Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Barka da Salah

The week before last was the end of Ramadam, and Thursday and Friday were public holidays, so I went with some of my fellow volunteers to Kano to see the Durbar.  I travelled with Viola and Richard, in this car on another terrifying Nigerian journey, but we arrived in one piece if with slightly raised blood pressure. On arrival we went off to find Sophie’s house a volunteer who lives in Kano.

Richard in the car, or a coke advert?
Due to the moon, Thursday was still a fasting day, but when we woke on Friday, the streets were full of people in their best clothes, shouting Barka da Salla, and eating and drinking in daylight hours for the first time in 40 days. It felt at bit like Christmas Eve in Britain though rather a lot warmer!
We spent Friday, pottering around Kano, enjoying the party atmosphere, there were horses everywhere ready for the Durbar, in the afternoon we headed for Kurmi market, one of the supposedly biggest and oldest markets in West Africa. Don’t go on Friday afternoon, we left soon after arriving, of course it was prayer time and most shops were closed.  And then we found cold beer, in Sabon Gari, Sharia Law?
A cold beer (or several) on a hot day
and then it got dark

Saturday morning took us up the hill, to see the view, and then to the Durbar. The Durbar is an ancient ceremony where the Emir checks his military might, so tribal leaders, dress up themselves and their horses and come to greet the Emir.
The Emir in a silly hat with a big umbrella

It was also a great opportunity for crowd watching as cameras were welcome and everyone was dressed in their best outfits, including young girls complete with make up jewellery and handbags.
The next day we were invited to another ceremony at Government house, where I found myself in a seat market “Diplomat”. (Apparently there was a shortage of diplomats travelling to Kano, all due to some Christian who wanted to burn the Koran at Ground Zero in New York on Sept 11th, their embassies had warned them not to travel to Northern Nigeria, fearing repercussion.) Fortunately no-one warned us so we ended up at a rather amazing ceremony!)

At the ceremony the Emir arrived  and his rather fine carers / bodyguards? and the local government chiefs (all male) paid homage taking turns to kneel on the floor and bow their heads all the way to the ground. The only women present were “diplomats”.

We were then ushered out by our host to get a very fine view of the tribal leaders on their horses, (unfortunately my camera battery had died by then!) and then the three of us who were travelling back to Abuja dashed off to the motor park, for a rather death defying trip home, just think James Bond at 140kmph and throw in a few pot holes, at least on the way back we didn’t have to worry about whether the driver had taken food or water since dawn!

More people watching pictures
More Durbar pictures

More Diplomat Emir pictures

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