Several thousand moslems left Kano airport in Nigeria on Friday (21st December), on their annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Several thousand moslems left Kano airport in Nigeria on Friday (21st December), on their annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. They'd been delayed by a disagreement between the Nigerian and Saudi governments over the increased price of pilgrimage royalties.
29,000 pilgrims were due to leave from Kano airport, and 4,000 from Ikeja near Lagos. The total figure is about ten thousand less than last year, due mainly to the serious drought in Nigeria.
The massive operation has been beset by problems. All pilgrims needed certificates of vaccination against small-pox and cholera. Then a large scale racket among 'plane ticket sellers was discovered. The flights -- scheduled to start on December 17th -- were delayed because of the argument over royalties. Finally, the Nigerian government agreed that all passengers leaving Kano should pay an extra 23 Naira each (GBP 15 sterling, 45 U.S. dollars) Many pilgrims had great difficulty in paying the surcharge.
Last year's pilgrimage ended in tragedy. Many returning pilgrims were burned to death when their aircraft crashed at Kano airport.