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RELIGION IN AN AFRICAN CITY
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Ibadan is the larg'et eit) in Tropical Afri. a and, con:,.qkientlI. of aunuual intb-rcst as a
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She leads them a merry dance
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She can't miss being so popular
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Founded by E. H. Duckworth
No. 41: 1953 Price 2/-
Salt Caravan-Crossing the T6n6r6 Desert
A New Carver
Rock Columns of Makafo
Commercial Development at Apapa
Is there a Nigerian Style of Painting ?
The Spider in West Africa
The War Against Malaria
Pink Flowered Anthurium
Mechanised Road Making
All articles and photographs published in this magazine are copyright.
A quarterly magazine for everyone
interested in the progress of the
country. Compiled in collabora-
tion with Private Contributors
and all Government Departments.
No. 41 1953
Published by the Government of Nigeria and printed by A. Brown & Sons, Ltd., London and Hull.
THERE can never have been a time when it was more necessary for
one Nigerian to know about the others. No man can live unto
himself alone, nor can the clerk at his desk or the trader in his store
continue to draw his salary or reap his just profits but for the man-
in-the-bush whose produce earns the money on which this country runs.
It is a plain fact that the groundnuts of the North would have difficulty
in finding a profitable market but for the ports in the South. It is also true
that the railways and the dock installations would become a grave financial
burden to the people of this country if there were no groundnuts to haul
to the coast. Thousands of small farmers would face ruin if roads collapsed
hundreds of miles from their villages, for cocoa and timber move mostly
by road and the customers for these products live across the sea.
Nigerians in all walks of life have become accustomed to many in-
dustrial products which have to be imported from overseas: kerosene,
lamps, cloth and pan for roofs. Despite governments, banks and trading
firms, when all these have been taken into account, the imports have to be
paid for by exports-by the movement of goods from producer to customer.
Money is just a convenient incidental and the whole process of trade is
dependent upon communications.
The story of many new developments in Nigeria's communications
is told in this issue; good news about docks, roads, inland waterways, and
about the camels which work where none of these things exist.
There is another essential of the trade on which the future prosperity
of this country depends and that is confidence; confidence by the outside
world in the wisdom and stability of Nigerians and confidence of one
Nigerian in another. To a very great extent, the former depends on the
latter; and to an even greater extent, confidence depends on knowledge.
Alas, when this number of Nigeria Magazine comes out, Ducky will
Edward Harland Duckworth has been the Editor since the mid-
thirties when, as The Nigerian Teacher, the magazine made its first tentative
steps. It is his work. It has also been the means through which this usually
undemonstrative man expressed his love of the people of this country.
No-one will ever know the full measure of his good works.
Such was his inspiration that he always moved, to whatever task, as
though leading an army of angels. It is possible that his horde of small
followers were not always thus identified, but if adults were sometimes
blind, it is certainly true that the young saw the fluttering of the banners
and followed with a good heart. As he made his lanky way through some
remote, creekside village, it was customary for children and young men to
shout Duckworth ". This was both salute and farewell, one word en-
compassing everything of affection and appreciation.
Ducky would stride purposefully on, chin up, to some new task-just
as he has now marched into his retirement in England.
HOW TO OBTAIN NIGERIA
In Nigeria this magazine can be obtained from all General and Cash Account Post
Offices, Mission Bookshops, the Principal Stores and Education Offices.
On the Gold Coast, from the Bookshops of the Scotch and Methodist Missions.
Copies can be supplied post free in Nigeria, on forwarding a postal order for
two shillings to the Editor, co The Exhibition Centre, Marina, Lagos, Nigeria,
West Africa. The cost to places outside Nigeria is 2/2 post free. If desired, a subscription
can be paid in advance to cover several issues.
Readers in England can obtain copies from the Crown Agents for the Colonies,
4 Millbank, London, S.W.1. Price 2,1-, or post free 2/3.
Maurice Fievet wraps him-
self up for desert travel.
Artist, photographer, film-
maker and globe-trotter, he
7 believes in "going there and
doing it himself. His
": pictures illustrate this story
SAL T CARAVAN
By MAURICE FIEVET
M. Fievet tells the story of his latest expedition
with one of the Touareg camel trains which
bring desert salt to Nigeria
SEDENTARY life soon palls with me. I had been back from one of
my trips little more than three weeks when the idea came that I
should go with one of those all-but-mythical caravans which, every
March and October, leave the towns on the Northern Nigerian
border and plunge off into the desert to get salt. It is easily the most
romantic trade route left in this prosaic world.
Twice a year, thousands of camels move off from the Massif d'Air,
from Agades, Tanout and Goure for the oases on the other side of the
These oases . They are peopled by a few thousands of the Kanuri
and Toubou people who have held their ground against all comers for
centuries. Their assets are few: a grove of date palms and a few animals.
They would have disappeared long ago but for one fact-in their soil they
have a product so precious that for millions of people it has the value of
life itself. Without it men die. That is-SALT.
Throughout Hausaland, where one per cent. of the world's population
live, throughout most of the rest of West Africa in the dry lands between
the savannah and the desert, there is virtually no salt. Over the centuries
an exchange has been established, carried on by the camel trains which can
penetrate the Tenere desert to the natural salt deposits on the other side.
That is why the caravans, loaded with corn, goats, sheep, bijoux move
off twice a year-so that they return laden with salt.
From the modern economic standpoint, it is something of a wonder
that the trade has survived at all. Desert salt has to compete with the
A camel train on the march. One man leads a string of beasts, others walk alongside.
Much of the desert is hard and stony. In other places the ground is soft, drifting sand
into which a man's foot sinks above the ankle
imported product from Europe selling often at as little as one-twentieth
of the price. It was Bambacho, my soldier-bodyguard, who told me why.
Ah-ha," he said. The desert salt is very powerful. It helps one
to have children . ."
Bambacho, my bodyguard ". He was more than that. He was a
Touareg and he turned out to be my guide, my cook, and the companion
who helped me combat the three main enemies of desert travellers: the
heat, sour water and the smell of the camels . .
I suppose it all started with my copy of the Michelin map of the Sahara.
It has long been one of my sources of inspiration, my attention being drawn,
as ever, to those wide, virgin spaces which seem to exist only to be crossed
by those willing to make the effort to do so.
Until 1946, all caravans were assembled at one point into a great army
of between 20,000 and 25,000 camels which moved off as one unit to protect
itself against wandering tribesmen for whom one component group would
have been a rich prize. Since then, the French administration have pacified
the area and there is no longer any need to form this gigantic convoy.
Smaller caravans move separately and in a safety which has never been
known before. But, if the great army no longer exists, I felt that the present
caravans of 100 to 200 camels, moving across the Tdnere on their traditional
circuit and eventually returning to Kano, Sokoto, Zinder and Tanout, were
quite good enough for my purpose.
I would not have been able to make the trip at all had it not been for
Commandant Brouin, of Zinder. I wrote to him about it and he answered:
Come! I will organise your journey."
So it was that he and I pored over his large-scale map of the Southern
Sahara. He held forth enthusiastically about the blue rocks, the red sands,
Women of the Tassessat
plateau fanning millet out-
side their house of straw
wattle. They are dressed
in blue dyed cloth from
Kano. Note the silver
cross ornaments. (See
In many arid places
water can be found by
scraping a shallow hole
in the ground. (See
*,,_ - _X
Tellers of Tales
M. Fievet shows his cine camera to (centre) a professional story-teller at a Touareg
the Touareg girls-all pungent memories for him and more than enough
stimulus for me.
Five camels," he said. They would be for baggage, water,
photographic and painting materials, food and presents. In that country
presents are of great importance and his suggested list included chew-
tobacco for the womenfolk. There was also the matter of anti-snake serum,
permanganate and all the other little things which can make the difference
between life and death in remote places.
At last came the day to start. The Staff work was done and there were
my five camels with Ralli in charge of them. Ralli is a Bella-man, and his
people were once the slaves of the Touaregs. There was also Bambacho,
whom I have introduced already.
We turned north from Agades towards the Baguezam mountains,
where live the Kel Oui Touaregs, the greatest camel-owners of all the
desert. They wore a sort of tennis racket or snow-shoe on their feet to
help them walk on loose sand. I tried them and they hurt my feet con-
siderably and I had to carry on barefoot for a while until the blisters healed.
The wind blew hard for the first two days, charged with fine sand
which just about dessicated my throat and mouth. Thirst became a torture
but, as my apprenticeship in the desert, Ralli offered me but one cup of
water, sour and not very pleasant.
Then came a halt when I was able to get my own water. I had often
seen on Michelin's map eau bonne, 1 metre and decided to try it.
Service-and a Story
M. Fievet shows how to inspect a camel's mouth for thorns which, if left, would cause
ulcers. The tall cross mounted on the saddle has suggested a strange tale. Legend says
the Touaregs, now staunch Moslems, were once Crusading Christians from Europe captured
by the Saracens. They fled into the desert and now (says legend) this Crusaders' Cross
is the only sign of their origin. Their women wear the same Cross as an ornament
Whilst Ralli and Bambacho were off-loading the camels for the midday
halt, I began to scrape at the sand with the same bowl which I used to
shave, to wash, to cook, to eat and to drink. Now it served as a trowel. I
made my hole about two feet deep and at once felt that the sand was
damp. Then, very quickly, the bottom of the hole was full of water. At
first it was a mere trickle, red with laterite dust but I carried on and after a
quarter of an hour, there it was-clear, sweet water with which I could
refill my jerry cans. The whole operation was very satisfying. What is
more, I was able to drink my fill and eat my food without that characteristic
odour of goat which never leaves water carried in a skin.
Each day we moved at sunrise, marching in the shadow of our camels
until the sun became too high. That did not take long. By eight or nine
o'clock there was no shadow left and I had to get back on to my pitching,
rolling perch. I sat in front of the hump, my feet on the camel's neck, and
all of me more than six feet off the ground. Sixteen hours a day on the
march was quite enough and it was some time before I found out how to
avoid getting sore.
It was at about five o'clock one evening, when heat, sand and thirst
were filling my mental horizon, that I found at the bottom of one of my
bags a couple of oranges which I had bought at Kano. I had carried them
more than a thousand miles and they had had at least fifteen days of desert
sun. Their skin was brown like parchment. I carefully put one by for the
morrow and for more than an hour I sucked delightedly at the other.
About the third day out of Agades, at about nine o'clock in the
evening with blue silhouettes outlined by a rising moon, we found ourselves
near an encampment of Kel Oui Touaregs. The traditional greetings were
exchanged, the form being much the same as in parts of Northern Nigeria:
How are you? "
How is your house "
Your camel ? "
Your brother-he is well ? "
And your father? "
But no enquiry about the women folk.
We were offered Touareg beds, a great basin of camel milk, and a
goat. This my people immediately killed and cut up. They feasted well
into the night, no doubt preparing themselves for the meatless days to
I lay looking up at the stars, as splendid a night as I have ever known
and not unlike the Riviera in summer. In the morning I knew that I was
now acclimatised and beginning to enjoy the journey. For the first time I
had energy enough to feel the urge to paint and to film.
We climbed along the west flank of the Baguezam mountains, which
rise nearly to 5,000 ft. and as we climbed the panorama below opened up
as a symphony in blues and violets, deepening as the sun began to go down.
The going became more difficult in the gathering darkness and the camels,
whenever we stopped to rest, looked on us and the route to come with
their utterly faithless eyes, stating quite clearly if without sound that the
conception of the journey and of ourselves was ill-advised and that we
were the sort of madmen whom even God could not possibly love.
Their fears we confirmed and as the shadows grew darker it seemed
to me that the great, gangling beasts gave all their attention to the placing
of their front feet and left the rear ones to slide about quite out of control.
It was about that time that the animal carrying food bolted. Its cargo came
adrift and went bouncing down into a rocky gulley. I thought of the
precious bottles of olive oil in the panniers . Sure enough, that was the
end of fried dishes. But we shared the olive oil with the camel, he having
anointed his flanks with it and we having it spread liberally through our
rice, tea, sugar and most of the other dry goods.
We had already been climbing for four hours when the sun sank
behind the Air Massif. We were still far from the summit but this was the
moment for pictures in clear air with all the glory of a desert sunset. I did
my best, climbing a rocky pinnacle with a small photographic studio draped
round my person. Alas, the sunset lasted only a few minutes. Twilight
was even shorter and then, suddenly, night.
Then the moon arose, giving each rock its purple shadow and the
whole caravan the substance of a dream. These memories alone make the
Then, the horizon became alive with little points of light. We were
approaching the encampment at Tassessat.
Handshakes, greetings which seem never to end, all the warmth of a
desert community-Then the Touareg women, silent blue shadows, brought
An oil painting by Maurice Fievet showing his caravan descending a rocky gorge from the
mountain home of the Kel Oui Touaregs to the Tandrd desert
Maurice Fievet's oil painting shows the young men madly riding their camels in a close
circle whilst the women make music and the chiefs look on
beds and disappeared with no sound other than the occasional tinkle of a
bracelet or an ear-ring. One old woman rubbed her parchment cheek
against the fresh skin of a small baby. Another woman was preparing
goat milk for her little girl. This village of semi-settled Touaregs seemed
all but empty of young men and I learned that they were out herding camels
on the pasture lands ready to take them to Tabellot, Agades and Tanout.
These are the set points of departure for desert caravans, of which the
young men would be the guides.
Every yard of the descent from the Baguezam range offered an ideal
cinema sequence. Thinking that the journey would take but an hour, I
made the most of it. But four hours later we still were not at the bottom;
and still the caravan amid this chaos of rocks was forming picture after
picture it was impossible to ignore.
Soon after this I was a guest at a Touareg wedding, celebrated just
before the young husband moved off into the desert. Young men mounted
on their splendidly draped steeds trotted round a group of musicians whilst
the elders of the community took their place at the door of the straw tent
of the newly-weds. The beat of the drums speeded up and the women
started a strident singing. The younger women, all dressed in white and
blue with silver ornaments in their hair, on their ears, arms and legs, sang
and clapped their hands whilst swaying in time with the music in a dance
which reminded me of the movements of a rider perched on a camel. The
older women formed a circle with their goat-skin drums to reinforce the
orchestra. The circling camels trotted faster and faster, the robes of their
young riders streaming behind.
For hours it went on, the excitement growing until it seemed that the
participants must collapse from a surfeit of voluptuous movement.
We were still two days' march from Tazizilet, rendezvous for all
caravans and the last stop for water before the arid leagues of the Tener6
desert itself. It seemed odd to me then that all the heat, sand and thirst we
Blankets spread between two camels provide the only shade. The smell is strong but
protection from the sun is vital
had already suffered were but an overture to the real thing to come. By
Sahara standards, our path had been easy.
We found many caravans waiting at Tazizilet and we, in turn, had to
wait for others to join the great cavalcade about to cross the desert.
It was lucky that we had such a wait for I went down with dysentery.
My thermometer showed my temperature as 42 C.-but then, that was the
top of the scale. For three days the fever raged and then it left me.
Bambacho put wet towels on my head and assured me that similar things
always befell strangers to the Air region. It is because you were full up
with the bad water of Nigeria and Zinder. As soon as all that has gone out
of you, you will be all right. You can then fill up with good Air water
and all will be well. You will have the same strength as a Touareg . ."
All the same, I began to wonder if I would be fit for desert travel bv
the time the caravan moved off. At last I felt I could say to Bambacho that
the Air water had definitely replaced that of Zinder and Kano-and the
caravan was still waiting.
Four o'clock in the morning, still starlight. Everybody was packing
and we were all but ready to start the crossing of the Tenere. We must
march long and far each day, from now on, if we are to reach Fachi, on
the other side, before the water runs out.
It was seven o'clock before we actually set out, the guide leading his
camel and everyone following. He had said his prayers and recited the
magic formulae which he had learned from his ancestors, also guides of
the Tenere. We started out into the country of mirages, hallucinations-
We had a short rest at mid-day but marched many hours into the night
to make up for our late start in the morning. When we did make camp we
lit fires as a beacon for the tail of the caravan, which was some two hours
The night march was something incredible. At no time was visibility
better than a dim twenty yards at the most, yet the guide led unhesitatingly,
quite unconcerned by any idea of getting lost. Yet the day was little better.
Sunlight showed us on a slightly undulating plain beneath the featureless
disc of the sky. Around us was nothing-nothing at all but the sand and
The sun was like a red-hot penny in the sky. We knew the portents
but the camels became uneasy. Suddenly, terror took them. Odd ones
stopped, looked round in utter desperation, and then galloped off to the
westwards, bleating as they ran. They ran for about half a mile and then,
perhaps finding that they could not escape their fear, they turned back
to the companionship of the caravan. They were placed at the rear where
their panic would be less infectious.
They are afraid," said Bambacho, with masterly understatement.
The hours passed without any marks on the sand other than those we
were making ourselves. Still the guide marched on, imperturbably into
sheer nothingness. Suddenly, about mid-day, he pointed to the east. There,
clearly, I saw a vertical form miles away on the horizon. It was reflected-
Then it disappeared. A little later I saw it again, still surrounded
by glistening water. Time and again the vision came and went, always on
Bones of lost camels lie round the well coping (right). Instinct drove them to the tree
but there was no one to draw water for them
Like the waves of the open ocean, these dunes of soft sand spread as far as the eye can
see. They are constantly moving but the caravan guides still find a corridor through them
the horizon, always out of reach, and I knew that it was the famous Tenere
tree with its mirage. Always it looked ten minutes' march away-and two
hours later it was just as remote.
We did reach it, at last; this single tree in the whole of the Tenere,
with its well and its water nearly 150 feet below ground. I began to write
my notes, largely about the thirst which becomes an obsession, and the
rest of the caravan began to move on. As I was doing so we had a visitor;
here, out in the middle of the desert. It was a small bird which perched
on the solitary tree and looked despondently around. Bambacho explained
that it had come because exceptional rains had left a little grass on some of
the dunes near the oasis.
The caravan was some two or three miles away when we eventually
set off to catch them up before nightfall. At five o'clock we were only
half a mile behind and Bambacho decided that we had time to stop to allow
our camels to browse on the strange grass sprinkled over a dune. Nothing
like it had been seen since 1936, he assured me.
The beasts began to graze, Bambacho's camel moving yard by yard
towards the top of the dune. He called it, but already it had spotted the
rest of the caravan moving away into the distance. It started to trot after
them. It was impossible to follow it in the loose sand so we let it go.
Bambacho had to walk for the rest of that day. He did not seem to mind.
In fact, he was quite pleased. He had actually seen a camel hurry in the
direction it ought to go!
Each evening, between sunset and the brightening of the stars which
would give our guide his next directions, the caravan stopped. Everyone
An old woman and a young girl. They are Moslem but
climbed to the summit of a dune to see-more dunes. It was also the hour
of prayer. Every man of the caravan knelt down and washed himself
in clean sand before prostrating himself in the direction of Mecca.
Photographic material was a constant headache. It is so in Nigeria,
with very much less sun-power. X e made the habit of unpacking it at
night and leaving each package where it could get its full share of whatever
cool wind was blowing.
That was one of the most noticeable things about the Tenere desert
itself. The nights became cold. During the day there were times when
my head was filled with a dull, recurrent refrain: the Tencre is hot, very
hot, altogether too hot . ." But now the glittering stars seemed to
emphasise the cold. Rising at three in the morning, long before the sun,
I often had to flap my arms against my sides to get a little warm before
breakfasting on tea and porridge.
Odd members of the caravan who had fever were particularly pitiable
on these cool nights. Wrapped in their boubous they sat and shivered.
Sometimes we dug a hole for them down to where the sand was still warm
from the day before's sun. They lay there, shivering, until the caravan
These few cool hours enabled me to keep going. Before starting on
this trek I had dreamed of hours in desert solitude, hours when I could
review my past, plan my future and meditate on the universe. In fact,
crouched on the back of a rolling camel, cowering from the heat and glare
behind all-but-black glasses and wrapped, head and all, in desert robes,
I had but one thought: When do I next get something to drink? To
At about three o'clock in the afternoon I would begin to think longingly
of four o'clock, when it might be cool enough for me to walk a few miles,
to expose a few films and get some of this incredible story on the record.
Sometimes I chatted with Bambacho, who told me of the marriage price
of thirty camels which some Touareg fathers got for their young daughters.
I even found out just why the young boys wear their hair in a sort of bun
at the back, the rest of the head being shaven.
You know the ticks on the camels," Bambacho said. Well, people
have ticks, too. With that little bunch of hair on the back of the neck, all
the ticks go there. One can catch them easily . "
Soon after this we met a sand storm. The sun was now red as a car's
rearlight long before it touched the horizon. Then came the wind, filled
with a fine, choking sand which penetrated everywhere. In desperation
I hid my cameras in my cloak and sheltered against the flank of the camel.
The poor beast began to panic, having lost sight of all its companions in
the swirling dust. Ralli held the headrope taut, but it began to toss its head
and kick out in absolute terror.
I made myself get up to get pictures, bad though the light was, of this
incredible scene, with the whole world lost in a tornado of sand. Visibility
was down to ten yards, each loaded camel making a fine target for the
ever-rising wind. The beasts reeled and plunged, listing like ships in a
The guide kept plodding onwards. How he kept direction I have no
idea; but without apparent effort he led us between two parallel lines of
dunes which served to break the force of the wind. The whole caravan
pressed on, the camel men checking the fastenings of loads and keeping
the beasts' headlines tight, each following the one in front.
The wind dropped as quickly as it had arisen. It was just about the
hour of the evening halt, before the stars became clear. We stopped at the
base of a high dune and everyone brewed tea in the centre of their ring of
tethered camels. I was thinking, inevitably, in the sudden calm of the
littleness of man besides the immense forces of nature, when I heard the
tinkling of bells from behind a dune. Bambacho knew all about it.
These people," he said, know their camels well. They know when
they are tired or frightened or without hope. Now they are making this
music to give the animals heart again . "
I do not know. I suspect that it was man as well as beast whose
courage was being renewed by that music.
I found that just as sailors must pay tribute to Father Neptune when
they first cross the Equator, so the novices of our caravan were conducted
through a Crossing of the Line ceremony on having been given the
key to the Tencre desert.
In the blue shadows of the dunes, a few men drew a line in the sand
and, beyond it, planted an imaginary garden of straw. The first groups
arrived near the line and the novices were thrust forwards. Each was asked
the same question:
Now! Where is Fachi-the first place where we can find water? "
To the Eastwards," was the logical answer-and that given by most
of the newcomers.
Mutton-heads! raged the chiefs. You don't know how to find
One of M. Fievet's dramatic paintings of a natural phenomena which terrifies camels
and men alike, however accustomed to desert conditions. The artist's brush here copes
with conditions beyond the capacity of the camera lens
your way! We shall have to guide you across our garden-and for that
you will have to pay! "
Dancers were meanwhile going through the motions of cultivating the
garden and each of the candidates had to place on a skin his offering
of meal and sugar. Legend says that anyone who does not pay this tribute
remains a mutton-head for the rest of his life.
It cost me six blocks of sugar and several pounds of tea-to the great
delight of my companions.
Soon after that a bluish mass appeared on the horizon. It was Mount
Fosso, just to the north of Fachi, but we marched several hours before
reaching the oasis. The last half-mile involved a steep, sandy descent and
the camels, crouching on their rear ends, slid down for all the world like
a grotesque party of tobogganers.
As for me, the sight of the mountain and the date palms all but made
me weep, it seemed such a miracle after the days and nights of unrelieved
sand. But there it was, the first water point since the lone tree of the
Tenere, two minute points which our guide had found without apparent
trouble in this wilderness of sand.
Despite our eagerness, we camped that night a full hour's march from
the oasis. I soon found that it was to enable us to make a grand entrance
in the morning. What a transformation! Bambacho polished his equipment
and dressed in a new tunic of Kano cloth and trousers of an immaculate
whiteness. He unwrapped his rifle and placed it very much in evidence,
everything about him being clean, bright and slightly oiled ".
So it was with the rest of the caravan; clean clothes, oiled bodies and
little amulets of hair all in the right place. I went ahead to film the reception
at the oasis of our Azalai (desert expedition).
These women of Fachi plait their hair and pack out the front with chewed kola. Their
silver jewelry comes from Tripoli or Kano, their cloth from Northern Nigeria, and
their kola from the Western Region
This remote desert stronghold is on the eastern edge of the Tindrd desert. Every family
still keeps a store of grain in the mud fort (background), a custom surviving from the fairly
recent days when the Kanuri townsfolk were often attacked by Toubou tribesmen
A fusilade of shots was fired into the air and the Kanuri women came
out, dressed in their best and wearing all their ornaments. Drums beat,
trumpets sounded, the women danced-but one could scarcely see the
movements beneath their modest wrappings.
And our caravan-slowly, majestically, it moved out of the dazzling
whiteness of the desert into the shade of a superb group of date palms.
There was still the four days' march to Bilma. One night an aircraft
passed overhead, its port and starboard navigation lights burning brightly.
I judged it to be the BOAC flight London-Tripoli-Kano.
Now how does that fellow find his way? Bambacho wanted to
know. By the moon and the stars, like us ? We could eat and drink and
sleep in that aircraft-like a motor truck . "
I told him it was a lot better than a truck.
That's what I call speed," commented Bambacho. You take a bite
of kola at Kano and before you've started chewing it you're at Agades."
Later on I found out why Bambacho had such a high regard for air-
craft. It is because they are white-like the camels of the Chiefs.
Bilma, centre of the salt trade, was not exclusively devoted to business.
Celebrations went on for days and the year's rate of exchange was fixed
at 25 francs for about 45 pounds weight of salt at meetings between the
Touareg and Kanuri chiefs. It was not surprising, seeing that of the 3,000
camels now gathered at Bilma, each caravan had been doing business with
the same salt family for years. But before the trading season opened
properly, everyone went to the Mosque.
I have said that the exchange rate was fixed at 25 francs (Colonial) for
45 S alt
Sp Taking the moulds off
kantons of salt.
The moulds are made
of hollowed palm
trunks surrounded by
skin from a camel's
neck. Salt is brown
when wet but dries
45 lb. of salt. It is resold by the Touaregs, they having taken it back across
the desert, for as much as 1,000 francs-which leaves a reasonable margin
of profit. All that despite the fact that sea-borne salt from Europe is sold
at one-twentieth the price of desert salt.
But . the desert salt gives strength to men and women to have
children, camels likewise."
And, says I, anyone who objects to the price can go to Bilma and get
his salt for himself.
L:: ) 75 150
8::AE -..U MILES=1 INCH
::: : PEOPLE HE
.MAS.F...... TENERE /
.... TREE /
'-.KEL :Z .\ .BE /r-n
C O TANO0
Mr. Idubor at work
MUCH money and many reputations have been lost in the risky
business of forecasting just what artistic creations will be found
to have merit in the future. Whilst accepting that, the pictures
on the following pages are reproduced in the sincere belief that
they represent the works of a carver with promise as high as any in Nigeria
They are the choice of the artist, Felix Idubor, made from a much
Mr. Idubor is a carver from Benin now living in Lagos. Some time
ago he tired of producing the conventional, bread-and-butter lines carried
around by Hausa traders and started to fill his spare time with work which
he, himself, found pleasing.
It could be said that this was an unpromising start. In fact, by learning
his craft in a hard, commercial school, he has gained a deftness and a
confidence in the handling of his tools which facilitates the expression of his
more developed ideas.
His inspiration comes from the history and traditions of Benin, the
source of so much Nigerian art. He never uses a model or a drawing and
claims that when he gets the first idea for a piece of work, he has no concep-
tion of detail. He just buys a lump of wood and starts carving. Once a
sliver of wood has been chiselled away it is gone-and there is no time for
All of which illustrates his confidence and shows a genuine artistic
urge. Whether Mr. Idubor would benefit from conventional artistic
training or not is a matter of opinion. He has had none to date and more
good artists have been lost in the artistic swamps of London, Paris
and New York than have ever come out of them.
Meanwhile, Mr. Idubor would do well to go on just buying his lumps
of wood and dreaming his dreams of Old Benin with his chisel.
\I Ceremonial Robe of scarlet cloth
introduced by the Oba Ewuare, to be
worn by high-ranking Chiefs
The Lazy Fighters fought
/.;.r three years, day and
n.,ht in one spot, yet
ith grass was not worn
A Slave t.,d r Pin',li-
ment-in th. JaY :,.,hii
their mouth .'re 'OIh,,-
times padlocxd t, prI;',c
them from eomic'. LatiH,
they were usd1 aU S Lri nc
to appeal l diL J, l.',
A. Benin ,l1aIical Pot
Rock Columns of Makafo
MILLIONS of years ago, during volcanic activity, hot liquid rock poured
from an opening in the ground high in the Vom-Ganawari hills and flowed
southwards as far as Makafo and Machi. When cool it solidified and
crystallised, forming six-sided columns. The rock is called basalt.
A similar formation in Northern Ireland, called the Giant's Causeway,
is world famous.
COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT AT
THE first signs of a progression which may move the commercial
capital of Nigeria from the confines of Lagos Island across to the
mainland are rapidly becoming apparent in the growth of the new
trading estate and the wharf extension at Apapa.
The existing wharf was opened in 1926, when it was described as a
" grandiose waste of money by a newspaper correspondent of those times
who was not suffering from that excess of vision which usually affects folk
advising on the spending of other people's money. The old wharf was
designed to allow four ships to be worked at one time.
Four ships are worked there now; but in the intervening 27 years
their average length has risen from less than 400 feet to over 500 feet. On
occasion, this results in the end one being pushed out of bed ", particularly
if maintenance work on the structure is going on at the same time. The
-f -1.' v
Some 800 ft. (about one-third of the proposed length) of the new quay wall had been
built when this picture was made
Old wharf, working
since 1926, holds four
ships. Extensions (work
shows in foreground)
will hold five more
A pneumatic driller
works on concrete at
the seaward end of the
old wharf, preparing
the joint with the new
Sea Bottom comes Ashore
Sand dredged from the shoals of Lagos lagoon is used for reclamation work. A tug
brings in a loaded sand barge which has been filled by a dredger lying half a mile off-shore
new wharf will allow five further ships to be handled, with sufficient elbow
room to permit nine over the full length of the quays.
In contrast to the quoted view of 1926, there are now those who say
that the extension is not big enough, though the full range of its associated
possibilities are not generally known. It is, however, part of the training
of Government and private businessmen to limit their dreams to bounds
which can be supported by facts.
In 1934-35, the cargoes handled annually at Apapa amounted to 270,000
tons. By 1936-37, the figure was 370,000 tons-or an increase of 100,000
tons in two years. After the war, in 1946-47, the figure for the first time
topped 400,000. The first four months of 1953 showed 230,000 tons,
implying an annual rate of all but 700,000 tons. In other words, the same
basic installations at Apapa are now handling more than twice as much as
they handled in the early 1930's. (All these figures apply to Apapa alone
and not to the Port of Lagos as a whole.)
In view of these figures and of purely engineering problems connected
with any further extension of the site, a greater increase does not seem
justifiable. Nigeria came up on the tide of the post-war sellers' market for
primary producers and in her coming inevitable struggle to retain these
markets the country will not be helped by out-of-balance capital commit-
Apart from these factors, the changes in the lagoon currents which
have followed the building of just one third of the new extension have
brought problems which are being watched very carefully by the Marine
Two Hundred Acres Reclaimed
A vast area of dry sand now lies where small ships used to moor at the end of the old
wharf. Resident Engineer George Farleigh (above) puts a foot on a now useless bollard.
Some 200 acres of valuable land will have been added to Apapa by the construction of
the new wharf. Cargo sheds, a passenger terminal and better Customs facilities are
planned for the area now occupied by a few contractors' huts
'- '- l t
Department, whose job it is to keep the harbour open to shipping. The
effects of the finished extension can in part be estimated, but time is necessary
to see how they work out in fact before further deflections in tide and scour
are encouraged by further engineering projects.
The regular arrival of the mailboats provide the highspots for the
wharf staff. Apart from passengers, a turn-over of about 5,000 tons of
cargo across the quay during six working days comes from one ship alone.
Baggage must come out quickly enough for the passengers to see it through
Customs and then the mail has to be landed. Most of the mail is sorted and
on its way up-country within 24 hours of the ship's arrival.
The movement of a large volume of goods by road was not foreseen
when the existing docks were built. This has been put right in the extension,
though the only road outlet from Apapa to Ebute Metta is likely to undergo
Major improvements to the Lagos-Apapa road are in fact planned, as
well as a new main road outlet from the wharf area directly to the north.
This latter will by-pass Ebute Metta and join the present Ibadan road north
of Mushin. Both these are complementary projects to the wharf extension
but, as yet, the date of their completion cannot be foreseen.
Nigerian Railways are fairly sanguine about their ability to clear a
very full share of the wharf's traffic, providing the deliveries of locomotives
and rolling stock are made strictly according to agreements already in
being. The capacity of their routes is still governed by lack of vehicles
rather than by the single track system.
The railway employs 600 men directly at Apapa on all wharf services
as well as a contract labour force of 3,000 engaged daily. Some 100 rail
wagons, most of them of 25 or 35 tons capacity, are turned round daily in
addition to the 100-odd old wagons, now unsuitable for main line working,
kept for short hauls within the dock area. In all, some 2,750 tons of goods
are handled every day if short movements between ships and dumps are
included. Most of the export traffic at the wharf is handled on behalf of
Marketing and Exports, and stocks in the dock area have risen as high as
16,000 tons at one time. The trading estate project behind the extended
wharf is in keeping with modern trends throughout the world. By building
warehouses and factories near to the docks, the transport of materials in
bulk is less and much more flexible, with subsequent advantages to the
traders and to the port authority.
Since land is always of great value in a port area, it is interesting that
almost all the ground used by the wharf extension has been reclaimed from
the sea. It is literally true that the new construction will be where open
water lay less than two years ago.
The new quay wall is, in effect, one side of a box. The fourth side is
a rubble training bank coming out from the old coast of the Porto Novo
Creek, brought out in a great arc to link with the end of the quay wall.
The last side is the seaward end of the old wharf area. The space inside
this 200 acre box is being filled in by sand dredged from the shoals of the
Lagos lagoon, the process fulfilling the twin purposes of clearing the
approach channel to the new wharf and providing the very land on which
its cargo-handling installations will be built.
Nearly 12,000 precast concrete blocks will be used in the building of
the quay wall itself, all of them made in Apapa, and some 120,000 tons of
concrete will be used. Stone is brought by rail from Aro (near Abeokuta)
and sand is obtained from the reclamation. Before the blocks can be set
in position nearly a quarter of a million tons of sand will have been dredged
to form a trench in the edge of the Marina Shoal, into which 80,000 tons of
rubble will be deposited. The top of the rubble will be covered from small
stone for a depth of six inches to make an even bed for the concrete blocks.
Water carries Sand
Jets of water played into
the loaded sand barge make
a thick mixture which can
be pumped just where it is
required. The close-packed
sand is swirled away to the
a. - .. I. 4,
Pipeline for Sand
of 364 horse power flush the sand 1,100 ft.
The water then runs away, leaving the sand
along this pipeline to where
to steal yet more acres from
The job of levelling the bed for the blocks is carried out by divers
working from pontoons well ahead of the end of the growing wall. Working
at 40 feet depth, they use hand rakes to make an even surface which is
afterwards measured by electrical instruments to show that it is indeed flat.
The wall is being built on what is called the slice principle, and
there will be 586 slices in the full 2,500 feet of the new construction.
The foundations of the wall are not in natural rock but in sand and each
slice is built so that it can move vertically. (See pictures.) Settlement in
sand is not always even and each slice can settle separately. The blocks
rise 35 feet from the rubble foundations, nearly all of them below low water
level. A further 71 feet of superstructure will be added when the major
settlements have taken place. Each slice is keyed into the next on the
tongue and groove principle and 28 different shapes of blocks are necessary.
Blocks are set by a crane which travels on rails set on the wall as it is
built. The divers come in on the job again as they descend to key the
blocks of one slice into the blocks of the one before it.
Some two million tons of sand are being used to fill in the reclamation.
A dredger lying about half a mile off shore fills 120-ton barges, which haul
the sand to another dredger lying near the shore. Jets of water are played
on the sand in the barge and a mixture of sand and water is thus made which
can be pumped along a 12-inch diameter pipe. It is usually possible to
carry 20 per cent. sand in the mixture of sand and water. Thirty five-ton
lorries working a ten-hour day would not move as much sand as this pipeline
L !- U
it is wanted.
V -=^ ... ,..U-
? *''*'- -.- *
W* i t *-S
Reclamation expert Jan van Wyk (right, above) learned his job in his native Holland
where great areas of valuable land have been reclaimed from the sea. Using the sand
and water flowing from the pipe (below) he has built up his reclamation site as level as a
billiard table. The ripples running towards the pipe show to an expert that the maximum
possible proportion of solid matter is being deposited
Draining new Land
Two million tons of sand dredged from the lagoon are turning shallow
water into building land. Drainage pipes 6 ft. below the surface are
still above sea-level
system, and they would have needed hard roads over the sand surface
to allow them to operate. Four barges and three tugs are kept constantly
at work hauling sand from the middle of the lagoon.
Engineers agree that sand, when confined within fixed limits as it is
at Apapa between the rubble bank and the quay wall, is a good basis for
subsequent building construction. A double-storey transit shed nearly
500 feet long is to be built. On the upper deck there will be a passenger
terminal similar to the new one at Southampton. Passengers will cross a
level gangway from the mail boats and will find Customs facilities, restaurants
and waiting rooms for their friends all on one level. The other cargo
sheds, one 350 feet and two 425 feet long, will all be single-storey erections
to avoid hoisting cargo up and down again to the higher floor. They will
all be unobstructed by pillars, having 150 feet, single-span roofs.
Three lines of railway tracks and a crane track will be laid on the sea
side of the sheds and a further rail track will be laid behind the platform
at the rear of the sheds. The platform will serve road and rail traffic and
there will be further road-loading platforms at the ends of the sheds. The
clearance of rail wagons will be helped by a circular traffic system whereby
at the down-stream end of the wharf the tracks will curve back round the
reclamation area and rejoin the main line. In all some ten miles of track
will be laid, including 124 turnouts and crossings.
View along the top of the
wall showing the Titan
crane in the background.
The model of the wall
(below) shows a few of
the 586 slices in the
2,500 ft. of the full-scale
project. (See text)
The 116,000 blocks
needed for the quay
wall are all being made
at Apapa. Concrete
is tipped into steel
moulds made with ex-
Blocks are stacked for
28 days to allow them
to mature before they
are used. The tongue
and groove sections
The travelling crane which
spans the blockyard can
lift up to 25 tons. Blocks
vary in weight from 7 to
15 tons and there are 23
DREDGING pO '
..,....... L I -
Full diving dress
weighs 180 lb. out of
the water; little or
nothing when sub-
merged. They work
one-hour spells at a
depth of 40 ft. below
the surface. Diving
helmet is not shown
A diver, his helmet in
position, about to de-
scend under the sea.
He breathes from air
pumped through an air
A motor vehicle assembly and repair plant (above) covering 53,000 sq. ft. is one of the
new buildings. A telephone exchange (below) has been completed and a bank is in course
Wide, new, double-tracked roadways give access to the Apapa trading estate. They have
been built to withstand heavy traffic and have strongly-reinforced edges and efficient
Nigerian Railways, who operate the Apapa wharf, claim to have found
that much delay in the handling of imports in the past has been caused by
importers themselves. In support of this view, they quote the effect some
eighteen months ago of the raising of dock storage rents to frankly penal
levels. Warehouses which for weeks had been choked with goods as a
result of-among other things-a go-slow strike by footplate staff, were
cleared almost overnight when the new rents came into force.
In the past, the situation arose because of overcrowding in the com-
mercial areas of Lagos Island and the subsequent high storage costs there.
It was obviously, if shortsightedly, cheaper for a trader to keep his goods
in the wharf sheds and avoid the costs of local transport and handling,
whilst dock rents remained anywhere near storage costs in Lagos. Only
by a very high rise in wharf rents, could the transit sheds be cleared.
One of the major benefits of the Apapa trading estate will be the pro-
viding of a convenient area where firms may provide themselves with
whatever warehouse capacity they need. All services will be provided and
the estate has been conceived to allow traders to build in such ways as they
think will keep their handling charges down.
The Apapa scheme as seen by the Lagos Executive Development
Board envisages a complete town, with residential sections and modern
social amenities as well as the industrial and commercial areas. In fact, it is
hoped that many thousands of people now living on overcrowded Lagos
Island but whose livelihood comes from the shipping at Apapa, will move
over to the new area.
Groundnuts are the biggest single item in Apapa's exports. Two shifts are worked
normally, a third carrying on through the night when a particularly fast turn-round
ery (above) and salt
(left) are important
imports. The shunter
(left), a modified trac-
tor, moves railway
wagons with ease but
is not dependent on
From the Holds
From the holds of a
ship (left) cargo is
lifted out by cranes or
by the ship's winches
and slung into the
upper floors of the
present transit sheds
A heavy case of
machinery (above) was
unloaded from a ship
lying at a buoy in mid-
harbour. A lighter
brought it to the docks
where a giant crane
swings it ashore. Code
numbers being marked
(right) tell ship and
year of landing
7. jkMFWMW--- NFE
Cargoes which will not suffer by a short period in the open are dumped behind the transit
sheds until moved by the importers
The trading estate, like the wharf, will be developed on reclaimed
land which was once useless mangrove swamp. The pumping of 5,000,000
cubic yards of sand from the Porto Novo creek has given the 1,000 acres
necessary for the scheme, A canal 250 feet wide and 25 feet deep will carry
off drainage from the swamps north of the scheme. It will be navigable
to small craft and is big enough to carry away storm water.
When the estate is completed it will have some 20 miles of roads
suitable for heavy docks traffic, 40 miles of drains, more than 400 acres of
warehouse and industrial sites and 330 acres of residential plots. The
work is being undertaken in two phases.
The first phase, which will be complete at the end of 1954, is mainly
industrial: warehouses, factories and homes for the 12,000 workers expected
to be employed on the estate. This will be, in effect, a completely new town
with a market, shopping centres, hotels, a bank, churches, schools, clinics
and all the modern amenities. The cost to the Lagos Executive Develop-
ment Board will be 1,250,000 and private firms are now building their
own warehouses and factories on the sites they have obtained on 90 years'
leases. All the accessible industrial sites on the estate have already been
leased and for every house-building plot there have been half a dozen
The majority of heavy cargoes move up-country by rail. There is a special marshalling
yard for the docks where wagons are sorted to join trains bound for Kano, Jos, Enugu
and all points served by the railway
Nor is the second phase merely a dream. It will consist of further
industrial sites and housing plots for senior executives. The L.E.D.B. have
the money and the contracts are in hand. Completion date will be towards
the end of 1955.
Commercial firms are spending as much as 100,000 each on their new
premises and plant is already under way for car assembly and servicing,
civil engineering yards, drug processing and the manufacture of tobacco
There seems to be little question that the use of lighters in the port of
Lagos will increase rather than decrease in the future, particularly with the
development of Nigeria's potentially valuable inland waterways. Many of
the new factory and warehouse sites have a water frontage, on the Porto
Novo Creek or on the new drainage canal, where lighterage berths may be
built. The canal itself is deep enough for coasting craft but the seaward
approach will require dredging, as will creek-side berths, before this is
As much as two miles of wharfs for small craft may eventually grow
round the far edges of the trading estate, linking with the main wharf
extension at its seaward end.
D. W. M.
BU ~IS" ___WMW W0UA .1&W1A
Fig. 1-Traders dance to celebrate their success. A powder tempera work by Jimoh
Akolo (Yoruba) of Kabba
Is there a
NIGERIAN STYLE OF PAINTING?
Mr. D. G. DUERDEN, an Eduicaion Officer, presents his theory fiom observation of school-
boy paintings in the Middle Be/t.
IT is my opinion that there is to be found in the paintings illustrated here
a distinctive Nigerian style which should be strongly encouraged and
protected from the influence of European illustration. This is par-
ticularly the responsibility of Festival judges and art teachers.
The principal characteristic of European art is depth and atmosphere.
In talking of European art I mean the period from Giotto to the Impres-
sionists which is still the art that dominates European art schools. Its
most developed exponents were the Impressionists, Monet, Pissarro, the
early Renoir, etc., but they learnt their methods from the earlier tradition,
Titian, Velasquez, Rubens and a few others. This tradition began with
sculptor-painters who wished to create an illusion of roundness on the
surface of the picture (Giotto, Massaccio, etc) and which during the Renais-
sance was altered by those who wished to carry their audience as far back
into the depths of the picture as possible. They invented the use of trans-
parent varnishes to help them and such devices as lines of composition
leading into the picture; later it was found that broken brush-strokes and
the scientific division of colour would create the illusion of veils of atmo-
sphere and so create an even greater sense of depth.
However this tradition is confined to a short period of the history of
painting in Europe. In contrast to it we can set most of all the earlier
painting in Europe and the highly developed painting of Persia and India.
To the painters in those traditions and to many modern European painters
the creation of the illusion of depth in a picture is not the most important
quality it can be given at all. If carried too far it can interfere with the
principal business of painting which in their eyes is decoration. The Persians
and Indians decorated books and walls, the early European painters churches.
I myself would feel inclined to say that a painter is a house decorator before
he is an aritst.
There is one element in such decorative painting which is more im-
portant than any other and that is colour. I feel that the Nigerian has a
wonderfully developed sense of colour which he can use in painting with
great effect. Unfortunately this quality cannot be shown in the paintings
illustrated here. Nevertheless there are certain other ways of decorating a
surface which go with it and are distinctive qualities of those styles of
painting which are more interested in decoration than depth, and those can
be shown to be present from the illustrations.
First of all these boys have a great feeling for shapes and gestures
described by means of separate patches of paint. For example look at (1).
Here all the essentials of the attitudes of the dancers and the drummers are
built up by nicely calculated patches of paint. Look at the old gentlemen
greeting and talking to one another in the pattern of (5).
Secondly they have a sense of pattern. In picture (1), the whole
picture is drawn together by a simple background of broad patches of
colour. Then each shape in the picture has its place in a pattern of similar
shapes. There is a circle of women's heads in the centre surrounded by
Fig. 2-A water-colour landscape by Jimoh Akolo (Yoruba) of Kabba
L a -_ jimoh Akolo (Yoruba) of Kabba
~ 'V ~ I~\~h' I
S Fig. 4-Imaginary landscape with
Now figures-by Ajai Jegede (Yoruba),
of Kabba. Powder tempera
Fig. 5-Market Scene-by Busa
S Buji (Buji), of Plateau Province.
A powder tempera colour
Fig. 6-An interesting picture by Duag Gyel (Birom), of Plateau Province. He fills the
area with decorative objects and there seems to be no over-riding story. A water colour
another made up of the drummers' heads and the women's feet, an uncon-
scious device of concentric circles derived partly probably from watching
the dance but emphasised in the painting. Together with the rhythmical
arrangement of the women's feet it gives a wonderful sensation of gay
movement. In pictures (2) and (3), painted by the same boy, the leaves of
the trees are treated as separate patches of water-colour and brush strokes
and his interest must have been in the pattern created by the variety of
directions in which they grew. In (4) which in the original is very brightly
coloured the contrast of large patches of paint for the buildings and hundreds
of small ones for the crowd is probably what most makes the painting
effective. In (5) the dark pattern put in the trees are red spots put there
because they look nice there and continue the pattern of the bright colours
of the clothes and the goods for sale across the rest of the picture. Here
also there is a distinctive unifying pattern. It is of four squares with build-
ings in each of them. The trees and the crowd make the dividing lines and
there is a round hut in the bottom right hand corner which is probably
put there because we would be uncomfortable if the line was not continued
there. In (6) the boy has a completely individual style consisting of arrang-
ing the most delicate brush strokes into a sensitive pattern.
Enough has been said now to show what the qualities of this distinctive
Nigerian style are. Its most distinctive quality is its decorative sense of
pure colour. Patches of colour are placed on the whole surface of the
picture for decorative effect. Underlying this is constructed a strong overall
design. In some ways it is similar to the Persian miniature, but adapted
to a larger scale. With these qualities are combined the interesting charac-
teristic gestures and attitudes of people indicated most effectively by leaving
out all that is inessential. It is, in my opinion rightly, not interested in
depth or atmosphere at all, although they may be present by accident.
It might be argued that my experience is of one school only and that
it is presumptuous to derive a Nigerian style from that. However these
boys come from all over the Middle Belt and as that includes Yorubas I
hardly think that means it must merely be classified as a Middle Belt style.
There are distinctive styles coming from boys from different areas which
could be made the foundation of strong local traditions. I have seen such
a tradition flourishing in Omu-Aran N.A. School, Ilorin. Compare pictures
(7) and (8), both by boys from that school. This area is of course famous
for its wood-carving and boys from both Kabba and Ilorin delight in placing
solidly-painted figures in their pictures. They also enjoy doing what they
call carving lino and seem to carry over the woodcarver's facility for
having a clear idea of what he wants from the wood to their work in lino.
The boys from the Plateau have principally been used to decorating the
surfaces of everyday articles of use with beautiful patterns and they are
adept at making a beautiful pattern on paper with a brush. But, although
there are these distinctive different styles, running through them all are the
qualities of a distinctive Nigerian style which I have mentioned. But
whatever the argument as to whether or not it is there what must not be
forgotten is that these pictures are in themselves delightful works of art
and many people would be pleased to hang them on the walls of their houses.
Some have already been bought for this purpose.
How can we ensure that pictures in this style will be continued and
developed? Apart from encouraging others to continue in this way I think
the most important course is to discourage the plagiarism of European
Fig. 7-Dancers-by Adeseko (Yoruba) of Ilorin. The man with the fans is asking the
spectators for money
Fig. 8-Epa dance, a powder tempera work by Oladipo (Yoruba) of Ilorin. It represents
a festival in honour of the Ekiti gods. The men on stilts take over when those carrying
the famous Epa masks are tired
Fig 9-A lino-cut landscape by Amos Ehindero (Yoruba), of Kabba
styles based on the tradition of depth and atmosphere which I have des-
cribed. If it is necessary to show the painters themselves examples of other
styles and traditions, then most of the examples should be taken from
Persian and Byzantine work, styles most resembling their own.
Nevertheless I do not mean to say that whenever a picture makes
use of depth and atmosphere we should discourage the painter from using
them or that we should direct him not to use them. They may be used,
but their use should not prevent the other qualities which are more important
from being given their maximum effect. They should not be the objects of
the painting. Painting in which they are the principal objects belongs, 1
believe, to an alien culture.
THE SPIDER IN WEST
By M. D. W. Jeffreys, M.A. (Oxon), Ph.D. (Lond.)
IN English folk-lore the sudden appearance of a spider is considered to
be a lucky omen. Thus in Choice Notes, London, 1859, occurs the
following statement: The small spiders called money spinners'
prognosticate good luck; in order to propitiate which, they must be
thrown over the left shoulder." Everyone knows the story of Robert the
Bruce and the spider that saved his life. When he, as an outlaw, was hiding
in a cave from searching enemies he joyously watched a spider spinning its
web across the entrance. Soon afterwards enemy searchers came upon the
cave, saw the undamaged web and concluded that no one had recently
entered the cave. From outlawry and papal excommunication Robert the
Bruce emerged to defeat the English at Bannockburn, to wrest his kingdom
from Southern hands, to be crowned on the stone of Scone, king of Scotland
and to have the papal bull of excommunication annulled. The case of
Robert the Bruce appears to be an instance of history repeating itself.
Westermark (1926, II, 356) tells a similar story about Mahomet: Black
spiders are bad and should be killed . on the other hand, white spiders
must not be killed. For a white spider once saved the life of the Prophet
by weaving a web across the mouth of a cave in which he was hiding from
his enemies. When his persecutors came there in their search and saw the
web they thought that nobody could have recently entered the cave and
so passed by, and the Prophet escaped." To found, like Robert, an empire
of his own.
However in Africa one man's meat is another man's poison, as can be
seen by the consternation that a similar act produces on the Nandi. Hollis
(1909, 81) writes: When a spider spins its web across an open door, it is
a sign that misfortune will befall the household, and, unless the house is a
new one, it must be pulled down and re-erected by the owner. If it has
only recently been built, the elders must be paid to come and pray that the
house may be freed from the spell cast upon it."
Folk-lore stories of the spider extend from Sierra Leone to the French
Cameroons. Cronise and Ward (1903) report as follows: The spider
appears to be the national hero, the impersonation of the genius of the race.
To him are ascribed the qualities most characteristic of the people, or those
most to be desired: cunning, sleeplessness, almost immortality, an un-
limited capacity for eating, and an equal genius for procuring the necessary
supplies. He possesses a charmed life, and escapes from all intrigue. He
is a tireless weaver, and has spun the thread of his personality into all the
warp and woof of the national life. With him the adults associate most of
their traditions, while the children love him, and push him tenderly aside
if he chances to come in their way. He is inclined to be lazy, and refuses
to lift even the lightest burden if it is in the nature of work; if it is some-
thing to eat he can carry the carcase of an elephant with the greatest ease."
On the Gold Coast Barber and Sinclair (1917, 31) remark: Nyankupan
(the Supreme Being) was amazed at Spider's (Anansi's) cleverness in ful-
filling the three conditions. He immediately gave him permission for the
future to call all the old tales, Anansi tales." Major Tremearne (1913, 31)
has collected a number of spider stories current in Hausaland where: . .
the lion is no match for the spider in low cunning, he has to get the help
Fig. I-The bottom has been knocked out of an earthenware pot so that his wanderings
may be seen
of an old woman on the only occasion on which he comes off best, the
insect being shown at various times as outwitting not only him but also
the hyena, the buffoon of the animal world, the hippopotamus and the
elephant, and as being stronger than these two beasts together; the snake,
the jackal, the lamb and all the animals and even man and young women."
These are harmless tales, but among the Tikar tribes of the British and
French Cameroons a trap-door spider plays a more sinister role. Among
these people this spider is used in divination, is used to decide the innocence
or guilt of persons charged with witchcraft. The following notes were
collected by me on the Wiva tribe, British Cameroons. Divination by this
means is the chief's prerogative. Only with his permission and under his
direction may this method of divination be practised.
The Rev. P. Gebauer of the American Baptist Mission, Bamenda,
kindly took a number of photographs of this spider harnessed for the task
of divination. Fig. 1 shows an earthenware pot with the bottom knocked
out so that the medicine-man may view the wanderings of this spider
without disturbing the creature. This pot lies over the hole of such a
spider. The banana leaves, to cover the pot and so induce the spider to act
as though it were eventide and hence safe to peregrinate, cannot be seen.
Divination proceeds as follows. Under the chief's direction a medicine-
man would take those accused of practising witchcraft to the hole of this
large spider. Lines radiating from the hole to the edge of the pot are
marked on the ground and a twig is placed at the end of each line as shown
in Fig. 1 where two such twigs are visible, one twig for each person charged.
A set of specially perforated leaves is then strewn in the pot. These per-
forations are cut to stereotyped designs to which special meanings are
Fig. II-Leaves specially perforated and with set meanings are placed in the pot so
that the movements of the spider will disturb their order. The resulting pattern of leaves
is interpreted as "fate "
attached. Fig. II shows a medicine man preparing such leaves. The pot is
now covered with banana leaves to make the interior dark. The spider
then comes out of its hole and in its peregrinations trying to find a way
out disturbs and displaces these patterned leaves. After the lapse of a
couple of hours the pot is uncovered and the distribution of the leaves
examined. From the position of the leaves associated with each twig the
medicine-man interprets the fate as decided by the patterned leaves, of
the owner of the twig.
In Fig I one such spider, disturbed by the sunlight when the covering
of the pot was removed, can be seen about to enter its hole. A complete
set of these patterned leaves with their interpretations is in the Pitt Rivers
Museum, Oxford. It is now clear why the chief alone retains the right of
divination by the Ngemba or trap-door spider. He has, in this way, the
final power of life and death over any subject of his.
In the French Cameroons lies the Bamum people, a branch of the
Tikar. At the turn of this century they were ruled by a remarkable chief,
Njoya. He, among many other reforms revised the laws of his country,
and in Chapter 114 of his unpublished manuscript, of which I have an
English translation, the following laws and penalties are abolished. Deaths
among royalty and their consorts were always regarded as the result of
witchcraft, and the trapdoor spider was used as a means of divining who
had encompassed his death. Anyone convicted of witchcraft as a result of
divining by means of this spider was formerly put to death. King Njoya
annulled all the death penalties, but not necessarily other penalties. This
was a remarkable change in the pagan mores.
Fig. III-Five panels on a carved door in Bamum Palace. The first panel on the left
shows such a spider guarded by four chameleons. The fourth panel shows a conventionalised
Furthermore the tarantula design operated like the royal coat of arms
in our own society. Its use as a decorative design (Fig. III) was first re-
stricted to the king's use, then to royalty and the palace, finally Njoya
revoked the rule that this design was tabu to all but the blue bloods and
allowed anyone to use the spider design.
Barber, W. H., and Sinclair, C. West African Fo/k-Tales. London 1917.
Cronise, F., and Ward, H., Cinnie Rabbit, Mr. Spider and the other Bap. London 1903.
Hollis, A. C. The Nandi. Oxford, 1909.
Tremearne, A. J. N. Hansa Superstitions and Customs. London, 1913.
Westermark. Ritua/ and B3elief in Morocco. London, 1926.
The war against
ALARIA, killer of at least 60,000 small children in Nigeria every
year, is being stalked relentlessly by a small team of experts
working from a research centre at Yaba, near Lagos. The killer
is not vet on the run but its habits are being observed and recorded
by methods of detection quite as cunning and probably more scientific than
those used by many police homicide squads.
There is still an African school of thought that regards malaria as
white man's palaver ". So it is-but not exclusively. It is not many
years since Europeans landed on this coast during one month and were
buried during the next. Forms of treatment were devised but still the
strangers went down with fever and a very few years saw few survivors,
rarely in good health. In about 1873 Sir Richard Burton described Govern-
ment House, Lagos, as a corrugated iron coffin or plank-lined morgue
containing a dead consul once a year ". During the early stages of the last
war 100 out of every 1,000 airmen stationed at Apapa went down with
malaria every month. They did not die in great numbers because forms
of treatment were known. The problem was obvious, dramatic, and
solutions were found.
The European, in effect, is in the position of a man being attacked
by a mad cook wielding a chopper. The danger is obvious, imminent-
and it is clear to everyone that action must be taken. The African, on the
other hand, is in the position of a man whose cook is a poisoner. For years
he may be conscious only of occasional ill-health but slowly his constitution
is undermined and eventually he dies. The family never knows the cause.
Danger .. -.
In areas such as this
(a wet patch in cocoa
country near Ilaro)
the mosquito breeds "-
Malaria is not just white man's palaver ".
A new-born child, African or European, is physically as much a
stranger to this country as any pink-faced cadet stepping off the mail boat.
That is why some 60,000 infants die every year within a few months of
birth from malaria. It is virtually true to say that all African children get
malaria. Those who do not die gain a partial resistance to the disease which
makes its subsequent attacks less severe; but no one yet knows the full
price of mental and physical lassitude paid by millions of generally-healthy
people in Nigeria who accept fever as a normal if intermittent com-
panion in life.
A Lagos school is helping in a series of tests. Children are given
regularly a drug called Daraprim and frequent blood tests are taken.
Already (after three months) not a single trace of malaria has been
found in the children taking the drug, whilst the over-all rate of infection
for Lagos children approaches 90 per cent. It is hoped that after a full
year of the tests it will be possible to demonstrate that though malaria is not
directly a killer of older children, it interferes with their growth and develop-
ment and slows their advancement as scholars by causing lassitude and
Doctor Leonard Bruce-Chwatt, the Director of the Malaria Service,
tries out most of the new drugs on himself before permitting their use
elsewhere. For two months he takes four times the usual dose to ensure
that they have no poisonous effects.
The area in which an *
enlarged spleen (one '.-
result of malaria) may
be felt by a doctor S
seeking diagnosis of
the complaint. Badly
affected spleen is large,
hard; feels like an
I. ,"* ^
Dr. Bruce-Chwatt ex-
amines children, among
whom the rate of in-
fection is often as high
Sas 90 per cent.
Malaria Service picture]
Another three-year experiment has just been concluded at Ilaro, in the
forest belt of the Western Region, close to the Dahomey border. In 1949,
when the Malaria Service was established, a plan of this town was made
and a cross-section of its 12,000 people were examined for traces of malaria.
Statistics were compiled and infection rates in infants and young children
was found to be as high as 90 per cent.
It is now well known that the disease is carried by one form of mosquito
and the object of the experiment was to try to rid the town of mosquitoes
and note the effect on the infection rate. In 1950 four anti-malaria teams
began to spray the town with an insecticide which would cling to walls
and ceilings and kill any mosquito alighting on it for months afterwards.
Every house, hut and outbuilding in the town was sprayed within three
months, after which the sprayers went back to the beginning to start again.
The number of mosquitoes in the place fell dramatically-and so did the
number of children infected with malaria. The over-all decrease after two
years was from 85 per cent. to 10 per cent. In adults there was little change
because they spent much of their time outside the sprayed area, working
on their farms and visiting other towns.
Mr. I. A. Balogun, who carried out the Ilaro experiment, says that
after the first three months he was able to sleep without nets even in areas
adjacent to the bush. The more educated people received his teams kindly,
though some of the others felt that turning out of their houses so that they
might be sprayed every three months was a little too much to ask. Despite
Examining blood slides
(left foreground) at
the headquarters of the
Malaria Service. The
microscope shows up
the minute organisms
in the blood which
A member of the staff of the Malaria Service allows his forearm to be bitten in a cage
full of mosquitoes so that reactions may be noted and the war against the disease continued
Every house and outbuilding in every street and alley of Ilaro was sprayed with a solution
which is fatal to mosquitoes. During the rains mosquitoes seek shelter in protected corners
and in houses, feeding on human blood during the night time [Malaria Service picture
Pots just like these and used to store water caused the sudden death of more than 400
people in one small area of the Eastern Region during 1949. Mosquitoes carrying
malaria and yellow fever bred there
a little grumbling, however, everyone was persuaded to co-operate and
this important experiment, the first of its kind in West Africa, can be con-
sidered a success. Its cost was 3,500 a year, from Colonial Development
and Welfare funds.
A similar project, on a very much greater scale, is to be conducted in
Western Sokoto with the full co-operation of H.H. the Emir of Gwandu.
Some 500 square miles and a population of 100,000 people will be involved.
The cost will be 75,000 for a test of three years. Half of the money will
be provided by the Northern Region and half by the United Nations'
Problems-and eventually their solutions-arise in a number of ways,
many of them connected with native customs which are not in themselves
harmful. The area of the Eastern Region between Enugu and Nsukka has
few rivers which flow all the year round. The people have become expert
in the making of four-gallon pots of clay in which water, carried as much as
five miles from the nearest stream, is stored. Over the years a man's wealth
and social position came to be judged by the number of pots, each full of
water, he could afford to have in reserve in his compound. In 1949 there
were serious outbreaks of yellow fever. There had been malaria for years
but that was not noticed much by the villagers. Four hundred deaths from
yellow fever, however, showed that something was definitely wrong.
The Medical Services found that the mosquito which carries yellow
fever and that which carries malaria were breeding prolifically in the pots
,of water stored in compounds.
There was clearly nothing wrong in the principle of storing water
r 1 ,Expert
Mr. I. M. Balogun,
once a Sergeant Major
o.. in the Army medical
services, was in charge
of the spraying in the
and efforts were made to persuade the local people to keep their pots
covered. This was a partial success but it was clear that another solution
would have to be found.
At the Malaria Service Headquarters tests are being conducted with a
small briquette containing a substance which kills mosquito larvae, which is
not poisonous and which does not give a taste to water. There is little
doubt that with the memory of the 1949 outbreak of yellow fever in mind,
the blocks will be used, the mosquitoes will not breed, and one of the
sources of both yellow fever and malaria will have been removed.
The war against malaria, it will be seen, can be carried out in either
of two ways: either by killing the mosquitoes which carry the disease or
by curing everyone who is infected with it. In theory it is true that if
everyone in a given area is cured of malaria, then the disease will die out.
The mosquito only carries the disease, by biting an infected person and then
flying off to bite someone else. If there are no infected persons, the chain
The difficulties in this line of approach are obvious. If, magically,
everyone in a given area could be cured by midnight on a specified day,
the first infected visitor to come to the place on the following morning
would be bitten by the right type of mosquito which would then hurry off
and bite someone else. The whole miserable business would start all over
again. If preventive drugs become available of such power that only one
tablet a month is needed, then there may be grounds for trying out this
Dr. Leonard Bruce-Chwatt (left) with Sir Gordon Covell during the latter's visit
to Yaba. Sir Gordon has been director of India's Malaria Institute and of
Britain's Ministry of Health Malaria Laboratory [Malaria Service picture
approach. Meanwhile, it is worth remembering a fact discovered at Ilaro.
The area of the railway station was found very difficult to clear of mosquitoes
until it was realized that the insects were coming in on the trains from
Lagos. The trains were then sprayed too, and immediately the nuisance
The second approach to the problem-the killing of mosquitoes, as
advocated by Sir Ronald Ross-is still thought to be the best.
Malaria Service workers are breeding mosquitoes and carefully noting
what happens when they bite animals infected with malaria. Until they
have done this the mosquitoes are harmless. The research people know all
about the minute parasite which causes the disease and just how it goes
about its evil work. They have proved that the mosquito is just an accessory
to the fact-and they suspect that it may even feel pretty sick itself at the
The testing of spraying equipment is part of the job of the Malaria Service
When it is necessary to experiment on human beings, members of the
staff of the Malaria Service volunteer for the job.
Apart from the dramatic tests like Ilaro, the activities of the Malaria
Service are concerned with pure research, training and advice in practical
measures against malaria. On the research side, the main interest is in
epidemiology-the study of just how the malaria parasite acts on the human
body; study of the malaria mosquitoes; the drugs which suppress, prevent
or treat malaria; insecticides to kill mosquitoes; and the equipment best
suited to disperse suitable insecticides.
Training is concerned with post-graduate courses for Medical Otticers,
specialised courses for Health Superintendents and Sanitary Inspectors,
and general Public Health education.
handsome pot plants,
the flowers last for
several weeks. They
grow well in a mix-
ture of sandy soil and
and do best in a
shady position. They
must have abundant
water at all times.
When planting the
roots should be spread
out and the place of
junction between the
roots and the stem
kept 2 to 3 inches
above the rim of the
pot on a small mound
A NYONE who has to motor a few thousand miles every year over
Nigeria's road system will be more than heartened by the sight of
graders, bulldozers and motor-trucks by the score all building and
re-surfacing roads in the sort of hustling way one has come to
associate with strategic development in wartime.
The operation is, in truth, one of national urgency, the object being to
remake roads which have slipped into a state beyond the normal main-
tenance capacity of the PWD. The urgency of the job arose from the fear
of having a major cocoa crop marooned on the farms by the failure of
lorries to extract it. There is no time to repair roads between the end of
the wet season and the main cocoa harvest and there was a very real danger
of a large part of a crop rotting on the farm if something were not done
about the roads-and quickly.
1,000 tons a Mile
Heaps of laterite dumped ready for spreading during the rebuilding of a section of the
A bulldozer takes the top soil off a new laterite pit required to rebuild the
Foresight met the emergency and the Western Region's main crop has,
so far, always found its way to the coast. The impressive mechanical
equipment which has brought this about is owned by the Colonial Develop-
ment Corporation, who added road contracting to their already extensive
list of activities largely at the instance of the Government of Nigeria.
The Corporation was formed in the United Kingdom at the end of the
war for the exact purpose its name implies. There were many reasons for it,
nearly all of them good ones. The most urgent reason was that the world,
taken as a whole, was hungry and was likely to remain so unless something
was done quickly. Part of the immediate effort was put into the develop-
ment of existing food sources and the rest was put into new projects, some
of which flopped badly.
All of which looks remote from an improvement in Nigeria's roads
but there is a vital link. Nigeria and Nyasaland were the first territories to
ask CDC to undertake public works jobs-jobs which were required
quickly, much faster than the non-mechanised rate of progress would allow.
The cost of equipment for a mechanical programme was far more than
either territory could stand, but it was thought that CDC could undertake
the work with the mechanical equipment available to it at a fair price "
and save each country a huge capital sum.
A diesel grader costing some 4,000, levels off the road and sets the camber at the same
time. Such machines speeded up airfield construction from years to weeks during the war
': 'S --^*i
A fleet of trucks, each loaded in two minutes by a mechanical dragline, are kept at work
hauling laterite from the pit to build up the road surface
African mechanics service
the blade of a giant bull-
dozer used in a laterite pit
Water is sprayed on the new laterite road to bind it together before the bitumen spray
Nigeria first asked CDC to survey her proposed railway extension
from Nguru to Maiduguri. The survey began but other teachings prevailed
before the railway was built. At about the same time, the Corporation was
asked to remake the Gusau-Sokoto trunk road. Soon afterwards, tenders
were invited for 178 miles of roads to be remade in the cocoa areas of the
Western Region, the cost to be met by the Cocoa Marketing Board.
The Corporation insist that they do not exist to cut out private con-
tractors. They tender-but only on invitation-on much the same financial
basis as anyone else. They also admit, though a little coyly, that the
existence of their organisation may exercise a little indirect control on the
prices asked by other organizations.
When work started in Nigeria there were, of course, problems. The
plant was available in U.K. but shipping space was hard to come by and
there were noticeable delays at the start. Plant off-loaded in Apapa had to
be moved to its operational site and Nigerian Railways helped with the
hauling of heavy equipment to the North. Much of the machinery had, in
the end, to be moved by road. Low-loaders (long lorries with a low platform
onto which tractors could be driven up a ramp) were used, but every time
they moved PWD had to survey the whole route in detail and issue a permit
Hardened steel teeth used
for scarifying (above) wear
down to half their size
(right) in about 24 hours'
working. Such is the abra-
sive effect of laterite
Servicing a mechanical tar
sprayer in the Ife area of
the Western Region
lest the road-making machinery do more harm than the good it had been
brought over to do. Bridges were a particular problem, and, though
track-laying vehicles are useful in the making of roads they are most
destructive if driven over a road already made.
The first job of remaking a road is to rip up the old surface. This is
necessary to get rid of corrugations. Very often the old surface, uneven
though it is, has the consistency of concrete after season upon season of
rain followed by baking sun. Wherever motorists gather together the
subject of corrugations is bound to come up. Many theories are voiced, but
senior road engineers admit that the real cause of the phenomena is not
known. Corrugations occur even on steel railway lines. Whatever their
cause, they make the first job of the road builder the ripping up of the old
surface. This they call scarifying and it has problems all its own. The
abrasive effect of laterite is such that hardened steel teeth used for this
purpose are half worn away within 24 hours-and the teeth are both
expensive and difficult to replace.
After the ripping process a new base coat of laterite between
3 and 6 inches deep is laid. This is mixed up with the old laterite by a
further scarifying process, after which the whole of the base course is
watered and rolled.
The bitumen surface (the tar ") is applied by a mechanical sprayer.
The requirements vary on particular contracts but here both coats are
applied hot after heating in a boiler. The temperature at which the coat is
applied is critical and someone has the job of working out the temperature
to which it must be heated inside the boiler so that, after transferring to the
spraying vehicles, it will be at just the right heat when it is put on the road.
Rain getting into the boiler during the heating process may cause an overflow
with a subsequent risk of fire.
This first bitumen coat is covered with sand or small gravel and left for
a short period, sometimes under traffic and sometimes not. Traffic on a
road for a few hours at this stage does little harm to the eventual result and
may even show up defects which might otherwise get by. In any case,
after the first tar spray the road is inspected most carefully by CDC and
PWD engineers. This first coat is vital to the quality of the finished work.
A diesel roller finishes off a stretch of newly metalled road
The sand or gravel is then brushed off and the second coat applied in a
similar manner. In Nigeria it is again put on hot, though some countries
prefer the second application to be cold.
After the second bitumen coat the surface is covered with granite
chippings or gravel, this being rolled well into the surface. There is then a
further brushing process to ensure that the'chippings have really got into
the road surface and are an effective part of it. A mound of loose gravel on
the edge or in the gutter is of no use at all. Then the road is ready for
As in most other activities, it is the final attention to the last detail that
makes the difference between a good and a bad job. If a road surface is
perfectly even, the load of traffic running over it will be carried evenly and
pot-holes will not form. It is still true that no one knows just what causes
.- m *
Preparation of Gravel
Washing small gravel for spreading on the tarred surface
corrugations-but the conditions with which they start are known and the
main factor is a primary unevenness in a road surface. If that first un-
evenness can be avoided, the corrugations will be avoided too.
Failure adequately to remove surface water is one of the main causes of
road failure. Waterlogged road edges soon result in those crimped, pot-
holed edges to a tarred surface. A waterlogged foundation to a road can
make it twist, buckle, and eventually break like a piece of thin glass.
Roads remade by the Corporation are maintained by them for six
months before being handed over finally to the Ministry of Public Works.
By now about one-third of the cocoa roads programme has been finished in
the Ife, Ede, Ondo areas. Soon the equipment will be divided and sent to
centres at Ibadan and Abeokuta for further operations.
When the full size of the job is considered, including the digging of
laterite, the finding and washing of gravel, the enormous tonnage of earth
that is moved (1,000 tons of laterite alone per mile), the speed at which the
re-making can go is remarkable. In the Ife area it has at times reached the
rate of one mile in two and a half days.
In the world picture, it is worth remembering that the remaking of
these roads in Nigeria, apart from helping in the nation's trade flow, is also
helping in the distribution of those very primary products which first gave
rise to the ideas behind the Colonial Development Corporation. G.Y. K.