Going to Nigeria after so long, I had very mixed feelings. I had heard so many stories but I looked forward to every bit of it. Armed with loads of advice from peeps who had recently been, I checked in for my flight from London Heathrow to Lagos.
People said things like ‘once you land, the air is totally different. Don’t worry, if you feel like you’re not breathing properly at first, you’d get used to it. Another said ‘everyone will try to rip you off, shine your eyes’. Others said ‘Don’t tell anyone you just arrived from abroad else your own don finish, u will receive JJC treatment. All sorts, I won’t bore you with the others.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelt, we will be touching down at the Murtala Mohammed international airport in 5 minutes’
Oooh finally, Lagos I’m here… I was super excited. As soon as I stepped out of the plane, I must confess (true to all the stories), I felt like I couldn’t breathe for the first minute. The air was so stuffy, stale. I could breathe the hot air…. But I got used to it in no time.
My folks picked me up from the airport after a few hugs and kisses and we set off home. Until we hit the road, I forgot cars had horns. In the UK, I’ve probably only heard a driver blip their horn twice and that’s in very extreme circumstances. But it was okay – horns, Lagos traffic. This isn’t as bad as everyone made it. I can cope with this for a week, no problems. Little did I know
Because, I hadn’t been to Nigeria in years, I had missed so much especially the food – roasted corn (agbado), roasted plantain (bole), pear, agbalumo, ewa agoyin and agege bread, fried yam (dundun) etc. So I made myself a list things I had to eat during my trip so everytime I passed by any of these things, I made sure I stopped to get myself some.
This fateful day, I drove past this woman roasting some fresh corn and plantain with pear. I quickly parked and started ordering enough for the entire house. The lady was so happy cuz I cleared almost all her stock so she kept saying ‘Ah, aunty thank u o. Better market reach me today’. While buying it, some woman said hi to me and said ‘ahan, you’re buying roasted corn.’ I didn’t recognise her so I just said hi and went back to my corn, plantain, etc.
After I had bought enough for everyone at home, which obviously took a bit of time. I ran inside the house to show everyone what I had brought home. And as soon as I walked in, I saw the same lady that said hi to me whilst I was buying my corn, plantain, pear, etc. She was in the living room with my mum. Then I recognised her, she was one of the landladies in the estate so I did the ‘classic Yoruba greeting’ – Ah, mummy eyin ni, e ma binu, me o ri ojuyin dada ni. E mo pe me o wo oju igo mi … and apologised for not recognising her and greeting her properly outside.
And then, like a leech she started her tales by moonlight. I just came to talk to ur mother about u. ‘Why were u buying boli and pear on the road like that? Don’t u know u just got back from London. Is that what you want to eat. Ahan, you know u shouldn’t be eating these local things, they’d give u problems. If you’re hungry, y not bla bla bla.
All I could do was laugh because I just didn’t know how to react. So this woman had nothing else to do with her time, how can someone be so jobless… What does eating roasted corn/plantain have to do with coming from London … Time wasters (sigh).
Anyways, a friend was getting married in Calabar so I had to travel. My flight had already been booked so all I had to do was turn up @ d airport. The flight was due to take off at 12noon, I was at the airport at 1030am prompt. After checking in and doing the necessary, I sat in the lounge waiting for the announcement to board the flight. When it was 1145, I became worried and walked to one of the gates. I asked one of the guards about my flight and he looked at me and said ‘na wa for u o, them don board since u still dey here.
Still confused, I asked when they announced cuz I didn’t hear any announcement. He laughed and said the microphone is bad. I couldn’t believe my ears. Being my curious self, I asked how the other people on board knew that the flight was boarding. The guard said ‘they already know the mic situation”. Again, I laughed. Only God knows how long the mic had been faulty for. Long story short, I got on board and we took off.
The wedding was brilliant but not without the usual ‘we’re waiting for your own’ talk. I could cope with that, all I had to do was smile and say nothing. Well, until I saw a long time friend. And after a few hugs and hellos, she asked ‘so how are u coping with the racism and discrimination over there’… ‘Uh, sorry excuse me’ this was another level of shock for me. What on earth was she talking about? I didn’t even bother answering the question else it would have led to a heated debate/argument. This girl (might I add) has never travelled out of Nigeria before so what racism and discrimination was she on about.
Needless to say, my flight back to Lagos was scheduled to leave at 1pm but ended up leaving at 4pm. But according to everyone, it was normal. So I won’t go on and on about it.
I got to the airport ready for the UK, at this point I had had enough already. Whilst waiting, I saw a vending machine and thought to get a drink so I walked towards it. After trying a few buttons I realised it wasn’t working. So I looked around to see if anyone could help and this babe with her 32 wide open said to me ‘Aunty na drink u wan buy. I fit help u’.
I said ‘yes o’. Then she said ‘ok, no problem. If u give me money, I fit go help you bring am from inside’. Obviously, I was confused … ‘Inside’ (what was she talking about) but I thought to myself, ‘#exploitation. So someone must have spoilt this vending machine so that they can sell drinks and make money… Naija sha
Anyways, back to the girl, I said yes please can I get a can of coke. She said ‘no problem but aunty u know say light no dey, so u want ordinary one or extra cold one. If na extra cold, u go pay extra for light’. At this point, I was trying hard not to laugh. And then I asked okay how much for the extra cold can of coke and she said N200. So I gave her and she brought back a can of coke in under 2 minutes but it wasn’t extra cold, as she said it would be. But I thought I can’t be asked arguing about this so I left it there
After my vending machine experience, I thought I’d use the rest room before boarding. So I went and on my way out, there was a woman holding a bottle of anti-bacterial handwash. I wondered y someone would stand in the toilet the whole day with a bottle of handwash when u can easily buy dispensers but ‘that’s not my business sha’ so I walked towards her and she squeezed some out of the bottle. I washed my hands and walked towards the door. Someone said ‘Aunty, ahan, where your money, u never pay?
At this point, I had really had enough. Wtf! people pay for a squirt of antibacterial handwash…
I knew I had enough of the #Naijadrama and I walked out of the toilet with my head high up without paying a dime. I heard someone cursing and saying all sorts behind me but I didn’t even bother turning. Oh, yea, it must have been the antibacterial hand wash saleswoman… What a job title…
This write-up was inspired by a friend’s recent trip back home and written by me… We intend to start a series, send your Back to Naija experience to email@example.com. #BacktoNaija