume. I was surprised to find that they actually work really well in cars, given that they’re really designed for use in aircraft. The tight-fitting earphones block out a lot of noise by themselves and the active noise cancellation circuitry is very effective at reducing the wind and road noise.

Abuja is changing rapidly, I think I notice the differences more since I moved to Kaduna. New road junctions, construction sites for new buildings and a rash of new street signs and signs indicating the way to major landmarks. Somewhere in the city there’s even a building site that’s the beginning of Abuja’s rail mass transit scheme.

While I was writing yesterday’s post I had to sit out on my doorstep to get a decent wireless signal. As I was typing away one of the conference centre staff strolled past to the grassy area opposite my house, stripped off and started having a shower. Seems odd given the huge number of empty rooms in the place, maybe management won’t let staff use them or maybe he just prefers showering outdoors.


Weekend in Kagoro

Filed under: friends,travel,VSO — kevin @ 15:20

Hiromi will be leaving soon so she organised a leaving celebration at her house in Kagoro, in the south-east of Kaduna state. I didn’t have my camera with me, but Aine, Julia and Thessa should have some pictures.

Twelve of us appeared from various parts of northern Nigeria on Friday afternoon, meeting up at a hotel in nearby Kafanchan for dinner and drinks. Lots of people I hadn’t seen for a while were there, so it was a chance to catch up.

Hiromi had even arranged for a minibus to collect us from the hotel and take us back to her house. A few of us then made our way to a nearby bar for one last beer. We then managed to find somewhere for everyone to sleep, using the available beds, spare mattresses, karrimats and sofas.

Hiromi’s new housemate Nathan had only arrived in Nigeria the evening before and already his house was full of VSOs and one of them (me) sleeping on a mattress on his bedroom floor.

The next morning we were up fairly early, with most of us heading off into the nearby hills to visit a little village there. It seemed fairly cool when we started but we were all soon soaked in sweat. The start of the walk is along a viaduct built in the 70’s by the Kaduna water board, it carries the pipes from a spring/pond to the waterworks. After that it’s a fairly rocky path, levelling out and getting less rocky towards the village.

As usual, we were being passed regularly by local women and children carrying enormous loads up and down the hill.

Once we got up to the plateau at the top and passed through a natural arch of enormous boulders we were in the village of Dutse. The name means “mountain” or “rock” in Hausa and is a very common place name in northern Nigeria. It’s also very difficult to pronounce correctly, the “ts” is actually a sound that doesn’t exist in English, a sort of explosive, glottal-stop “s”, there’s a guide to Hausa pronouciation at UCLA’s excellent Hausa site.

We spent quite a while sitting in the sunshine in the village. There’s not a lot there but the views down on to the plains below were beautiful and the local children seemed to find us amusing. We could have bought fresh honey but nobody had brough anything to carry it in.

Going back down was much easier. Thessa, Nathan and I went via the market to pick up some akara for lunchtime snacks. Hiromi had managed to arrange (from up in the hills) for some water to be delivered so we could wash off all the sweat.

Hiromi also cooked for us, rice with Japanese and Korean curry sauces, a nice change from our usual food here.

In the evening a few people went out on reconnaisance missions to locate somewhere with cold beer (there had been no power for most of the day), eventually most of us made our way to a nice little local bar for a few bottles of Gulder (or Star). Beer always tastes better after an exhausting day.

Yesterday’s trip back to Kaduna was a little trying. We had to hang around in the motor park at Kafanchan for ages while the car filled. The driver wasn’t very good and seemed to have a disagreement with the staff at the filling station. Then we broke down not far out of Kafanchan.

We were glad when he managed to fix it, some problem related to the carburettor had been making the whole car stink of petrol. We then refuelled again along the way, with bitter complaints from the driver about the price of fuel.

It seems he was so unhappy about the price that he didn’t bother to buy enough, so we ran out at Maraba, just outside Kaduna. By a stroke of luck we were close to a filling station and they had fuel. More complaints from the driver.

By the time we finally reacher Kaduna I was hot and tired, so when the driver started taking both hands off the wheel to gesture while talking to some passengers I was maybe a little too forceful in requesting that he stop driving like an idiot.



Filed under: friends,travel,VSO — kevin @ 09:43

Marion and I popped up to Zaria on Sunday to see some of the VSOs who are at the Theatre for Development workshop up there. A few of us then went into town for lunch and a stroll around the old city.

A gateway building with brightly-coloured patterns painted on it. A green and yellow house with bright patterns painted above the door.  A Mercedes is parked outside. A traditional Hausa house, painted white with a sign saying 'Peter's Photo Studio'

The traditional houses in Zaria often seem to be brightly painted, the Emir’s palace (on the left) was the first of these we saw. Strolling through the old city we came across several more in a similar style and also some traditional buildings with more modern uses.

There would have been more pictures but my camera has developed an intermittent fault. Sometimes it seems to be getting no signal from the image sensor, giving all-black pictures. I’m hoping it lasts for my remaining time in Nigeria.


The Imam and the Pastor

Filed under: films,friends,VSO — kevin @ 11:36

Nentawe (a young guy working with local youth groups) invited us to the Kaduna premiere of a new film, The Imam and the Pastor. It’s a film about two religious leaders who, in their youth, belonged to religious militias in Kaduna but have since reconciled and joined to promote peace. Their organisation has its own web site: The Inter-Faith Mediation Centre.

It’s very well presented and interesting, a mixture of footage of the two going about their work and interviews about their past and present. There’s also some archive footage from the various clashes that they are working to present a recurrence of. The segment showing the mass graves at Yelwan Shendam is particularly powerful.

Afterwards there were to be questions and answers. This being Nigeria, instead we got speeches from the representatives of the various bigwigs who’d been invited but couldn’t be bothered to turn up. Finally, two questions were allowed. Both people asked if there were going to be more showings of the film, especially in schools.

It seems that the filmmakers are hoping for funding and support to translate the film into local languages and they also plan to show it internationally in other conflict areas.


Yankari National Park

Filed under: friends,travel,VSO — kevin @ 11:38

Thessa organised a trip to Yankari, partly to celebrate her birthday and partly as a send-off for Pete and Mary.

Most of us met up in Bauchi motor park and then chartered a minibus to take us to Wikki camp, where the accommodation is. The journey wasn’t too bad, the park is currently being renovated and this includes surfacing the road from the entrance to Wikki. The accommodation and facilities are a bit run-down but we were lucky and managed to see quite a few animals.
A large round building in ugly grey concrete A sign with several of the arms pointing at the ground INSERT ALT TEXT



Filed under: friends,travel,VSO — kevin @ 11:26

On our way to spend the weekend in Yankari National Park Marion, Kristel and I spent the night at Siv’s place in Gindiri, Plateau State. He’s working at the College of Education there.
Low sun through trees Small yellow house, three people standing on the verandah

It’s a lovely place and he has a nice little house there. The college staff club has the best suya I’ve had in Nigeria.


In Cambridge

Filed under: friends,travel — kevin @ 09:24

After arriving back in Scotland and spending a couple of days with my family (including Dad’s 60th birthday) I’m now down in Cambridge visiting old friends there.

It’s slightly weird to be back in Cambridge. I’m not having any serious culture shock or anything, just a kind of mild bewilderment. One of the oddest parts was flying down to Birmingham and collecting a hire car, it’s a while since I last drove and British roads now seem incredibly orderly to me!

Everyone has been talking about what a mild October it is, while I’m feeling the cold.

On Wednesday evening I’ll be heading through to Norfolk to visit my grandparents.


Zule-Zoo at the NAF Club (or not)

Filed under: friends,music,VSO — kevin @ 10:14

A small stage with a crowd of people sitting at plastic tables in front of it

One of the things I’ve been enjoying a lot in Nigeria is the music, even if a few songs do get played just a little bit too much.

On Wednesday we were all (that’s all the VSOs attending the workshop) having dinner in a very busy local chophouse, I noticed a poster for a concert at the NAF Club in Kaduna. It was to be the launch of a local band’s first album but what caught my eye was that Zule-Zoo were playing (they’re one of my favourite Nigerian groups).

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