Jos is a city of about half a million people. It’s situated in the center of Nigeria, where the Christian south of that country meets the Moslem north. The name of the city is said to have been supplied by missionaries, using an abbreviation of the words “Jesus Our Saviour”. That may or may not be true, but a passionate interest in religion among the locals is evident from the frequency of violence between Christians and Moslem. In the most recent riots in 2002, dozens were killed.
|Market in Lagos Nigera (Photo by zouzouwizman)
When I lived and worked in the coastal city of Lagos, Nigeria, I enjoyed visiting Jos even though it was over 500 miles away inland. Lagos is so humid, particularly in May and June, just before the arrival of the rains. I once mistakenly left my squash racquet on top of my car for a few hours. By the time I retrieved it, it was as curved as a boomerang. That’s what the wet heat of Lagos can do. It was not for nothing that this coast was known as “the white man’s grave”. That, of course, referred to a time before air conditioning and before medication was able to resist the malaria, so busily spread by mosquitoes. Because of the climate, Europeans working on this part of the West African coast retired at 55 or earlier and took long leaves in Europe between short tours of duty. It was not by accident that there were no white settlers in Nigeria. The headstones in old European cemeteries in Lagos record the deaths, from climate related causes, of many young men in their twenties. So it was great to escape from Lagos to Jos.
|Tin mining Jos Nigeria
For much of the year, the temperature on the plateau is in the mid-seventies, which is very different from the rest of Nigeria. Jos is also much less humid than the rest of the country, but it does have a rainy season between June and August. Another time to avoid is the December and January, when the Harmattan wind is blowing. That’s a dry wind, full of sand and dust, that comes out of the Sahara desert and makes its way southwards towards the ocean. Jos is close enough to the Sahara to be affected by the Harmattan, which causes fog dense enough to lead to flight cancellations by airlines. Yet, for most of the year, this little corner of Africa is the place to be. All that is now needed is for the Christians and Moslems to concentrate on obliterating the polluted ponds and dumps, instead of obliterating each other.
This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on October 26, 2008.