During the Muslim Id-el-fitri and ID-el-kabir holidays, traditional Durbar celebrations are held in the main squares of many major northern towns. Villagers from a large area join in the one to two day clebrations consisting of colourful parade, charges by brightly adnored armed horsemen, dancing and etertainment. The Durbar festival at Katsina is one of the most spectacular. Sokoto, Maiduguri, Zaria and kano are also known for their Durbars.
During Sallah, the requirement to fast makes people weak as no food or water is taken during daylight hours. Office hours are subject to change and events should be carefully scheduled to avoid lunch food events during daylights hours.
As with Christmas time for Christians, cards are exchanged during Eid and gifts and new clothes are given. Acknowlegdement of the holiday season by asking. “How is the fasting?” is appreciated. Also, in hosting Muslim friends when it is time to “break fast”, something sweet and light like fresh fruit or porridge is an appropriate meal to offer. The dates for the muslim festivals vary greatly depending upon the movement of the moon.
One of the most popular singers in Nigeria (and Africa in general) was Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Fela’s music was influenced by the Black consciousness movement in the United States in the 1960s (he met malcom X in 1964) and the soul sounds of James brown. fela is no longer alive, but he created and performed an Afro-beat sytle fused with America blues, jazz, funk, soul and traditional Yoruba music. His lyrics often contained politcal messages. King Sunny Ade, who still perforns, is another popular singer. he is the king and creator of a popular sytle of music called “juju”, which uses a combination of guitars, traditional drums and vocals. One of his most popular albums is “juju Music” (1982)
Femi Anikulapo -Kuti (son of Fela) performs modern jazz and “afro
blues.” Bobby benson performs a mixture of traditional African music with
up-tempo trumpets. Taxi Driver” is a famous song about the traffic jams “go
slows: in Lagos Sunny Okosun plays funk/highlife/Afro pop music genre
called Afro-Soul. Ebenezer plus and the Ghetto Biasters. “Age”
(Age Beeka) is a very highly talented Abuja-based singer-songwriter who performs contemporary music and is quite popualr with the international residents in Abuja. There are several places that music can be purchased including video shops (e.g 9-11). supermarkets and street vendors. A couple of record stores recommended by our readers are:
Emab Plaza C17
Aminu Kano Crescent
Wuse II, Abuja
Grand Square record Shop
Central Area, Abuja
Nigeria has produced some of the most acclaimed and prolific writers in the world. Wole Soyinka who was the first Africa to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1986) is well known as a play writings, poet, novelist amd critic. The Political nature of some of his writings landed him in jail during the military regime. Among his writings are The Man Died, trial Brother jero, The Lion and Jewel (1959) and The road (1965). Chinua Achebe is another renowned novelist. Among his works are Things Fall Apart(1958). Anthills of the Savannah (1987) and the children’s book, How the Leopard Got His Claws (1973).
Nigeria lost a wonderful writer in Kenule (Ken) Saro-Wawa, who was executed by
the millatry regime for his political writings. Flora Nwapa is well
known for re-creating Igbo life from a woman’s viewpoint Never Again (1975) and cassava Song and Rice Song (1986) are some of her famous books. Amos Tutuola is best known for his novel The Palm-wine Drinkard and his Dead Palmwriters include Ben Okri, Buch Emecheta and Cyrian Ekensi. See ‘Staying
in Touch’ for bookstores where these and other good literature can be purchased.
Nigerian dress is not dull. There is a wonderful array of fabrics, colour styles available to both men nd women. The traditional warapper” worn by the women is a useful item that travels amd washes well. it serve as a skirt, shawl, unmbrella, blanket, tying cloth to’back’ babies, towel, picni blanket and a corner of it often serves as a purse. Several areas of Wuse market have ‘ready made’ clothes. However, don’t be confused by the tailors that are displaying things sewn for other prople. There are may tailors found in the market, in their own shops, or carrying their sewing machines around the city on their own shoulders ready to mnd things at your door. There re also a number of designers. Some are willing to come to your house. Finding one that does good work, on time and for a good price is a bit more difficult. If they are very good they tend to be very busy and it can take a long time to get your work done. Try the following and it can take a long time to get your work done. try the following.
Art and Crafts Work
Handicrafts can be purchased at the airport, hotels and markets and may include; sculpted wood objects, mask, Yoruba statuettes, calabashes, leather goods, crocodile and snake skins, horn, pottery, cloth (batik, adire, Aso-Oke), jewellery (coral, malachite, ivoy), wickerwork(baskets) and musical instruments. remember that buying crocodile, ivory and other animal goods encourages killing. importing some of these other animal goods encourages killing. Importing some of these items to other countries is illegal without special permit, which may result in heavy fines in Europe and the United States.
Tourist Spots Around Abuja
Markets in Outlying Villages
There are a number of small village markets and pottery workshops outside Abuja. Some specialise in certain crafts and some will be found only on the day of the week noted as their market day.
On Fridays there is a small village market with local fruit and vegetables and wooden pounding bowls. A.B.U. is on the left side of airport road before the airport turn off travelling from Abuja.
On Tuesdays and Saturday there is a Fulani Local Market. To get there, go out on Kaduna road, follow signs to Usman Dam, turn left before the Usman Dam gates, past Ushafa village (where there is a good lottery village) and follow the road to Bwari . the market is on the left hand side.
This market is held on Saturdays. It is located 16 kilometers from Abuja, off airport road.
On Thursday, there is a large market that sells everything including woven baskets, calabashes, enamel pots etc.
On Fridays there is a village market with locl fruit and vegetables, breads and pots. There is a pottery village with good pots for planters located here as well. it near Abuja on the Kaduna road, just before the Quarry.
There a number of pottery places near Usman Dam (on the way to Kaduna) at Ushafa and Bwari, as well as one selling big vases and pots near the airport.
Ushafa (also refered to as “Bill Clinton Village”)
Ushafa Village is about 30 kilometers from Abuja on the road from Dutse to
Usman and Bwari. To get there, go out on Kaduna road, follow signs to Usman Dam, instead of turning right to the Usman Dam gates, follow the road left to the junction. There is road construction in that area at the moment to ask traders in the area for the pottery workshop-pottery and terra cotta items.
Bwari Village is another 20 minutes past Ushafa and can be reached by going
left at the junction that will take you to Ushafa village. Folow the road to
Bwari and at the ‘T’ junction by the traffic controller (‘yellow Fever’) turn
left, and go past the Law School. Look for the thatched Mbya 09 0809529. He cn
organise a tour and demonstration as well as pottery activities for kids. there
is also a nice place fo BBQ and picnics.
Kaduna was established as an administrative centre by Lord Lugard in 1913. The Polo grounds still host a polo tournament every October/November. The museum on Ali Akilu Road with a crafts shop behind it is a worth a visit. There is a small street of shops with Malian Batik and tie-dyeing near the polytechnic. The Arewa Centre has one of the better bookshops, Havila Pottery Village (formerly Jacaranda), Mastsirga Waterfalls , Kangimi Dam and Kagoro Hills. Check out the NAF (Nigerian Air Force) Club for good live music Friday and saturday nights. The french Cafe is worth stopping at for bread, coffee and meals. This is an actual tourist resort with quad bikes, horse-riding, pedal boating and a swimming pool. Food and rooms are also available.
Zaria is one hour drive from Kaduna, an interesting old town to explore. Check out the beautifully painted Emir’s palace, where an impressive durbar festival is held every year. The Teejay palace hotel.
The name of the twon come from the Gwari words :mi”, meaning “to distribute” and “Na”, meaning “fire”. The city was originally situated on hill surrounded by Gwari vilages. One of the customs was for all the villages to put out all their fires and go in search of new fire in the town of Minna. There are Fulani villages to visit, a very good boarding school, and Maizube farms. Shiroro International Hotels is one place to stay.
A nice sstop over for a picnic and a stretch on the way from Abuja to Jos. On the left hand side of the road, just after Gimi, you will see small signs for “tourist area.
Jos is one of the most easily accessible towns outside Abuja and provides a pleasant respite from the heat as it is located on a plateau, 12, 000 metres above sea level. the drive is beautiful and takes four hours. There is an excellent museum with replicas of different kinds of Nigerian architecture.
There are several good restaurants. For good snacks nd excellent home made cakes and ice cream, visit the Afri-One internet cafe on the main street. Fans of Dairyland products can sample their fresh milk, cheese and yoghurt and the Dairyland cafe. Execellent vegetables cm ne bought from local markets outside Jos. There are several mission guest-house that will put people up for the night, or hotels (Hill Station, Plateau are the older ones). Other spots of interest are the zoo and the Jos Wildlife Park. The Shere Hills are less than an hours drive and provide a good spot to picnic and scramble on the boulders. Rayfield lake is an ol tin-mining site often used for swimming and boating. Kurra Falls, a NESCO (Nigeria Electrical Supply Corporation) hydro-electric water development of a series of dams set in the rolling countryside is a nice place to camp, swim in the lake and go for walks. Also worth mentioning are Kerang Volcanic Mountains amd Wase Rock.
Nigeria’s main northern city is not to be missed. Kano is artchitecturally akind culturally different from the South and the East. Dating more than a thousand years, it was for centuries one of the most active commercial centres in West Africa. Kumi market is still the site of oneof the largest, and oldest, markets in Africa. Spots of interest are the museum, the old town and city walls, the Emir’s palace, the central mosque, the British Council building and the dye pits. the twice yearly Durban horse festival to celebrate Eid is very impressive. Tickets to view the procession from the Emir’s palace can be bought from the British Council. there is excelent (but expensive) accomodation at the Prince Hotel, tamandu Road, Off Audu Bako way, Nassarawa,
Kano Tel: 064-629402, 633393, Fax: 064-635944) which has a pool, kokr La
Locanda, 40 Sultan Road, Tel: 064-648269), which has six guest rooms and is an Italian restaurant and guest-house.
Just northwest of Kano, this 15th century town was a powerful centre of
commerce and iron working. It has one of biggest sallahs in the north with a
long procession of horsemen and entertainers. The Liyafa palace Hotel is
recommended. Places of interest are the old market, dye pits, a museum (not
open on weekends) and a minaret kwhich is all that remains from the first mud
mosque built Katsina You can walk up the outside for good views of the town
Yankari Game Reserve (Bauchi State) (077 542174, 077 543671)
The Yankari game Reserve is about 7.5 hour drive from Abuja and the only
place to see wild animals in their natural habitant. The reserve has elephants,
baboons, monkeys, various types of antelope, buffalo, warthog, hippopotami ,
crododiles and lions. the best time to go is in the dry season from december to
April when it is easier to travel on the roads and the game is more likely
gather at the Gaji River for water. Safari drives, in your own 4 wheel drive
vehicle or an open top lorry, usually go out around 7.30am and 4.00pm. Guides
are over 70 rooms available running from N1500 oer right to N9500. A deposit for
each night is required. Take your passports as you will have to sign in at
thpark gate and pay entrance fees for the vehicle and each person. A fee is
charged for the cameras and swimming in the springs. The warm springs are clear and delightful to swim in day or night.
Take snack food and drinks as the restaurant is adequate but basic. Cooking is not allowed. be careful of the baboons which try to steal anything an can open unlocked doors. You are especially a target if walking about with food. Other items you might appreciate having are candles and bug spray(light coloured clothes are recommended against the tsete fly which bites but carries no disease in this park). Mobile phones have no service in this area and there is no landline at the actual park either.
Lokoja is located at the meeting point of the Niger and benue rivers. It
was an important trade centre and a free zone for runaway salves in eighteen
hundreds. In 1990, It was the capital for nothern Nigeria. The Confluence
Hotel is a big conference centre and hotel on the river outside the town. Places
of interest are the Emirs Palace; Holy Trinity Church with the first primary
school in the North founded in 1865; First Bank of Northern Nigeria with only
the strong room remaining; European cementry; tourist board/museum and colonial
History buildings in the former Senoir Staff Quarters which were prefabricated in Britain and rebuilt with no nails or screws; mount patti for a view of the town and Niger plains, and an old treet with names from colonial times carved in it; the prison in the premises of the Kogi Hotel Ltd-tkhe smaller two-storey building is where prisoners were hung; and the governor’s office.
The Ranch Resort (formerly called Obudu Cattle Ranch), Cross River State Located in the north-east corner of Cross Rivers Satte, close to the Cameroonian border, this cattle Ranch is a popular travel destination. About 7 hours by road from Abuja via Makurdi, the ranch is located in the Obudu Plateau about 60 kilometers from Obudu itself. At cover 1m524 metres, the climate is cool and pleasan. Obudu itsel. At cover 1,524 metre, the climate is cool and pleasant. The landscape is lovely with rolling grasslands, deep wooden valleys and waterfalls. The chalet sytle hotel at the ranch has tennis, mini golf swimming in a natural rock pool and a 9-hole golf course. There are some short marked trails, a forest look-out and local guides who are ager to take groups on day hikes to explore the park. For those with more stamina, 3-6 day hikes can be arranged to track gorrilas. the hotel is part of the protea chain and has recently been renovated, is good quality and suitable for families. Charter flights and weekend deals are also possible.
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
For those desiring to escape from ABuja to “the oasis of NIgeria; the IITA
is a tranquil setting, although not very Nigerian in ambulance. The easiest way
to reach IITA is by Overland Airways direct to Ibadan or fly to Lagos and
arrange transport to Ibadan (about 1 ½ hours). The IITA is set in several
acres of tropical forest and has a good snack bar, excellent restaurant and good
sports facilities including golf course, tennis, fishing lake, swimming pool,
hiking trails and boule. the setting is beautiful and relaxaing. There is a
rainforest trail and lake with the grounds. There are single and simple
resembling a 1960 sytle UK university campus. call (02241
2626) to book a room or email: email@example.com
For those interested in art and music, Oshogbo in Osun State is well worth a
visit. Trips can be arrange via Mrs Nike Davies -Okundaye, from Nike’s Gallery
(08042109380, 0803 3036969)and include a visit to the sacred forest (to see
sacred shrines of various Yoruba gods), time at Nike’s Art School, viewing of
Susan Wenger house and her impressive sculputres, and excellent dance and music performances by local artists. The trips are faily pricey, but are all-inclusive, include good food and excellent accomodation. to get there, fly to Lagos and Nike will arange transport to Oshogbo (4 hours). The colorful Osun festival takes place on the last friday in August.