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4 May 2014 / leggypeggy

My better memory of Abuja, Nigeria

Abuja meat market

A whole building is devoted to meat sales in the Abuja market

News from Nigeria has been bad over the last few weeks. More than 200 school girls were kidnapped from a boarding school in the northeast of the country. And another bomb went off in Abuja, the nation’s capital. Nineteen people have been confirmed dead—and that’s on top of the 75 who died a few weeks ago in another explosion in the busy Nyanya bus station.

It’s especially sad because I have some affinity with Abuja. It’s a purpose-built capital city, like Canberra (my home) in Australia and Brasilia in Brazil. Plus a couple of years back, we spent about nine days in Abuja getting visas needed to continue our travels through Africa.

Market in Abuja

No shortage of things to buy

Created in the 1960s to replace Lagos as the capital, Abuja is a huge country town (rather like Canberra).

There’s no real town centre—which we were told was intentional—so there is no place for people to congregate for riots. That’s a disturbing premise for town planning. But the city’s urban spread clearly doesn’t protect the place and its residents from terrorist attacks.

My heart breaks for the people who have to live through this sort of violence, fear and trauma.

Luckily, my memories of Abuja are quite a bit tamer and cheerier. One of my most vivid recollections is of the huge market that was a longish taxi ride from where we were staying—camping in the ‘backyard’ of the Sheraton Hotel. More about that soon.

I visited the market three times in nine days and reveled in the marvelous array and excellent quality of foodstuffs I was able to buy. And the stallholders were so friendly, helpful and informative. Language wasn’t even a barrier. I bought a couple of items I didn’t recognise and, through miming, was able to determine whether it should be cooked or eaten raw.

Gwynne, one of our travelling companions, bought a pair of tennis shoes—a little large but still okay—and Poor John bought a couple of aprons because he was tired of getting food and soot all over his clothes every time it was our turn to cook.

Nigerian butcher

All is forgiven

I unwittingly managed to irk one of the butchers. I visited the meat section on a day that wasn’t our cook group’s turn to make dinner. I told one of the butchers that I’d be back and buy from him on ‘my day’.

Of course, a few days later I wandered up and down the aisles but couldn’t spot him, so started to buy from someone else. Obviously, my foreign face was pretty easy to recognise and my original butcher chased me down (I was a few aisles away) before I spent my money in the ‘wrong’ place. Butcher no. 2 wasn’t very happy, but you can’t please everyone.

The opportunity to shop in local markets is one of my favourite tasks on an overland truck trip. We’re organised into cook groups, and take turns shopping and preparing meals. While I’m glad I don’t cook for a group every day, I could visit a farmer’s market every day. In fact, I try to food shop almost every day wherever I am.

What are your shopping habits?

P.S. If you are a food lover, be sure to visit my cooking escapades.

Market in Nigeria

Shoppers inspect a small table of fish for sale


Leave a Comment
  1. G’day! Thanks Peggy! I really enjoyed your post today and opens one’s eye up to the reality of how some people endure and get through their day!
    Cheers! Joanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 4 2014 8:49 pm

      Thanks Joanne. I can’t help but wonder about all the people in my pics. Are they all safe?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Allison Hawryliw / May 4 2014 10:01 pm

    Hi Peggy,
    I have just recently subscribed to your blog and enjoy reading about your escapades. In this posting, you make reference to an overland truck. I am going on a Madventure, leaving London England June 22 and arriving in Sydney, Australia Dec. 22, traveling overland. I am just wondering which overland companies you have travelled with and if you have any advice for me.
    Allison (North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada)

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 4 2014 10:07 pm

      Hi Allison — We did London to Sydney with UKtoOZ (now called Madventure), so you can check out those entries on my blog. I’m way behind on that trip because the photos were kind of ‘lost’ when I passed the relevant computer to one of my daughters. Hoping to recover them soon. We’ve also travelled with Oasis Overland and African Trails. Starting another Af Trails trip later this month, going Tehran to Beijing to do the Silk Road again. As for advice — the main thing is to pack light. But seriously, feel free to ask as many questions as you can think of. Am happy to Skype chat too. Cheers and very excited for you.


  3. suchled / May 5 2014 7:08 am

    I just worked it out. It was you who hit my blog from Cameroon. I wondered. I’m loving this new way to have friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. David / May 7 2014 8:56 am

    Terrific entry, Peggy! I know I’d too enjoy going to the markets daily! I so remember my first trip to visit you and you took me to the Fyshwick Market near your home, just a terrific place to shop! Sure wish I had a Fyshwick Market close by rather than a Safeway, King Soopers, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 8 2014 7:59 pm

      Thanks Dave. I still get to the Fyshwick Markets almost weekly when I’m in town. Maybe I should do a blog entry on it. 🙂


  5. vagabondurges / May 16 2014 10:41 am

    Great post! And thank you especially for adding a little more to the image of a place where such an awful thing is happening, it’s important to hear about both.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 19 2014 7:44 am

      Thanks vagabondurges. I feel so privileged to have been able to see a more normal side of life in Nigeria.


  6. john / May 19 2014 12:48 pm

    your memory is not very good, because the city you showed on this page is JOS MAIN MARKET

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 19 2014 2:12 pm

      Thanks John. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure about two pics—the one with the fish and the one with the yellow building in the background. I am sure about the others being in Abjua. And yes we travelled by road from Abuja to Jos.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. jollof / Oct 25 2014 8:56 am

    Glad you enjoyed your stay in Nigeria or Naija as I like to call it. Pity about the mayhem but I trust it will all be over in due time. I reside in Lagos and it’s more fun than Abuja, in my opinion lol. I enjoy your travelogues. Nice work

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 25 2014 5:20 pm

      Hi Jollof, so glad you dropped by. We had a wonderful time in Nigeria. We travelled by road from Benin and then on to Cameroon. I’m off to check out your blog now.


  8. chattykerry / Aug 18 2015 10:32 pm

    You so rarely hear good news about Nigeria so this was lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 18 2015 11:14 pm

      I have a few more positive posts to add about Nigeria. Better get busy.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The Reading Cottage: The Platform For Books, Feature Articles, Book Reviews, Interview, Culture, Lifestyle , Entertainment / Oct 24 2015 5:51 am

    Were you in Nigeria then? What an interesting images. I lived in Lagos for five years but never been to Abuja, the new Federal Capital before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 24 2015 7:55 am

      I spent almost a month in Nigeria (nine days in Abuja waiting for visas to travel onward). We drove across the country, coming in from northern Benin and leaving to Cameroon. I never got to Lagos.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Atomic Words / Dec 12 2015 11:07 am

    Omg! I am so happy Leggy Peggy that you got to visit Nigeria. My country is one that I am passionate about and I am always sad when people don’t talk about the beauty and the good things, so imagine my surprise when I saw Jos and Abuja in your post! albeit it started out with the tragedies which are so sad and painful, but I am happy the good made it in. God bless you and your husband (poor John ) john is my grand fathers name (Yohanna in Hausa). And keep you safe through your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 12 2015 11:51 am

      Wow Atomic Words, it’s wonderful to have you stop by my blog. I have lots more to write about my time in Nigeria. We travel so much, I’m always behind on telling stories about places we visited. One of my most memorable experiences in all of Africa was in a small village in the northwest of Nigeria. I promise to write about it soon. And now I want to check out your blog. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Atomic Words / Dec 12 2015 12:01 pm

        Thank you so much. I hope to start writing about my country. And you’ve inspired me to not waste time and get on it. Thank you 😃😊

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Dec 12 2015 6:44 pm

        Nigeria has lots of positive things about it. I look forward to reading what you write about.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Christy B / May 28 2017 3:46 am

    Wow! Farmer’s markets are extraordinary, aren’t they?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 28 2017 5:40 am

      You bet! Farmers’ markets are one of my favourite places to visit.


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