The Sleepless City

From Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi’s The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (New York: Macmillan, 1980):

SLEEPLESS CITY, in northern Nigeria. The inhabitants have the singular habit of never sleeping, and have therefore no idea of what sleep is.

The city is a particularly dangerous place for strangers. If a traveller should happen to overlook the local nocturnal custom and fall asleep – as he is probably accustomed to do at night – the natives, believing him dead, will proceed to dig a large grave and with great ceremony bury him immediately.

(A.J.N. Tremearne, Hausa Superstitions and Customs, London, 1913)

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  • Jonathan Gray is Researcher at the University of Amsterdam and Director of Policy and Research at Open Knowledge. More about his work can be found here. He is on Twitter at @jwyg.