Down from the Plateau and on to Abuja

Leaving Jos to pass through Miango on the scenic route to Abuja the same rock visible from Andrews house was visible from the opposite direction

See the earlier view of this balanced rock.

The Toyota Hilux is an excellent vehicle for Nigerian roads which can vary between smooth to diabolical with dramatic contrasts. I always had a police escort while travelling in the North East.
The stalks leant against the farm building are from Guinea Corn (Sorghum) it grows that high in a few short months and is useful for thatching and fodder
This road comes through a deep cutting and leads down from the central plateau.
Leaving Plateau State going down to South Kaduna
A common method of demarcating property in the Middle Belt
These small lorries and even smaller pickups travel far off-road and are the main transport for people, goods and animals, They cattle will be tied to avoid them moving or jumping out.
These cattle are sharing the pickup with people on their way to market. They might be purchased by drovers who will assemble a herd to drive south to sell for slaughter or they might become beef locally or be sold on to another herder or farmer.
The small caption near the registration plate says “Decency is not Pride”. I love the pithy slogans on lorries here. The paintwork is particularly fine and communicative.

 

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A Surprising Honour

Being introduce to the Emir of Bade by Professor Andrew Haruna, Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Gashua

I went to visit his Royal Eminence, the Emir of Bade, whose palace is in the town of Gashua, to pay my respects and offer a small gift of Badminton racquets and shuttlecocks, I explained my presence in his kingdom and answered his questions. With his permission I offered a Christian prayer for wisdom, long life and the welfare of his Kingdom. This is the normal act courtesy any foreign visitor might fulfil.

However, things took a surprising turn. His Eminence stated that he had something for me. It was a fine “Baba Riga” (not sure of spelling) outer robe and a special cap. He then pronounced a title for me – Dan Bature M’Bade – an honour which means something like “European son of the Bade Emirate” and was very much more than I was expecting. This means I have a lifetime connection with the Emir.

He particularly charged me to tell people that Bade is a safe, peaceful haven for visitors, secure and open to all. I can testify that this is the truth and will publish it willingly. Here are a couple of pictures of my investiture. More will follow.

Being robed by two courtiers. The outer garment (Baba Riga) is a special design and I was given a cap to wear with it.
The Emir and myself after the robing ceremony. I was considerably surprised still.

Leaving Maiduguri

The Alo River at the end of the Dry Season

This river will be full of water and probably flood the houses on the right in 3 months time when the rainy season is in full swing

The Busy Lagos Street Junction

We are turning left to leave town. Straight on would go to the city centre

On the road to Damaturu near the airport

The roads in Maiduguri have had a major upgrade with fancy street lights, many, like Lagos Street, have been dualised. This is the road out of town near the airport.
Note the many taxi tricycles. These have replaced the taxi motorcycles (achabas) which have been banned since the insurgents had been using them for hit and run attacks. They are also a major road safety improvement.
All morning pickups loaded with firewood almost impossibly high take fuel for cooking from towns and villages into the city
These huts are made of mudbrick with thatch roofs (often topped with Galvanised iron) and seem to be better adapted to the climate than the Concrete block built modern homes. Note the pile of firewood on the left – probably for sale, the black cow grazing right centre, and the upturned mortar under the tree which doubles as a stool.

Cool malt on a hot day

It is a quiet Monday after preaching for both English and Hausa meetings at ECWA Gashua. Ali, our house cook prepared an excellent egg and salad double sandwich but I can’t photograph it. It is already gone. Delicious.

The heat is up in the 40°s so a rich sugary Malt drink settles much better diluted 1:2 with cool SWAN water.

Nigerians are conscious of the diabetes problem and Maltina have gone for the health angle by adding vitamins and calcium. It does taste marginally less sugary than some brands. Or am I subliminally affected by the clever marketing?

A trip to the desert 

Our Oga looks like he owns the desert now

Late afternoon on Friday Prof Andrew invited me plus anyone on the staff for a bus ride into the desert. We went north to a place not far from the Niger border. Here are some pictures.

In the distance Prof Andrew is photographing us while I am doing the same. On the left is Mrs. Sule and on the right is Inspector Bulus

 

These gentlemen accompanied us on the bus just in case. The desert is remote and near the Niger border.

 

These “Thatch” houses are made from woven Guinea Corn {sorghum} stalks. They are a better alternative to tents

Money Laundering in Nigeria

Drying the proceeds of laundering

Oops. I left N3,000 in the trousers I gave for washing. About £10 I estimate in UK money.

Fortunately, Mrs. Ali gave me the notes before hanging the trousers to dry. They would probably be papier maché by now.

So I carefully peeled them apart. It is fortunate that things dry quickly in this arid heat so they should still be spendable. Some of the notes in circulation are amazingly moth-eaten so my money laundering should be successful.

The security situation in N.E. Nigeria

Security services (Army, police and local Militias) set up roadblocks Since the “Boko Haram” insurgency is not completely eradicated. It is also a deterence to armed robbers on the road.

Friends in UK may have heard about the unsuccessful suicide bombing in Maiduguri and might worry about me. Firstly, Gashua is very peaceful. Secondly, sending untrained little girls is a sign that the insurgents are in big trouble and unable to mount serious attacks. I am in more danger from travelling on the roads: fatal accidents are frequent. We pray for safety on every long trip.

There are lots of road-blocks but they are not much of a nuisance and they deny use of the roads to troublemakers (robbers and other criminals as well as terrorists) so I am grateful for them. We had roadblocks in earlier times but they were mainly an opportunity to augment salaries of police, army and border police. These days seeking bribes is much reduced.

There have been horrors in this region in recent past but we hope more displaced persons will get back home safely to rebuild and grow crops in the rainy season which is about to start.

Scenes on the Road – Jos to Gashua

Southern Bauchi – near the City itself – has steep hills rising from a flat plain
These markets are an important moment for a lot of the Farmers and pastoralists
Baobabs. These hardy trees can be very old. They tolerate harvesting of leaves and fruit for food seasoning and feeding livestock

 

The River at Gashua. At the end of the dry deason there is still water in this river which flows to Lake Chad. At the height of the rains the overflow floods the surrounding plain for miles