Sunday, March 27, 2011

Abeokuta

Oyibo!  Over here!   Oyibo!

Oyibo means "peeled one" or "without color".  It's the call we hear when we go to the market.  "Oyibo, (O-we-bo) come to my booth...Oyibo, please buy my wares".  The children are sometimes afraid of us, so they hide behind their mothers.  They know we carry money, travel in groups, move with armed guards and that we have the ability to buy whatever they are selling.  Many of them are desperate for just one sale.
I went with 7 other women to Abeokuta (A-bay'-o-koo-da) for a day trip (along with 1 driver, 4 armed escorts and a chase car).  It's about 2 hours north (65 miles) from Lagos in southeast Nigeria.  Abeokuta is the capital city of the Ogun state and its name means 'under the rock'.  Nationally, the city is best known as the place where the people took refuge among the rocks to escape the slave hunters.  The most famous rock is the Olumo and there's a tourist complex (picture below), which might be interesting to visit sometime. 

For many, the area is also known for the famous resist dyed fabric, Adire.  Yoruban Adire traditionally uses indigo and cassava paste, then tied and dyed.  We parked at a gas station, and started down the street into the fabric area.
  It didn't take long to purchase fabric!
  There are such unusual patterns and beautiful material. 
Even the guard wanted in the picture!  Did I mention that he is excellent at bargaining?  I know he is warm in this heat with his helmet on since it's about 95 degrees.  Can you see the rifle he carries with him?
The market was an incredible experience.  While I enjoyed shopping for fabric, my senses were overloading quickly.
The food looks good in this picture and much of it was nice.  But I have never seen such filth - ever.    I have traveled a lot and seen many things in my lifetime...but this took me to a completely new level of awareness.  
 
You can't see it well in the pictures (thankfully) but there was also meat for sale - right out in the open - in the heat - in the filth.  People would walk by and pick it up and look at it, then keep on walking. 
I just kept thinking of the disease.....botulism, E.coli, typhoid....that had to surround me.  In the midst, children were playing with no clothes...urinating, etc...  and everyone just passing by and thinking this was normal.... 
And the fish that they laid up on the table and hacked into with a machete....made me move quickly out of the way.  
  The sights...the sounds...the smells....the heat....just began to get to me.  
They told me that I did great for being in the country for only two weeks, but this will not be a place that I will bring visitors - so no worries!  :)  
  In addition to fabric, you could buy ANYTHING!

Absolutely anything....
We were glad to see that there was a nice school, since I know that education is the only way out of poverty.  The students are in their uniforms - blue jumpers and pink shirts below. 
We passed by a few churches.  This one is the All Saints Anglican Chapel.

Most of the pictures were taken from the van, and about half of them were blurry or crooked.  The roads might give a good explanation.  I felt like I was riding a horse part of the time!  

I was fascinated with this sign in the middle of town.  It says "Ogun State - The Obvious Investment Destination of Choice".  
And just in case you are interested in seeing what the world wide web has to say about Abeokuta - read below.  
"The city of Abeokuta is a significant site in Nigeria because of its strategic position and its historical significance. The city is located at a position, which is nearby to the most important cities in Nigeria. Abeokuta is also a culturally significant spot in Nigeria, owing to
the historic Olumo Rock. Due to these reasons, Abeokuta is a potential tourist attraction
of the country, drawing travelers by its beauty and aura."

And if you are interested, there's some land that we can show you too! 
On the way back, we drove right into a political rally and quickly turned around.  Our chase car followed behind us and blew his horn and siren the entire way.   
Overall, we had a great day, a fun time with wonderful new friends, an experience to last a lifetime and good memories....along with opened eyes and an amazement for the hardiness of the people around us.  And to end our time together, the armed guards took a picture with us.  We're missing one guard, but you get the idea of how we 'roll'. 

1 comment:

Randall said...

WOW, I'm speechless.