Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Memories of Nigeria

Went to spend the evening with a friend yesterday. My man was away, so my daughter and I bundled ourselves up in our many layers of clothes, fell into the car and off we went.

Two hours later and over a hot meal of freshly cooked stew made with sea bass (a most delicious tasting fish)boiled rice and fried plantain ( as you may have guessed my detox was shot but I am making up for it today ;-)) we did what we normally do - talked about Nigeria.

She has been wanting to 'go home' for at least a year now but her husband has not been too keen. However he has come round and decided that they will be making a trip back home sometime this year. I thought this will be welcome news but on the contrary, my friend has suddenly developed cold feet. Reason being? She doesn��t know what to expect. Recently two of her friends cut their respective three week holidays short and returned to the UK after just 10 days. The just couldn't hack it for any longer.

We spent the next hour recalling 'only in Nigeria' experiences. I wonder if anyone else identifies with these:


  • Living in block of flats in Lagos, NEPA takes light for 24 hours (or more), the water in the overhead tank runs out, no power to pump up more water, so no water to flush toilets or have a bath or drink.

  • Emmanuel. I am standing on the balcony shouting for the landlord's nephew. He comes and I make my request. Half an hour later he returns laden with a couple of huge jerry cans filled with water in a wheel barrow. Buckets and basins are quickly filled and off he goes again. And again and again. Until all containers in the flat that can hold water are filled. Money changes hands and I hop into the shower. I stand in a large empty basin (kept empty for precisely for a purpose which will shortly be revealed) and pour a bowl of water over my body and soap myself down. I rinse off. Now the purpose of the empty basin I am standing in is revealed - to catch the water that runs off my body!! This water is then used to flush the toilet. Ta-da.

  • I can wash dishes, a couple of undies and myself included with half a bucket of water. No kidding. Nigeria has a knack of revealing hidden talents.

  • Sometimes the water that comes out of the taps is so muddied that having a bath or anything else in it is out of the question. So out comes the handy piece of lime stone which is dropped into the bucket of muddy water. A few hours later and viola, 'clean' water. Only drawback though - it makes for a very 'squeaky' bath. And the water becomes very hard so you get almost no lather from your bar of soap.

  • Coming home from work, still no light 36 hours later. Open fridge. Wish I hadn't. The stench that comes from it is almost unbearable. 10 minutes later, two bin bags full of food at various stages of decomposition.

  • Power is off (yet again). I hold my breath because I know what is coming. Yes I hear the first one, then the second and the third until the din of the generators threatens to drive me crazy. I sigh and go underneath the staircase to the machine I have hiding under there. I unscrew the petrol cap and peer inside. Good, its half full. I pull on the rope and it roars into life. I flick the light switch and my flat is illuminated. I close my door. If you can��t beat them join them. Whatdahell.

  • Close from work. I make my way gingerly up Awolowo road and up the bridge that eventually feeds on to third mainland bridge (I forget the name). Traffic. As far as the eyes can see. I struggle with a few danfo buses to get into the lane I want. I slam on my brakes as they jerk forward to stop me joining the queue and rain abuse on me for my effrontery. Woman, commot for road. You wan try me. I sigh and keep trying until someone feels sorry for me and lets me in. I take five seconds to decide that I am getting the hell out of the country. And I do. And I haven't looked back since.

Needless to say, my friend was really rearing to go by the end of the eveing- not! Ah, Nigeria. No place like it.

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