<![CDATA[TRAVEL | PHOTOGRAPHY - BLOG]]>Mon, 17 Dec 2018 09:37:29 +0100Weebly<![CDATA[TRAVEL GUIDE: History Of The Ancient City Of Kano]]>Sun, 16 Dec 2018 10:06:10 GMThttp://funmiajala.com/blog/travel-guide-history-of-the-ancient-city-of-kano
Kano State is located in North-Western Nigeria and created on May 27, 1967, from the old Northern Region. It is bordered to the north-west by Katsina State and to the north-east by Jigawa State, then to the south-east by Bauchi State and the south-west by Kaduna State. Jigawa State was carved out of Kano State in 1991.

Kano had about 10 million people according to the 2006 census figures, and 44 local government areas.
Kano City is the capital of Kano State. The capital comprises six local government areas: Municipal, Dala, Nassarawa, Gwale, Fagge and Tarauni.

Centre of Commerce is the slogan or epithet of the state. It is true, because the state was the most enterprising in pre-colonial times, and presently only second to Lagos.
HISTORY
According to Bayajidda legend, the Hausa kingdom began as seven states founded by the six sons of Bawo and himself, the unique son of the hero and the queen Magajiya Daurama in addition to the hero's son, Biram or Ibrahim of an earlier Marriage. The States include only kingdoms inhabited by Hausa speakers
- Daura
- Kano
- Katsina
- Zaria (Zazzau)
- Gobir
- Rano
- Biram (Hadejia)
ANCIENT KANO
Kingship system in the Kano Kingdom started in the year 999AD with the overthrow of a powerful priest Barbushe who was in control of a shrine at Dala hill called Tsumburbura.

Barbushe was a descendant of Dala, a man of great stature and might. He was a great Hunter who built his house on top of Dalahill, this is the reason why the hill was named after him. He had seven children, four boys and three girls. The eldest among them was Garageje. Barbushe succeeded his forefathers because he was skilled in the various pagan rites.

Before 999AD the ancient Kano people settled in groups on top of hills, these hills include: Goron Dutse hill under the control of Gunzago, Tsumburo lived with people at Jigirya, Jan Damisa at Magwan hill, Hambaro heads Tangar hill and Gambarjo heads Fanisau hill. The heads of various hills were next to barbushe in rank.

Dala hill became attractive to immigrants from different parts of Hausa land. Bagauda and his group among the earliest immigrants to Dala hill. Bagauda was the son of Bawo, a very powerful warlord. On their arrival, they conquered the people at Dala hill and its surroundings.

Before their arrival, there was no centralised system of administration in the area. Having realized this, Bagauda established a royal system. His palace was located at Sheme. That was the beginning of the kingship system in Kano Kingdom.
RULING HOUSES

The monarchical system in Kano is divided into two: Habe dynasty and the Fulani dynasty. Under the Habe Dynasty, we have Gidan Bagauda which ruled for four hundred and sixty-four years (464) AD 999 - 146.
Gidan Rumfa ruled for one hundred and sixty years (160) 1463 - 1623 and Gidan Kutumbi, one hundred and Eighty-four years (184) 1623 - 1807.

Fulani dynasty, on the other hand, ruled for Two hundred and eleven years (211) 1807 - 2018, bringing up to one thousand and nineteen (1019) years of monarchical rule in Kano.

Rulers under Habe dynasty are called Kings while that of Fulani are known as Emirs.

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<![CDATA[TRAVEL GUIDE: Explore Daura]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 15:58:18 GMThttp://funmiajala.com/blog/travel-guide-explore-daura
Daura is the second major town after Katsina in Katsina State. It is also popular because it is the home town of Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.

I have just a day to explore Katsina for the Durbar Festival which I primarily came to document is the following day and I leave for Kano after the parade. After lodging at the hotel and going out to get a few things, I stayed put in my hotel room while making arrangement for going round the following day. My host in Katsina, Abdulkaque had to go to work the following day.
The morning started with me trying to get across to the keke guy that will take me around town. On inquiring at the desk the distance between Katsina and Daura I decided to hire a cab that will take me around town and then we will go to Daura. Arrangements was made for me by the hotel manager and I got a cab driver/guide that speaks good English and Hausa. This was a big plus for me as I have discovered that you need to understand a bit of Hausa to be able to communicate effectively. After going round Katsina as pointed out in this guide, we set out to Daura.
ABOUT DAURA
The trip to Daura is almost two hours and the different views along the way was quite interesting.
Daura is a town and also a local government area in Katsina State. It is said to be the spiritual home of the Hausa people having been the ancient seats of Islamic culture and learning.. It is the second emirate in Katsina State, and is referred to as one of the 'seven true Hausa State' i.e. 'Hausa Bakwai'.
The seven true Hausa States are Biram, Kano, Katsina, Zazzau, Gobir, Rano and Daura, which are ruled by the descendants of Bayajidda's sons with Daurama (the last Kabara of Daura) and Magira (his first wife).
Daura is an agriculture town where crops are grown all year round. Main agricultural produce are sorghum, millet, onions, peanuts (groundnuts), cotton, and hides and skins.
Daura is a combination of Fulani and Hausa inhabitants thus the rearing of cattle, goats, sheep, horses and donkeys are common sight in almost every household of influence. Exportation of cotton and peanuts are significant economic activities in the town.
PLACES TO VISIT IN DAURA
On getting to Daura we sought out the city gates and where to get Fura and nunu. Apparently my cab driver lived in Daura for some years so he is pretty familiar with the environment. He took me straight to the city centre where there were about two dozen Fulani women with their beautifully crafted calabash and wares of Fura and nunu. We set out to bargain to and fro on the product. Finally we agreed on a price and we made our purchase. I told him that I will like to blend my own as i do prefer it that way than using the traditional method for it.
CITY GATES: By now if you have been following my stories about the northern part of Nigeria you would have noticed that city gates do come up often in the articles. Most of the major trading towns in the northern part of Nigeria have gates that are used as security measures to keep unwanted people out of the cities. The northern part of Nigeria is pretty porous and its closeness to the borders of Niger, Chad, Sudan and some African countries made it very important to have city gates back then.
The gates are now rebuilt with modern day bricks with the names carved on them. One thing that is very similar with all the gates in Daura is the emblem of the snake and sword. The story of Daura and the seven true Hausa States is not complete without telling the story of the snake and the sword.
Some of the city gates we visited are Kofar Durbi, Kofar Sarki Abdurrahman (Ancient West Gate), and Kofar Sarki Musa.
KUSUGU WELL: This is the legendary Kusugu well. Historical myth has been told about this well. The popular Hausa myth has it that Hausa communities were then living in Central Sudan for about 2000 years and Daura was said to be one of the largest Hausa cities of that era.The affairs of the cities were managed by Queens who acts as Head of Government. Daura was ruled over by Queen Daurama who was also known as the last Kabara of Daura.
During her reign, the major source of water supply in the town is the Kusugu well. The people were only allowed to fetch water once a week because of a snake called Sarki that was in the well. I did wondered if the snake sleep on this day or it went to play in order to allow them fetch water. But as I said, it's a myth.
Salvation came in form of a Baghdad Prince named Prince Abu Yazid who came to Daura and lodged in the house of an old woman named Ayyana. On asking for water he was given very little and when he asked for more water he was told there was none and thus he learnt about Sarki the snake and the Kusungu well.

He asked to be shown the well and after a fight between him and the snake, he killed Sarki, thus making the availability of water easy for the people.
Queen Daurama then married him and he became a King. As a foreigner, he could not speak the Hausa language when he arrived in Daura, thus he was called Bayajjida, meaning 'He who doesn't understand before'.
H egave birth to seven children that ruled over the seven Hausa States which are called Hausa Bakwai.

This is the origin of the snake and sword emblem which signifies Sarki the snake and the sword of Bayajjida.
Kusugu well still stand in a small house built round the well with rope attached for drawing and there are pictures which tells the stories of the Daura people and the well.
The only but in visiting this place is the guide that we met that day does not speak English and the reading materials are in Hausa so I could not buy any. When you visit Daura it is a must visit.

EMIR's PALACE: One thing I learnt about visiting Emir's palace in the north is that you need to book ahead in order to be given a detailed tour. After much conversation and waiting and trying to understand each other someone was assigned to show me the exterior part of the palace but I was not able to have a detailed tour because i did not booked ahead and it was the day before Durbar so there was heavy activities at the palace.
The beautiful architecture of the North never cease to amaze me with the way they build the new around the old. The use of colours to tell the story of the culture and its people is present in almost all the buildings in the palace.

We were shown the horse stable of the Emir where the horses were been prep for the parade the following day.
I was given and invitation to come around for the Durbar and I said i will honour it next year. By this time the cloud was already changing and a heavy rain was brewing itself. We were 3o minutes out of Daura when the sky opened up and it rained all the way back to Katsina.
I was able to blend my fura and nunu and I can say it is the best I have had till date, very rich and creamy. Make sure you have a taste of Fura de nunu from Daura.
It was a fulfilling day. Do make sure to visit Katsina and Daura and you may be lucky to be in the same room with President Buhari if you go around the festive period.

Thank you for reading, do share, subscribe and comment.
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<![CDATA[The Dynasty ´╗┐of Katsina]]>Sat, 03 Nov 2018 19:10:51 GMThttp://funmiajala.com/blog/the-dynasty-of-katsina
Katsina is a historic kingdom and emirate in northern Nigeria. According to tradition, the kingdom, one of the Hausa Bakwai (“Seven True Hausa States”), was founded in the 10th or 11th century. Islām was introduced in the 1450s, and Muhammad Korau (reigned late 15th century) was Katsina’s first Muslim king. During his reign camel caravans crossed the Sahara from Ghudāmis (Ghadames), Tripoli, and Tunis southward to Katsina and brought such prosperity to the state that it became caught in the rivalry between the great West African empires of Songhai (Gao) and Bornu. In 1513 Katsina was conquered by the Songhai.
Katsina entered its greatest period of prosperity in the early 18th century. Besides being the leading Hausa commercial state, it replaced Timbuktu (Tombouctou) as the chief West African centre of Islāmic studies.

In the 15th century the Fulani herdsmen settled in Katsina and in 1804 the Fulani jihad (holy war) leader, Usman dan Fodio, led a revolt (beginning in Gobir) against the Hausa overlords. The Fulani leader Umaru Dallaji captured Katsina town in 1806 and was named the first Katsina emir with Katsina as his seat.
Katsina has a lot of historical heritage around the different dynasties that has ruled Katsina till date. Here is a list of the acknowledged dynasties according to history.

DURBAWA DYNASTY

The Durbawa people were said to be the founders of the ancient Katsina kingdom. It is said that Katsina was named after a Princes of Daura who married Janzama king of Durbawa, who ruled at Durbi-Takusheyi and whose name is still preserved as a rock close to Mani. There is no detailed written document about the number of Kings under this dynasty. But Janzama is said to be the last ruler of Durbawa. HE was overthrown by Kuayau the first ruler under the Kumayau dynasty.
KUMAYAU DYNASTY

This was the second dynasty after Durbawa. This dynasty produced seven kings of Katsina from Kumayau to Sanau. During this dynasty appointing a new king was through a wrestling contest whereby the winner became the new king.

KORAU DYNASTY

This dynasty produced 31 Kings of Katsina starting from Muhammadu Korau the first Muslim ruler to Magajin Haladu. Muhammadu Korau became a new king under the third dynasty by defeating Sanau in a wrestling contest. Since then the kingship has been hereditary and restricted only to royal princes.
DALLAZAWA DYNASTY

This dynasty came as a result of the Jihad of Shehu Usman Danfodio in 1804. The Jihad was led by Malam Ummarun Dallaje, Malam Mammam Na Alhaji and Malam Ummarun Dunyawa who received the Jihad flag from Malam Muhammadu Bello son of Danfodio on Shehu's behalf. This dynasty produced eight Emirs of Katsina from Malam Ummarun Dallaje (1807) to Malam Yaro in 1906.

SULLUBAWA DYNASTY

This dynasty is the fourth dynasty after the Durbawa dynasty. The depositon of Sarki Abubaka amd Malam Yero by the British colonial masters brought about the beginning of Sullubawa or the Dikko dynasty. This dynasty produced four Emirs of Katsina from Sarki Muhammadu Dikko 1906 to Sarki Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, the current Emir.
(Research: National <useum, Katsina and brittanica.com)
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<![CDATA[TRAVEL GUIDE: Exploring KATSINA Town]]>Tue, 23 Oct 2018 05:28:25 GMThttp://funmiajala.com/blog/travel-guide-exploring-katsina-town
I set out for Katsina from Kaduna. I left Kaduna the day before Sallah and I have to say that was a wrong move. I got to the garage and there was this huge Crowd of people but there was no free bus, the passengers far outweigh the buses.
My friend interacted with one of the park guide and ask him to get a cab to take me to Katsina. I had to charter a cab to take me to Katsina. When traveling please be aware of the holidays, do make sure it is not a big holiday season.

I finally got into town and met with a friend of a friend who lives in Katsina. He was quite calm, and we went hotel hunting, I finally got one and I settled in. The following morning, armed with my list of places to visit, I asked for a cab. I got a good driver that was patient, speaks English and Hausa which was really cool. We set out on our adventure for the day.

The day trip was divided into two, Katsina and Daura. These are places you need to visit when you are in Katsina.
KATSINA CITY GATES: There are seven city gates in Katsina. Security is the most important function of the wall in the city, especially in areas where there are rich mineral deposits. The pattern of the walls are same throughout the Hausaland, mud and burnt bricks with water obtained from nearby streams were used for constructing the walls.
As modernization became the IN thing, the wallls were rebuilt with bricks and concretes except for one which is still in mud shape.

The gates are namely, Kofar Durbi, Kofar Marusa, Kofar Guga, Kofar Kwaya, Kofar Sauri, Kofar Kaura and monumental gate called Kofar ‘Yandaka where Sir Fredrick Lord Luggard the then Governor–General of Nigeria entered Katsina through in the year 1903.
GOBARAU MINARET: The minaret is believed to have been built during the tenure of King Muhammadu Korau who reigned between 1348-1398(i.e.600yrs ago). The minaret was built by the local craftsmen using mainly sun-baked clay and mud.
Gobarau Minaret used to be the highest building in the ancient city of Katsina and environs. Beside being the first central mosque, it also served as a surveillance tower for sighting enemy invaders as they approach Katsina  during the communal wars.The minaret is preserved as a national monument and tourist attraction site.
OLD KATSINA'S TEACHER'S COLLEGE:  Built in 1921 with red-baked city mud and clay, this is the oldest teachers training college in the northern part of Nigeria. This college went on to have many names. The initial intake was said to be 50 students.
In 1922 the college was moved to Zaria and again renamed Government Secondary School, Zaria. In January 1949, the name was changed to Government College, Zaria and later Barewa College, Zaria.
The college has produced prominent Nigerians like the late Prime Minister, Sir. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the Late Premier of Northern Nigeria Alhaji Sir, Ahmadu Bello as well as many others.

On April 23, 1959 the college building was declared a Historic monument. This building is now Home to the National Museum, Katsina. Opposite it is an extension of the college and on the gate you will find the inscription BOBA, which stands for Barewa Old Boys Association.
The name BAREWA, which was adopted in 1971, evolved from its symbol, signifying progress in the swift movement of the gazelle. This came after the emergence of six State Governments in the former Northern region some of which began to establish their own Government Colleges.
These two buildings are architectural piece. The old red brick is still maintained, there is a gate with a step where one can view the rooftop of the buildings and the environs.
Some of the BOBA building needs renovation but they still maintained the initial structure.
NATIONAL MUSEUM: The national museum is one of the biggest museum in the North with 10 exhibitions going on when I went. It holds a lot of history of the Hausa-Fulani heritage, an ethnographic section which is dedicated to the people and culture, a whole section to the Dynasty of the State. This is a must visit place when one is in Katsina.
EMIR'S PALACE: This place was busy and I could not go in when we went there for last minute preparation for Sallah which was the following day was going on. Also the Emir was holding session with different people.
The gate has the Arewa symbol on it with a beautiful upstairs view which faced an open field. The open field is where the Durbar procession on Sallah day takes place.
Sallah is from two to five days in the North, depending on the town and the Emirate.
Follow the blog for stories on Daura, the Dynasty and the Fura and Nunu experience.

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<![CDATA[TRAVEL GUIDE: Places to visit in Kaduna]]>Wed, 26 Sep 2018 21:58:03 GMThttp://funmiajala.com/blog/travel-guide-places-to-visit-in-kaduna
The city of Kaduna is the state capital of Kaduna State in north-western Nigeria. It is a trade centre and a major transportation hub for the surrounding agricultural areas with its rail and road junction.
According to history, Kaduna was founded by the British in 1913, became the capital of Nigeria's former Northern Region in 1917 till 1967.
Sir Frederick Lugard was the first British governor of Northern Nigeria and he was the one who chose the present site of Kaduna due to it's proximity to the Lagos-Kano railway.
Kaduna has grown to become one of the major cities in the Northern Region and it's followed by Zaria which has the prominent Ahmadu Bello University campuses and is home to the Emir of Zazzau.

If you find yourself in Kaduna, here are a few things to do in Kaduna.

NOK MUSEUM: This is situated in the famous NOK town which is in Southern Kaduna. It is where the famous Terracotta heads were first discovered.

MATSIRGA WATERFALLS: This waterfall is situated in Madakiya area, not far from Kafanchan, which also is in Southern Kaduna.

The source of this beautiful waterfall is said to be from the springs on the Kagoro Hills, which is not far from the waterfall. The springs form four different natural funnels from which the water cascade off the sheer rock cliff about 30 metres to form a large pool at the bottom.
During the rainy season you can not get close to the waterfall but you can move closer during the dry season.
KADUNA MUSEUM: The Kaduna museum is in town and has a new gallery with the returned NOK heads on display. The museum is rich in the cultural heritage of the people of Kaduna with an ethnography section dedicated to the traditional ways of living.

EMIR OF ZAZZAU PALACE: The Emir of Zaria (also called Zazzau) palace is a huge architectural piece. One of the main things I love about Northern Nigeria is the way they have been able to preserve old architectural buildings by mixing it with a bit of the modern designs while still maintaining the old.
It's more like building the new around the old, making sure you don't loose the old and the stories they tell.
AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY: Established in the year 1962, this is one of the prestigious university in Northern Nigeria. The university operates two campuses, the main campus in Samaru and the Kongo Campus.
There is a beautiful sculpture garden at the faculty of environmental design in the main campus. It has about 1,000 if not more statues. I learnt the statues are final year projects of students. There are spots where one can sit and relax and a kiosk that sells food.

FIFTH CHUKKER POLO RESORT: Founded in 2001, Fifth Chukker is a 3,000 hectare Polo & Lifestyle Resort representing the new in the old world of Nigerian Polo - located in Kaduna.It has amazing architectural structures, beautiful scenery and you are assured to be at peace with nature. For more information on the resort, visit www.fifthchukker.com
KOFAR GAMJI PARK: This is situated inside the town and is home to the Lord Lugard Footbridge. This bridge connects the park to Lord Lugard's House and the River Kaduna passes by this park. If you want a quiet place by the water, you can visit this place. It has an attached fee for entrance and there is a zoo inside this park as well.
KAJURU CASTLE: Kajuru Castle is a private property owned by Gerhard Heubrer, a German who lived in Kaduna in the 1970s. Built in the 1980s, its setting and ambience offers a ‘Home away from Home’ experience for visitors who need the sort of serenity to refresh, to reflect or simply to get away from a busy schedule. Kajuru itself is a town situated in a local government of the same name in Kaduna State in Nigeria’s North-West region. It was previously part of the Chikun Local Government before it was carved out during the military regime of the 1990s.
BAREWA COLLEGE: Founded in 1921 by British Governor General Hugh Clifford. Originally known as Katsina College, was changed to Government College, Zaria in 1949 before settling on Barewa College. It is one of the largest boarding schools in Northern Nigeria and was the most-celebrated post-primary schools there up to 1960s.
Put it in a mild way, the history of education in Northern Nigeria is not complete without the mention of Barewa College.
KAGORO HILLS: If you are within the vicinity of the NOK Museum and Matsirga waterfall, then do ask for Kagoro Hills. DO take note that these three are in Southern Kaduna which is about three hours to and three hours from Kaduna town itself. DO be security conscious for this part of Kaduna is known for its volatility which makes sense that a local should be your guide.
For the foodie...

OSTRICH BAKERY
: This bakery serves very good bread and snacks for the junk eaters. There is a little supermarket section so you can get some stuff to compliment the baked goods.

CHICKEN SUYA AND MASA: There is a street corner not far from the bakery that has about five stalls catering to suya lovers. I am adventurous with food but I always tend to be careful as well.
There are still many places to explore in Kaduna, but these are the places I have been to. There surely is a part 2 coming on my next trip to the North.

Do you live in Kaduna and can recommend some pretty interesting places for me to explore? Please do drop a comment
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<![CDATA[Travel Guide: Exploring the NOK culture]]>Tue, 11 Sep 2018 12:09:40 GMThttp://funmiajala.com/blog/travel-guide-exploring-the-nok-culture
On arriving Kaduna by train via Rigasa, I took a cab to town to meet up with a friend.
After a while we set about looking for a hotel for my stay. I can hear you asking why I didn't book a hotel online before leaving Lagos.
As part of my safety plans I prefer a local telling me the safest part of town to stay, that is where I will book a room. I am not familiar with Kaduna, so it's better to rely on the expertise of a resident.

We went to about two hotels, mind you I was on a budget, but I did not like any of the place. Then my friend remembered that the Air Force has a guest house. So we went there to check it out. So there is a hack when you stay in  the Command or Air Force Guest House. If your friend or relative is an officer with proof of identity, you get a discount. The place is secure, right in the middle of town, with okay amenities (I am still on a budget here).

That settled, I got down to organising a guide and ride for my trips. As usual I do have a list which i showed to my friend. Arrangements was made for the following morning.

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Arch with NOK town signage
My ride came around the following morning and there was an issue. My driver do not speak a word of English, and his colleague was able to pass but not enough to have a conversation.

My trips were in Northern Kaduna, Southern Kaduna and Kaduna town itself.
So we started off with Southern Kaduna which is the Nok Museum and the Matsirga waterfall.

It was about two hours and thirty minutes drive to Nok junction, we asked for direction to the museum. It started raining heavily as we got to the museum and luckily for us we met Mr John Fom, the assistant chief protection officer. His duties includes protecting and preservation of  the cultural artifacts that are left, ensuring the safety of museum visitors and preserve the buildings. We got talking and he told me about the history of the museum and the Nok culture after which he then took us into the gallery to see the pictures depicting the story of the Terracotta.
Picture
This building was built in anticipation of receiving the original terracottas from Germany.
NOK MUSEUM

NOK is the name of a town in Jabba Local Government Area, Kaduna State. Nok became famous because of the discovery of the terracotta head. Nok culture provides earliest ancient civilization of Nigeria. It is common practice to name an archaeological group or culture after the location of the first discovery.

Nok culture is named after a city (NOK Town). The first find of artifacts were excavated by archaeologists in 1929. The first terracotta head discovery was the head of a monkey, the second discovery was the head of a man. The terracotta were accidentally discovered during a tin mining process.
Terracotta means it was made of clay and heavily fired which makes it to stand the test of time. This was the earliest evidence of iron metallurgy in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Nok culture is said to have belonged to a homogeneous group of people who had a well ordered economy and a good system of governing.

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One of the earliest finds JEMA Head 500BC-200AD
The Nok sculptures are among the oldest in sub-Saharan Africa and represents the origin of the West African tradition of portraying people and animals. Its artful burnt clay(terracotta) sculpture make it one of Africa's best known ancient cultures. The expressive styles of the terracotta were amazing. They have triangular eyes, pierced nostrils, adorned necks with beads and necklaces.

By 1977 about 153 Nok terracotta pieces had been accidentally found during mining operation. There are three discovery sites, the Nok village, Taruga and Katsina-Ala.
It should however be noted that the Nok culture did not originate from Nok Village, it's where the terracota were first found.

The National Museum in Nok is administered by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).

THE HERITAGE SITES

Heritage sites in Nigeria signifies that people have existed in that region with their culture still preserved. There are about seven heritage sites in Nok. They are Bernard Fagg house, which is the residence of the archaeologist  who discovered the Nok Terracotta. The house was built in 1944 and he lived there, his daughter, Angela, also stayed in the same house when she came to Nigeria. Bernard Fagg was referred to as the Father of the Nok culture. He was the first person to make the scientific discovery of the terracotta. He took them to Germany for scientific research and was able to determine how long the terracotta has been buried. It was discovered to be about 500 BC to 200 AD.
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Picture shows one of the first site where the NOK figurines were discovered and the archaeological team.
There is the hidden cave, which serves as a sanctuary for the very vulnerable (Old, children and sick people) during the warfare. It was also used for grain preservation during warfare. The cave is about 250 metres long.

The third heritage site is a shrine where the Nok village cultural/spiritual activities is performed till date. It serves as initiation ground of young males into adulthood in the village. It is also used as a court to settle disputes involving fights, stealing, land and marriage disputes.

The fourth is the first settlement. This is the place where the people of NOK first settled up in the rocks before coming down to where they are now.

The fifth is the welfare cave which served as a hospital and maternity where women give birth. There are visible signs of dots on the rock which depicst the number of death, the number of birth and number of survivals from illnesses.

The sixth is the Barn cave for the preservation of grains. This is where the chief priests used to stay and he does everything there.

The seventh site is the tree of life. According to history, this tree is said to radiate lights in the night. It is a spiritual tree where people sought out healing from it. Accordingto myth, no bird is said to perched on the tree, no monkeys or animal climbs the tree and there is no trace of leaves shedding from the tree.

But due to civilization and people not keeping to culture birds are said to perch on it.
All of these heritage sites cannot be accessed especially during the rainy season due to lack off care thus there is no passage way to access them and most are in deplorable state.

In the gallery of the NOK museum you will find the pictorial representation of the NOK heads. They were take to Germany but have been returned to the National Museum, Kaduna and are part of a new exhibition presently showing at the museum after staying in Germany for a very long time.

The Museum needs a facelift and needs proper renovation for it to attend to tourists. There is need for signposts to direct people right from the major roads to the museum.

Allowing our heritage sites to be in deplorable stages is not the best way to take care of our history and culture.

We need to be woke about who we are and our history.

Do follow me on instagram @funmiAjalaTravels to check out my trip to Kaduna, Kano and Katsina. Do check the FANorthernDiary highlight.
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<![CDATA[A Train Ride to Kaduna]]>Mon, 03 Sep 2018 13:28:36 GMThttp://funmiajala.com/blog/a-trip-to-kaduna-by-train
The northern part of Nigeria has one of the if not the most beautiful landscape views, I will keep saying this.
On taking account of States visited in Nigeria, the Northern part and some part of the South-East are yet to be covered fully in my travel diary.
So i set forth on planning my trip. After a long project that took about two months, I was set on a break for a while. I looked at the calendar and decided some days before Sallah will be great. Covering the Durbar festival in Kano this year was high on the list. I set out for Abuja from Lagos, had a sleepover and head out for the train station in Idu.

I went online to check the schedule for the train ride to Kaduna from Abuja. I did not want to leave with the first train so i opted for the second trip. You can check the train schedule at http://nrc.gov.ng/ to know the station, departure and arrival time as well as fare.
The website is fair to navigate but there is room for improvement.

I arrived at the train station with the aim of getting a first class ticket but I was told it's fully booked. So I paid for coach which cost N1,300, while first class is N3,000. Your ticket has your seat number like in the plane as well as your coach number. You can not just sit in any coach you have to follow the procedure.
The sitting area of Idu train station is constructed like an airport sitting area. The terminal is quite better than some local airport architecture wise.

We all waited till our train arrived and we set to board the train. One thing though that can be taken into consideration is the availability of a conveyor belt for luggage for passengers having to climb up the stairs to get to the other side of the track to board their train.

The arrangement seats two and three passengers depending on which side of the coach you are seated. There is overhead luggage racks where passengers can put their luggage, while some seats have tables. On an average it's a comfortable setting. The train conductors comes around to check your ticket and seating area a few minutes after take off.

The journey to Kaduna is about two hours 15 minutes. The views are of towns, villages, farmlands and in some areas ongoing rail projects.
We arrived at our destination at the exact estimated time. As we disembarked, a few minutes after the cleaning crew were at work tidying up the coaches for the next trip.

The train is considered a safer, cheaper and better way to travel in the north and they do have lots of passengers.

I do know that the government is working on the rail projects from Lagos to the North, yes the whole world is using speed and bullet trains, we are far behind.
This is a step in the right direction for me. I am waiting for the waterways to be better for inter State travel then I will take a ride as well.

Next time you are in Abuja and will like to head up North, do take the train and kindly share your experience.
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<![CDATA[The Tie and Dye Process Of The Old North]]>Thu, 30 Aug 2018 13:33:30 GMThttp://funmiajala.com/blog/the-tie-and-dye-process-of-the-old-north
Visiting the northern part of Nigeria is high up on my list when I made my travel list for the year. Yes, I always make travel list which comprises of festivals, States, Cities, Countries I want to visit in the year and then the struggle to achieve them sets in.

I am always conscious of places I am not conversant with especially when language barrier is key. The northern part of Nigeria has some of the if not most beautiful landscape scenes i have seen so far in my traveling the country.

On my list was capturing the big Durbar in Kano this year. It is said that Kano holds the largest and biggest Durbar gathering in the whole north. So i set out to cover three States in 10 days. The States were Kaduna, Katsina and Kano.
I am a list person whenever I am traveling, this has always helped me with achieving my trips. Before I left Lagos I had mapped out my list for the three States, and gotten associates that will help me over there especially with translation.
Kano was my last city and one of the places I visited is the famous Kofar Mata Dyeing Pits.
I have seen pictures but been in the compound was awesome. It was second day of Sallah so a lot of workers were not there. They had traveled for the festival.

According to history the wells were built in the year 1498, making it 520 years old, and has been in constant use since then. A few feet from the entrance of the dyeing pit compound is what use to be the Kofar Mata Gate, which is one of the gates that were built in the then old Kano. This is one of the area where the old wall of Kano was situated. This gave the dyeing pits its name, 'Kofar Mata'. Though there is the story that the dyeing pits existed long before the gates.

Old Kano is the area that was situated inside the old city of Kano, which was built to keep strangers and control traffic of outsides coming to trade in the city back then. The British invasion shot canon balls through one of the gates in order to gain access into the city. That is another story.

THE PITS

There are 144 dyeing pits in total and they vary in depth. The deepness of the pits ranges from 2ft to 6 feet, with the deepest being 6 feet.
It takes four weeks for a pit to be ready for dyeing after mixing the ingredients. And after the mixture, the pit is used repeatedly everyday to dye clothes for the next one year before the water is poured out and replaced, thus starting the process all over again.
TIE AND DYE PROCESS

The process used in Kofar Mata is so similar to the one used in Abeokuta and Osogbo for the old dyeing process. In this story where I explained the tie and dye process, both modern and new. The little bit of difference can be found in the designing of the patterns. The South West used different methods like eleko, Sewing of the patterns, tieing up of the patterns while the north solely used the tying up process to get patterns into the clothes.
Fabrics used are mostly hand woven cotton which has a nice feeling when touched and pure cotton materials.
We are so similar in all that we do irrespective of the language we speak.

Depending on how deep the blue of the cloth should be, it takes between 90 minutes to six hours to achieve the shade of blue the client wants. 90 minutes for light blue shade, 180 minutes for blue, 240 minutes for navy blue and 360 minutes for dark blue.

The process is dipping the cloth in the water then pull out, dry, and back again into the pit, pull out and dry, till the shade of blue needed is achieved.
The patterns designed on the clothes are named and I was shown variety. There is the three basket, The Emir's Palace, The bride and groom, the Zebra, etc.

After the whole process of dyeing is completed it is taken to the Bugu, to iron out and pack. The Bugu is what is referred to as 'Olu and Olu Omo' in the South-West.
The bugu is not used for only the dyed clothes but some people still preferred it as a method of ironing their traditional clothes.

Ingredients used are Indigo, Ash and Potassium. Like the South-west believe that the water is medicinal, so do the kofar mata workers believe as well. It is said to cure any form of skin problems and diseases.

CARING FOR THE PITS

On walking round I noticed some pits have baskets on them while some have plastic debris like in the pits. On asking, I learnt that the ones with the baskets are the deepest pits, that is 6 feet. The plastic debris are poured into the unused well to preserve them from cracking. I could spot some well that has cracks by the edge, and that is due to not been used for a while and no filler was put in them. This is their own preservative process for the well. When it is time to use the pit, the debris will be cleared out and ready for use.

THE HISTORY

In Kofa Mata, there are generations of men that have passed through this  process. It is a family business and the families that lived around the gate are the main custodian of the dyeing pits. There are non family members who are interested in the trade and are apprenticing at the place

My guard, Yusif worked their as a kid and he has his own tie and dye business of t-shirts he does till now.

 The disadvantage of this dye pit is that use of blue colour only, I guess that is the colour of the indigo. Mixing other colours with it might not work well. Most of their clients are from Senegal, Mali and Central Africa.
It's unfortunate that this aspect of tourism is almost dying. It is more about the unique patterns and cloth material that fascinates me. I love the handwoven material.

The men working at this pit are cheerful and everyone wants to show you their work, they will allow you take photos hoping you drop some money but more importantly make a purchase.

For interior decors, you can come here with requests and it will be uniquely done.
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<![CDATA[A Tale of Three Castles: Cape Coast and Osu]]>Tue, 31 Jul 2018 17:10:32 GMThttp://funmiajala.com/blog/a-tale-of-three-castles-cape-coast-and-osuThere are three castles in Ghana and several forts along the coast of Ghana and were built by Europeans and were all used for trans-atlantic slave trade.
The first of the castle is the Elmina castle. It is built around 1482 by Portuguese, under the Leadership of  São Jorge da Mina. The second one is the Osu castle in Accra. It used to be the seat of the government of Ghana. It was built in 1661 by the Danish. The last and the youngest castle us the one in Cape Coast, which was built in 1665 by the British. By age, the Cape Coast is the youngest castle.

The cape coast castle was built when Slave Trade was at its peak. When built, a dungeon has the capacity to take a thousand men, separated from 300 women at a particular time. The slaves were held in the castle for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of three months depending on the availability of the British ships to take the cargo away.
By 1807, the British came up with a law which states that it has abolish slave trade and by 1814, the Dutch also passed the same law in Holland. But from that time till 1860 in Africa the Salve Trade was still on-going and it was referred to as illegal Slave Trade by the Europeans. This lasted for over 40 years. Slave Trade finally stopped in 1860. The Cape Coast Slave Castle was used to colonise Ghana and other English colonies. The British were in Cape Coast till the time Gold Coast (now known as Ghana) gained independence on March 6, 1957.
The Cape Coast castle is 353 years old, Elmina Castle is about 536 years old.
The castle still maintained its original architecture. Bricks shipped in from England were used to build the castle. In the olden days British ships come to Africa empty, the building materials were used to balance the ships over the ocean in order to transport it safely. On returning back to England, slaves were used as the ship balance. There was no cement at the time, grounded Oysters shells which were found in abundance due to the castle's  close proximity to the sea, lime powder and palm oil were used as binding materials for the bricks.
Cape Coast castle is built on a huge rock boulder which was blasted to make way for the building. The slaves were put to work in getting a level ground to build the Cape Coast castle on, thus making the castle foundation to be a very strong one.
Picture
Osu Castle, Accra, Ghana
The living condition of the slaves is so derogatory that one do imagine how were they able to survive for three months in such condition.

The idea of slave trade started when the Spanish who own plantations were looking for workers to cultivate their land, African males were taken to till the land and the women to breed and multiply.

The women were made to pass their monthly flow in the dungeon. They are not allowed to clean their teeths, clean their bodies, their was no sanitary pads for three months.Upon all this humiliation, the women were raped by the British thus the mixed breed families along the coast of Ghana. This is the flux of light skinned Ghanaians and the bearing of European last names like Van Dyke, Van Viker, Hamilton, Johnson, Rawlings,Harrison, Ferguson, and many more. Thr British settled in Ghana for about 400 years and their legacy lives on through their generations.

Picture
Part of Osu Castle, Accra
OSU CASTLE

Osu Castle is the third major castle in Ghana that is key to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade story. It is the Ghanaian seat of Power until January 6, 2009 when It was moved to The Jubilee House which is now called The FlagStaff House. It is also the resting place of the late President John Atta Mills, located in Osu, Accra, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean's.

The Castle also has a bird sanctuary which I learnt was a hobby of Former President Jerry Rawlings while he lived in the castle. Osu castle was the former official presidential residence.

The road leading to the castle is lined up with flags and there is a military check point some few feet away from the gate of the castle.
The castle has undergone several renovations. There were parts of it which i learnt were added extensions and were been worked on when I visited the place.
The seaside is the common denominator for all the forts and castles that were built across Africa. The castle is breathtaking and is the second oldest castle in Ghana.

There is a mini museum with the history of Ghana's independence, the story of the 'Big SIX' with their pictures. These were men that fought for Ghana to gain it's independence on March 6, 1957.

One will also find the office of Jerry Rawlings complete with the table and chair he sat on while in office. Part of the office section are now dilapidated and filled with water. Maintenance always seem to be an issue.

On going down the tunnel where the slaves were kept, i have to say that Osu castle holds the most inhumane treatment for captives back then. Humans bend at half their height, crouched in a position for weeks till the ship arrive. The tunnel was low and dark, it holds the worst of treatment. A claustrophobic individual is likely to have an attack, I then imagine people living in this condition for two months.
History need to be told in its proper shape. Unlike the other castles that have throngs of tourists daily, this one tend to have a low turnout though they want renovations to be finished and more hands hired for it to be in full capacity.

We need not forget our history in order not to make the same mistake for the future while living in the present
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<![CDATA[A Tale of Three Castles: Elmina Castle]]>Tue, 24 Jul 2018 22:18:39 GMThttp://funmiajala.com/blog/a-tale-of-three-castles-elmina-castle
This history is never told to pass judgement. It is never told to pass accusing fingers at a friend, No. It is never told to open old wounds or to remember the sufferings that our forefathers went through. But it's simply told to educate one another. The history is told because of education.
These were the words of my guide in Elmina Castle, Elmina Town in Ghana. The history of the trans-Atlantic Trade is not complete without visiting Ghana. Ghana has three castles and many forts that were dedicated to the Slave Trade. The castles are Elmina, Cape Coast and Osu in Accra.
This story is a bit touchy to write because it was not a pleasant one but it is a story that must be told to help us question how we live with ourselves everyday.

ENTERING ELMINA

Driving into Elmina one can not but notice the coastal line on both sides of the road  and on entering the town, the history is evident with some of the old architectural buildings that lined some part of the streets and also the main occupation of the people of the town, Fishing.

Elmina castle is a hot tourism spot and is not far from the Elmina fish market which also serves as the major market. It has all the trappings of people trying to sell you something once you are spotted. One cannot dismiss the colourful array of fishing boats that are at the pier nor dismiss the smell of fish that fill your nostrils.

You have to cross a sort of gangway that is above a big gutter to get to the doorway of the castle. Payment of 30GHC is paid at the gate as a foreigner, mind you identification is very important at these places if you are to pay the local price.

I was asked to join a group and a tour guide was assigned to us. About two other tours were ongoing but it was seamlessly done in such a way that teh tours do not affect each other. Our tour guide introduced himself and the tour began.
THE NAME 'ELMINA'

According to history the first Europeans to arrive at the then Gold Coast were the Portugese and they arrived in the year 1471. They came to buy gold, Ivory, spices and some other artifacts. They brought wine, tobacco, building materials, guns and gun powder. the major commodity they were able to purchase in large quantity from the locals was gold. The rate at which the locals were exchanging this same precious commodity for the cheap foreign goods gave the Portuguese the impression that Gold Coast was a land that has gold in abundance. This resulted in the name 'A Mina' or 'Da Mina' meaning 'The Mine' or 'Gold Mine'. The locals could not pronounce the name properly thus they corrupted it and called it 'Elmina' which is the name it still bears.
Before the arrival of the Europeans the town was popularly called 'Amankwaa Kurom' meaning ' Amankwaa's village' named after the founder, Kwaa Amankwaa, as it was customary back then to named the village after the founder.

IN THE BEGINNING

In 1482, 11 years after establishment of a lucrative trade route, a need came for them to establish base in the then Gold Coast. On 20th January, 1482, the Portuguese led by Don Diego d'Azambuja, with a Portuguese interpreter Juan Bernardo who had learnt the local language, met with the chief and the elders to negotiate for a piece of kand to build their fortress.

The then Chief, Nana Kwamena Ansa was not in support of a permanent residence for the Europeans citing the differences in lifestyle and culture. But after much incessant persuasions from the Portuguese and the hope of peaceful co-existing, the chief granted their request. The castle occupies an area of about 100952 feet or 2.32 acres. On completion, the castle was named after their patron saint in Portugal, Sao Jorge(Saint George). THis is the original name of the castle but people tend to refer to it as Elmina castle after the town.

SLAVE TRADE ERA

The noble trade intentions went on until the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, also referred to as the worst of crimes started in the early sixteenth century. The warehouse that was built to house goods were converted to dungeons to house about one thousand captives at a time About four hundred female captives were kept in the inner courtyard and about six hundred male captives were kept in the different dungeons.

In the year 1637, 155 years later after the castle was built, it was captured from the Portuguese by the Dutch. This was achieved after several attempts and with the help of the locals from Fort San Jago, which overlooked the castle they bombarded the Portuguese from land and the sea.
They renovated the castle, opened the dungeons to contain more captives, repaired the destroyed parts, and they also traded in Slave Trade.

The Dutch were in the Gold Coast till the Slave Trade was abolished and the castle was traded to the British in 1872 when it became costly to maintain. The British were involved in illegal slave trade and they used the castle in Gold Coast for their slave merchandise while Elmina castle served as their administrative center.
The Dutch built five forts to secure all inland routes to avoid a repetition of what they had done to the Portuguese. The forts are San Jago, Natglas, Schomerus, Java and Beckenstein. It is only Fort San Jago that is still standing till date, the others are in ruins.

Three years after the second World War, that was in 1948, the British converted Elmina castle into Police Training School. In the year 1957, Colony of the Gold Coast gained Independence under the name Ghana. The Elmina castle is 536 years old, it is the oldest and biggest European built castle in Africa. Standing in the middle of the courtyard is a storey building that was went through different transition. It started as a church, then a slave market, a school and presently serves as the museum. The Irony of this building is that it has a slave dungeon under it while the slave masters were supposedly worshiping God.
The ground floor rooms were converted into dungeons for the male captives, the soldiers, traders and the technicians were staying in the rooms on the first floor. The Deputy Governor lived on the second floor and the governor lived on the top main floor. Living arrangements were in relative to their hierarchy.

THE INHUMANE TREATMENT OF THE AFRICAN CAPTIVES

The captives were kept in the dungeons till the ship arrived. On arrival of the ship the expected number to leave at that point were made to come out of their dungeons and arranged in the courtyard. The female captives were separated from the male captives to prevent procreation, but the Europeans were having sex with them. The female captives were held in the inner courtyard where they are raped. These captives are Africans for not all of them are Ghanaian.

In the middle of the inner courtyard is a reservoir that was dug by the Portuguese and filled with rain water. Ceramic pipes were connected to the building to harvest rain water into the reservoir. This was their only source of water for cooking, bathing, drinking and any other domestic purposes. The Dutch who captured the castle from the Portuguese however did not use the Reservoir simply because they thought the Portuguese would have poisoned the water. Recent tests however showed that the reservoir was never poisoned.

TREATMENT OF FEMALE CAPTIVES

The Europeans never came to Africa with their wives, thus the sexual abuse of the female captives. It was said that whenever the governor wanted to satisfy his lust, he comes out to ta a balcony in the inner courtyard and the female captives are led out to the courtyard for the governor to make his choice. The one he selects who have been in the dungeon for days will be dirty. Do note that the captives were not allowed to have a bath even when they are having their monthly flow.
The soldiers draw water for the female captive selected by the governor to wash herself and then she make her way to the governor's quarters.
The female captives that prove stubborn and refused the governor's advances were punished by chained by their ankles to a 25kg canon ball and left in the open courtyard in the rain and the sun. This is to serve as a lesson to those who refused to be raped.
The female captives were made to sleep on the floor with cans at different corners of the same room where they attend to the call of nature.

The European soldiers who disobeyed were kept in a cell which has windows and ventilation, they were sent to the cells to discourage others of such characters not to really punished them in comparison to the African captives who were kept in rooms with no windows and no source of lights.

Captives that were ready to be shipped out were made to walk through dark dungeons with very low bhead room to the room of No Return where they are finally shipped out.

By the entrance of the cell meant for the Europeans there is this Inscription

'IN EVERLASTING MEMORY'
Of the anguish of our ancestors
May those who dies rest in peace
May those who return find their roots.
May humanity never again Perpetrate such injustice against humanity.
We the living vow to uphold this.


This is a very touching declaration and I do wish we are upholding it.

I want us to note that Slave Trade did not start with the white men as we are told most times, it started with us, the Blacks. Chiefs and the elites back then were already having slaves in their homes, people who do the hard work and do their bidding. The White man only capitalised on what we have set the process in place without knowing. This was fueled by our greed and ignorance in a way. But do we still continue in this way. Their might not be physical chains and canon balls tied to our ankles, their is the chain of economics and politics which we hold over ourselves as a people.
Ever wondered why Africans excel when they go abroad but they can barely succeed except they are Yesmen to some group of people in their countries?
Looking forward to your different response on this.

The concluding part of the tale next week.
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