Nigeria 1983 (Page 2)

- N i g e r i a ,   W h i c h   W a y ? -

Highway information signs were extremely scarce in Nigeria. Finding this one just south of Maiduguri was definitely refreshing.

Sadly, all direction indicators for Nigeria were scarce. This nation was seemingly suspended in time, unable, for various reasons, to move decisively into the present.

Abundant opportunities have been, and still appear to be, frustrated. The fertile soil produces mainly what hand labor can manage. Mineral wealth, including high grade oil reserves, is not reflected in the national economy. Tourism is almost nonexistent, though many attractions could be developed. Communications systems are not very effective even between government offices. Without communications, police try to keep order by setting up highway checkpoints for general inspection of vehicles.

A Petrol Station in Maiduguri
Market in Bauchi
While a few petrol stations feature the familiar corporate signs such as Mobil with their pump islands, most stations we found along the major highways, consisted simply of large rectangular tanks and various smaller containers for transferring gasoline directly into your vehicle.

Household shopping is generally done in large, crowded, extremely busy, outdoor markets where each shop keeper has a table and a shelter. Shopping here is an experience for all the senses. Prices vary widely depending upon the skill of the merchant and the skill of the customer.
Curb service on peanuts

By now you might be wondering why Mary and I visited Nigeria.

In 1982, one year prior to our visit, our daughter Linda and her husband Aaron went to Bauchi, Nigeria to serve three years as teachers in Nigerian secondary schools. This was a commitment they made with the Mennonites who, under an arrangement with the Nigerian government, provided qualified teachers.

So here was our perfect excuse to see a part of the world we would not otherwise have experienced.

Nigeria, with it's striking differences to our culture, was an eye-opener. Now, in retrospect, we realized that Nigerians are much like anyone anywhere, even here in the U.S.A. To broadly generalize, they have the same aspirations for progress, the same interests in acquiring knowledge, the same drives for self-respect and the same desires to see their nation prosper. But, just as in any culture, the situations prevailing around them obscure a view of their potential, and frustrate achievement. So my conclusion is that Nigeria helps to remind us all that if we have achieved anything it wasn't just our own doing. We should be be grateful to God that frustrations were surmountable.

It was our pleasure to meet in the homes of some of these hospitable Nigerians and of other Mennonites from America who were serving in Nigeria.

Musa, Babia, Linda and Aaron.

Nigeria is predominately Muslim, but Christianity is an officially recognized religion. Students were (and may still be) required to take a course in Christian Religious Knowledge, some being taught by teachers supplied by the Mennonite Central Committee.

A Sunday Morning in a Bauchi Church
The women, with heads covered, sit on the left. Men sit on the right.
- Jamina, her brother and her flowers -

Nigeria - A Beautiful Land Indeed !