Colorful, Vibrant Nigeria

December 10, 2010

Deborah Robin Croft wrote

As we were flying over Nigeria, I couldn’t believe the diversity of the landscape below me. First, flying over the Northern part of the country, the desert below stretched endlessly for hours during the flight, with vast tan and ochre expanses sprinkled with ant-sized communities of human habitation. Slowly, the terrain became hillier and greener. Finally, muddy, rain-swollen rivers and pockets of water that must be lakes appeared. But the country is enormous and the flight seemed never-ending. When we finally stepped out of the plane, we were greeted by torrential rains because, at the end of October, it was still the tail-end of the rainy season.

It’s wonderful how green the planned capitol city of Abuja, Nigeria is during the rainy season.

Nigeria has many different tribes with their own languages. Some examples are the Yoruba in the northern part of the country and the Ibo in the South. One Saturday, our team at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja took a field trip to the Nike (pronounced Nee-Kay) Art Center where we were treated to a performance of traditional dances.
Nike is a famous artist in Nigeria. She is known for her hand-dyed cloth creations. So, our group of 20 had a class in tie-dye using dyes made from indigo, ground bark and vegetables. Nike’s artisans also showed us how to do wax paintings on the cloth using bird feathers as paint brushes.

In the month of November, right before Thanksgiving, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Terence P. McCulley, traveled to several northern Nigerian towns to meet with local officials and leaders and to visit some USAID-Nigeria partnership projects. The experience was extremely rewarding and some of these projects are producing excellent results in fields as important and diverse as human health, international trade, and education. The best thing about Nigeria for me however, is the warm and vibrant culture and people.

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