Some more life-time firsts – let’s start with the more profane: After home-grown bananas and oranges I yesterday had the less enjoyable pleasure of trying my first cashew fruit. Yes, the fruit from the tree that produces cashew nuts. And, in fact, this particular tree even has a name – Erik, after the friend of Andrew and the family who planted it years ago. I can’t really say which fruit I haven eaten before the taste of cashew reminded me, but it must be something of a mixture between really bitter grapefruits and unripe apples, you know, those of the small and hard kind that fall from the tree long before they are ready. Only that the texture is of a kind that you cannot bite but have to swallow it. Weird but still worth a try if you ever come across it. Maybe then you can tell me what it tastes of.

The other life-time first is even less pleasant and, in fact, really annoying with regard to my research: There was some incident at campus yesterday. I still haven’t found out what actually happened, its just somehow related to some religious disagreement between some students. But just before I was about to leave – slightly delayed thanks to some morning diarrhoea – we received a call from my current host mum, who works at the uni and went in very early in the morning, not to go in but wait at home until further notice from her. Further notice came about one and a half hours later: Students were asked to leave the campus within two hours, including those residing at the hostels on campus. And from what I have heard so far it appears the uni will be closed for the next two weeks. Great! Just as they got used to my presence at the department … Well, instead now the house is full of students from the hostels, some family, some ‘only’ friends, I think. I really love the calm, practical approach to the situation they have here: Made breakfast for everybody and then moved me from the bedroom with the king-size bed to Naomi’s smaller room. I guess that’s what they meant when I arrived and they hadn’t yet got my messages that I was on the way: You arrived like an African they said and simply prepared the guest room for me. I was feeling a bit guilty but was reassured that this was quite acceptable. Guess, now I know why. Things like this uni closure keep on happening unannounced and you just have to do what you can to minimise everybody’s inconvenience. Not like at home, where a surprise visit leaves my mum stressed out because the house might not look as spotless as she’d like it for such occasion.

This, however, leaves open the question of what I will do with my time for the next two weeks if it will really take that long (and not longer) for the university to reopen. I was planning to do a survey of art shops and wall paintings (politicians, shop advertisements) in the city anyway. But even including interviews with artists and shop owners this will not keep me occupied for the whole time. So, I guess it’s high time I get going with my Hausa and find some local craftsmen. And possibly Muslim scholars, though, with regard to that I’d prefer to have a look into the BA dissertation on local scholars views on sculpture that is with the department first. Unfortunately I didn’t arrange for that during my first week here and last week Chris Mtaku, the head of art history, has been travelling. … And, yes, I know, no need to remind me, I could also get in contact with the guys from the museum again but … it was such a frustrating experience last time around. I don’t want to!!!

Oh, and last but not least some pics from a brief trip to Lake Allo, the result of a dam built by the World Bank. Not sure about whether this particular project achieved its objectives (there must be a huge amount of evaporation during the hot season of water that could otherwise have fed into Lake Chad) but it’s a beautiful spot and apparently quite a lot of birds come here to while away the European winter. I definitely have to come back earlier in the day at one point!


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