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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Somewhere Saturday - Beyond Timbuktu

When I was young Timbuktu stood for all the wondrous places that were so far beyond normal human experience as to be almost otherworldly. But at least we had heard of Timbuktu. And today's photos were taken in an area equally unknown, strange and beautiful. These photos of young cattle herders were taken on the banks of the Kaduna River near the headwaters where it tumbles down the slopes of the Jos Plateau in central Nigeria. Nearby towns are Jos, Vom, Riyom, Manchok and Kafanchan, names that for me are even more evocative than Timbuktu. I lived in this area for about a year, amongst the Aten, Birom, Hausa and Fulani peoples. The first two are mostly agricultural, growing crops. The Hausa are generally traders and the Fulani usually have cattle as their main source of income. The cattle in these photos are Fulani cattle but are being herded by Birom or Aten boys. These boys will care for the cattle, ensuring they stay off crop land and find enough to eat and taking them to the river each day to drink. After a year or two the boy herder will be given a calf as his pay. This he will raise to form part of his gifts to the family of his bride when negotiations for their marriage have been completed. These photos are particularly suitable for Saturday since they were probably taken on that day a few decades ago. I often used to spend Saturdays on this riverbank washing my clothes and cooling off in the shallows.


JoJo said...

What an exciting life you've lived! How long were you in this region?

Christina Klas said...

I love these photos! How I long for Africa again. I spent a few weeks in Niger last year and was taken aback by the beauty of the country - but mostly the beauty of the people.