Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Zaria Eid El Mawlid
We took an overnight trip to Zaria during Eid El Mawlid, a celebration of Muhammad's birthday. Zaria is a mostly Muslim town about 4 hours north of Abuja, with very ancient traditions. Tourism is such an underdeveloped business in Nigeria that it was difficult to try to find the places we wanted to see. However, we did find the Emir's Palace, old leather dying pits, the old city's mud walls where people from over 400 years ago have been laid to rest, and hung out with a chief and observed his business of caftan (the long Muslim traditional clothing) pounding. On our way through Kaduna we stopped for a stroll around the Magistrate's House. There were fruit bats swarming around the grounds. Once we approached one of their main roosting trees found that they were so active because there were men hunting them with sling shots. The people eat them and also use their parts for traditional medicine. Lulu collected a crowd near the Emir's Palace. The children were frightened of her and awstruck at the same time. We walked through the crowd during a parade, and accidentally became part of the event, as it was a parade to celebrate different cultures. Here the men are pounding the caftans, to make them ironed and shiny. We passed the Kaduna River on our way home and stopped to hang out with some locals who were harvesting the sand from the river for construction. A few were digging and building piles on the shore while others were loading the sand into metal buckets of which they carried on their heads up to the roadside, about 300 meters over and up. It was hard physical labor.