Tuesday, June 30, 2015

10 Things I've Noticed About Nigeria

It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve been back in Nigeria and I’m still adjusting to my surroundings.

A number of people have asked me to share my experience thus far and a good place to start would be with the things I’ve noticed about people and the Nigerian environment in general. So, without further ado, here’s my list of 10:

1.       There are some “walking angels” in Abuja. I mean people that are extremely kind and considerate, that go above and beyond for strangers (i.e. me). From those who helped me when I arrived at the Lagos international airport get to the Domestic airport location (which is a few minutes away) and catch my flight to Abuja on time, to those who helped me during my registration process at the NYSC camp (a subsequent post will be coming on my NYSC experience thus far), all the way to passersby simply directing me to the best areas to catch a cab or “drop” at the cheapest rate. I’ve almost been brought to the point of tears at how loving some people can be. I thank God for them. With that being said, there are also sadistic folks living in Nigeria. By sadistic, I mean those truly relishing and reveling in the demise or suffering of another. I’ve encountered them in many facilities and establishments; males and females alike that simply want to make your experience with them hellish. I can’t say I’m surprised though. When I take the high poverty rate in Nigeria into consideration and the seeming lack of government interest in the welfare of the people, I can imagine how that can leave quite the number of people feeling desperate and outraged; and from such desperation and outrage comes ugly outbursts in behavior.

2.       It is important to choose your bank(s) wisely. It’s important to have accounts with banks that have branches (and ATM’s) close to the area you live in. (This is especially important if you don't have a car; you don't want to be paying an arm and a leg in taxi fare just to go for a bank visit.) There are popular banks like First Bank, UBA, and Zenith that have a good number of branch offices spread out in Abuja. I have an account with First Bank and they have an office pretty close to where I stay.

3.       The “Art of Flirting” is at an all-time low. I remember when I originally arrived back in Nigeria. One of my first pit stops was the hospital (since I was feeling so darn crappy). While sitting in the hospital waiting area to see my doctor, I noticed that one of the desk attendants was severely rolling his eyes at me. I mean, flat out RUDELY eyeing me with a nasty look on his face. At first, I was perplexed as to what his problem with me could be but then a few seconds later, I dismissed the thought because quite frankly, I was too sick to bother. Lo and behold, once I was done with the doctor and walking out from his office into the hallway, the same desk attendant came behind me and said something to the effect of, “Hey, I like the way you’re looking. Can I get your number?” I just stared at him for a second. Is this not the same person who was just giving me the look of death as if I had stolen his cow or something? Na wa o. I just smiled, shook my head, and said I didn’t have a number to give him (which is true since I hadn’t yet gotten a Nigerian phone number at that time. However, I still wouldn’t have given it to him if I had one.)

4.       Some people are too comfortable with nose-picking. I’m sorry but I had to add this one in. While we all know that it happens, I’m used to people in the States making an effort to handle their business in private or as discreetly as possible, away from public view. Not so much here lol. Every time I see a guy (or gal) having an open nose-picking session, I can’t help but think of the lyrics to the Lenny Kravitz song “Dig In”: “Once you dig in…you’re gonna have yourself a good time!” And boy, are some of my fellow countrymen/women having a really good time…much to my visual dismay.

5.       There are no set prices for most products and services. Almost everything is open for negotiation, which is great! You NEVER accept the first price quoted to you – from a taxi driver or a technician or a plumber or a market seller. Sometimes they're quoting you twice or triple the actual price of the product or service from the get-go so it’s always in your best interest to keep going back and forth until you can get a really good chunk of cash shaved off your final bill. Think of it like a game of “How low can you go?”

6.       American accents are not necessarily well-received by all Nigerians. I lived in the States for a good number of years and naturally, the longer you live in a place, the likelier it is for you to sound like the people of that place. I’m no exception to that. So, yes, my accent can sound rather “Americanized” a lot of the time. And it seems that to some, it comes off as an attempt at being obnoxious or elitist on my part. Not so. My voice sounds like it does because I resided in the States for a good period of time. That’s just how life goes. Now don’t get it twisted; I also have a full-fledged Nigerian accent that tends to come out rather strongly when I’m angry…or when I’m negotiating with a cab driver for a lower price :)

7.       Suya (a.k.a “Spicy Shish Kebab” to my non-Nigerian folks) is downright delicious. I remember loving it as a child in Nigeria and that has not changed one bit. My favorite Suya spot at the moment is Yahuza Suya Spot in the Wuse 2 area. If you have any other Suya spots to recommend in Abuja, do let me know in the comments section below. Thanks in advance :)

8.       It’s important to have many passport photos. There’s always an office that needs them. You need two passport photos to open a bank account; you need several passport photos when dealing with NYSC registration at camp & other related offices. You need passport photos for this and that…and this and that. It’s also important to have multiple copies of all your documents – and by “all” I mean from your college certificates and transcripts down to your Primary School Leaving Certificate (that is of course if you still have a clue where that one is :) You never know who’ll ask for it. Someone told me that she knows of a retired professional who’s having trouble collecting his pension because the pension office won’t agree to give him any money until he provides them with his letter of employment from the first place he ever worked. That was over 40 YEARS AGO for him. He can’t find it and now he’s in a bind. Moral of the story: Have copies upon copies of everything.

9.       Connections are incredibly important in Nigeria. From my short time here in Abuja, I can already see that it is through networking and developing connections that one can glean how best to navigate the Nigerian scene. To be honest, connections are important everywhere in the world but while I feel like one can easily choose to live a somewhat “loner” lifestyle in the States, it seems that connections are much more of a requirement here.

10.   Slow Internet Speed. I’m a big believer that many things in life shouldn’t be rushed but instead, should be done in a slow and steady manner; eating a delicious meal, taking a long walk, answering an interview question, writing a New York Times bestseller. “Using the internet” is not part of that list. There are several phone/Internet providers in Nigeria including Airtel, Etisalat, GLO, and MTN. I’m currently with GLO for both services but I’m probably going to try a different Internet service provider (a friend recommended one called “Smile”) next month because my current internet speed is just a tad too slow for my liking.

And so, that’s my list for the moment. While there are clearly things I don’t appreciate or like about living in Nigeria, I can’t deny that there are aspects of it I do enjoy and God has undoubtedly been protecting me (it doesn’t always feel that way in a trying moment but looking back on it, I can’t deny the hand of God in consistently bringing me through).

Now, I’m turning it over to you folks.
Have you or anyone you know recently made the move back to Nigeria? How has your/their transition been? Do you have any words of wisdom for those that have relocated, or are relocating, to Nigeria? Please do share. 

Muchas Gracias amigas. 

Until the next post. 
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  1. LOL @ the hospital desk attendant!

    One thing I know is that after 4 years of being here, a lot of times I'm still trying to get used to living here. You can't ever get used to maddening traffic, fuel scarcity, power issues, etc. That being said, there's a lot of fun to be had here.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about your NYSC experiences.

    Berry Dakara Blog

    1. The hospital desk attendant still has me shaking my head today lol

      I think the traffic has to be more of a Lagos issue because it hasn't been that bad to me in Abuja. What has been blowing my mind is the reckless, give-your-mama-a-heart-attack driving. Fuel scarcity and power wahala? Madness.

  2. Haha, the first scenario sounds 2 funny. I wish u a happy stay in Naija.

    1. There have been quite a number of "funny" things happening here lol. Thank you for your well wishes, Chukwuma :)

  3. Welcome home Ada... I hope you have a great year serving. Its good to have you home

    1. Thank you, Nma! I appreciate your well wishes, my dear :)

  4. Welcome home Ada... I hope you have a great year serving. Its good to have you home

  5. Ooookkkaayyy... So first off **shouts at the top of my upcoming baritone voice... Welcome home Bubba!!!! Oya where is the Amerricannah bread that you 'BUY' and come... Bia if you did not buy bread... Jejely go back oh... Hehehhehe iKid... Soo... a Returnee yeah?! Nice... Mehn are you freaking kidding me?! "Hey! I like the way you look, can I get your number! @The guy... Really Nigga?! Realllllyyy?! *faints... chisos!! **faints in initial faint... Biko who is that guy eh?! He deserves to be laid down in the hot 1Pm sun on his bare back... sprayed suya pepper on his back... and flogged with koboko... Hian!!! Eeezz that how to toast woman ni?! Shuo!!! Issorait... Infact tha national association of woman wrappers (for which ayam kuku a confused memeber) need to barnish him **wears straight face...

    So I found your blog via the NBA site, and I am uber hooked on you... I do hope we can connect though... I like how Confused you sound... #NoOffence oh... I write for the Young and Confused Gang... To us Confused is good...

    Truth is I think Nigeria is by far the coolest of cool countries in the world... Cause here there is both the good the bad and the ugly... Welcome home Bubba... do have madantin fun... and the crowd goes Oooooosssshhhheeeey Turn uP.

    1. Oh yeah!!! 1 more thing Baby mi... as an ISP provider yeah!!! GLO is a No No... airtel will fail you too... but hey! It's a tad more reliable... Kai see becoming an Americannah by Mutual association in comment section.. heheheheheh Omo mehn... A neFer hexSpeRRed it eh!!!

    2. Lol, thank you Duru!

      Shebi you see the silliness of the hospital desk attendant. See me see unnecessary wahala.

      p.s. I'm happy you stumbled upon the blog...I hope you stick around for a long, long time :)

  6. LOL! Good points. Suya is downright one of the best things in Nigeria.

    -David Adeleke | http://www.davidadeleke.com

    1. Ah, Suya is no joke o David. One of the best things in Nigeria by far :)

  7. Hahahahahahahaaha! Slow internet speed indeed! Every Sunday myself and a couple of people hold Skype call. Two of them live in the UK while others(me inclusive) live in Nigeria and I've noticed that all the internet ish stems from our end. Poor network. Call keeps disconnecting. They send large files and once I download my data is zapped. They just keep laughing at me with my 'non-unlimited' data.

    So this is August, how are you fairing?