Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Adventures In Nigeria
The Road Trip
I am quite open about coming from the South Eastern part of Nigeria and I am a Lagosian. Maybe, that could account for my extremely high expectations from Lagos state and of course, the overwhelming sense of disappointment when my expectations weren’t met. Now, being from the South Eastern part of Nigeria, growing up and going to the village during the holidays was an adventure not to be missed. My siblings and I went out of our way to ensure that we were ready for our traveling adventure. Then we will share responsibilities, poll our resources for candies, cookies and soft drinks, get music together and books that we will read for the 7 - 10 hours road trip to the village. I loved it. Maybe, that’s where my love for road trips actually stems from. I associate road trips to simpler times and maybe happier times.
I knew that I had to go to the North this time around since last year was a whirlwind of activities and events and I was unable to get out of the SouthWest. Now, the question in my home became how do I get there since I have become so ‘oyiboed’ that going on a road trip would be ‘so tiring’?
I knew that I didn’t want to fly, I was just too scared of all the plane crash stories coming from this nation. I’ve lost family members and family friends in Nigerian plane crashes and I wasn’t taking that risk. Moreover, this was an opportunity to relive my youth and see parts of Nigeria in the process.
I told my parents that I wanted to go by road. They were in shock particularly since the trip is approximately twelve hours from Lagos to Abuja. Of course, with the roads being the way it is, they had fears that I will be so tired that I will get sick again. But, I managed to convince them.
I used one of the Sienna vans that ply the Lagos - Abuja route...I won’t give the name. It was definitely an adventure being in a vehicle with people from all works of life, listening to their jokes, their stories and eventually the fight that occurred. Now, this is the point that it gets interesting. Unlike using the big buses which are cheaper and most travelers have lower expectations, many who use the sienna vans or smaller vehicles have higher expectations because they are paying a lot more. They have expectations of courteous drivers, working airconditioners and of course some form of entertainment. They did try with the entertainment and the driver just basically ignored us but then when the air conditioner stopped working and that’s when the trip took on an edge.
One Oga, (obviously a big man) from his gra gra conversation on the phone, got so peeved that he decided to take it out on the driver. This was the conversation that ensued:
Oga sir: why is this place so hot? why is the air conditioner not on?
Mr driver: (ignores commotion and increases the volume of his Oliver de Coque music).
Oga sir: what kind of nonsense is this...can’t this guy feel the heat?
Mr driver: (starts to whistle)
Oga sir: (shouting)Look at this stupid driver..what kind of stupidity is this? Can’t you feel the heat? Stupid idiot.
Mr. driver: (turns down his Oliver De Coque) who is stupid? ehn who is stupid? You will see who is stupid?
He then stops the van at a deserted spot and gets out of the vehicle to throw that man out of the van swearing that he wasn’t moving anywhere until Mr. Oga sir gets out.
At that point, I started texting my mother furiously, wondering what will happen to me since I obviously do not know this place or how to get out of this place and why the H*** are we near the freaking bush? Articles featuring ritualists were running furiously through my mind.
At that point everyone had started begging the driver, biko , nwa bom boy, nwa, and all the sweet Igbo names they had at their disposal. In retrospect, I should have gotten a pad and written all those names down, you never know when those words could come in handy *winkies*. One of the women asked me to touch the driver in hopes that this will calm him down. Mba!! What of if that touch led to a slap? After, a sexy ,Igbo woman had given him the sweetest Igbo name, I think involving a lion or something, he decided that he won’t throw this man into the forest and goes back to drive the vehicle.
Mr. Oga sir was quiet for the rest of the journey.
After that adventure, I really thought that was it but there was a woman that just rubbed me the wrong way with her conversation. She was a trader and was out to let everyone know that she had traveled out of the country at one time in her life which was to China. I was talking to this guy who was out to have a good time in Abuja and for some reason the guy decided to ask Ms. ‘one chance travel to China’ the Igbo marriage question that I wish most people will leave alone. This question was why is it that many Igbo women are single? At that point, I just started groaning because I knew this woman wasn’t going to give any intelligent answer. Cringing in my seat, I was just waiting for her response and I wasn’t disappointed.
Ms. One Chance Travel To China: Ahhhh, such a good question from such an intelligent young man. You see our people are not like your people o. I know you people have a lot of older women getting married but it isn’t like that in our side.
Pamela cringing further into her seat.
Ms. One Chance Travel To China: Don’t mind those stupid women, they are waiting for Obasanjo to come and marry them. Stupid Women.
Pamela (internally) : Tufiakwa, You can keep Obasanjo.
Mr. Young Inquisitor: really, they are really waiting for Obasanjo? Imagine?
Ms. One Chance Travel To China: Don’t mind them. ehhhhhn...(I am sure if she had a chewing stick, she would have chewed it and spat out), that’s how they will be there wasting their time and then when they get to the age of 35 they will start desperately searching. Who will marry them ehn? Old cargoes.
The way Ms One Chance Travel To China said Old Cargo, everyone knew that this was personal. Maybe one had attempted taking one of her precious sons. Oh, did I forget, we had to hear about the exploits of all her wonderful sons.
Okay, remember, Pamela is not 35 but when I get to 35, Pamela will automatically stop visiting Nigeria because the stress opoju for poor Igbo women there. Also, you have to remember that, I am completely against people putting labels, barriers and establishing double standards that do not help women be the best they can be. Also, I am anti women being pushed into relationships and marriages till they are ready. So obviously, at this point, I was screaming and punching the air internally. Since, I could not do anything rolling my eyes had to suffice.
Mr. Inquisitor: really, are you saying that no one will marry these women?
Ms. One Chance Travel To China: ahh, they might get suitors but let me tell you, when men go to the village to tell them that they want to marry these women, the elders will advice these suitors to go and find a nice sweet young woman even if she sells recharge cards.
Fortunately, we got to her stop, so I didn’t get a chance to give her a long speech as to why many women are finding themselves married to horrible men and in horrible, disgusting relationships. God saved her.
After she left, the rest of the journey was smooth sailing. Of course, that journey ended with my exchanging numbers with Mr. Inquisitor who is a lawyer and no, he isn't the reason that my heart is in Abuja.
There were other memorable conversations that took place in the vehicle but I won't go into all that today.
I got into Abuja at about 8.30 pm. The trip took 13 hours and we passed through several states including Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Lokoja etc.
* Let me reiterate, I am Igbo and proudly Igbo at that and this is not to make fun of my ethnic group which I will never do but unfortunately, this trip was made up of some Igbo people behaving badly. At least, it gave me a juicy story to share.