When night falls in Nigeria around 7pm, the first members of the nocturnal orchestra to start up are the crickets. They give that characteristic background song that might equate to the strings. Yes, they chirrup, but the overall impression is of musicians maintaining the tropical melody. Then other individual performers join in - calling to one another, replying, arguing, harmonising. Lots, I think, are amphibians. One frog makes a low creaky grating sound. Another calls woik-woik.
yet another shouts single but repeated what! what!
A few sing oo-oo-oo
but perhaps they are birds.
The heat means I don't sleep soundly and one night I awoke convinced I was sleeping next to someone dying of pneumonia. In my half-sleep state the patient sounded very close and I heard a fast rasping breath of a very sick patient. It turned out to be another kind of frog.
During daylight hours the music is different. The "Good morning Nigeria!" cockerel calls begin around 3am. Then as the skies lighten there is other squawking, small birds twitter, there's the lonely whine of a hunting falcon, sparrows cheeping, cackling crows, sad whistlings, decisive toots and the cooing of doves.
More often this background from so many invisible voices is drowned out by full volume distorted rap music or passionate evangelists broadcasting through megaphones about the power of prayer or stuttering radio transmissions about what's going on in government or in an English football squad or the latest measures to control cattle rustling. No-one seems to listen to any of it so it is a relief when the electricity supply fails again and I can once more tune into natural sounds - people's voices, children shouting, kissing noises as someone attracts the attention of a motorbike taxi, dog barks, birds whittering, goats bleating, lowing from floppy-eared hump-backed cattle, and that bloody cockerel that woke me at 3am this morning.
|Agama lizards and razor wire are common sights in Nigeria