Finding Tolerance in Northern Nigeria

You don’t get points for accepting someone who wants to be just like you. You get points for accepting someone who doesn’t want to be like you — that’s where the difficulty lies. -Malcolm Gladwell

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Piti Tribe of Kaduna State, Christian affiliation

A short weekend trip* to Kaduna State in Northern Nigeria revealed a piece of the puzzle overlooked in news about Nigeria. That piece is not easily uncovered because of stereotyping and the complexity of a society but here it is, on bold display—tolerance of the other—in Lere Town 30 kilometers east of Jos City.Lere-1.8


The trumpeters blow in unison to announce the entrance of the Emir. The kakaki trumpets are used only for announcing the presence of an Emir

Lere Emirates was established in 1870, by the fifth Sarkin Lere Muhammad Dankaka. To understand the origin of the founders of Lere one would have to go back deep into history to the Takrur region of present day Mauritania and Senegambia, where a kingdom once thrived under the Fulbe or Fulani. –


Emir, Brig. General Garba A. Mohammed rtd.

On May 1, 2016, eleven members of the Nigerian Field Society are introduced to Lere Emirate through the hospitality and wise words of the tolerant Emir, Brig. General Garba A. Mohammed rtd.   The Emir honoured us with his presence and spoke of acceptance of ‘the other.’ He explained that in Lere Emirates there are several tribes that are not Fulani or Hausa but of other ethnic backgrounds. For today’s occasion members of the Piti Tribe  demonstrate drumming, dancing, and horsemanship specific to the Piti tribe.

Piti tribe population is approximately 8000 and according to Joshua Project, 80% follow a type of Christianity.  Piti is a minor Kanji language of Nigeria.

The mainly Muslim crowds look on and thoroughly enjoy the exhibition. Cheers and shouts rise, loudly, as the warriors with spears race along the crowded road.


*Organized by Nigerian Field Society. Lead by Edouard Blondeau, Veronica Noxell, and Terri Brennan. The three-day trip took us to Kaduna, our hub radiating out of the 5th Chukker Polo Club. From there we travelled to Zaria to meet the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris; the Maggagin Garin of Zazzau, Mal. Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli; and to Lere Emirates to meet Emir, Brig. General Garba A. Mohammed rtd.

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Members of Nigerian Field Society with Mal.Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli, Magagin Garin Zazzau

**Pictures and photographs in this blog are solely my photography unless otherwise noted. Photographs, articles, and poetry are the intellectual property of Lesley Lababidi and protected under international copyright law.

All rights reserved by Lesley Lababidi. To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi is required.

All Photographs and text are under international copyright laws. No re-use without the written permission of Lesley Lababidi 2023.

10 thoughts on “Finding Tolerance in Northern Nigeria

  1. A nice trip to Lere! I like Gladwell’s aphorism, but sometimes, under one circumstance or another, we do accept those who do not want to be like us. This is the question of Otherness which is subjective. Nigeria is indeed a multi-cultural country. I never know there is a tribe call Piti in north Nigeria.

    • Thank you for your comment and thoughts. I think that is the point…it is difficult and a challenge to be open to those unlike us. It is a age-old discussion but now that the world is getting smaller and smaller through technology and travel, humanity must begin to find ways to live with others. It is reciprocal. L.

  2. We cannot live in isolation. We understand ourselves better from the perspective of the Other. We are all Others for one reason or another, in fact, the term Other/Otherness is cumbersome. People tolerate the Otherness of the Other when the Other attempts to tolerate the Otherness of the people. We are who we are because of our relation with Others. Therefore, we should learn to respect the Others’ ways of life, if we want them to respect ours. Otherness is the cause of political and religious conflicts around the world, specifically Africa and Middle East. Otherness has been the cause of displacement of thousands of Syrians, Libyans, Yemenis, Iraqis, and moderate Africans. The ‘desperate journey’ across Europe is the case in point!

    • Your comments are insightful. Your point is a good one… fear is a tool to strip freedom…if one is fearful, people will not try to understand, they will find ways to vilify the other. We see this over and over in history. I believe much of the “fear” is put in place (by authority…kings,governments, leaders, religious authorities, ) to take away freedoms. To consider the other, Aristotle proposed a welfare state to try to reduce inequality but another way that authority uses is to reduce democracy or freedoms and the way this is done is to create fear…have another to fear and this has a controlling effect on the society that is desired to be controlled. The Powell Manifesto , 1971, is an example of fear of attack to take away freedoms by the other, which he includes,”The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians. In most of these groups the movement against the system is participated in only by minorities. Yet, these often are the most articulate, the most vocal, the most prolific in their writing and speaking.”-
      My point is not to in consideration of criminals who take everyone freedoms …victims and society. My consideration is understanding why ….but this is all too complicated for a little reply and people far more intelligent and knowledgeable than I have spent their lives studying this sociological point. L.

  3. Reminds me of a time before air crafts and telephones, when the only way to get around was by road. We hiked everywhere – two young women in jeans and curiosity. Hamlets. Villages. Towns. North, south, east and west. No fuss. No problem.
    Thanks Lesley.

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