Friday, August 9, 2013

Africa VI: Nigeria and the Durbar in Kano

We worked in Abuja, the neighborhood, the landscape around Abuja wasn't really interesting except for a river with small rapids. More interesting was the book-fair that happened to be held in the hotel we all stayed. Conversations with some authors were invigorating. I bought "The famished road" by Ben Okri, still a favorite of mine. I lost all the notes, even the camera I took my pictures  with got stolen on the way back. We stumbled upon a large local market on a Yoruba holiday. The way the young men were decked out was wonderful, we spoke, complimented each other on our appearance...
Yet, being in the first team of interpreters, we were taken along to Kano. Not more than ten days before there had been killing among the Christians and the Muslims. Nigeria is a country split in two by their geography: The North, were Kano is, is predominantly Muslim, the South and the coast is mainly Christian. After a meal the whole group was invited by the local Emir. Impressive scenes: upon entering through the gates three warriors dressed in rich colors, shining, glimmering in the noon heat. Unmovable they sat upon their most beautiful horses. Weapon in hand. Just before my assignment I had been in a car accident and my neck was still supported. When leaving the palace of the emir I got jostled a bit by the amount of people around. I man in a well tailored suit, delicately put his arm around my shoulder and guided me unharmed through the masses. We were treated to a Durbar which is  an annual festival celebrated in several cities of Nigeria. It is celebrated at the culmination of Muslim festivals Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. It begins with prayers, followed by a parade of the Emir and his entourage on horses, accompanied by music players, and ending at the Emir's palace. I chose a seat on the third row at the right hand edge, not realizing that the  balcony of the emir was right at the end where I sat. A parade with wooden swords and spears, demonstrations of prowess on horse, foot soldiers and people doing something I could understand. It didn't look like dancing, they were chased away. Only with the third group I realized the people crawled through the sand for their master... All kinds of vendors, jugglers walked by. I could have lost myself in tat town with the dyeing pits with the most extra ordinary colors. My colleagues kind of tugged me along, grabbing me by the arm and  thus breaking the spell... This has been years ago and I can still see the images, still feel the wonder, still smell the testosterone of the warriors. The beauty, the also horrible beauty of it all still lives in me.

No comments:

Post a Comment