The rest of the days in camp in Gumel, Jigawa State was more pleasurable, and many of the strict regulations were now relaxed, four days to the end of the twenty-one day Camp Period. Morning drills now involved only those who will march on the last day of camp, while the rest of the day was devoted to programmes of a more entertaining type.
When one of his roommate Wale, the Accounting graduate from Bayero University Kano, BUK asked if he could accompany him and some other friends to Maigatari, an adjoining town to buy Gold (amongst other things) for his Gold trading sister in the South of Nigeria, he easily obliged seeing that he had nothing serious planned for the day. Wale had been reliably informed that it was cheaper to buy gold there, as most of the traders were from République du Niger and they could exploit the disparity in currencies which favoured the Nigerian Naira over the CFA Franc, to buy gold relatively cheaper than they would’ve had they gone to Kano. The lax security in camp meant that they just waltzed through the gate without as much as even a stare by the army privates on guard duty.
They met other corpers at the motor park in Gumel, dressed just like them in their Khakis and boots going out of town. Some of them were those delegated by their platoons as members of the social or entertainment committees and the likes, to go purchase items needed for events lined up for that night and the few nights left before the end of camp, such as the “Awards and Beauty Pageant Nite”, “Bonfire Night”, amongst others. The journey from Gumel to Maigatari was smooth, with the daredevil driver ensuring they made their destination at top speed within an hour. He had come to accept the fact that paved roads in Nigeria’s North (even without proper drainages) lasted longer than the ones in the South not because they were better done, but because they are less exposed to the vagaries of rainfall unlike those in the South, even with proper drainage.
The market in Maigatari was bustling as ever and he couldn’t tell who was Nigérien and who was Nigerian, though he could make out that some of the heavily turbaned men with dusty faces spoke Arabic than Hausa, suggesting that they might have just arrived after traveling long distances via the Sahara, but even that couldn’t make them out as citizens of one of either countries. The market in Maigatari is notable as an important CATTLE market, and it is where many traders in cattle and other livestock from Niger Republic make a stopover with their truckloads before proceeding to big Nigerian cities like Kano to discharge their animal cargo, some of them will sell their goods to middlemen if they are made an offer they couldn’t refuse, rather than continue a perilous journey to Kano or other locations in the North, at the risk of coming in contact with armed robbers, Cattle Rustlers, Accidents amongst other likely unfortunate events they could encounter, though at the end of the day, they will be assured of greater profit should they make it to those destinations within Nigeria, which is more often than not, and which is why many of the traders from Niger appear very reluctant to let off their cargo doing so only when a more persuasive customer approaches them.
It appeared to him like anything and everything was on sale at the market, and most interestingly at very affordable prices, for instance he saw a fully grown goat for the very ridiculous price of what it usually cost his mother to buy meat at the market in Lagos for just a big pot of soup. He couldn’t imagine missing out on the opportunity to buy the goat at the price on offer (especially as the trader appeared to be willing to go lower, so he could be able to join the convoy leaving that morning back to Agadez in Niger Republic, or risk having to stay back in Nigeria till about the same time the next day), so he called on Wale and his friends to part with a few hundreds of Naira as contribution towards the purchase of the goat. Once the deal was sealed, he sat on a huge log, part of what seemed a recently felled baobab with his goat, while his friends haggled with people that looked like Tuaregs over the price of gold rings and trinkets, using an interpreter who understood both Hausa (which his roommate though Yorùbá and from Southwestern Nigeria, could fluently speak) and Arabic which the Tuaregs understood.
The trade in SESAME SEEDS appear to be even larger than that in cattle at the market though it could easily be in the cattle business because of the size in foreign exchange that is involved. You could just about find it everywhere, even the cattle traders came with theirs for sale at Maigatari. He began to wonder how he could be part of the business and why many people could be working around with the toga of unemployment hanging about their neck in major towns and cities allover Nigeria, when with just a little capital they could invest in the sesame seed trade amongst other agribusiness ventures they can easily get involved in, and watch their business grow exponentially in a place like Maigatari. When he became bored, he decided to call his girlfriend in Lagos to intimate her of what he’d seen at the market, his mobile phones’ service provider warned him before placing the call that he’d be charged international rates seeing that he was about to use his phone outside of Nigeria. This came as a shock to him, as he could see the border between Nigeria and Niger Republique a few meters away from the market, and he decided to ditch the call for later, till he was sure he was back on Nigerian soil proper.
By midday, Wale and his friends were done haggling and had purchased the quantity of gold rings and trinkets they wanted and came to meet him where he was seated. They apologised for keeping him and proceeded to make him an offer of FURA DE NUNU (raw unpasteurized milk expressed from a cow, mixed with ground millet) which they had bought from a Fulani girl in the market.
It was different from all the milk he had ever tasted, in its fullness such that by the time he was done with one calabash he couldn’t help but ask that he be taken to the spot where they bought it for another helping, before they now proceeded to the park goat in hand, which was conveniently placed in the boot of the bus. The bus was filled in no time, and he fell asleep almost as the bus left the park in Maigatari, to wake up once they were back at the park in Gumel. It took only two hours for his bowels to react violently to the violation meted out to it by the Fura de Nunu.
It was while in his travail that his roommates began sharing their experiences with Fura De Nunu, and how he shouldn’t have taken more than a bowl for a first timer, they however assured him that subsequent helpings will not be so badly taken by his gastrointestinal tract as this would’ve adequately immunized him from future irritants in the raw milk. Because of the frequency and urgency with which he was pressed to defecate, and his anal sphincters doing very little to keep anything back up, he had to use the dreaded toilet in their part of the hostel, as walking beyond that distance could spell doom. He was measured in his utterances for the period he suffered because any outlandish movement, even unguarded laughter could trigger another rumbling of the stomach and a visit to the toilet. It wasn’t until he had some antibiotics brought for him by a female colleague at the camp’s makeshift clinic that he began to feel much better, to prepare for the Award and Beauty Pageant Night where he was scheduled to beat the Conga for the cultural troupe performing that night.