On Saturday, 15th April 2016, I took the trip to Kaduna for the first time despite the crisis in the state. Prior to going there, on Friday which was the previous day, I had told Ruth about my intentions to go to Kaduna as I heard that I could get a variety of packaging bottles with pretty covers for my coconut oil. I had searched the big markets in Abuja but could not find a supplier for my bottles so I used this reason as an excuse to kill three birds with a stone – use the modern train, get new bottles and increase the number of Nigerian states I have traveled to.
Ruth wanted to be my travel partner and so I instructed her to be early as we would use the morning train. I proceeded, that night to go visit my guys in Kubwa where I usually spend my weekends.
Had I not agreed with Ruth, I would have canceled my trip because I fell ill that Friday night. When Ruth’s call woke me, I did not care to take a bath, I wore a Tshirt and my ankara shorts, carried my bag and went to meet her at the train station. We had missed the first and only train for the day but because we were determined to go to Kaduna, we went to Zuba where we negotiated with a driver and boarded a taxi. I had my earpiece plugged in throughout, pausing only once to take a picture of Ruth and I (tired and ill as I was).
In just a little over two hours, we arrived Kaduna and immediately went to the central market. I noticed that 99% of the females had their heads covered, many of the females wore clothes that covered their entire body. It was easy to pick me out of the rest, easy to notice that I did not belong here. Thank God Ruth was with me. We found the market and combed every corner. Kaduna is an interesting small town. All the children I saw wore blue uniforms, dressed like muslims because the girls wore trousers and hijabs while the boys wore small caps (I am a very lazy writer and have no patience for descriptions).
Ruth and I found almost everything we needed. I found unrefined honey at Mallam Shek’s shop. Interesting man! We would point at a product and he would respond with what it was meant for.
“That one na for woman, e dey make woman sweet”, “This one dey give man power”, “if you lick this sweet, you go sweet finish”, “this one dey make your skin shine”.
Ruth and I would laugh and point at another until we knew what all the products were used for. Mallam Shek’s shop was where we spent most of our money because we bought many raw materials for our products and I bought many liters of raw honey. We proceeded to the shop where we would get our packaging bottles. I was particularly disappointed considering the hype Kika and a few others had given the place. They said I would find a variety and would be confused as there would be too many bottles and covers to choose from. They were wrong. We bought our bottles and few things and just before we left, I thought I should ask one of the women there, who sold the bottles, for direction, once again, to Rigasa.
Rigasa is where the train station is located in Kaduna. Ruth and I thought we would use the train ride back to Abuja and I knew she was getting angry with me as it seemed like I loved to ask the same question over again when I met someone new – “oga/madam, abeg how person fit reach Rigasa railway?” After telling bike guys in Abuja to take me to the ‘train station’ and having them shake their heads in confusion because they did not know what I meant by train station, a slightly literate bike guy came to my rescue and told me to tell them that I was going to the ‘railway’ next time. I digress.
I asked the woman, but rather than give me direction like the other people did, she looked up and asked, “you dey go Rigasa?”
“Yes ma. We wan use the train go Abuja.”
“Abeg no go Rigasa.”
“You no see wetin you dey wear? Dem go stone you!”
The older woman who sat beside her looked at me scornfully.
“I can never let my daughter dress like you are dressed. Why are you wearing shorts? Is it because you came from Abuja?”
I was shocked. “See your friend, she is well dressed.”
I looked at Ruth who was wearing a knee-length skirt and print shirt.
“But her skirt and my shorts are both knee-length!”, I grumbled.
“Even with what I am wearing, I cannot go to Rigasa”, the younger woman replied me. She was wearing Jean trousers and a blouse.
“Madam, you have been warned”, Ruth chipped in before I grumbled more.
“Just go to Bakiruwa and take a taxi to Abuja”, they advised.
They gave us directions, we thanked the women and left. Thank God they had warned me. I asked Kika, she said Rigasa is a Muslim dominated town and that they had strict rules regarding dressing.
I will revisit this topic. I am just putting this out here. You see, because I admire how the Muslims dress. I even bought some Jalabia (?) and scarves and added to my wardrobe but stoning me for wearing shorts? Is this how they intend to make progress? Are their ladies holier than I am?
I know better than wearing shorts in a Muslim dominated community, in the North generally. I also do not look forward to visiting Kaduna or any Muslim-dominated state. I love my life and seeing all that is happening in Southern Kaduna just weakens me. How people get killed by extremists for just being. So unless there is something big and highly important to my life happening in Kaduna, here is Aidee’s message to the city
“Hi Kaduna, BYE Kaduna. It was fun while it lasted”.
I love you all.