I just returned from Nigeria. My visit was for my engagement. I am in bliss and there is where I hope to remain. I spent 8 days filled with adventure. Each day had its own flavor, but guaranteed to end the way it started-peaceful. Yes, I said peaceful. Nigeria has a reputation that has not been very favorable. Therefore, one is apprehensive to visit. However, on my visit I found people making a living, loving, learning and doing what it takes to make ends meet.
The sights and sounds of Lagos are amazing. Lagos State is like a country unto itself. There are various towns, all with markets and living quarters. There is the constant chatter of various languages, as well as motorcycle and bus engines and last but not least the ongoing toot of vehicles horns. It is definitely not a place for the faint hearted because the amount of people walking about will and can overwhelm you. Lagos is overcrowded and it is not uncommon to experience a “go-slow” or traffic jam that lasts for hours. At any given time you can witness massive amounts of people converging on the streets and navigating traffic via foot or automobile. You will also find a plethora of businesses including street vendors and storefront properties. The senses are titillated and one is inundated with any and every item to meet the needs of people. If you like hustle and bustle, then this is the place to be. It is a diamond in the rough.
If you have never visited Nigeria, I would recommend you do so and get a taste of what it is really like. You may have done a web search, heard from friends, seen Nigeria on a television program-but there is nothing like the real thing. If you are cautious about 419 scams etc, you would be relieved to know that there are structures stamped with “This property is not for sale-beware of 419.” So not only have outsiders experienced such but native Nigerians as well.
I had an experience in the market place with my fiancé and his friends. This was not my first experience hearing negotiations or bartering, however this experience involved me as a visitor and family member. Unlike my past experience where I was a tourist. I was being drawn into the negotiation for some beautiful dresses that I wanted, but by 3 different women at the same time. LOL I played it safe and focused on the first woman.
I can say that having personal connections in the only way to manage oneself in Lagos. I thought about if I lived here what I would experience. Excitement, frustration, confusion and all the other elements that go into culture shock… The yellow busses would be my first thing I would need to learn because that is the major source of transportation. People pack in and journey about their way. Secondly getting used to the amount of people walking or going about their daily affairs, would pose its challenges. And of course the language barriers as well as the amount of rubbish strewn about. However, putting those aside, people here are very mannerable as a normal way of life. It was not uncommon to hear sir, madam, thank you, welcome, brother, sister, auntie, how was your day etc.
There are restaurants as well as “buka’s”, which is the local eatery. Buka’s serve the traditional Nigerian cuisine. If you are a vegetarian-well…it will be difficult to get a vegan meal. There is egusi soup, pepper soup, vegetable stew, fried fish in a sauce, jollof rice, etc., most of which will be accompanied by fufu, pounded yam, semovita or rice. The local delicacy is Isi-Ewu. If you don’t know what it is I suggest you do a Google search and also find images. I have to add a little suspense for my readers- so I just did.
One of the most beautiful sites that I saw was the Synagogue Church of All Nations. The structure was enormous. It housed beautiful blue windows and every pane had a scripture carved on it. The entrance way has a marble mosaic of the Bible which is very beautiful. Another site I visited was Badagry. Badagry is an ancient town where Yoruba people live and in the past were taken to Brazil during the Atlantic Slave Trade. It is said that 4 heads were sold for 1 umbrella. Also there are barracks there that housed 400 slaves before they made their trek down to shore through the door of no return. The families of this slave merchant (who was an African) still reside in these quarters and the monies made from tours go to help support the families. Also around this area is the first story building in Nigeria. It was built in 1842. This is where missionaries taught Yoruba people how to read Bible and the Bible was later on translated into the Yoruba language. On the premises is a well and it is the only well in this vicinity that has clean, tasteless, odorless water. I was up for the challenge, and cupped my hands for drinking. Indeed, it was refreshing. If you have ever been curious about what Nigeria has to offer, there are other places to see such as Abuja and Calabar. Calabar is another area that has some rich history concerning slavery.
Next flight to Nigeria, I might be your seat companion!