Region Story Index

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==Western Region==
==Western Region==
'''Ibadan Sketches by Alan Weiss'''
A piece addressed to Ed Gruberg and published in ''Voyeur'' in 1968.
*{{pdf|Ibadan_Sketches.pdf|Ibadan Sketches}}
==Mid-Western Region==
==Mid-Western Region==
==Eastern Region==
==Eastern Region==

Revision as of 20:43, 3 September 2008

Nigeria political boundaries have not remained constant since independence.



  • Lagos

Northern Region

The well at Daura, the start of the Hausa empire


The two main holidays in Hausa areas of the Northern Region are Id-el-Fitr and Id-el-Kabir. Id-el-Fitr celebrates the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. The two are known informally as "Sallah". more info

Katsina had a particularly elaborate Sallah and was often attended by expatriates from other cities and at least once in the late 60's, by John McConnell, the US Ambassador from Lagos, and members of his staff.

The ceremony began in the morning with prayers held in an open area along the Jibiya Road outside the city walls. Image:Sallah Prayers.gif

Following the prayers, the men returned to town and others streamed in from every direction, heading for Kangiwa (the elephant's head) – the name of the the large parade ground in front of the Emir's Palace.



The Emir arrived with a string of riderless white horses. These meant that, should his horse fall in battle, there would always be another.


With the Emir positioned at the end of Kangiwa, wave after wave of horsemen would charge toward him, coming up short with their right hand held up, some with dirt falling from it, signifying "the earth is yours".


Following the horsemen, groups of villagers and others who owed allegiance would come forth. This is believed to be a group of Fulani - the semi nomadic tribe who herded cattle but also had intermarried with the Hausa.


In 1967, Budd Hall of Nigeria XVII received permission to pay his respects as well, being perhaps the first Bature (lit. European) to be allowed to do so. He rode "Archie", a camel he owned jointly with Gus Schlick, Nigeria V.


It was a pretty rag-tag group coming near the end of the procession, but it was a big deal nonetheless.

Following the renewals of allegiance to the Emir, civil servants and others went outside the walls to pay their respects to the Provincial Secretary in a ceremony that no doubt was of recent origin. There were brief speeches and a lot of milling around, but it was possible to get closer to things.

This is one of the Emir's bodyguards. He is wearing, according to an expert who saw the photo, an authentic coat of medieval chain mail.


There were traditional musicians – these long horns were called kakaki, and, according to Bargery, were only blown before paramount chiefs. See Bargery's English-Hausa dictionary online at


One of the students at GSS Katsina, Abdulmumini Kabir, is in the red coat. He was a grandson of the Emir.


After the ceremonies, celebrations were held throughout the town, consisting of feasts which were shared as widely as possible. The wealthy were expected to provide as much as they could.

It was usually an evening of feasting for volunteers as well, especially if there were visitors and friends from other towns. It could be a challenge feeding a lot of expats. One solution was to roast a goat over an open pit. The pit could be dug, the fire tended, and the goat turned by hand on a spit for 6-8 hours, all for a very reasonable price. One of the biggest tasks was simply boiling enough water ahead of time to supply the visitors - In Katsina this literally was something we kept after off and on for a week!

Around Katsina 1966-68

Katsina lies less than 30 miles from the border with Niger Republic. Traditionally, trade and cultural ties were to the north, even reaching across the Sahara. A sign outside the town gave mileage to Agades, Ougadougou, Timbuktu, Tamanrasset, Algiers, and more. Trips to some of these would have taken weeks in 1966, as routes in the Sahara were, in some places, just tracks marked with the occasional empty oil drum.

Camel trains led by Tuaregs still brought traditional goods from the north. Image:10_Camel_Train_2.jpg

A Bit of History

According to legend, the seven original Hausa city-states (the Hausa Bakwai) were founded by the descendants of Bayajidda, an exiled prince from across the Sahara, and Magajiya Daurama, the Queen of Daura, who married him after he slew a snake which had been preventing the people from using the town well. In 1966 the well had a memorial plaque and could be visited.


More about Daura and its history is at

Katsina had been a center of learning for some time , and this accounts for its choice for the first modern school in the North, on a site that became Katsina Teachers College (KTC). By 1966 there were the KTC, GSS Katsina (Government Secondary School) and the WTC (Womens Teachers College).

Most of the city's 13.5 mile wall was still intact in the late 60's.


Inside was the famous Gobarau Minaret, a ziggurat.


More recent photos and description at It appears from the modern photos that the spiral ziggurat feature is gone now.

The minaret was easily the tallest structure in town. Most compounds were single-story made of sun-dried brick, formed by hand into balls.


The mud came from pits, many of which were inside the city wall.


Katsina in the late 60's was still very traditional. Modern goods were appearing and some streets were paved. There was municipal water in many locations, including some houses, but water was still taken from hand-dug wells, as the water from pipes was subject to electrical problems. A "cold store" (meaning there was a freezer) opened in 1967. There was one gas station.


It was not unusual to see cotton being spun by hand into yarn and then woven into cloth. There were traditional dye pits to create indigo cloth.


Neighborhood merchants provided most necessities. This is Alhaji Dankwamma, a native of Zaria. His first price was always fair, and then he would add a handful of rice when he wrapped your purchase in newspaper.


The Katsina market was dwarfed by the Jibiya market to the north. Though Jibiya was a much smaller town, it lay on the border with Niger Republic, where the opportunities to avoid customs duties made for lots of business. Here is the parking lot at the Jibiya Market:


The Hausa text used in training had a little dialogue;

Ina kasuwa? (Where's the market?)

Wurin da ungulu su ke. (Where the vultures are.)


Vultures performed a great service and there was a stiff fine for killing one.

Ground nuts (peanuts) were hugely important, and at the end of the harvest the railhead in Kano had enormous pyramids of them. They were trucked from Katsina to Kano by lorry, as it was said the emir opposed bringing in the railroad with its attendant modern influences and outsiders.

This is the house of an obviously well-to-do person


Many PCV's lived in government housing. There were two basic models, the "Cosely" and the "Matchbox". This is a Matchbox after a monsoon storm.


Some volunteers received permission from the emir to live in town – this is a compound recently finished (note the screens) and owned by the emir's carpenter. There were six rooms opening onto a courtyard, and electricity and running water for parts of most days. Hard to fit in one photo.


Modern Katsina

At the time of these photos (1966-68), Katsina was said to have about 50,000 people. Modern Katsina (2007) is said to have 460,000, so obviously a lot of other things have changed as well. More information is at

Western Region

Ibadan Sketches by Alan Weiss

A piece addressed to Ed Gruberg and published in Voyeur in 1968.

Mid-Western Region

Eastern Region

- South Eastern States

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