Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
As far as rejection letters go, this one's not too bad actually. The publisher said "Unfortunately with the publishing industry in it's current state, I felt your novel would not be commercial enough". I want to remain positive, so I will take that to mean the novel was not completely rubbish, and her rejection is simply down to economics and timing. I've heard of editors giving some really funny reasons for rejecting a novel to the tune of "Do yourself a favour and don't give up the day job"! So FG will pick herself up and carry on. As someone else said, it can only mean I'm one step closer to meeting the right publisher.
The fear of rejection was one of the things I was so worried about when I first decided to start writing, but I think I've had to see it as one of the things that come with the business side of writing, and not take it personally. Even the most successful authors who have won long lists of awards for their writing had to face rejection at some point. Determination and resilience is an essential strength to have in this game, and a thick skin is also very useful!
On to other news:
To say a big thank you to our readers and supporters, we are running a competition and giveaway for the next three weeks on our series blog! Check it out! This is the first one and entries will close on Monday the 14th. There will be two more competitions and prizes until Christmas, so make sure you click over to the blog now and enter. You could be a winner!
Hope you enjoy the rest of the week and have a great weekend ahead.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I used to be among that crowd and yesterday, I paused for a few moments on the concourse and thought how different my life is now. I have been out of the 9 - 5 for fifteen months, and by yesterday I already felt like an outsider. Not that at I'm complaining at all. I used to think that was the only way to live, that was the only way to work - being an accountant working in Central London, facing commuter hell Monday to Friday. I wrote this post in October 2006, and at the time, I was fed up with the lifestyle and I knew I could not carry on with the 9 - 5 indefinitely. I was thinking that I needed to find a job where I didn't have to commute like that everyday. It has been three years since I wrote that post, and I am so glad and grateful to God, that my little dream is coming true. Even if it's something as small as having the freedom to work from home. I may not have the millions (yet), but my quality of life is already vastly improved. Hmmm, I may revisit this topic in another three years' time.
So what was I even doing in Liverpool Street in the thick of the evening rush hour? I was on my way to a Creative Writing class at the Southbank Centre. I had attended one last month and I enjoyed it very much, so I was looking forward to learning new ideas yesterday. And I did. The tutor talked about blogging, writing short stories for traditional print publications, and also writing for an online audience. I made a note of many of the good points he raised, and I will be implementing some new ideas. One idea I'm taking further is our blog series, so keep an eye on it and I'll be letting you all know what's coming next.
I can't believe the year is drawing to a close so quickly. I was almost alarmed when I looked at the date today and saw it was 19th of November. It's like I blinked and seven months of the year just flew by me! The thought makes me feel like I have to redeem the time wisely, everyday I have to achieve something. It may be learning a new life lesson, it may be finding a better way to do something, it may be gaining a new level of knowledge about myself, it may be drawing just that little bit closer to God and having more of His grace rubbing off on me, it may be encouraging a friend, it may be becoming a better wife. Everyday, I feel like I should be a better person when I go to bed, than I was when I woke up.
Okay, I'm off to make the most of the remaining minutes of this day, I'll be back soon with another update. Enjoy the rest of the week.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is the Word of God and He has put in there guiding principles for me to live my life by. I’m often amazed at how God uses the Bible to speak to me concerning a situation I’m dealing with, or a choice I have to make. Sometimes it’s a direct commandment, sometimes it’s a guiding principle, sometimes I have to discern what to do from the examples of other people’s lives recorded in the bible, sometimes it’s not my choice but my motives that I am reminded to examine. Several times I might have even made a decision and I just read the Bible to know if God approves or not.
But sometimes I know we face choices that the Bible is silent on. Perhaps it’s a situation that is peculiar to our modern society that did not exist in biblical times. Sometimes it’s a cultural thing, something that the Jewish people did not agree with, but it’s acceptable in our own culture. Sometimes the Bible doesn’t always give us the answers in black and white and we have to find other means of arriving at our own conclusions.
The other day, I was watching a TV programme about space travel. The scientists on the programme were talking about how much time and money has been spent by the US government on the Space Programme and how Russia, China and some other countries were also dedicating mind-boggling sums of money to space exploration so that they can claim territories on the moon and other planets. There was an argument afterwards as to why we human beings have not finished solving the problems we have on Earth, but we are going to space. Someone mentioned that if we dedicated a fraction of the amount of money we have spent on space travel to humanitarian causes, we can end world hunger and world poverty. So where does the bible stand on this? Should we be exploring other frontiers, or should we solve one problem before we go and look for more?
I was listening to the radio a few days ago and the speaker was talking about the choice between burial and cremation. Apparently some Christians have been torn between buying expensive land for burials and choosing cremation as a cheaper option. The bible is silent on this topic, but in biblical times, the Jews placed a big importance on burial. Meanwhile the Greeks, Romans and other cultures cremated their dead. The speaker was saying that if we were faced with such a choice today, will the Bible be a conclusive reference? Should we go by the Jewish culture or should we ignore that, especially now that the world is a crowded place and burial land is now at a premium?
Then there are other personal issues like whether or not to have children. The bible does say that we should “go forth and multiply” but nowadays there are more and more couples that make the decision not to have children for valid reasons. Should we say they are wrong? What about the genotype of your future partner, if you find out that you and your fiancée are both sickle-cell carriers? What about the choice between keeping a pregnancy that resulted from abuse or getting rid of it? What about the issue of a choice between staying in a bad marriage and opting for a divorce? What about culture versus Christianity on the issue of polygamy? (Yes there are some Christians that defend polygamy. I was shocked when I found some books and resources where some people argued that many of the great men in the bible were polygamous and God still blessed them). So if that was not God’s plan, why is the bible silent on such a major topic?
Sometimes the issue is not even that the bible is silent, but it seems to contradict itself. There are many passages that suggest the exact opposite of each other. We then have people split into factions, each side quoting the bible to support their stand. Many churches have been split up over issues that the bible does not have a clear answer, for example: female church leaders, polygamy, eating certain foods, what to do with church leaders that sin, and many more. These generate countless questions that we can debate for hours and years but ultimately we have to come to our own conclusions.
I feel that if I come across a question or a choice that the bible does not adequately address, I have to then go to God directly and ask Him what to do and what to believe. I know don’t have all the answers, I don’t have the full picture and I certainly can’t solve all of the world’s problems. I have one way of knowing if I’m taking the right step: peace. If I feel at peace with my decision, then I’m confident that I’m in God’s will. Now it’s not my place to impose my own view or my own choices on other people for what works for me is not necessarily what will work for everybody. Only God sees all and knows all. I’ll let Him be the judge.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
We remained friends after secondary school. We even went to college together, becoming friends with another girl and together the three of us formed a close knit group. After college I came to the UK to study and she remained in Nigeria, but we still kept in touch. The distance was never a problem, she came over once a year and a simple phone call was all it took for us to resume our friendship where we left off.
Okay, fast forward to last week. I logged onto yahoo messenger and she was online so we started chatting. We had been talking about normal girly stuff for a bit when I mentioned that I cut my hair off cos I wanted to start over and that’s when the conversation changed.
She said: “I don’t have the courage to do half of the things you do”
Thinking about our conversation later, something interesting struck me. I couldn’t believe that I had spent a lot time when I was younger wishing I was more like her, but all the while she was wishing she was more like me! It was quite a revelation to me that she could even think of me as her role model, something I had never even imagined myself to be, except maybe to my little sisters.
I’m glad I’m no longer that awkward, insecure teenager. I am now secure in who I am. It’s such a blessing to realise that I am the best person to be. God made me, ME for a reason and I’m not meant to be trying to be anyone else. It’s when I stop trying to be someone else that I appreciate who I am. And that’s when I find out other people want to be like me.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Hey blogville peeps! Just a quick update cos I've been quiet here for a while. I've had a very interesting time in the last six weeks. So much has happened, I don't even know where to start blogging from. So I kept procrastinating until more than a month slipped by! How's it been going on blogville? I've been slacking so much lately, it will take me forever to catch up. I've managed to update my Journey Down the Aisle blog recently, but I haven't been writing much else.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
We haven't even been in London one week yet and already our bike has been stolen! LOL.
We had padlocked it with a chain to the bike rack in the compound, and yesterday, hubby discovered that both the bike and the chain had vanished. I found it quite amusing, what a nice way for the reality to sink in - Welcome to London! We're now going to have to buy a new bike and a much stronger lock and chain! But apart from that, we are settling in quite fine. I've been unpacking our stuff gradually and I'm almost done now. We don't have our phone, cable and internet connection set up yet. I'm blogging with hubby's mobile broadband that he uses for work so I can't use it for ages. I'll be glad when we've got that sorted.
In the meantime, I'm carrying on with my work and I'm really pleased to be out of the funk I was in a couple of weeks ago. You wouldn't believe what I read in my Word for Today on this past Thursday the 2nd of July -(daily readings)
"So, choose to see it God's way. Let it go. Do what you've been called to do, and watch God vindicate you royally!"
Which was exactly what I had been trying to do since I wrote this post. It's amazing how God speaks into situations that we go through, reassruing and encouraging us to keep going. Otherwise it's easy to get discouraged and lose focus of what is really important, and allow other people to misguide us. Especially when it seems God's way doesn't conform to other people's accepted way of doing things. I just need to remember to trust God, that even when things are not going so smoothly, His plan for me is still the best, and it hasn't changed.
I can't believe it's July already! Like wow, the first half of 2009 has quietly slipped away and we are already in the second half! It sure makes me feel like I blinked and missed it. Anyhow, I'm enjoying the mini-heatwave going on at the moment, and I intend to make the most of it this weekend. I'll be at the South Bank - the London Literature Festival is happening there for the next two weeks. The Caine Prize readings are on Sunday evening (more info on the shortlisted stories and the writers can be found on their website here), and Helon Habila is making an appearance on Monday evening. It should be interesting!
Hope you have a great weekend whatever you do!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
In the past two weeks I've been feeling rather down and discouraged. I love my family but sometimes they get on my nerves!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
When you pick up your pen to write in your notebook. Or open a new Microsoft Word document and you are faced with a white, blank sheet of paper.
Some days when I pick up my pen to write, the words come tumbling out, the ideas keep flowing, I'm on a roll and my arm aches to catch up with the speed at which my brain is churning out words. But that's actually the exception. Most other days, I spend ages staring at the blank sheet of paper, willing something to happen. Sometimes I manage to scrape a few sentences together, but sometimes I give up after a few torturous hours.
Someone asked me recently, "do you schedule some time to write each day, or do you wait for the inspiration to come and then write when you feel like it?"
Good question. If I had to wait for inspiration all the time, then I would hardly ever get anything done. So most times I have to grit my teeth and force myself to write something, anything.
Or to put it another way, as I read in the "Writing a Novel and Getting Published for Dummies" book (paraphrased):
As a writer, you must realise that the blank page is not your friend. The blank page is scary, and it is your enemy. Cover your pages with words. If you force yourself to write 1000 words everyday, in a month you would have written 30,000 words. Words which you can edit and correct later. Remember, you cannot edit a blank page.
That's a lesson for Favoured Girl.
Have a great weekend all!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I had a really great day from beginning to end. I spent most of the morning and afternoon chilling with hubby and receiving calls. He waited on me, cooked breakfast, gave me nice presents and all. Awww.
Later in the day, we got dressed and went out to meet up with friends for dinner. It was so nice to celebrate with close friends, including hubby and my lil sis. Lovely birthday I had, with good food, great drinks, fantastic company and engaging discussions :-)
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
In the meantime, here's a reminder of the the reason why we celebrate Easter:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.(John 3:16-17)
Yep, Jesus is the reason. And Jesus is Alive!
During the Easter service in my church today, I was struck again by how relevant the Easter message is, both to me and the whole world. It was as if the message became clearer, even though I must have heard it hundreds of times. If Jesus did not come to earth, if Jesus did not die for me on the cross, and if Jesus did not conquer death and rise again, then all Christians are wasting their time. Because that would mean we believe in a huge lie or conspiracy. It would mean there's no point in trying to live right here on earth. it would mean there would be no Resurrection after this life. No hope of a life afterwards, spend with God in eternity.
But if He did come to earth, performed miracles, died on the cross and rose up again, then that's good news! Actually, it's more than good news: it's life-changing news! It means He loves me and sacrificed himself for me. It means He has taken away my punishment for sin. It means I have a hope and a future, not only in this life, but in the one to come. It means I have victory over sin and death. It means I have an assurance that the same spirit that raised Jesus from the grave, is living in me and able to help me accomplish all that God has in store for me. That's exciting isn't it? I am excited to share this good news with everyone who reads my blog! It's not something you can sit on the fence about, you either believe in the Easter story or you don't. But I'm a living witness, Jesus is real, He is alive and He has saved me :)
Friday, March 27, 2009
I was looking through the Blogville Awards blog a few days ago, and came across this post about former bloggers. People who, for one reason or another, have stopped blogging completely or have made their blogs private. On one level, I understand that blogging is an essentially personal choice and nobody is compelled to keep a blog, or update it regularly, or even invite other people to read it. However, looking through that list, I felt like I had gotten to know these people that I had never met, and I missed them. We used to read and comment on each other's blogs, we shared laughs and sorrows, we were part of the Nigerian bloggers' family. I felt like they owed me and their other readers an explanation for quitting. In some way, they were obliged to keep their blogs going because they had given us a glimpse of their lives and kept us wanting more. It's like having a friend who suddenly cuts you off without any explanations.
It's the same thing I feel when I learn that my favourite character is leaving a show, or my favourite band is splitting up. Even though it's their choice and their career, it's tempting to ask "Why? Stay, please don't leave!" or "Don't split up the group!". Even if the TV show carries on without them or the group members go on and try to forge solo music careers, things will never be the same again. For example, I loved Destiny's Child as a group, but I don't particularly care for any of them as solo artists. Strange huh?
On to other gist, it's my mum's birthday today and I'm really grateful to God for her life. She is fully back to good health now and it's truly a miracle. When I called her this morning she said she was thanking God and looking forward to opening her presents and cooking up a storm for a get-together in the evening. I laughed, wished her happy birthday and then called my grandma to congratulate her too.
As for me, I'm having a chilled out weekend, doing some work and generally loafing around. I can't wait for summer to arrive. It feels like this is the longest winter ever! Have a wonderful, relaxing weekend everyone!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Case in point: Mr X woke up this morning, he had breakfast, said goodbye to his wife and kids, went to work as normal, and suddenly his wife gets a phone call, "Mrs X? I'm afraid your husband has been involved in a fatal accident...." and things never remain the same. Even if it is not an accident, it could be an illness. Right now I can mention two people who have been battling cancer and the doctors have told them that there is nothing more they can do.
Some weeks ago I read a book called "The Shock of Your Life" by Adrian Holloway, about three teenagers who died in an accident. The story follows each of them on an imaginary journey of what happens to them after they are dead. Reading this book made me think about death in a different way. When somebody dies, we grieve, we make preparations for a funeral, we bury them, pray that they rest in peace and carry on with our lives. But what happens to the dead person? The book attempts to cover some of these questions and you can read more on their website.
As a Christian, I believe that death is not the end, it is a separation from earth and current relationships, but there's more. I believe that Jesus Christ conquered death on the cross, and I have accepted Him into my life, then I am sure that after I die, I will see Him again. I will go to heaven and live with Him there for eternity. It doesn't mean that the prospect of death is not scary but I have this confidence that I have a far more wonderful experience after I leave earth.
Being conscious of what happens when I die means I am now more aware of how I live. If this world is all there is to life, then we can do whatever we like, live our lives without any obligations to anybody, satisfy ourselves with all the pleasures we can think of, etc. But if I know that my choices and actions here on earth will determine where I spend eternity, then it's up to me to ensure that I live right, according to God's principles. And I am ready to face Him, even if my life ends today.
So if I asked you: where would you be after you die, what would your answer be?
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Copyright © FG 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
So instead of "always a bridesmaid, never a bride", my own issue is quite the opposite - I've been the bride, never the bridesmaid!
I know there's a lot of stress involved, there are outfits to buy, accesories to coordinate, a bridezilla to deal with, a bridal shower to plan and all that, but I want to experience it all, at least once!
Okay I need to do something quickly to rectify this... let me start contacting all my friends getting married in the next few months. Then I need to start praying for my other single friends to meet their husbands really soon so I can be asked to be a bridesmaid.
Ok, I'm off to do just that.
I'll be right back.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I've had quite an eventful week, starting last valentine weekend. Hubby and I usually go out for dinner on valentine's day but this time we decided to stay in instead. In the morning, we exchanged gifts, cards and kisses -and in the evening, I made us a nice home-cooked three course meal. Hubby loved it a lot and said my cooking was better than any restaurant meal he had eaten! That's great, cos that means I'll experiment a bit more and surprise him with another fancy meal soon. So that's how I spent my valentine's day and I couldn't have wished for anything better :)
I got back into the swing of things with my writing this week and made progress which I'm pleased about. I still feel like I'm going much slower than I want to so I've set myself a deadline of March 30th to finish the first draft of my novel. (By God's Grace!) There, now that I've put that date on this blog, I hope I'll have the added incentive to accomplish it!
I've been missing my baby sister all week. (She's not really a baby anymore, but I'm four years older than her - so even when she's 60 she'll still be my little sister). I really need to give her a call soon, I've run out of excuses and yahoo messenger just doesn't cut it anymore. Besides, I have this feeling that she needs to talk to me, just as much as I need to talk to her. Isn't it funny when you call someone for no reason, there's usually something important happening in their lives that they need to tell you?
Something else came up this week, hubby got a new job - yay! I'm really proud of him and thrilled with his progress. This new job is based in London though - so- you guessed it! We might have to move back into London soon. Now, me and London have a funny love/hate relationship. I moved out of London in 2004 and have quite happily settled into a cosy arrangement where I visit London once in a while to do what I need but don't have to deal with all the hassle of living there. It's a useful place - lots of friends and family live there, I can get access to Nigerian food shops, my writing class and most networking events happen in Central London, I used to work there, etc etc. But there are downsides too, which I'm not looking forward to. Anyway we'll see how it goes. Hubby doesn't start the job until the end of April so we've got time to sort ourselves out. Time enough for me to get over my reservations.
I'm planning to have a quiet and productive weekend, fingers crossed! I'm reading a book at the moment, The Evidence Against Her which is something very different from what I usually read, but it's interesting and I hope I learn lots of useful stuff from it. Have a great weekend too, whatever you do!
Monday, February 9, 2009
1) I’m very shy and quiet when I’m in a crowd of unfamiliar people. But with my close friends, I’m playful and talkative.
2) I process information for weeks. For example, I could watch a movie on Monday, and still be analysing every scene a week later. Or I could read a book and be thinking of an alternative ending to the story 2 months later.
3) I'm such a keeper. I hold on to emails, letters, text messages and birthday cards for as long as possible. I still have letters my friends wrote to me when we were in secondary school, birthday cards from three years ago and more.
4) I would rather spend money on experiences like travelling, enjoying good food, going to see plays and shows than buying stuff. I think life is for living, not for accumulating material things that only depreciate. For example, I would rather spend £2000 on a nice holiday than on the latest “IT” bag.
5) I love listening to music. Even when I'm working, I have to have some kind of music playing in the background, or in my head. Can't stand absolute silence.
6) I learn songs quickly. I can hear a song twice and learn all the lyrics off by heart. Sometimes this is good, because people are impressed when I know the latest songs off by heart already. Sometimes it is annoying because I pick up songs that I don't even want to.
7) I try to avoid getting addicted to anything. When I realise I have started liking something too much, I stop doing it immediately.
8) I have a terrible sweet tooth. I love things like ice-cream, chocolates, yoghurt hmmmm.... Never put me and cake alone in the same room.
9) I am a night owl by nature. That explains why I’m awake at 2.43am typing this. That also explains why I hated the 9 – 5 work routine.
10) I recently cut all my hair and decided to start over. I realised perms and weaves don’t work for me.
11) I can be so disorganised, procrastinating with work even when I have deadlines fast approaching.
12) I have a very low boredom threshold. (I’m already getting tired of this meme).
13) I am very loyal to the people I really care about.
14) I have just started learning how to drive. Hey, better late than never!
15) I admire naturally fashionable and stylish people but I’m quite clueless with throwing things together and coming up with a striking outfit. Who can help a sister out?
16) I love reading books and magazines. My dream holiday would be: sun, sand, sea and a heap of good reading material.
17) I'm very indecisive but I can be very stubborn once I’ve made up my mind.
18) I absolutely hate feeling guilty. I would go out of my way to avoid upsetting anyone, and if I have then I’ll apologise at once.
19) The worst thing a person can do is to betray my trust.
20) I’m not really a TV person. I don’t watch many shows because they require commitment to follow. And I don’t like watching the news; most of it is depressing stuff anyway.
21) I’m obsessed with my kitchen and bathroom. I don’t care much if every other room in the house is untidy but I can’t stand a dirty kitchen or bathroom.
22) I like cooking and trying new recipes. Dear hubby gets to eat all my experiments – good or bad ;)
23) I usually spend ages brushing my teeth, often more than thirty minutes. (Totally random, yeah?) Well, actually that’s because I’m daydreaming at the same time.
24) I love photography – just haven’t found the time and commitment to focus on it.
25) I love God and I’m complete in Him.
I thought I should throw in a few extras:
26) I love travelling! I love the planning, the anticipation, and the excitement of discovering a new place, a new culture, trying new food, etc! And I love taking photographs and collecting souvenirs. *Sigh* If I could get a job as a travel writer, that would be just perfect.
27) I love seafood - give me shrimp, prawns, mussells, squid, scallops etc over chicken or beef any day. When I eat out I check for seafood on the menu first.
28) I'm a gadget girl. I love getting a new gadget and getting to grips with it, reading the instruction manual and what not.
29) I really want to learn a foreign language - French, Spanish and Italian top my list.
30) I'm still not sure if I want to have kids..... Oops, did I just type that, the in-laws mustn't read this...
YOU'VE BEEN TAGGED IF YOU READ THIS!!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I've learnt not to let the sun go down on my anger.
I've learnt that what matters is not really my comfort, but what I have been called to do.
I've learnt that I need to let go of my pride.
I've learnt that I need to be more patient.
I've learnt that I cannot expect to live without God's strength.
I've learnt that money is good, but it should not be abused.
I've learnt that I am inherently selfish and I need God to help me deal with that.
I've learn that I can't or shouldn't even try to hide from God.
I've learnt that even when I don't understand the situations I find myself, God is still in control.
I've learnt that I need God's grace to carry out the tasks ahead of me.
I've learnt that I have been called to serve others, not the other way round.
I've learnt that God is never late, He's always on time.
I've learnt again, that God is faithful even when I'm not.
I've learnt that God is absolutely crazy about me!
Who would like to know the story behind the whole list of lessons I've been learning? lol. I had been having a rough time in the week and a half, feeling angry and disappointed with God, stressed out and tense, etc. At the beginning of the year, I prayed that I didn't want to fall sick this year. And guess what? I went down with the flu last week, just at the time when my parents-in-law were coming to stay with us!
It wasn't my best week, I can tell you that. I was stressed out, tense and worrying over every little detail. And to make matters worse, hubby and I had a series of arguments that had no head and no tail, which is very unusual because we hardly ever argue.
I got fed up of feeling awful yesterday morning and decided to have a lengthy conversation with God. And while searching for answers to all the many questions in my heart, God really spoke to me and reminded me that all I needed was His strength. But most of all, He restored my peace of mind and my joy.
Meanwhile January, the first month of 2009 is gone! Did I blink and miss it? lol. I have a few things to accomplish this month, mostly to do with my writing, so I will start working harder on it. I don't want to wake up and realise it's April and I'm still making excuses for my slow progress. I updated my writing blog today so please check it out and leave a comment. Thanks!
I wish you a really great month of February!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Our journey began early in the morning at 7.00am. We wanted to set out of Lagos early so that we could get to Ghana before night. Our first stop was at a petrol station to fill our tank to the brim, then we headed towards Badagry. It took us about two hours to get to Seme, which is the border between Nigeria and Benin Republic. The border was bustling with people, as travellers mingled with traders and hawkers. There was also a brisk trade in currency exchange going on, as people needed different currencies to trade between borders. Crossing the border was relatively smooth. We had to get some documents to take the car out of the country, then customs officials asked to check our luggage and made a few other checks and within thirty minutes, we passed through “no man’s land” (which is the small space between the two official borders) and crossed into Benin Republic.
The public riders wear a visibility vest to distinguish them from private riders. They also have a lane for bikes on their roads which is really useful, so they don’t run into the path of cars, like the riders do in Lagos. Apart from that, the only other notable difference was the French language. I could take a photo in Cotonou and if you didn’t know, you would not be able to tell that I was outside Nigeria.
We journeyed on, passing through Cotonou and driving towards the other side of the country. We passed a number of small towns and villages on the way. Our journey through Benin was relatively uneventful, we ate snacks we bought at the border and watched the countryside as we drove by. The next border we had to cross was the Benin-Togo border. Again, we had to go through the documentation checks, the driver had to fill out paperwork for the car and so on. While we were waiting, I started to take photos, but I was told that it was illegal to take photos at the border and if an official saw me, my camera would be seized! I promptly put my camera and snap-happy finger away until we had crossed into Togo. Here are some photos I managed to take:
Togo is quite a small country and it took us less than an hour to get across it. We drove mostly along the coastline and we could see the Atlantic ocean and the nice beaches.
We soon got to the Togo-Ghana border and again had to go through a time-consuming process of getting paperwork for the car, then customs checked our luggage again. Eventually we were clear to go and we got into the border town of Aflao. The road was a bit rough for a few miles but it was under constriction so we soon left the bad bit behind and enjoyed a smooth ride into Accra. We passed by several police and customs check points on the way, checking that we had the right documentations, and checking our luggage time and time again. I have to say though, that I thought the police in Ghana had a friendly attitude that Nigerian ones don’t have!
We took a short break before we entered into Accra, stopping at a filling station to stretch our feet and buy a few snacks from the small supermarket. My sister had an MTN sim card, and we had been told it would work in Ghana so we had loaded it with enough credit before we left home. We were glad and surprised to realise that it cost less to call Nigeria from Ghana, than making calls within Nigeria!
Around 7pm we got into Accra, just before it started getting dark. We drove past Accra Mall (the equivalent of Palms Mall in Lagos), the Presidential residence, a busy market (I can’t remember the name) and a few other places of interest. I noticed that the traffic was orderly, the streets of Accra were very clean, all the traffic lights worked, and there were very few bikes on the roads. We didn’t stop because we still had a journey of almost 130 kilometres to cover before we get to Elmina. Some photos of Accra:
We arrived at Elmina around 9pm, by this time it was already dark so we couldn't see much of the coastal town. We went straight to our hotel, where we checked in. We were given the family suite which was really nice. We all had a shower and ordered dinner from the restaurant. The menu was good – we had fried rice with a really nice chicken and vegetable stew, as well as beans and fried plantain. After dinner, my sisters and I started watching a Nollywood movie but before long, we turned it off and went to bed.
We left the resort with my dad’s friend who is a tour operator, to see the main attraction in this part of Ghana which is Elmina Castle. It’s one of the many forts built by the Portuguese when they first came to Africa to establish trade links. But in the 17th century it became a depot for the transatlantic slave trade and its dungeons housed many slaves captured from all over West Africa to be shipped to the Americas. (You can read more about the castle and it's history here).
I won't bore you with all the other grisly details that I saw and heard about during the tour of both castles, but its a trip I would recommend to everyone who wants to know more about Black history. At the end of that day, my sister mentioned that it made her appreciate the presidency of Barack Obama even more.
The rest of our holiday went well, the next day we visited Fort St. Jago before we left Elmina and went to Accra. We had fun in Accra, hanging out with two of our friends who took us to lunch, a short tour of the city and chilled out in a nice bar afterwards. By the time we got back to our hotel it was very late. And because we had to get up early in the morning, we decided to call it a night.
The next morning, we packed our stuff into the car and began the long drive back to Lagos. In all, it was a lovely experience and I would definitely visit Ghana again, but next time I'll fly!