fulani milkmaid

An encounter with a fulani milkmaid in Borno

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I was bored one Saturday afternoon. I boarded a vehicle to Itam market to observe the hustle and bustle, study the people as they buy and sell, and come back with a story.

I branched into one of the stalls and bought a sachet of pure water. I asked the salesgirl if I could sit down for a while on the bench in the stall before leaving, she said I could. I gave her N20 for the water and she gave me N10 change. I sat down and held the N10 note in my hand. I turned it over and gazed at it.

I am standing in front of a mud house in Borno. I am wearing a white flowing caftan with a multicoloured cap on my head. I can see a Fulani milkmaid walking past with big a bowl of milk on her head. I can see a second Fulani milkmaid following her. There are two of them!

I call out to them.

“Hey, come and give me your sweet milk”

They stop and move towards me.

“Saalamu aleikum” They greet me with a smile.

“Good day”, I reply in English

“How much is one cup of your milk?”

“Naira Goma” The eldest one replies.

“Ten naira? Give me five cups”

The girl quickly serves me the milk.

She is so young and beautiful. Her air of innocence and simplicity captivates me. She has well chiselled facial features. She has light brown skin and wears bangles around her arms.

“What is your name?” I ask her.


“What about her?” I point to the other girl.

Both of them giggle.

“My sister, Aisha”

“Ok. You girls are very pretty. I want to marry one of you as a wife. Will you marry me Amina?” I ask her.

She laughs.

“I am serious, I will take you away from this village. I will take you to Lagos the big city. I will turn you into a sophisticated young lady”

Amina has a wistful look in her eyes. Her sister giggles. They talk with each other briefly in their language. Amina turns and says to me,

“Aisha wants to go to Kano. She says it is a big city filled with big cars and the people living there wear colourful clothes and they have a market that is so big and they sell everything in the world in the market! She wants to see the Emir riding on his colourful horse during the Sallah Dubar”

fulani milkmaid
Fulani milkmaids via Nigeria Nostalgia Project

“Is that so Aisha? Do you want to go to Kano?” I ask her.

Aisha laughs and looks away. She seems shy and cannot make eye contact.

“She cannot speak English yet, she has not gone to school” Amina replies.

I shake my head pitifully.

“Megida, what is your name and where are you from?” Amina asks me.

“My name is Leroi, I am from Akwa Ibom state. It is a place in the southern part of Nigeria”

“Oh, I cannot marry you,” Amina says in a tone laden with regret.


“My father will not allow me to marry you because you are not a Muslim ummah and you don’t speak our language.”

“But language and religion do not matter in our present world, Amina. It is the love that we have for each other that matters. Don’t you like me?”

“I like you, I will marry you, Insha Allah! Just talk to baba, and give him ten cows as sadaki and he will grant your request for our nikkah”

“Nagode, I will do that. Tomorrow I will come and visit him with a bag of salt, sweets, perfume, and kola nuts”

“Please come, I will prepare Tuwo shinkafi and Miyan kuka soup for you,” Amina says in excitement.

I give the girls extra money and they thank me profusely. They walk away giggling.

“Why are you staring and smiling at the 10 naira note like that?” The salesgirl interrupted my imagination in the shop.

I smiled once more as I folded the N10 note and placed it in my pocket. I stood up from the bench and walked away.

I know my Fulani milkmaid bride is waiting for me to come and get her.

Amina, don’t lose hope. I am coming for you.

*Sadaki = Brideprice, Nikkah= Wedding*

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