For this week’s Stamped, Oluwalanu Agusto, a culture blogger, takes us through her trip to Kano with her father. She tells us about discovering the beauty of the Northern Nigerian city, as well as the culture shock she experienced.
This is her story as told to Chukwunonso Emelumadu, writer at Backdrop.
Before I decided to start culture blogging last year, I had travelled to so many places, including South Africa, Spain, Egypt, Portugal and France. I went on some of these trips with my family and some by myself. I became a culture blogger to educate people on African culture because I believe it helps our economies. The more we know about our own products, the more we will consume them and stop importing things we already have. I love being African, and I want more people to love it too; that’s why I promote Africa. I also get to travel, so I guess that’s an added bonus.
There was no better place to start my culture blogging journey than Nigeria since I’m Nigerian and live in Nigeria. Last year, I went to Calabar, took a road trip around the South-West and explored Yoruba culture, visiting places like Abeokuta and Osogbo. Next, I went to Abuja and then Kano, which is the trip I’m going to talk about.
I decided to go to Kano because I didn’t think I knew enough about Northern Nigeria, and I wanted to change that. I’d seen pictures of the Durbar festival that is held in Kano annually, and I thought that Eid was the perfect time to experience that colourful and cultural event. I went to Kano with my dad because I’ve not been to any part of Northern Nigeria, and my dad told me it’s like another country. He’s also Muslim, so we figured he’d be able to help me bridge that gap.
When we got to Kano, we first went to the Emir’s palace and greeted the Emir. Then we went to the Gidan Makama museum and started learning about Hausa and Fulani cultures. We learned about many things, like the Kano walls and other important parts of their history. After that, the guide took us to Dalla hills, which was the first place Hausa people settled in Kano. We went to the top, took vantage pictures of Kano and listened to the guide tell us stories from the past. Afterwards, we went to the Kurmi market, where they sell all sorts of things, from food to leather bags to arts and crafts. The market is huge and will most likely have whatever you’re looking for; it is 500 years old and is one of the oldest markets in Nigeria. I bought some shoes and bags for my sister.
The next day, we went back to the Emir’s palace to have a private audience with the Emir. I walked around the palace and took pictures and videos. After leaving the palace, we went to the Kofar Mata dye pits — also 500 years old. The Hausa men here used to be called the blue men because they would bring their fabrics here and dye them blue. So we met some dyers who showed us women in the process of tying and dyeing. They even let me touch it and participate in what they were doing, which was really cool.
On my third day in Kano, I went to get Henna done for Eid. Henna is temporary body art resulting from artistically staining the skin with dyes; it is a common practice in Islamic parts of the world. To my surprise, this process took four hours. I certainly didn’t expect it to be that long. I had to take a break after she was done with my hands before she did my feet. The designs came out great, and they were really beautiful. After this, I ate tuwo shinkafa and miyar taushe, which is a traditional Hausa delicacy.
The next day was Eid. All I did on this day was have suya and rest. It was a public holiday, so most places were closed. The suya I ate was actually kind of salty, which was disappointing because I had assumed I’d eat the best suya ever in the North.
The next day was the day of the Durbar Festival. The festival takes place on the huge field in front of the Emir’s palace, so we stayed in a box that was essentially a VIP box — it could seat about 50 people. There were also media companies there covering the event. When the event started, different families started coming out wearing their colours and riding their horses; some children, even as young as five years old, were riding their own horses, too. It was really fascinating. There were drums, trumpets and other instruments being played. It was a really colourful and beautiful event — up to 30 families came out. The Emir came out, and he had a huge umbrella over his head to differentiate him from everyone else. A few horses had races, and they shot local guns in the air; a lot was going on at the festival. In the spirit of all that was going on, I even got on one of the horses. It was a really amazing festival. My dad loved it, too.
The festival was a wonderful way to end my trip to Kano; it was a truly amazing experience. My favourite thing about my trip to Kano was the culture shock. I love experiencing new cultures, so it’s always nice when I experience ones that are really different from what I’m used to. In Northern Nigeria, when they enter rooms, they sit on the floor instead of on chairs because they are so used to sitting on the floor when they are praying. The most senior person in the room sits on the chair, and everyone else sits on the floor out of respect. This was hard to get used to, and I don’t think I ever got used to it. Regardless, I loved being able to experience how other people live.
I loved visiting Kano, and I don’t think some parts of Northern Nigeria get the plaudits they deserve. I can’t wait for where culture blogging takes me next.