Thursday, November 8, 2007

NYSC


Service to my nation has officially started. The past 3 weeks of orientation camp were not easy at all! Kai, it was stressful! Waking up at 4 am. every morning. Here are some pics, the inside story is coming!

This is a cross section of the parade squad on the day of orientation graduation. I was initially a part of the squad but got screened out for unknown reasons! They said we were too many and needed to cut down numbers. With my long legs and all you'd think I'd be a top pick! And I badly wanted to march too! Slow time (what they're doing here) was my favorite drill. LOL.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Abuja Photos




The glass building is the Nigerian Communications Commission. As you can see Abuja central area is saner, cleaner and prettier than the typical image we have of Nigerian cities. The other brown building is the Federal Secretariat.

Goat Passengers


Can you guys see the Okada (bike) driver carrying 3 passengers: a man with not one but TWO goats. Only in Lagos my people. Only in Lagos!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Lagos my beloved Ex

So I’ve officially fallen out of love with Lagos.

It hasn’t changed one bit in 4 years. More people, more cars, more commercialism. After 10 hours on a drama-filled Chisco “luxury” bus coming from Abuja, (another story for another day,) I was not ready to face Lagos.

But thank God, we get through Ojota, Ikorodu and finally to Jibowu, my destination, and I notice passengers getting down. I look around and see we’re in the middle of traffic. Absolute standstill. He can’t really expect us to begin unloading our luggage in the middle of this? I sit back in my seat and decide to wait until he pulls into the motor park. A few minutes later, one of the bus passengers looks out the window and shouts,

“Driver, Jibowu dey! Where you dey go!”

To which the bus conductor replies: Maza-maza!!!!!!!!!!!!

MAZA WHERE? Never heard of the place, talk less of know where it is!

Three of us jump up and yell for him to stop. He obliges and pulls over beneath the Ojuelegba bridge. I drag my ghanamustgo and suitcase from the cargo hold and look around: Under a bridge. 9 p.m. Pitch black streets. No electricity anywhere. Insert this tiny girl with two big bags and yell: Will all the thieves out there, please come out?

Rather than admit fear, I give my passenger friend a puppy dog look that begs him not to leave me here by myself. He reads my mind and offers to stay with me until I get a taxi. PRAISE GOD! Real men still exist, I think. Until another one drives up and shatters this theory. Two taxis have already refused to go my way, and this third guy says I should pay 1,000 naira for a 10 minute drive.

600 naira I say. 800 naira he says. I fling out angry Yoruba and ask why he wants to cheat me. He says I should stay there by myself in the dark, dangerous area and starts driving away (His words, my people, His words). I storm away too. Utter wickedness! What happened to men who protect women and look out for their safety? (Mind you, I had one standing beside me which is why I could make all this shakara)

The driver stops, backs up his beat up car and chides me fighting over 50 naira as he loads my luggage into the boot.

Believe me I couldn’t have imagined a more authentic way to arrive in Lagos.

Monday, July 23, 2007

So you wanna drive in the city?

On my second day in Abuja, as we were leaving Multilinks (where my mom went to inquire why our internet wasn't working since the day she signed up for it 2 weeks ago), I asked if I could drive. My mum protested. I pouted and begged. She obliged. I was in naija mode, evidenced by my lack of concern about driving with a long expired Nigerian license. See me, feeling like one ogbologbo driver. "After all" I thought, "I used to maneuver my small stick-shift Daihatsu in Lagos when I was just 18." Abuja was no match for Lagos right? Right.


All was great until I faced a major intersection that had no traffic warden and no traffic light. What do I do? Who has right of way? (as if such a thing exists in the Nigerian's mental driving manual. )


Cars dived head on into the intersection, honking and lunging menacingly at each other. There was already a bottleneck in front of me and too many near hits.


Me: Mommy! There's no yellow here

Mum: Ah, you see that's why I said you're not ready. You have to put your nose in there

Me: What if they jam me?Mum: You beta let me come and drive. You're still using American style to drive

Me: (trying to buy time) This is not good now. At rush hour like this is when someone is supposed to be here.
(By this time, cars behind me had started passing in annoyance so I figured I'd admit my lack of skills and just closely follow one of them. Even as I made my left turn, several cars threatened to smash me)
Me: (driving away from the chaos ) Okay mommy. Enough driving for me.

Friday, July 20, 2007

1st week in Abuja: Passport Control- yay!

The first thing that hits me as the Lufthansa pilot is making the descent towards Nnamdi Azikwe airport in Abuja is how green everything below looks.Hills, grass plains and streams everywhere. "Isn't Abuja in the desert?" I think to myself. Although I primarily lived in Lagos, my dad's job is based in Abuja so my summer hols back in secondary school were spent complaining about how DRY and BORING the city was.

As we de-board the plane and walk through the skywalk there are photos of Nigeria's tourism spots along the wall. Nice intro, I think. The weather is cooler than I expect.

On walking into the arrival terminal, I see what would become the highlight of my flight across the Atlantic: passport control. The signs read:

Line 1: Other passports
Line 2: Nigerian passports
Line 3: Diplomatic passports and Crew
Line 4: Nigerian passports. (Again!)

Instinctively I want to join the very long line of people at Line 1, because as far as I can remember I always fall at the end of the slow moving "other" line at every airport.
Then I remember: THIS IS MY COUNTRY.

I suddenly feel very important and proud of my green passport as I stroll past the LONG line of foreigners to my left and stand behind five Nigerians in line 2. Another five are on line 4. I contentedly smile to myself.

No anxiety.
No shaking.
Immigration is for me, not against me!

Nobody will ask me where I am staying and for how long, while checking me out five million times to make sure I'm the person in the passport photo. They will not tell me to wait while they consult their oga about something seemingly shady about my visa. Neither will they book me like a criminal, taking my fingerprint and mugshot.

I look back at the line of "other passports" and see tired and impatient faces – probably wishing they had a green passport just so they can get on with their important money-making agendas.
Most are used to breezing through passport control on their EU or U.S. passports: My dad tells me that in the visa world, there's the principle of reciprocity. Visa policies between any two countries always match. So if they say we need a visa to go there, then we say they also need one to come here, and we issue it at the same price they do. That's why westerners visiting Naija can't walk in visa-less like they can in U.S., England or other EU states.

Again, I feel very content. Not only do I get through the usually tedious and defensive procedure in record time, but I'm warmly greeted as the immigration officer says he knows my dad.

"You're welcome back," he says as he hands me back my passport.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

FAQs - Why are you going back home?

Yes O, I'm going back home to Nigeria. Very very soon. And as anticipated I'm greeted with a lot of startled responses. I'm still collecting responses and will publish the very best. In the meantime here's answers to anticipated most frequently asked questions.

FAQs

Are you serious?
I've bought my ticket and collected my transit visa

Are you crazy?
Maybe

What will you do ?
We'll find out together

Will you come back?
I dunno

But why?
Work visa wahala, the foreigner status has lost its glamor, I'm bored in America, it's time to go and make something of my life, I'm homesick, there's free rent, food, car and my parents tlc back home and because when God says it's time, it's time.

Are you sure you're hearing well? Better still, are you feeling ok?
I've asked myself this too. But you should see the huge smile on my face and excitement in my stomach whenever I tell people I'm outta here. I have PEACE. Then I REMEMBER the mosquito bites, sweaty, light-less nights, Tejuosho traders harassing me to come and buy pant and bra, danfo drivers who scratch my car while they scream at me to get a driver. And I ask myself...ARE YOU HEARING WELL??