AN “ENGLISHWOMAN” IN NAIJA

By the time this article will be appearing on the streets of London, Lagos and other cities, I would have just landed at Murtala Mohammed Airport Lagos for a 3 week visit to Nigeria.

Its been almost 4 years since my last visit and I am anxiously waiting to see all the new developments and transformations that have taken place in that time particularly in Lagos and Abeokuta.

For many of us Londoners visiting Naija after a longh time away, it is always like going somewhere for the first time. The excitement builds up and your are like a. child going on a summer vacation to Disneyland. You begin to romanticize and dream of the smells of home – the road side cooking, buka food, local beer parlours and you even find yourself p!anning to do things you never did before you left the country!

For many ordinary Naija folks in London, Naija has become a holiday destination where you simply go once a year or whenever you can afford the huge ticket fare plus thousands of spending naira that you would need if you don’t want to end up borrowing or begging for money from folks at home for your upkeep.

And no matter how long you may have been planning your trip, you never seem to have everything you would need at home. You always wonder if you’ve packed enough clothes and shoes to show off in (after all, you’re coming from London now.  You pack a massive make up kit and other essentials you tell yourself will not be available in Nigeria like posh Andrex toilet paper, sliced cheese, grapes, breakfast cereal or even frozev veg!!

And then, there are the endless gifts and presents shopping for your family, friends and even neighbours.. By the time you’ve finished packing you end up with your two allowed suitcases weighing 60kg each instead of 30! It is not uncommon to see Nigerian travellers at Heathrow airport with suitcases wide open at the check-in area, hopelessly trying to reduce their grossly overweight land overloaded luggage.

My mum has been much more excited about my coming home after such a long time. Every night for a week, she’s called and texted travel prayers and telling me to make sure I don’t forget my passport, ticket etc. I’m sure she’s not sleeping well due to excitement and anxiety.

When you haven’t been to Naija for a while, everyrhas all kinds of advice for you “be careful with your bags”, “don’t eat buka food”, “don’t tell anyone you’re coming…” That particular piece of advice came in view of some of my political comments of recent. One of my friends expressed concern that I could be “abducted” from the airport by agents of a high positioned Nigerian politician who has been a subject of discussion on both my radio show and social media walls. Others simply warned me to avoid appearing in public for fear of kidnapping! Well, as I told them, that will be a collosal waste of time and effort.  This lady is “an empty barrel” and even if you cut every member of my family, you will try really hard to get half a barrel full of blood!!

I am really excited about this trip. Aside my real reason for travelling which is to celebrate my mum’s 70th birthday, it is also an opportunity to catch up with old friends and new Facebook friends. Some of my London friends will also be in town at the same time and it will be so nice to do Naija with them and see them in the Naija light. When you are in London, of course you behave like a typical Londoner but when you are in Naija, you have to be different shaa ni.

One place I would love to be able to visit is Abuja. In all the years that the federal capital territory has been in existence, I have only been there once and even that was just as a transit passenger end route to Lagos from London!.

I have heard so much about this modern city and I would love to go see things for myself…..and perhaps pay a particular senior lawmaker a visit and ask him a question or two…..

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