Archive for February, 2012

“NIGERIAN FIRSTS”

Posted: February 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

I always have to answer to people in Nigeria.

They want to know, ”But why did you come back to Nigeria? I mean, why didn’t you just stay out there?”  I understand their bewilderment.

I mean, while thousands of Nigerians knock on the steel gates of the embassies of the U.S, UK,  Canadian, French, Ukrainian, Romanian…even far away Australia, I decided to return home to Nigeria! Did you know up to 100,000 Nigerians apply for just for a U.S. visa per year? Man! Nigerians want OUT.

But as for me, after living outside Nigeria for almost a decade, I longed to call my country home. I got tired of living in another man’s land while my country waited for me to possess my full citizenship rights. When I tell people in Nigeria this, I’m usually met with blank stares of “What’s she talking about? or vows taunting me that I will soon run back.

My first week in Nigeria I was well-pampered. There were a number of family celebrations that allowed me to see most of my extended family that I hadn’t seen in years.  It was great. Also, I didn’t experience much of the infamous power outages that we usually have in Lagos. Little did I know that NEPA aka PHCN  was giving us a record breaking 72+ hours of uninterrupted power supply as an incentive for people to go and pay their bills….

The first night that I slept without light in Nigeria was…let’s just say I really couldn’t sleep. It was World War 3 in my room! I battled those mosquitoes, like crazy. I was certain they were sent to me, to induct me into my life in Lagos. I can never forget that night.

When you move back to Nigeria, you will find that there are a number of ,lets call it, “FIRSTS” that you are bound to experience. Things that you’ll encounter and almost ask the people around you,

“Are you seeing this?” Does ANYONE else think this is just…a wee bit abnormal?”

Sadly, soon enough, you might come to accept it as somewhat normal.  Like the first time I drove in Nigeria. It was truly a memorable experience.  But first, a background on why driving in Nigeria was such a big deal for me.

You see, while studying in America, the furthest I got in U.S. Government Issued Identification was a U.S. State ID : I never got a drivers license.  I never learnt how to drive. Public Transportation was my main form of transportation and I also had good ol’ friends who would give me rides in their cars. Shout out to Dudubeauty!

So imagine my former roommates’ surprise when I tell her, “Guess what! I’m now driving in Nigeria!” She’s like, “You are What?” Thinking she can’t hear me because of the bad phone connection caused by our transcontinental phone call, I repeat myself, “I’m now driving in Nigeria! Can you hear me?!”,

“I heard you! But how are you driving in Lagos, when even people who have been mastering Houston driving for decades come back to Nigeria and don’t drive”. After sending her proof of me driving, (I had taken pictures of my great accomplishment), we did a happy dance over the phone.

Yes sireee! Lil’ ol me. I -drive -in -Lagos!

So, what made me conquer my fear of driving? And in Lag (Lagos) of all places; a place that competes with Italy for having the worst drivers ever?  Well I’ve come to the conclusion that I got the guts to drive in Lagos because, there are no rules when driving here! I’m scare of breaking rules. In America, if I make a left turn at the wrong time, its…

*winnnn yannn! winnn yann! winnnn yannnn!* (that’s a police siren).

Then I’d have to face the polite yet stern face of a police officer. US police do not play. They will get chhu! You drive crazy… and you get yourself a nice fat ticket, in extreme cases… a night in jail. Gulp! But in Naij (Nigeria)…there are virtually no driving rules. Well maybe I’m exaggerating, I’ll rephrase it. People drive like there are no rules! And if you do encounter the police, it usually involves the exchange of money from your hand to the police officers hand…for God only knows what. Oh, and you most likely will not get a receipt.  However, look on the bright side; the price tags of the “tickets”,or whatever you want to call the polices’ demands for money, are negotiable!

Also, don’t be afraid that the police will pull you over for bad driving in Nigeria LASTMAs‘. Be afraid of the police…period. Police checks are frequent and regular. You usually know where they are. They are supposed to be there as a way to ensure car inhabitants are well…you know what?…I have NO IDEA why they are there. Just be aware that  they may be in your neighbourhood or major roads and when they pull you over, they will most likely ask you the most dreaded question…

Police Check (courtsey: nigeriavillagesquare.com)

” Auntiiiii…ow weekeeennddd ?”

I’ll refrain from explaining what that question means. All this police talk might get me in trouble…hehe…If you are not Nigerian and don’t know what that question means, ask a Nigerian friend of yours. If you don’t have one, shame on you! There are too many Nigerians in the diaspora for you not to have at least one Nigerian friend.

All in all, it’s important for you to know what you are getting into before you decide to brave it and drive in Lag. So in my next post I will be posting the “Things you will most likely encounter while driving in Lagos”. This of course is all based on my driving experience in Lagos. *Big Smile*

Thanks for reading my first post and I’m glad you enjoyed it! Here’s to the Nigerian Life!

A NOT SO NEW EXPERIENCE

Posted: February 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos (courtsey Nigerian masterweb daily news )

“Attention all passengers, please take your seats, we have not yet completed our landing process. The captain is still taxing. Please take your seats! I repeat please take your seats.” I chuckle to myself as I hear the German female flight attendant struggle to take control of the situation. Her pleas fall on deaf ears as my country men, male and female, young and old, snap off their seat belts and hurry to their feet; as though a prize awaits the first person to step their feet onto Lagos soil. In the midst of the chaos, I myself, choose to stay in my seat; not because I’m particularly an obedient person but I like to be the last one off the plane, to ensure I get a chance to rummage under the seats and make sure I have all my belongings with me. Virgin Atlantic is still owing me my first digital camera…sigh…but I digress.

“Good evening all”, a voice booms over the intercom, “this is your captain, Captain Kirsch. We are at our destination, however we do ask that you please stay in your seat as we are still taxing to our gate”.

The conversation that ensues next is one that I will never forget:

“Won so pe ka jo ko” (The pilot has said we should sit down).

“E ma da won lohun jare se won fe gbe mi de enu ono ile mi ni?” (Don’t listen to them! Does the pilot want to drop me right at the door of my house??!)

As I hear my neighbours dismiss the pilot’s instructions so flippantly I burst into a fit of laughter. Really? Really? So, for some reason this individual has determined she knows better than the pilot?! Wow.

At this point, the aisles are filling up with people struggling to take their bags from the over head cabin, with lone passengers like me still tightly tucked into our seats. “Sister, sister…please pass me that my bag, its in the cabinet on top of your seat na”. I realize I’m being prompted to get off my butt and join in the, do I dare say, madness.  I’m this close to retorting to the man, “Why can’t you follow instructions?” but instead I refrain myself from engaging with him and simply pretend as though I didn’t hear him. As people continue to struggle with their bags, and maneuver themselves into the stagnant queue, granted no one will be leaving the plane until doors of the plane are opened; I resolve that experiences like this are almost only unique to my people and that I am truly back in Nigeria.

I’ve been back to  Nigeria now for a number of months now. When I talk to friends, they always ask me, “How has your move back been?” I always feel like I’m “cheating” them when I say, “it’s fine” or “I’m learning”, or “Abeg…get me on the next plane out of here!”(I kid, I kid). Anyway, those answers all fall completely short of the truth about my back-to-naija experience. It’s not that easy to explain. The Nigerian experiences are…well…hmmmmm, what’s the word….(still thinking)….hmmm. They are SPECIAL. That’s the word.

Now, I’m not so new to the blogging world. Let’s just say I’ve made a number of attempts at putting my thoughts out in cyberspace. Unfortunately, the blogs died before they even began, with a once in a blue moon visit from….me…the author. I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences in my lifetime that I wish I had documented. It’s on this note that I say its time to officially execute an active blog in the world of blogosphere. No more waiting around. I’m more or less settled into my new (new being totally debatable) life in Nigeria and I am ready to narrate, my many daily special experiences. So, here it is “The Nigerian Experience”. Join me as I blog about the good, bad, exciting, sad, frustrating and best of all, hilarious experiences that I will share with you from my life in Nigeria.

*Disclaimer* In no way am I claiming this to be the daily experiences of ALL Nigerians, this is simply the experiences I, the author has had in Nigeria.