I’m still blogging from the Motherland and I’ve got things to say. So much has happened since my last post. I wish I was carrying a video recorder around, so that I could have a video diary of my experiences daily. It would be interesting to watch it over and over again.
I've been stocking up and reading lots of books by contemporary Nigerian writers. I went into a bookshop the other day and I was really pleased to see a huge shelf dedicated solely to Nigerian authors, mostly newly published ones. I bought seven books and I've already read three books and I'm on the fourth one. Seems like I can't get enough of them. And it's good because they really do inspire me. I've got my eye on a few more and I hope I can get them before I leave. Speaking of writing, I've come to respect people who do creative work in Nigeria. I appreciate that it is not easy for any profession, but it is especially hard for anyone to stick to a career in Writing, Music or Arts. In the pressure to survive by all means, the first thing that goes out of the window is creativity and desire to follow your passion. What if that passion does not guarantee a regular income like other jobs? Best thing is to bury that talent and look for something else to do. So great kudos to those people who are sticking with their passion, irrespective of the economic situation of the country.
Last week, I was thinking: it's been great to be in Nigeria for seven weeks without encountering police trouble. Seems like I spoke too soon, because the very next day, we got stopped by the rogues wearing police uniform. My aunt and I had gone out with the driver and we were returning home when we were stopped by four policemen at a check point. I asked them what was wrong and they said we had passed a one-way street. A one-way street! Several other cars were going before us and after us, but they didn’t disturb those ones, they decided to disturb us. They asked us to park and they started asking us questions: Did we not know this was a one-way street? No we didn’t. Did we not see the sign? Which sign? Where? Are we aware of the punishment for breaking traffic laws in Lagos State? No we are not.
With great glee, one of them explained to us: “For breaking the law, we will take you to the police station where we will give you a fine of 25,000 naira, we will impound the car, and we will require the driver to take a mental health test. He will have to bring the test results to us and confirm that he is fine before we release him. After that, we will wait six months, and you would have to pay another 15,000 naira before the car will be released to us.”
I could not believe what I was hearing. My aunt was trying to explain that we really did not know the street was now a one-way, when one of the policemen pulled open the passenger side of the car and jumped in. Then he said he would pardon our offence and let us go free if we give him and his colleagues 15,000 naira!! In essence he was saying, give us a 15,000 bribe here and now and we’ll let you go, or follow us to the station and face the penalty. Well I wasn’t about to give anybody 15,000 naira for nothing. My aunt started begging the policemen while I sat in the car fuming. We were in this deadlock for almost thirty minutes, the policemen issuing threats and my aunt trying to plead with them. ? Eventually my aunt had to pay them off with a third of the amount they asked for, so that they could release us to go on our way. I was so angry and sad. What kind of society do we live in when people who are supposed to be the ones upholding the law are the thieves and extortionists, harassing decent citizens? What will it take for the Nigerian police force to do their job and stop abusing their powers? Is this how corrupt our society is? God help us.
On to other stuff. My mum is back home now, she came back early last week. I’m really glad with the progress she has made. I went with her for her medical check-up when she arrived and her doctor said she is recovering well. She just needs to practice some gentle exercises and have lots of rest and soon, she’ll be as good as new. I’m still keeping an eye on her though, so that she doesn’t stress herself unnecessarily. It is a tough environment to survive in.
I attended the Experience concert yesterday and it was a real experience. My friends and I decided to get there early so as to get a good space, but by the time we got there, it was so crowded! It was a struggle getting into the main arena itself and then it was a scramble to get chairs to sit on. But it was all worth it in the end. We enjoyed the music and the acts that came to perform all night. I particularly loved Don Moen, Cece Winans, Tye Tribett, Mike Aremu and Bishop TD Jakes. There were three other acts I don’t remember, probably because I had to sit down at some point to catch my breath! I met a few old friends there, some I could only wave to amongst the crowd, and some I could actually get close to, close enough to chat briefly. We were there from 7pm till about 5am. I had fun although I was really grateful when I got to my bed this morning!
Let me round up my ramblings at this point. I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Hope to be able to blog again soon!