LANDING at the Aminu Kano international Airport, Kano, is sometimes a confounding experience. From the aircraft, the sprawling residential community bordering the airport on the left side leaves one askance. The question that runs is, how can a sprawling layout of the magnitude be so clustered that there is no defining space, without enough roads between the unending cluster of houses? It’s all a long stretch of rustic-looking buildings without any visible urban planning sign. Overall, the sight is a good advertisement for planlessness, one that gives the impression that Kano itself, a renowned international centre of trade and commerce will, most likely, present the same bileful picture of decay.
But once on ground, a new picture of exciting brilliance and beauty opens up. Almost literally, Kano City opens up with a beauty that is as confounding as the rustic decadence of immediate community on left side of the airport’s as seen from the air. The case is further accentuated as one journeys from the airport to the city centre. For first time visitors, traveling with someone who has a fair knowledge of the city opens a relishing vista. At least, it is easier to quickly get the picture of a city that evolved over the years.
Kano City is still evolving anyway as relics of decay appear every now and then. However, whatever it is in terms of the not-so beautiful site, much of it is bellied by the Obasanjo Flyover, the longest in the town and perhaps longer than any other inner city bridge in the country. Running for kilometres and traversing over a long stretch of the city’s landscape, it comes in handy as a cover for existing rot, if there is any, along the way to, for instance, the GRA areas where locations like Lugard, Lodge, to mention but a few, are mind-easing sites. Whichever point first time visitors find themselves, the feeling is often that of ecstasy while appraising the unfolding serene beauty of well-paved road, well-appointed sturdy walkways and lit streets.
Kano City’s lit streets make nights very inviting for visitors with a taste for unhinged night life. The presence of an assortment of exciting fun spots dotted across the metropolis is another compelling nudge that make way for exuberant night life in the city. They are too many to be named, not necessarily anyway, but each has the right ambience for real time, top notch, real time service culture that create an irresistible clarion pull for night time fun-lovers. Generally crime free, Kano City nights are as good as (if not more than) those obtainable elsewhere across the country. That is, if one reflects on the intrusion of religious demands.
Hanging out in Kano City is devoid of any hassle. As noted earlier, there is an array of exciting hangout spots. More exciting is the fact that each offers tantalizing menu choices for those besotted to good food, barbecue of the best hue-beef, chicken, name it. That is in addition to the availability of innumerable soft drink shakes comprising such handmade sips. One of them is the mouth-tingling ginger juice that makes a whole experience when (gingerly) sipped while munching a mouthful of Suya, Chicken Gizzards and aaah! Di thing dey wake pesin mouth, no bi small o. Kano City is a bomb.
The only snag, a major one, is that Kano City is a no-go area for those with a taste for alcoholic beverages. Don’t even look for beer because there is none. Same goes spirit and or any other brand of drink with any measure of intoxicants. In all of the fun spots visited, the fear of the city’s moral police, Hisbah for short, is the beginning of wisdom. Indeed, try as this reporter did to find any discrete spot for any clandestine sale and or consumption of alcohol, there was none. However, findings indicate, that they are readily available in the Sabon-Gari area of the city. For reasons of time, this reporter could not independently verify the authenticity of the claim even as there was no reason to assume it is not true.
The discovery that while alcoholic beverages are not available in Kano City centre but are on demand in other areas left this reporter wondering if that is not hypocrisy of some sort. I mean, it doesn’t add up. It also raised one of the many dilemmas facing the country. Accruals from the Value Added Tax, VAT, is part of the allocations shared between the federal government, the 36 states, including Abuja and the nation’s 774 council areas. How right is it for those who do not want the sale and consumption of alcohol in their domain to partake in the share of money accruing from its VAT? It appears rather confounding, putting it mildly.
The deviation above apart, hospitality is second nature to the people of Kano. And they have a special liking for visitors who they always want to satisfy at all cost possible . For instance, available hotels were so crowded that a number of us who came for a very high end event in city got mixed up. It was such that as late as midnight, tens of delegates were still unable to find their allocated hotel accommodations. But the accompanying stress was made less as the people made themselves available and ready to help in any way possible. I was almost at my wit’s end at some point when a young man I do know not from Adam, came to my rescue at the Central Hotel. He refused to let go until I finally got a call that my allocated hotel room was at the R&K, a beautiful hideaway if you ask me. The young man did not only call a cab, he paid for it despite my (rather feeble) protests before bidding me a restful night-whatever was left of it, anyway. But his action touched.
Generally, the people treat visitors with such reverence one is left wondering. With them, I am left to conclude that Nigerians need to do away with prejudices. They are mostly unfounded. We need to reach out to others more without prejudices.
Transportation within Kano City is something else. Unlike other cities this reporter has been privileged to visit across the country, the case in Kano is unique. For drops, cabs are available but tricycles, better known as “Keke NAPEP”, pronounced as “KayKay NAFEF”, is the in-thing. For as little as N200, it’s yours for a breezy ride to your destination. Most of the drivers are honest to a fault and would, without hesitation, return whatever change was left. But one or two played smart. For instance, one picked me up for a price but ended taking me on a merry go-round to justify the price. I had to redirect him to the right route, having activated my Google map app. He mumbled certain excuses, made necessary turns, aware anyway he’s been bursted.
In another instance, another driver collected N200 for a journey of N50. The next tricycle driver collected N50 each from this reporter and three other colleagues for the same journey.
Hey! There is no bad currency in Kano City, no matter how badly torned any piece is. For instance, this reporter got horrified when a tricycle driver gave him his N300 change. The notes, comprising denominations of N20, N50 and N100 were mutilated, some barely recognization beyond obvious major features and images. He wanted to reject them immediately remembered, having been informed previously, that no one rejects any currency in the Northern part of the country. Still full of trepidations, it was no surprise he disposed them in the next ride, even going out all the N300 in one ride, against the normal N200. Of course, the driver collected the money with rains of appreciation, not forgetting to offer a prayer. It was touching.
Kano City is not just a good host to willing human guests, it is also the domicile of an endless swam of mosquitoes. They don’t appear until it is nightfall. Unlike those most visitors are used to, Kano City mosquitoes have business whining with irritating buzzes around the ears. Neither do they come in units. They are not only huge, they come in swammy droves and don’t let go when they horn in.
Wonderfully, while natives and long time residents seem calm over their rabid attacks, visitors are easily recognizable as they battle the musquito seige. Uniquely, this reporter’s hotel had to device an ingenious method of curtailing them by placing lit mosquito coil by every downfloor door near the pool side. That not withstanding, every door remained on a near permanent close mode.
The mosquito Invasion not withstanding, alcohol or none at all, Kano City remains a truly beautiful, a truly hospitable place to be.