Monday, October 13, 2008

The 19th good thing about Northern Nigeria: a view of Katsina getting ready for a big party

When we arrived in Katsina, it was clear that they were getting ready for a celebration. The streets were full of vendors and people travelling to the Durbar. I saw a number of cars driving by a man and crammed full of children, all dressed in fancy clothing. There were also motorbikes loaded with a (presumably) dad with several children in front and behind. Women were not invited to this party, at least among the crowd (I'm glad they let me attend!). Young girls could be there and some old women were evident (I wonder who decides when a woman is old enough that she is fit for mixed company....), but married women were kept inside the walls of their homes.
We drove through the gate in the wall around the palace area and were met by palace representatives to show us where to go.
We climbed the stairway leading up to the viewing area on the palace wall.

This is the smaller crowd on the interior of the palace wall.
And there was a larger crowd outside the walls where the Durbar ceremonies would take place. Before the ceremony began, they tried to keep some passage on the road for vehicles to get through, but the crowd kept filling the street.
We had a crowd below that found entertainment in watching us, the foreign visitors up in the viewing area. This boy below had a bowl full of scorpions. He enjoyed showing them to us, allowing them to crawl all over his face and hands. They must have been milked of their venom. We enjoyed watching these boys take pictures of us with a cell phone camera and they would gather around to look at the photo of the visitors and just laugh. I wonder what they found so funny about us -- but we were busy taking plenty of pictures of the crowd below, so I guess it's okay that they take pictures of us.
Before the Durbar procession began, the police had to clear a pathway. I don't know if they said anything to the crowd first, but all of a sudden we saw them appear with whips and clubs and they were just beating and whipping the crowd to get them to move back so a path would be cleared for the parade. It seemed a bit extreme for crowd control, but I guess that's what it takes here.
I love this picture of children dressed in their finery inside the palace walls, watching the white people with curiousity.

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