If a Fulani man tells you something is just up the road, you better pack an extra pair of shoes because you will wear your first pair out walking.
In July we travelled North to see the city of Kano. Here is the story:
On Sunday we loaded up our car and headed North- to Kano. Kano is the oldest city in West Africa and the 2nd largest city in Nigeria. The state it is in- also called Kano- is a Muslim state and ruled by Sharia Law. Only about 1 percent of the population is Christian. We had heard about Kano before coming to Nigeria and were excited to go up and visit, to see if it might be a possible future location for us to do ministry in. There are two main people groups in Kano- the Hausa and the Fulani. Traditionally, Fulani are nomadic cattle ranchers and farmer.
Our friend and language teacher, Abdullahi, is Fulani. His father was forced to flee his village when he converted to Christianity. His father is now a missionary, working among the Fulani of Northern Nigeria and Niger. Abdullahi and his wife, Bamyil, accompanied us for our trip, as did our friends, the Camiolas. The plan was for Abdullahi to take us to visit his mother's village while we were in Kano.
So, Sunday morning we headed out ¦.our car filled with luggage and coolers- so that we could bring back cheese and butter as it's much cheaper in Kano. We were told it is better to travel on a weekend day as there are not as many road blocks ¦well, we counted 20 on our way! Fortunately, most were military road blocks put there to prevent highway robbery, so they did not stop us. It took about 4 ½ hours to arrive in Kano. We first went to the guesthouse to check in and then the plan was to have lunch at Pizza Hott, the local pizza place (every time a Nigerian spoke of it we thought they were saying Pizza Hut!).
Abdullahi is not too familiar with Kano so he got directions from a friend. Well, needless to say, we got way lost! We made a square around the downtown market area numerous times. Finally I spoke with Mary, the missionary there, and she directed us down the correct route. Once there the pizza was worth waiting for! They brought out circles of dough covered in sauce and most importantly, mounds of cheese! It was the best pizza we ™ve had in Nigeria.
After pizza we decided to go to the fabric market and see about buying some fabric. A lot of the fabric in Nigeria is made in Kano, so it is cheaper to buy it there. Well, the fabric market is 10 times the size of the one in Jos and it was so overwhelming! The hour we had to shop was not enough to make a decision as to what to buy.
By the time we finished with the shopping we were all so tired that we just went back to our hotels to sleep! This was the first time for Caden to sleep in a big-boy bed that is not his own. The experience started out ok but he woke up at 1:30 and would not go back to sleep. He and I were up until 4:30! Needless to say I was a bit grumpy the next morning.
So, Monday morning the plan was to drive to the Fulani village where Abdullahi is from. We headed out for what was to be an hour journey. We brought a bag of granola and a few bottles of water to have for a snack. The drive was pleasant enough, we were seeing many villages along the road and the buildings in the villages were different from the ones in our state. Our conversation was good and we were all excited to be going to the village. Then our friend had us stop to ask about the directions. After stopping he seemed to thing we were going in the right direction so we kept going. 2 hours later we ended up in Duce, the capital of the new state of Jigawa ¦nowhere near our friend's village! The option was to drive the 2 hours back to Kano or 2 more hours to the village (which would leave us an hour away from Kano). We decided to continue to the village. Well, 2 hours and many stops for direction later we found out that we were still over an hour from the village. By this time the 5 kids with us (as well as us adults) were tired, hungry, and in need of a restroom! So, we decided to head on back to Kano without seeing the village. Apparently, Abdullahi's friend who gave us direction misunderstood where we wanted to go, so after 5 hours of driving we did a triangle that took us from Kano, through Jigawa state, and back. We did see a lot of interesting landscape and many villages and towns.
After grabbing a bite to eat and resting a bit, our Nigerian friends decided to go to the village in a taxi, since their family was disappointed not to see them. We had made arrangements for Mary to show us the ministries SIM is involved with in Kano. There used to be quite a large SIM presence in Kano but years ago there were some problem, so SIM left Kano, leaving the Nigerian denomination, ECWA in charge of the ministries. Now, it is safe to live in Kano again, so there are 3 families and 2 singles who will be involved (at the moment all but Mary were on Home Assignment). Mary explained that since the Nigerians are better suited to do ministry in that region, SIM's strategy is to support the church and help with training and equipping. She showed us a resource center and library run by SIM, a sewing ministry, and 2 ECWA hostels that board children whose parents are missionaries and children who live in villages but whose parents want them educated in the city. Unfortunately, there is not adequate funding for these hostels and they are in poor condition. Plus, there isn't money to pay for enough staff- each hostel has one house parent that is there on a part-time basis ¦and all together the 3 buildings (one for girls, two for boys) houses over 200 students! Mary is working on raising the funds to dig a bore-hole to provide water for the boys ™ houses and their neighborhood. At the moment the boys walk 10 minutes to get water.
Once our tour was over we returned home to rest before heading out to dinner as the restaurant we were going to did not open until 7. Well, when it was time to leave, I locked us out of the house! This delayed us as we had to find the landlady to let us back in! Once we got that sorted out, Mary took us to a beautiful Chinese restaurant. When we walked in, we all said, We're not in Nigeria anymore! There were 12 of us all together so they put us in the VIP room. This worked great as the kids were getting tired and there was room for them to run around. Plus, we didn't bother the other diners! We ordered a ton of food and ate almost every bit of it. It was so good! Plus, it was really nice to be out at night. We don't go out at night much in Jos since there is not much to do.
Tuesday morning we got up and packed, changed a tire with a bent rim, took the tire to be repaired, then headed to do a little more shopping and site-seeing. We bought some fabric to cover a few sofa cushions, then headed to the dye-pits to see how they dye fabric. That was interesting. They have these deep wells that they fill with water and natural ingredients to make dye. Right now they are dying things blue. They use indigo flowers, potassium, and ash from a fire to make the dye. The large vats of dye are used for one year! They dye fabric that is bought with patterns in it, and they also do beautiful tie-dye. We walked through a neighborhood to see the woman who tied the knots for the tie-dye. It is not an easy job.
Kano is a large city and the traffic is awful , so by the time we were done with the Dye=pit, it was time to have lunch and prepare to leave. So, we headed back to Pizza Hott for another round of the delicious pizza before leaving Kano. We had planned to depart by 2:00 but due to some miscommunication we did not get on the road until after 3:00 ¦not good as the roads are not great to drive on after dark.
The positive about traveling at night as there are not as many road blocks. However, we didn't get to the worst part of the road until after dark and it was raining. We hit a huge pot-hole and ¦click-click-click ¦the rim of a tire was bent and the tire was flat! So, not only was it after dark and raining, but now we had to drive even slower as we don't yet have a full-sized spare! We arrived home very grateful to be here at 8:30 PM!
Although our journey to Kano was full of wrong turns, long car rides, dust, heat, trash (the city is very dirty), flat tires, and frustration, we did come home with some great pictures, cheese, butter, and lots of memories! Plus, we now appreciate our small city of Jos so much more