Abuja and Bida

Issues and information related to travel to and from Nigeria.

Abuja and Bida

Postby fw12 » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:14 pm

I have just come back from a week in Abuja in Nigeria, mainly work but I managed a bit of sightseeing. I am posting this message to counter the negative image of Nigeria in the media and guidebooks. I really enjoyed it! The people were lovely and I felt entirely safe (except on the road to Bida - Nigerians really are crazy drivers. They have better roads and better cars than other parts of Africa I have visited and so the risks are higher).

In Abuja I enjoyed the Friday market in front of the National Mosque and the craft market opposite the Sheraton Hotel. The craft market was practically empty so I had lots of good conversations with shop owners, including a 60 year old man who had been a soldier in the Biafran War in the late 60s. People were genuinely friendly (like the woman who guided me to a restaurant about 15 mintes walk away and wanted nothing in return) and there was no pressure to buy.

I hired a car and driver for a day (very expensive) and went to Bida - about 3 hours drive west of Abuja. Well worth it. Bida is a Hausa-Fulani town (like Zaria, Kano, Katsina etc) and the people were wonderful. Highlights were the Fulani boys in the market and the Emir's palace where I had an audience with the Emir's personal secretary, a dignified man in flowing robes and ornamental scars and tatoos on his face. (The Emir was away.) I also went to a bead shop (Bida is famous for its beads - really!) and a brass shop. Both worhhwhile.

I realise I only visited a tiny part of Nigeria but I left with a strong desire to go back and explore further. Nigeria deserves more visitors. Don't be put off by the negative sterotypes about the place.

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