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December 14, 2001

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If you're a tourist you must be careful in a town where Osama bin Laden supporters hang posters of him on buildings and buses. These posters show bin Laden flying a fighter jet or toting a machine gun, Rambo-style. These posters hang all over Kano, a place that is Nigeria's most important Muslim city and the oldest city in West Africa. In contrast to Nigeria's Christian south, and sometimes in conflict with it, Nigeria's northern region is predominantly Muslim. Once in awhile people tell us they don't like Americans as we walk or drive down the streets, but most of the time people say "welcome" or "safe journey." No touts hassle us. No one begs for money. The shopkeepers smile, say polite words and quote reasonable prices. We don't see any other tourists. The city charms us despite the feeling of tension in the streets. We've heard about riots between Christians and Muslims leading to violence and murder. Then we read local newspapers that call for Shari'a, Muslim religious law that punishes adulterers by stoning and thieves by amputation of the hands. One editorial asks "are we following the straight path when we oppose Shari'a and follow American presidentialism?" Another front-page article discusses the increasing popularity of the name 'Osama' for newborns.
Not sure what these Hausa words say under this Osama picture. One man we asked translated it as, "Follow his name." Another man translated it as, "Look to him for nothing." Who do you believe?
Families use mini-vans at home. Here they use the family moped.
The queen of Kano.