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What Happened to the Groundnut Pyramids?

11 Jun 2021

The Great Groundnut Pyramids of Northern Nigeria! Here one day, and gone the next. The great groundnut pyramids were structures made of about 15,000 bags of groundnuts per pyramid and weighing 1000 tons. They were first erected in North-West Nigeria in the center of Kano city. Invented by Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, they led to the establishment of the Groundnut Marketing Board in the mid-1900s. Pyramids were also built in Malam Madori, Jigawa State, before the rosette virus outbreak in 1975, 1983, 1985, and 1988 which caused a decline in groundnut farming, making the aroma of the pyramids a distant memory.
  The proverb “out of sight, out of mind” is a tribute to the forgetfulness of humans. Once something is no longer visible, it might as well not have existed. If something was not videoed when it happened, no one believes it happened. If one goes on holiday and has no photos to show as proof, no one believes them. This is the fate of the Great Groundnut Pyramids of Northern Nigeria; they no longer exist so no one remembers them, and few acknowledge that they ever existed. Everyone talks about the Egyptian pyramids because they are not mere stories, they can be seen and felt, and they form part of Africa’s rich history. But in one key area, they pale in comparison to the pyramids that existed in Nigeria in the early 1900s; they are inedible and if you try to eat them… well, just don’t.  The Nigerian pyramids were located in the center of Kano City in the northwestern part of the country and were created by thousands of bags of groundnuts stacked upon each other by hundreds of laborers. A single pyramid could contain up to 15, 000 bags of groundnuts, weighing more than 1000 tons and towering over trees and buildings. These amazing pyramids were not scattered haphazardly but were arranged in rows like the buildings you would see in a well-planned town, and there could be over 60 pyramids in the city at any given time. You may be wondering why they would stack bags of groundnut in the hot sun in the first place, here is why: For one, groundnuts are preserved by putting them in cloth bags and stacking them in piles, this keeps them safe from insects and other pests, but this could have been done anywhere, so why did they have to bring them to the center of the city, hire laborers and begin stacking them in the sun?  Before the invention of the groundnut pyramids, farmers sold their groundnuts as best they could individually; there was no organized system, and this continued even up to the early 1900s when groundnut became highly sought after by manufacturing industries who used it as a raw material for the production of their goods. By 1912, a lot of farmers motivated by the returns on investment in groundnut farming began to farm groundnuts.  In 1919 when groundnut farming was at its peak, a successful businessman and trader in groundnuts and kola nuts named Alhaji Alhassan Dantatareturned to his hometown of Kano and completely revolutionized the groundnut industry. He invented the groundnut pyramids which allowed farmers from across northern Nigeria to bring their harvests to the city of kano and sell them to traders who hired laborers to arrange them into pyramids until they could be transported to the end-users in different cities. A railway ran through Kano to the city of Minna, and from there connected to a railway that led to Lagos. For this reason, the pyramids were carefully arranged close to the railway. This led to the establishment of the Groundnut Marketing Board in the mid-1900s. It licensed agents who went into the villages every season to purchase groundnuts directly from the farmers. These groundnuts were transported by donkeys, camels, or vehicles to the center of the city where they were piled on the pyramids and sold at a fixed price.  So, the pyramids functioned as a groundnut collection center for the entire northern region.  Thanks to the efforts of Alhaji Dantata, the tireless farmers and traders of Northern Nigeria, groundnut became a major export in Nigeria with an estimated 1.6 to 1.8 million tons of groundnut being produced every year. As production increased, so did the number of groundnut pyramids and the number of towns that built them, including the town of Malam Madori in Jigawa State. As to the question of what happened to the pyramids; drought, an outbreak of the rosette virus in 1975, 1983, 1985, and 1988, and the shift in Nigeria’s economy from agriculture to petroleum led to the decline of groundnut production and brought the era of pyramids to an end. In recent years, Nigeria has begun to look into ways to increase its groundnut production, and perhaps if we're lucky we will get to see the groundnut pyramids again; the piles and piles of groundnut bags that once represented the country’s wealth and creativity, and filled the nation with the sweet aroma of groundnuts.  

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Haunted Places in South Africa

Haunted Places in South Africa Do strange things ever happen to you at night or even during the day? Ever thought about ghosts and all they do? When the word haunted is said, all one thinks about is movies. Thinking that being haunted or haunted places only ends in movies is not true. Are you one who loves thrills and scary goosebumps creeping all over you? Or are you searching for a place that will get your adrenaline pump up? Then these haunted places in South Africa should be your next stop. From ghost stories to haunted houses where you hear screams even during the day to hotels, castles, hospitals, and museums are experiences you will never forget in a hurry when you visit any of these places. The CAPE OF GOOD HOPE is said to be one of the most haunted places in South Africa and the most talked about ghost stories. Oral legend has it that sometime in 1941 a Dutch ship called “The Flying Dutchman” used for trading capsized off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope after surrendering to the storm. According to the legend, The Flying Dutchman is doomed to keep sailing the stormy seas forever and it is said to be a very terrible omen to see The Flying Dutchman while at sea. The ghost nurse at the Somerset Hospital is on to look out for whenever one visits Cape Town. This nurse is said to mysterious with her white eyes and loves assisting patients and then disappear afterward. If you like a ghost pulling your toes while you sleep, if you love that kind of thrill then the Nottingham Road Hotel is for you. The ghost of the hotel is called Charlotte and she is said to be fond of tidying and rearranging flowers and objects in your room. So, whenever you visit this South African hotel and pay for a room, have it at the back of your mind that you automatically signed up to have a roommate that does the cleaning. Interestingly scary right? Residents in Erasmuskloof, Pretoria reports having heard strange noises and often seen ghosts in and around the Erasmus castle. Out of the normal things like moaning at night and lit windows in the abandoned mansion has always been reported too. Shoulder tapping is a thing when you visit Rust en Vreugd (an Iziko Museum) in Cape Town. The shoulder-tapping ghost is said to dwell in the museum.

28 Apr 2021

Rwanda, so Interesting

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28 Apr 2021

African Dance STyles

The Evolution of African Dance Styles Since time immemorial, Africans have used various dance styles to express emotions, ritual rites, communication, entertainment, and freedom. In 1500, dance styles were unique to every tribe and connoted deep spirituality. Many African tribes had a dance teacher to pass the traditional dance style to younger generations. It was the dance teacher’s duty to ensure that every group in the community knew their movements naturally. Due to the meanings and expressions behind the styles, it was inherent that no step was missed. A little insight into the dance style of the Ijaw people of Nigeria, West Africa. They had both dry land and wet swampy lands which affected their dance styles. The farmers on the dry savanna placed their feet firmly on the grounds, following their dance leader in a circular motion, swaying their bodies steadily in rhythm. In the mangrove swamps were fishermen whose dance style is called ‘waist dance’. When they danced, their backs leaned forward from their hips, their torsos positioned like they had a dog’s posture except they were not kneeling. They moved lightly, moving their body weight from foot to foot in rhythm to songs they sang as they fish by the swamps.  It is impossible to talk about African dance without mentioning drums. It was very essential for dance because of its rhythm and tune to emotions and spirituality. Drums were known as the tribe’s heartbeat. Drums had the power of staging the mood and connecting positive energies and uniting the people. Another essential accessory for dance was clapping hands and stomping feet in collective rhythm to the drum, singing, and body movements while dancing. With time, dance got complicated as it widely developed. Many dances had what we called isolated and polycentric movements. With this style, each body part moved differently from the other. Bear in mind that these times, Africans were being sold into slavery to Europeans, Caribbean's, and South and North Americans. The slave masters gave them the freedom to practice their traditions which included dance. It was with these dance styles Africans had a passage to be free in their minds. Yet, in North America, slaves were subjected to harsh laws that prohibited them from dancing but Africans devised ways to continue dancing despite the conditions. Due to the dispersion and separation of ethnic groups and tribes, dance styles began to merge and evolve into a broad new African dance style. The Caribbean island was a major influence on this evolution. Inspirations also came from Spain, France, Dutch, and Britain. The African dances we know today were all rooted in the 1500 dance styles. The lasting African dance styles are; Agahu, Agbekor, Adamu, Yankadi, Munchongoyo, Kpanlogo, and Mohobelo.  Even in new lands, these dance styles stayed with Africans and are now popular dance styles in modern-day such as; tap Dancing, Twist, Charleston, Jazz dance, lindy hop, twerking, hip hop, zouk, Capoeira, the jitterbug, etc.

02 May 2021

Africa Mathematical Games

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02 May 2021