Contact Us

Kano

Kano

 Email

Do you know where Kano is? Look it up on the map of Nigeria in West Africa. 1963. Fall. But who in that climate of eternal heat, on the border of the Sahara Desert, knows whether it is fall or spring? Only the vultures are circling above, settling on the low, thatched roofs, waiting to come down into the courtyard for a morsel of abandoned meat. The plane leaves only in three days. And I still have to make my rounds in the market of this Moslem town, where everybody but me prostrates himself whenever one of their chieftains rides past in flowing robes on a coal black horse. The sun is hidden by clouds of sand blowing in from the Sahara, restricting vision to a few yards. It is still early in the afternoon and suddenly I remember. G‑d in heaven! It is Yom Kippur. How on earth did I get stuck in this forsaken place? Why couldn't I have waited for another week to make my tour to sell those tires? I had completely forgotten. There I was, at the colonial rest house, watching the fan on the ceiling turn round and round; thinking about atonement...

I got up, walked into the British manager's office, and asked him, "Mr. Walker, could you please tell me if there are any Jews in Kano?"

"Jews?"

"Yes, sir, Jews."

"Well, now let me see. There is Mr. Rokach, but he doesn't want anybody to know that he's Jewish. Then there is Mr. Sidki, but for some reason his store is closed today."

"Where does Mr. Sidki live?"

"He lives above his store."

"Could you tell me where his store is?"

"Of course, sir. Walk down the main street and you will find the house on the second corner to your right. It is the only two-story house on the street. You can't miss it."

I started walking. The sand blew into my face. I hardly saw the people in the street, but I finally reached the house. The shutters of the store were rolled down. Everything was closed and quiet. I started banging on the shutters with my fist, and suddenly a window on the first floor was opened.

"Who's there?" a man asked from above.

"Shalom aleichem," I said.

"Aleichem shalom, baruch haba. Come up the stairs behind the building. We are all waiting for you."

I didn't understand. They were all waiting for me? I never had met the man. Until an hour ago I didn't know that there were Jews in Kano. What made him say that? Slowly, lost in thought, I climbed the stairs. When they opened the door, I beheld nine men with tallitot (prayer shawls) on their shoulders, all greeting me "baruch haba", welcome.

Now I knew why they had all been waiting for me. I was the tenth man to complete the minyan, the prayer quorum.

 

From B’Or HaTorah Journal: Science, Art and Modern Life in the Light of Torah. B’Or HaTorah is an English-language journal for wondering Jews, scientists, artists, teachers and students. It examines personal and intellectual concerns through the microscope and telescope of the scientist; the algorithm of the mathematician; the discourse of the philosopher; the imagery of the artist, poet and photographer; and the tested faith and learning of the Torah-observant Jew.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
2 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Issachar Oluyemi Esan Lagos, Nigeria July 2, 2011

Kano Kano is in the North of my Country of birth, Nigeria. You should visit Kano today: 2011 you will be amazed at the transformation - Indeed there are many Jews making brisk Business. Reply

Lionel Spector Toronto, Ontario via chabadflamingo.com April 27, 2007

Kano. Of course we have been there. My wife and I read with considerable interest of your experiences in Kano,Nigeria. We lived in Zaria from 1968 to 1971. .I was training teachers for the Canadian International Development Agency at Amadubello University in Zaria,approximately 105 miles from KANO. We used Kano as our entry point when we travelled abroad. We had a daughter born to us while we lived in Nigeria. In those days we only knew of the sex of a child when they were born. There was only one couple that we met riding a motorcycle that turned out to be Jewish during our three years ìn Nigeria. It was wonderful since they had some matza,and we spent some time with them over passover. Reply

About the Publisher
B'or HaTorah
B’Or HaTorah is an English-language journal for wondering Jews, scientists, artists, teachers and students. It examines personal and intellectual concerns through the microscope and telescope of the scientist; the algorithm of the mathematician; the discourse of the philosopher; the imagery of the artist, poet and photographer; and the tested faith and learning of the Torah-observant Jew.
Related Topics
Find Services
Audio Classes
Videos
Holiday Shopping Kids Zone
Free Greeting Cards