Zaria is a town with lots of surprises. It’s located in Kaduna state, in the northern part of Nigeria. Never been to Zaria before and also didn’t have any expectations so basically everything I came across was a surprise to me. Spent a month here attending attend lectures, tutorial and clinical sessions at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Shika.
In Zaria, motor bikes ‘okada’ is a major means of transportation. These things are everywhere. Aside the ‘keke napep’, buses ‘molue’ that move around, and of course ‘legedez benz’, the bikes are quite popular.
Transportion in Zaria
The funny thing is that these bike operators seem to believe that there are the major form of transport because they drive like the roads belong to them. They can overtake you from any angle, in fact you do not seem them coming. The next thing you know, they are riding very close to your side.
The vehicle owners also seem to be very inpatient. They tend to overtake a lot. They could see a vehicle coming from the opposing traffic and still overtake. It’s so bad that the oncoming vehicle has to drive off the road. This happened to me just recently and it gave me palpitations. Amazing thing is that the offended driver does not complain, he just continues his journey, probably because he does it too.
Though I haven’t been to a lot of Nigerian cities, another peculiar thing about Zaria is that there are beggars everywhere. It would shock you to know that majority of these beggars are children who could do something better with their lives. Without exaggerating, one could meet nothing less than 20 beggars on an average day in Zaria. In traffic, campus, buying things, hospital, even around the wards. Yes, they may be from low socio-economic backgrounds but does that mean they automatically go into the begging ‘bizness’.
Now let’s talk about the facilities. You can imagine a guest house whose bathroom is worse than that of a public boarding school. If only the managers of those facilities would renovate them….hmmmm
Guys let me let you in on a little secret. Hausa is the lingua franca of Zaria. Almost 90% of the locals I met spoke hausa. It didn’t matter if they were from other tribes. The environment is such that you need hausa to carry out your daily activities. Hausa is spoken everywhere and the annoying thing is that they assume you understand what they are saying. And if perhaps you are like me and you do not understand, then you are made to feel out of place.
My first day in Zaria, after registering for the MDCN exams, two male staff were conversing in Hausa and one of them asked me a question in Hausa and obviously I had a blank expression on my face. Then he looked at the other one with a look of “really she doesn’t understand?” then he said something else in Hausa to me and I still maintained the blank expression on my face and the next thing that came out of his mouth was “you don’t understand Hausa, you have failed the exam already, how would you communicate with the patients.” I was ‘wowed’.
There were about 600 foreign trained medical doctors there for this same purpose, of which less than 50% speak Hausa, so I really wondered how someone could stand there and say such to me. Anyway I just brushed him off because I knew what I came there to do. I didn’t come there to fail.
I was told the northern part of Nigeria is famous for its yoghurt but I don’t think it’s anything to write home about. Also the roads in this town are filled with pot-holes but this is not un-expected as Zaria is in Nigeria *wink*
On the other hand, Zaria is quite an affordable city. Foodstuffs are sold at a cheaper rate than other cities.
During my one month here, I met doctors who had trained in different parts of the world; Benin republic, Bulgaria, Caribbean, China, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Oman, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine and United Arab Emirates.
Here lies the end of this chronicle. Let me know your thoughts, especially if you have been to Zaria before or if you were also there for the MDCN training, share your experience in the comment section below. Remember to subscribe/follow this blog if you haven’t done so already. For the fun experience at Zaria, stay tuned for my next post, you don’t want to miss out on that. Ciao darlings…