National Geographic : 1934 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph from Will F. Taylor THE CHIEF OF OWO SITS IN STATE ATTIRE In front of his mud-walled, grass-roofed house, this potentate of a vil lage in southern Nigeria holds a staff as a sign of office. The cap and veil, decorated with coral, are worn only by Yoruba chiefs. tom-toms were booming in a village not far away, so I got my banjo and flashlight and set out over the trail. I didn't blame them for scuttling into the bush when they saw me. But the banjo soon brought them back, and I'll bet they're still talking about the powwow we had that night. After everyone who could had done a solo dance, I laid down my banjo and put on a buck-and-wing myself. Then I taught a few steps of the tango to one of the girls, explained the tango rhythm to the drum mers, and we danced it together. But at last it was time to get back to camp. Flood would be worried. "Putt, putt, putt!" said I, drawing pic tures in the sand. "Chung! "- Hausa for "big hole with water in it"-and I spread my hands in despair. The chief was per plexed, then bright ened and nodded re assuringly. Next morning they poled us across the Kaduna in a dugout canoe 60 feet long and gave us the village blessing as we drove away after distributing a shilling among them. We never had to ask a favor twice; often it was performed before we had even men tioned it. And I think this attitude of friend liness and hospitality is traceable as much to the simple, unaf fected courtesy of the unspoiled Negro as to the fact that the British demand good treatment from their subjects. By the time we reached Bida, capital of the Nupe people, our mounts were beginning to act as if they needed soldering and straight ening, also welding and tightening; so we paused for a few days to overhaul them and to remodel the gasoline carriers, which had been giving us considerable trouble on account of unscientific distribution of weight. Life in Bida seemed most bizarre and exotic at first. Pocket-size, pot-bellied nanny goats trotted up and down the streets on business, with their teats drag ging on the ground. Dignified robed patri archs on bicycles bumped into them and swore in Nupe. Six black, thick-lipped heralds blew shrill blasts on four-foot brass trumpets before the gates of an enormous mud-walled palace.