Hey guys! Hope you've all had a great week and a wonderful start to the year. I think I need something to jolt me back into reality. I've been back from Lagos since last Wednesday but it seems my brain is still in holiday mode. It's been slow to get back into my usual routine, well until yesterday. A friend came to stay the night, so I had to get up and get active.
I've got lots of stuff to do. I feel like I carried over most of my goals from 2008, so I have to step up my gear a bit with accomplishing my targets. I have a few new goals for this year though, one of which is to finally start driving in the UK! Here's hoping I achieve that. I started the process last year but I got distracted towards the end of the year. I also want to take my writing up another notch, aim to finish my first novel this year and start working on a second one. But one thing at a time.... I still have a way to go with catching up on my favourite blogs and entries from the last three weeks, so I'll be back in full mode next week.
I had a great time in Lagos with family and friends. My schedule was really tight so unfortunately I didn't get to meet any bloggers like I did last year. I attended a few sallah parties, two weddings, the Farafina literary event (where I met Chimamanda - yay!!) a friend's bbq, two Christmas parties and organised a get-together with my sisters. Add to that, meeting up with friends, reunions, and a trip to Ghana, all adding up to a busy time. It was lovely though, doing everything in the searing heat of Lagos. As soon as we got off the plane, myself and my fellow passengers didn't waste time in shedding all the coats, sweaters and other layers of clothing. It was a relief to go out of the house without checking the weather report first. I tell you, being back in the cold weather is not fun! Since I got back, I have hardly gone out in the last week, apart from the very necessary trips to the supermarket and post office. Even when I do, I have to wrap up in so many layers. The contrast is so amazing.
Fortunately for me, I didn't have the huge culture shock I experienced in 2007 but sometimes I saw things that struck me as odd about the culture in Nigeria. When I point out something, I get strange looks from people.
One thing that became really obvious to me was the way people in Nigeria regard cars as the ultimate status symbol. I found it strange that in church people give testimonies about how God has just blessed them with a brand new car. Or people count cars as part of their assets, for example, "that man is very rich, he has five cars". Companies also reward their employees with cars as part of their remuneration package. On the roads, scores of new flashy cars abound, and it seemed to me that people would rather drive around a flashy car than eat good food or live in a fine house. Somebody even told me that the kind of car you drive determines the amount of respect you get wherever you go. I found this strange but amusing, because to me, a car is just a vehicle to get you from one place to the other. As long as it works we're good to go. I guess it's a Nigerian thing!
Something else I noticed was when I go into people's houses, the living room is usually very well kept, nicely decorated and tidy. But the kitchen and the loo/bathroom is usually a totally different story! I don't get it. Why would you not want every room in your house to be presentable. It's as if people forget that guests also see other parts of your house, not just your living room. Personally I'm even more particular about my kitchen and bathroom than I am about any other room in the house. But that may just be me.
I was looking forward to attending church again, because I had missed the lively and bubbly praise worship sessions in Pentecostal churches, something I don't get in my church in the UK. But when I went to church I couldn't help but compare the different styles of teachings. After the service I didn't feel inspired or empowered at all. I felt like somebody had just shouted some instructions at me from the bible, with no explanation of how I was supposed to become a better Christian. I felt like I was expected to meet those high standards on my own. I also got the feeling that the leaders of the church carried themselves as if they were a little higher than the members so I could never hope to be one of them unless I attain a certain level of perfection. Now I may be wrong but those were the things that struck me.
Amusingly, I knew what to expect with stuff like making rapid, and I mean rapid telephone calls, NEPA and their frequent power cuts, the traffic in Lagos and the delightful mosquitoes. I just prepared myself mentally before hand. Still, a trip to Nigeria is never without its surprises. I'll talk more about that, and my trip to Ghana in the next post.
Hope you have a really nice weekend.