Car Ferry at Bida, 1951.

Local navigation

Bida, Nigeria

Crossing the river near Bida in 1951.

Here is what the WWweb has to say about the town of Bida....


Bida, a city in west-central Nigeria, is located in Niger state. Bida produces cotton, rice and cocoa and is famous for its glass and metalwork. Glass production was made possible by the availability of quartz surrounding the city. Other traditional industries and handicrafts include brasswork, cloth weaving, grass weaving and metalworking. Geologists believe that potential oil reserves exist in the Bida area. Bida consists of a mixture of the Hausa and Fulani cultures. The city dates back to approximately the 10th century.

Bida was originally established as an agricultural community and thereafter became an important centre of long-distance trading with other cities across Africa. Bida still has several great mosques built by Hausa kings. Bida was conquered around the year 1805 by Muslim Fulani warriors, and the city was made the capital of the Nupe Emirate in 1856. The British visited Bida in the 1870s and reported that the walls around the city were 24 km (15 miles) in circumference. This provided the city with considerable defence, but it did not stop the British from briefly besieging the city in 1897. The city officially came under British rule in 1901. Population (in 1995) was 122,500.

Standard Vanguard

The car here is a Morris Minor (series MM) although the Photographer at that time owned a Standard Vanguard, reference and what I remember chiefly about this latter vehicle is the speed at which it rusted away in the tropics (lasting less than three years), aided by vigorous cleaning by the local household staff ("boys"), who rapidly rubbed through the layers of protective paint.

It is interesting to speculate on the reaction of car insurers to this kind of hazard. This car is the same one as was admired by Dauda Paiye, which event is reported in the Diary written at the same time.

The River Niger

The river Niger near Bida provides transport links and is still a force to be reckoned with. Ted Jefferies spent some time sampling the silt flows in the Niger river, to establish how many years it might take for a proposed dam to silt up. In order to sample the silt flow, a kind of metal water snail was lowered into the river from a pair of wire hawsers, stretched from one bank to the other, and the particulate matter collected was classified under the microscope during the various flow conditions on the river.

There is a dam at Kainji, upstream from the confluence of Kaduna and Niger rivers, on the Niger near Wawa. It dates I think from about 1969. It would be interesting to learn how much of its lake is now silted up.

The Kaduna river joins the Niger at a point south west of Bida, and it is possible the photo above is a Kaduna crossing rather than a Niger crossing.

See also afpics for more pictures.

Copyright David Jefferies 2005.
13th April 2005.