“You succeeded with God’s blessing,” everyone told us when the work was done. The ‘sugars’ were ready for transport. Nigerians are very religious, half of them Christian, half Muslim, but they above all perceive the world in terms of obtaining or maintaining prosperity. New acquisitions are blessed with a communal prayer and duly celebrated. In accordance with this good Nigerian custom, the sugar work was washed with roast chicken and extra stout beer. Our taxi driver was not allowed to eat with us, for not only was he observing Ramadan, but a forefather of his father’s had once been saved from extreme thirst by a rooster that had led him to a creek. The grateful ancestor had declared a ban on rooster meat. If members of his family ate male chicken, their mouths would swell up.
FAREWELL TO THE PRODUCTION SITE
Artist/Author: Lonnie van Brummelen / Siebren de Haan
Our clever scheme for transporting the sugar as ‘monument’ from Nigeria to Europe to elude paying duties proved less efficient than expected. In Nigeria, exportation of a work of art was subject to a statutory restriction, a protective regulation created to stop the exodus of antiques and other art treasures, but which for the sake of convenience, applied to all artefacts. Works of art could only leave the country with an export permit from the National Commission for Museums and Monuments. It took a full afternoon of haggling about the artistic status of a sugar block with four women at the export office. They finally agreed, and we were permitted to pay their mood-dependent service charge, which we managed to bargain down, again after long negotiations, to the normal rate of ten percent of the value of the work.