Sunday, December 5, 2010
During Thanksgiving weekend we traveled 175 km northwest of Abuja to stay in a guest house of a former president of Nigeria. General Abubakar ruled for a short period until he peaceably handed over the government to democracy in 1999. It is apparent from this residence that he is very wealthy and knows many important people, as is evidenced from numerous pictures displayed throughout the conference room and social areas. We departed Abuja early Thursday morning and our car left us stranded about half way there with a shredded serpentine fan belt and a nonfunctioning pulley. After waiting for about 4 hours in the shady 100 degree Fahrenheit heat along the roadside and being a spectacle for most passersby, we decided to pile all of our belongings into one of the other four vehicles along for the adventure and leave our car at the local police station for the mechanic to repair over the weekend. On Friday we wandered through the bush into some villages to get to know the local and observe their lifestyles. It was a wonderful experience. They have many cows, goats, chickens, dogs, and a lot of crops. The grow guinea corn, yams, potatoes, peppers, bananas, papaya, green beans, and have excellent food storage in small clay huts they build. The homes look small and simple from outside, but are surprising efficient with space and color on the inside. The women take pride in their homes, as is shown through their organization and collection of decorative items. Everywhere we went we were warmly greeted. They were eager to talk with us and the children just swarmed around us. We were the first white people that most of them had ever seen. Some youngsters would approach us with their school books asking questions, using some English words while the toddlers would run away screaming or clinging to their mothers, not sure what to think. This is a hut for corn. They build mud huts with grass thatch roofs, with a small entry they close with a layer of sticks strung together. The food lasts this way for about a year, until the next harvest season. A man took me into a food storage room and proudly counted out 6 bags of rice and 3 bags of corn with a big smile.