Africa Speaks: Town and Country

Village and satellite disk, near Niger river, Tillabery road, 1992

Contents:. . . Identity . . . Niamey vs Ouagadougou . . . Emotion . . . Between Devils . . . Bad Weekend . . . home page


Sani Dan Lamso 3/30/92

There is a proverb in Africa that says: "The fact that a tree floats in the water, doesn't turn it into a crocodile."

We cannot remain indifferent to the way of life of non-African people; however, some young Africans totally reject the old traditions and try to copy exactly the people of other continents. Especially, they try to copy the way European (white) people talk, dress, walk, act, eat, drink, dance, and so on.

For example, some young African women want lighter skin, so they spend money to buy products that turn them into a kind of "devil": they are neither black nor white. I think that white people laugh at these women because they don't want to keep their natural black color.

To build a new society, we must not blindly follow the cultures of other people and reject our own values and traditions. We need to learn to choose the best of Western culture, and also to keep best things of African culture.

Copyright © 1998 Sani Dan Lamso


Bush taxi, Niger River ferry [toward Tera], Niger, 1992

Niamey vs Ouagadougou

Sadi Aichatou 4/13/92

In 1990, the students of the University of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) invited us for some sports and other cultural games. We agreed to come during the Easter holidays.

The day before our departure, we prepared our luggage and took it to the campus where the buses were parked. One of our colleagues loaded the luggage on the roofs of the buses and in the bins on the sides.

The next day, I woke up earlier than usual--at five o'clock A.M.--bathed, prayed, and took my breakfast. Then I woke my roommate to tell her I was leaving. She washed her face quickly and accompanied me to the campus. When we arrived, we saw that almost everybody was there, and that the delegate had started calling the roll. When he saw me, he said that my name had already been called and I could get in the bus.

We left Niamey at eight o'clock and fifteen minutes later we arrived at the police station on the edge of town. There, we found the minister of sports and youth, Amadou Seydou. We all got out of the buses and shook hands with him.

Then he said: "I came here and waited for you because I have to tell you this: You are going to Burkina for games, and not politics, so be quiet and enjoy yourselves. You know that our country is in serious political problems, and you have no business to cause other problems. Represent Niger as united and indivisible. Good luck in your competitions and have a joyful stay in Burkina."

At noon, we came to the frontier between the two countries, at a town called Kantchari. We got out of the buses there to take our lunch.

At Kantchari I noticed that people are sympathetic and things are not expensive. There are also many vultures and dogs which don't fear men. The vultures even came close to us to take the rest of our meal or some bones we threw away.

After eating, some of us prayed; then we continued on toward Burkina. But before that the police checked our luggage and gave us a permit because of what we would buy in Ouagadougou.

We reached Ouaga at seven P.M. and met some students who came to welcome us. They took our luggage and took us to our accommodations on the campus of the University of Ouagadougou. It turns out we were the first to live on campus, because at this time the campus had not yet opened.

The day after our arrival, we went to visit the town. We went to some plazas and squares and also to the market where we did some shopping.

The games started two days after we arrived and finished three days later. They (Ouaga) won in boys' volley ball, girls' basketball, and tae kwon do; we (Niamey) won in handball, football (soccer), karate, boys' basketball, and judo.

However, during the boys' basketball match, a quarrel began between us and the Burkinabe because we were winning. They told the referee that if we won, he "would see" by the end of the match.

So we were obliged to leave the stadium before the end of the match, and when we got in the buses they began to throw stones at us, and one of my friends named Ouma Boukary, a basketball player, got injured.

That night, we went to a night club called Harmattan, and another called Why Not. We stayed out until 4 A.M. The next morning we went to the town again and did some shopping because we were leaving the next day.

The day before we went back to Niamey, the Burkinabe gave a party on the campus, but only a few of us went. Later we all went to Maxim's, another night club, and danced until 5 A.M. We came back to the campus only to change our clothing and to get into the buses to travel to Niamey.

Copyright © 1998 Sadi Aichatou


Street scene, Niamey, Niger 1992


Malam Ari Mahamadou Dec 21, 1990

The following story was told to me by my friend Bassingue. It was a funny one, and goes thus:

Rainy season. The night was cloudy and it was so dark that one could not even see one's own nose. A man, about thirty years old, and stout, was sitting in his hut. He had just finished eating and he was licking the empty bowl. There was no light inside the hut and the darkness was deep.

Suddenly a flash of lightning lit up the area. Dodo, such was the man's name, saw a hyena at the entrance of his hut. Very frightened, he crashed through the back wall of the hut and went straight to his neighbors. He was sweating and quivering.

Surprised, the neighbors asked: "What's the matter, Dodo?"

He replied with a shaking voice: "I was sitting in my bowl, licking my hut, then hyena flashed a bolt of lightning, and I saw God standing at my door."

The neighbors burst into laughter. Fear made Dodo invert the order of things: God took the place of hyena, bowl replaced hut. The neighbors soothed him.

They spent the night together, and in the morning, they went to evaluate the mess Dodo had made. There was a big hole in the wall of his hut. They helped him to patch it.

Copyright © 1998 Malam Ari Mahamadou


Taxis and motos at petit marche, Niamey, Niger, 1992

Between Devils

Malam Ari Mahamadou

Monday, December 25, 1990, Christ's birthday. I had an appointment with some friends living in town, so at ten in the morning I hailed a taxi.

There were already two passengers in it. The back seat was occupied by a woman about forty years old. She was a little bit fat. A slim older man was sitting in front with the driver. I took a place in back near the woman. The car started.

Some twenty meters ahead the driver stepped on the brake. A woman had hailed him. This one was a "Gabdi." Gabdi is a local word for very big woman. This one was a real super Gabdi. She looked like a hippopotamus. Very big and besides ugly.

She was very dark in complexion and her cheeks were randomly carved, as if by a puppet maker. Her eyes were imprisoned by fleshy eyebrows. She wore a large dress. Her breasts made her bend a bit. I thought they might be heavy for her.

When she opened the door on my side my heart began to beat faster. The drumming of my chest made me think my heart wanted to leave my body. I soon realized that I would be trapped between two devils. Though the first woman was not as big as the second, I felt I would spend a bad time in their company.

When the bulldozer took her place in the car the vehicle lowered a good deal. I thought the tires would give in. The seat was not big enough. I groaned, for a good portion of the Gabdi's buttocks laid on my thighs. I tried to make myself as small as I could, but it did not help.

I didn't know when the car started. All I knew was that I could hardly breathe, and I was wet with sweat like a laborer at work. The air in the taxi was stifling with the smell of body cream and other items meant to be seductive, but they were about to kill me.

The big trouble was that my nose was open to the armpits of both women. Those armpits were sweating and smelled like a corpse. I was actually short of oxygen and felt that my blood was not moving with the usual speed. Was it really in my veins? I could not tell.

I was suffocating and fainting when the taxi stopped. It was the station where we must all get out of the car. When the Gabdi got out, I felt a relief, so did the vehicle for it increased in height. The three passengers paid their fees. When I got out of the car, I was dizzy. I stood for a few moments leaning against the taxi before coming to my total senses.

The taxi man came to me with his right hand extended. He wanted his money. I asked him if he knew the condition in which I traveled. He said it was not his concern. I looked at him angrily, and told him to claim double fees from the two devils.

He protested. I took out a pen and a piece of paper from my pocket. I wrote down my address and handed it to him. Then I told him boldly: "Well, mister taxi man, if you don't agree, go and see who you want. I won't give you anything."

I left him with his mouth half open, and continued on my way to my friend's house, happy go lucky.

Copyright © 1998 Malam Ari Mahamadou


Young Love

Abdel-Hafiz Idrissa, May 25, 1992

One Saturday morning I went to the swimming pool and I met a girl called Zut. A very nice looking girl.

I passed all my time looking at her and asking myself how to get into contact with her. I created situations, but anytime I decided to approach her I felt afraid. I continued this way for a long time.

Finally, she came and took a seat by my side. I started by asking her what time it was, then I brought up a topic of discussion: the present life of today's youth. Like me, she was interested in this topic.

At last I drove her to her family's house, and we made a date to meet the following day. We met and strolled in the garden of her house. Zut understood me as well as I understood her. She told me how she felt when she first saw me at the swimming pool, and I told what happened to me too. We kissed and congratulated each other.

She was charming and exceptional, a teenager. I liked her looks, her pointed nose and breasts. Her voice charmed me. It was fantastic.

You may see us in the night strolling on the road, on the Avenue de Zarmakaye, the street lights making a shadow of trees, and the two of us in the shadow, walking hand in hand.

Copyright © 1998 Abdel-Hafiz Idrissa


Bad Weekend

Mahamane Hamadou

Yesterday, everything seemed to go bad and mad for me so that I began to wonder if I was not the prey of some bad fate.

I had planned how I would spend my weekend the day before. I decided I would go to the swimming pool and I made the suggestion to my girlfriend Fatima. She agreed cheerfully and we decided to meet at 9:00. But she warned me not to be late as usual or else I would not find her. I swore I wouldn't be late.

The following day, I woke up happily at 8:00 AM and went to wash muself. When I came back, I found my uncle in the living room, waiting for me. He informed me that he intended to make a little journey but he hadn't any money, and he wanted me to solve this problem.

I gave him the sum he desired and after a long conversation, during which my eyes increasingly looked discreetly at my watch, he decided at last to leave.

After he left, I rushed into my clothes because it was already 9:05, and my rendezvous with Fatima was at nine o(clock sharp. I didn't even wait for my breakfast and ran to the nearest taxi station. There, I waited fifteen minutes before I found a taxi.

When I arrived at Fatima's house, it was 9:40. Her mother told me she had waited for me for almost fifty minutes and had finally made up her mind to go out with Moussa, my rival.

I knew that she had done that to punish me. I also knew that the following week would be very hard for me, because she would not speak to me all week, and would behave as if she didn't know me.

Despite all this, I decided not to worry about it, and to spend a happy wekend alone. So I took a taxi again to go to the swimming pool. On our way to the swimming pool, I was so deep in thought I forget to shut the taxi door properly All of a sudden, it opened and I nearly fell on the road. Luckily the taxi driver was not driving fast, and there were not any cars coming. I was more frightened than hurt.

Soon after I arrived at the swimming pool, I sat on my contact lenses and broke them. I was so furious I nearly smacked myself. Later my bathing suit caught on the rough edge of a chair, tearing a hole in the side of the suit. A nice suit I bought for 7500 francs ($30) to impress Fatima.

But my worst moment came when, realizing that a beautiful girl was increasingly looking at me, I foolishly decided to climb up to the high diving tower to see what the view was like. Once up there, I was badly surprised to see it was too high for me. I was too afraid to dive from that height. So I climbed back the ladder, hearing the laughter of the people behind me. I felt very embarrassed.

That weekend was one of the worst I ever spent.

Copyright © 1998 Mahamane Hamadou

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