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How My First visit To The North Changed My 'monster' Perception Of The Zone -By Gbenga Shaba

While growing up, i was made to believe that the predominantly Muslim northern states with Sharia law is a no go area for someone like i who grew up in the southern part of the country.

We were made to understand that with the law, people there live in perpetual fear of the unknown. I could remember, whenever we see an amputee or a blind man, we are always quick to conclude that it was Sharia law that has been applied to him.

Again, when I begin to grow and getting matured; the narratives about the Northern part of my country changed. I began to hear stories that no one dared drink beer, no one dared got involved in prostitution, no one dared smoke. Haaa! My gear for the north grew per 150%. If you ever mentioned it that you are going to any Northern state of Nigeria, I will be crying as if you are going there to commit suicide.
I was in this 'Northernphobia' until I was posted to to Kano State in 2009 for my mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps, NYSC. At first, I thought I was being bedeviled. Then another thought said, may I've committed one grievous sin and God want to use my posting to the North to punish or even kill me outrightly.

Oh, I fear North!

I was grieved. Even though some of my mates were posted to Bornu State which perhaps, holds the record between the North and the South Western states, most especially, Lagos State.

The day I left home for Kano, I said a silent 'final' prayer.
I left Akure, the Ondo State capital around 6:15am; passing through Kogi, Nasarawa, Abuja, Kaduna through the ancient city of Zaria and to Kano, the city of Caliphates.

It was a long but an eventful journey. The driver had only one stop-over to refill and for us to eat in Lokoja, thank God I bought bread and groundnut in Akure before our bus took off, I would have cried out for hunger. It was a dry and dusty journey in the month of February.

Thank God our driver was very professional, we got to Kano around 4:37pm. Looking round I noticed Kano Municipal is actually a city like where I was coming from. I saw people minding their various businesses. Then, I became worried! I'm I actually in a Northern state? Is this where I was posted to? But, what about all those stories of people being amputated? No social life. No bars. No hotels.
Because, I eventually moved to Sabongari area of the State and stayed at Yoruba street; you will never be able to differentiate Sabongari in Kano from Ikeja, Lagos state. It was at Sabongari that I knew that what legendary writer, George Orwell said in his book 'Animal Farm' that "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" was actually very true.

I saw bars, brothels, motels, drink joints, betting cubicles more like what we have down the South here. It was in Kano, during my service year that I spoke to a prostitute one on one for the first time in my life at the age of 25.
I learnt prostitute  are called 'Olosho' in Kano. That was the first time i would be learning that. 

I do visit them almost every evening in company of my corper friends. Don't be in a haste to judge me because, most times we only go there to gist with those guys as we got to understand that most of them actually came from the the Southern part of the country.
I moved round the community and I heard people speaking in pidgin, Yoruba and Igbo languages contrary to my believe that I will be seeing who would not be able to communicate effectively with me.

So I asked, what were all those lies for? Why creating a monster in place they have never been to? I'm I in another North?

Who else shares my kind of experience?

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