9th September, 2017, Lagos, Nigeria.
It’s always a good feeling when one makes a visit to another country. The opportunity arises to ascertain all the hearsays, confirm or break the myths and pick new experiences. So, when I set off for my three months stay in Nigeria, there were a lot on my mind but one thing stood out; I get to taste Nigerian Jollof. Of course I like food. Nigeria and Ghana have a long standing friendly-rivalry so this promised to be an interesting one.
It was June this year and my host city would be Lagos, Ikoyi to be specific. First things first, upon arriving at the airport I had a feel of the Nigerian accent. The immigration officer called me ‘Sar’…… I mean Sir. LOL. I struggled in the first few weeks with getting how ‘sartin wards’ (certain words) were pronounced. Their accent was unique in its own way. I quickly fell for the jargons they used in their pidgin. Sheybi, sha, na, omo…man, I loved them.
Nigerians love and know how to party; so they say. Well that was true. I witnessed some parties at where I lodged (Tivoli Gardens). They were good ones. It was intriguing how they recklessly splashed the cash, donned cool outfits, had nice setups, cruised classy class cars, and partied to euphoric music.
There was a proper and working residential address system. I think that’s excellent and in this stead Ghana has a lot to learn in catching up. Tivoli Gardens for instance was on 2/3 Olokun Close, Ademola Street, off Awolowo road and it will be very easy for an individual to locate.
Nigerian power outages were of a different kind. Ei! At any time, at will. What we cried about in Ghana three years ago was child’s play. The thought of Nigeria being a major producer of oil brings back the question of why many African countries were endowed with natural resources yet had poor living conditions. And right afterwards I decided not bother my nerves around it because it was a cliché.
One thing that struck me was the realization that Nigerians often appeared to be in a hurry. Like time no dey. Where they were in a hurry to, I never got to know. The roads were too busy with many speeding cars and excessive horn blowing. I had seen some reckless drivers in Ghana, but none beat the ones I saw in Lagos. Overtaking at the blind side of a driver was routine. I was confused which was which; no road regulations or the enforcers were asleep. I enjoyed using the ‘keke’ albeit.
And now to my favourite part. As I said, I enjoy eating. Trying new dishes isn’t mammoth task for me. So let’s quickly move to the meals I loved. Semo with egusi stew was good. The pounded yam was also another good one. And of course, the king of the swallows-eba. That was authentic original gari meal made in Naija! It was great. And lest I forget, I liked ‘moin-moin’. Now to that debate; Ghana Jollof or Nigerian Jollof? To be honest I don’t know why and how this argument came into existence. There is no competition here. What I ate in Lagos was simply not Jollof. The rice itself was not of the best quality. The taste is dry and absolutely boring. I kept tasting different ones and my Naija pals kept telling me those weren’t the real Nigerian Jollof. I wonder when the real Nigerian Jollof will be brought down from heaven. LOL. It’s a no-no for me. And hey, Nigerians love pepper. Almost every meal was peppery. And one thing I noticed, fruits were generally sold by men on trucks as against females on trays in Ghana.
Nigeria has some cool places and nice infrastructure. The island has many beautiful scenes. Lekki and Victoria Island are cool zones. I will always remember the Sunday at Eluguishi beach. It was mad fun! I enjoyed the movies at IMAX Cinemas in Lekki and the hang-out at Getarena. Tinubu looked a ‘half-twin’ of Accra Central. Some places at Tinubu were exact resemblance of Makola, Kantamanto- Accra- Central. The third mainland bridge which linked the island to the mainland was a great edifice. The spectacle of one of West Africa’s longest bridges as the waters streamed underneath it, if well managed, will be befitting of the cover of a postcard. Ikeja also appeared to me an interesting place. I wish I could spend more time there.
Nigerians are fun people and interesting fellas to hang out with. They were generally outgoing and adventurous. I had many ‘Ghana vs Nigeria arguments’ with my comrades which was expected anyway. How could I forget about their aliases? They do that excellently. Olufunmike to Funke, Babatunde to Tunde, Chukwuemeka to Emeka and then my favorite of all- Motunrayo to Motu (you know what Motu means in Twi right? LOL!)
It was some good 90 days there and I will chronicle some more experiences when they come to mind. I promised to return, to explore more and of course to taste the “real” Nigerian Jollof. If only there is. Omo Naija!