There was a saying in Umuofia that as a man danced so the drums were beaten for him
― Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
The end of my second week in Abuja was spent dancing around a camp fire in the bush.
Yes, I really did dance. Well, ok, I walked around a camp fire and clumsily put one foot in front of the other.
I have received a very warm welcome here in Abuja and my statement early on that I wanted to get to know the place, and go where the locals go, not where the tourists go, did not go un-noticed. The approach to the venue was, well let’s just say interesting. Our driver turned off the dusty highway, already darkened as the street lights were out, and through a pair of rusty iron gates, and, as he negotiated the concrete and pothole strewn dirt track with care, drove us deeper into the dark and dusty night. There were no lights, no people to be seen, just a dirt track, a car with three passengers, the bush and the stars. My host, colleague and friend, David, assured us that there was a party, nay, a bonfire ahead.
And David was right.
There was indeed a camp fire, piled high with logs and spitting flames into the trees above. Chairs arranged around the fire. Lights strung up in the trees. Faces painted and festooned with glo-sticks. A barbecue sizzled as the cooks grilled spicily peppered suya. A long rope of potatoes, each one covered in aluminium foil, stitched together for roasting. A shack served up beer and smiles.
Loud music filled the air, some recognisable. The best for me, the Nigerian music, pounding rhythm and drums and a smile in every line. These are people who know how to party.
The people at the party were eclectic and welcoming and didn’t seem to mind me constantly popping up and shooting them. I even talked with another (local) photographer about working collaboratively to document life on the streets.
So, this post is a thank you to David, for introducing me to the camp fire in the bush.
I just hope the photos of me stumbling around a camp fire never see the light of day 😉