I was finally going to taste the popular ‘eba’ and ‘egusi’ soup and all the popular meals shown in all the Nigerian movies I had ever seen in my life, but most importantly the excitement came from amongst other things, the knowledge that I was also going to contribute to the massive body of knowledge on the age-old debate of whether or not Nigerian jollof is better than Ghanaian jollof!
Almost everyone I told I was travelling to Nigeria, had some security advice for me. “Have the numbers of the Ghana High Commission, Abuja and Consulate in Lagos handy in case of emergency.” “Be careful, that place is crazy”. “Don’t deal with people you don’t know,” etc.
So quite honestly I was half expecting people literally jumping at me for my bag and belongings. Maybe I’ve been very careful so far or lucky.
Coming from a relatively calm city of Accra, Lagos felt like an action movie for a moment. The Murtala Mohammed Airport was a buzz of activities. Apart from the airport officials, arrival was a replica of the temple courts from which Jesus drove out traders in the Bible. (I know because of Jesus’ film).
One was spoilt for choice of forex bureaux. They came in different sizes, different looks and different attitudes. The telecommunication networks were also sprawled across the hallway in case anyone needed a Nigerian sim card. The taxi drivers who managed to sweet talk their way into the hall past hard faced security, hounded travellers who had just collected their luggage.
But ladies and gentlemen, these were just the John the Baptist of what was to be experienced outside the airport.
As I stepped out, clutching my bag with all the strength I had, the first person to approach me was a young man asking me if I needed a phone. Look! All my antennas went alert and up! I said to myself “gosh! This is really happening! But I’m so ready for you!” I declined of course.
More taxi drivers loitered about, ladies in some uniform of a sort went round with ‘susu’ boxes asking for donations for charity. There were also individual forex bureaux outside the airport. Men were waving huge bundles of naira in travellers’ faces asking if they needed to do some transactions. Indeed, this is Nigeria!
Nigeria seems to be a country on the go. Aggressive, Enterprising, Active, and that attitude seem to get a lot of things done.
It gives them the chance to create opportunities where there seems to be none, like selling fruits in wheelbarrows by the road side! They know how to make their money and sure do know how to spend it, otherwise the portions of meat served in Lagos wouldn’t be.
The spirit of being enterprising, however, manifests in negative ways sometimes which is what feeds the general perception of many about them.
These discoveries, made possible by the Ethiopian Airlines have given some firsthand insight into who Nigerians in the capital are and what drives them. Hopefully, in the next articles, I would be equipped to give my verdict on the jollofs.
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