Alarm clocks are useless to me in Nigeria. Every morning around 6:30 a.m., whether I want to wake up or not, the piercing caws of chickens wake me from my slumber. If you have never heard a cock crow before, it is not as pleasant as the fairy tale version cock-a-doodle-doo. It is alarmingly loud and obnoxious, especially when the cock is sitting directly under my open window. On the UI campus, neighborhoods in Ibadan and every city I have visited in Yorubaland, chickens (adie) roam free.I have even spotted some brave ones dodging car, bus and okada traffic in Lagos. In the more peaceful cities, chickens mingle with foot traffic on the roads, scurry around peoples homes, bobbing their long necks as they walk. Usually you see them in groups of two or more, occasionally a pack of chicks trails behind trying to keep up.
Chickens are not the only non-humans I encounter on a daily basis. Goats are just as present, trotting around sniffing for food while leaving little pellet droppings everywhere. They come in all colors and sizes.The baby ones are my favorite. Even though I have been here for four months and have become totally accustomed to sharing my surroundings with these friendly mammals, I still stop in my tracks whenever I see a baby goat to say “awwwww.” Goats are street smart. They are good at avoiding cars and okadas so you never see dead ones on the side of the road.
The chickens and goats we see all over town, which eventually make it into our soups and stews are actually someone’s property. Rather than caging them, the owners let them roam free during the day and when night falls they all return to their respective homes to sleep. When the time comes to sell or kill the animal, the owners go out and wrangle it up. Their ability to discern their black goat with white spots from all the rest baffles me, but I guess when you own a goat, you know it well.
The last creature that I see all over campus besides the standard mosquitos, flies, ants and cockroaches is lizards. Lizards–big ones with bright orange and black bodies–are everywhere! On average they are about 9 inches (23 cm) long. They dash all over walls and the ground. Smaller geckos even scamper on the walls in my house. These reptiles are harmless and petrified of humans, they just add to the whole experience.
I just thank God that I can manage to fall back asleep after the first cock crow in the morning. The ear plugs I specifically asked my mom to send from America help a lot too.