Professor of African and Islamic Archaeology
Sylvia K. Sikes with a Yedina man on a dune island, Lake Chad, 1969 (photo S.K. Sikes)

Sylvia K. Sikes with a Yedina man on a dune island, Lake Chad, 1969 (photo S.K. Sikes)

Sylvia K. Sikes arriving at Portofino on the western shores of Lake Chad having towed the Jolly Hippo behind her Landrover from Lagos, 1969 (photo S.K. Sikes).

Sylvia K. Sikes arriving at Portofino on the western shores of Lake Chad having towed the Jolly Hippo behind her Landrover from Lagos, 1969 (photo S.K. Sikes).

Yedina Life Gallery     Traditional Boats of Lake Chad Gallery

Dr Sylvia K. Sikes was a zoologist who led an expedition on Lake Chad in 1969 using a small yacht, the Jolly Hippo. Having recently obtained her Lake Chad archive I have made available a small selection of images scanned from her slides of Yedina life and the traditional boats of Lake Chad. The other slides of Bornu (Nigeria), neighbouring parts of Chad, and the people, their lifeways and material culture, wildlife, and environments of Lake Chad are available for study if requested. Dr Sikes two books on Lake Chad are Lake Chad (1972, London: Eyre Methuen), and Lake Chad Versus the Sahara Desert (2003, Newbury: Mirage Newbury). The botanist Nigel Hepper (2007: 58) who also visited Lake Chad in 1969 has described these books as, “the most comprehensive work on Lake Chad”.

Sylvia Sikes first visited Lake Chad in 1955, in 1969 for the expedition, again in 1974, and then used data collected by a colleague Jane Sutton in 2002 for the second revised edition of her book (Sikes 2003). This material clearly documents the disappearance of Yedina (also called by the derogatory name ‘Buduma’ or ‘people of the grass’) ways of life and of the lake itself and its wildlife. It is thus an important historical source.

Reference.

Hepper, F.N. 2007. Lake Chad: The Disappearing Sahara Sea. The Nigerian Field 72: 47-59.