Friday, January 9, 2009

Trip Summary and Observations

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.


  1. Happy New Year, Favoured Girl!

    It sounds like you're going to have a busy 2009 and I look forward to following along on the journey.

    Hmm, some people here are all about cars too. Like you, I have never gotten excited over a metal box that gets me from A to B :)

    I want to hear more about meeting Chimamanda and visiting Ghana!

  2. The bathroom and kitchen has to be correct in my house (the rest too) but they ALWAYS got to be clean... Get me? I can't even express why they just have to... Lol - I'll leave it at that.

    Happy New Year x

  3. Happy New Year...

    I once read about relating our parlour/rooms/kitchen/loo thing to our lives. Outside, people pretend, try to look like nice or rich people when inside they are not. I hope that article was not right...

  4. Glad you had fun in naija...

    Yep people love cars in naija and the richer you are the flashier your car for most people...

    As per kitchen and bathroom, i think i am going to differ o, most pple i know keep their kitchens and bathrooms clean, i would even say i pay more attention to our rooms than the living room. I guess for most people though, since the living room is the first place a guest sees, they just concentrate more effort there...
    I'm a clean freak so i can't stick anywhere being dirty in my house..

    More power to you girl! May you finish your novel in 2009 and may our books get published!

  5. i also pay more attention to my kitchen and bathroom.. baale (hubby) is particular about the living that is his baby...

    our bedroom sadly suffers cuz by the time i am done with the kitchen and bathroom i am usually tired..but thank God today i tackled it!

    oh now i feel a bit strange cuz i thanked God on my blog for buying our first car in i saw it as an achievement...but i don't see it as a status symbol.

  6. p.s we are waiting for your book oh!

  7. bathroom & kitchen, bathroom & kitchen!!!!!!! Can't say it loud enough!

    These are the things I check before I rent a house. Gosh, the bathroom just has to be clean. And the kitchen too.

    Right now I live with a couple of 'messy' girls :) so it is a test of my patience and love. Lol.

    Glad you had fun in Naig!

  8. Makes 2 of us that went to naija and Ghana! Were you in Accra or Kumasi or somewhere else?

    I feel you on the Church thing..and to add that..I enjoyed the praise no lie...the worship part...didnt work for me...

  9. A car is not an asset, its a liability, people need to understand that.

    Churches in 9ja. I love the praise 7 worship, but shouting preachers; no way.

    The bathroom must always be clean.

  10. i don't know y i tot u lived in lagos. infact, i was even confused by d post n d beginning. i can't find something to say n d favour of ur opinion abt naija, as am presently not enjoying my time here n lagos. but n abuja, na effizzy wan kill dem. all of dem imagine demselves to b on d pages of vogue. 4 most pple sha.

    but it seems u enjoyed ur holiday. u really had it packed with fun actitivies. way 2 go, babe.

    been at ur other blog.y, u r not updating it. wetin na?

  11. I agree with you about the nigerian church thing. glad you enjoyed naija. Happy new year!

  12. Hmmm, Nigeria - tomorrow's leading nation. Won't you be glad you are a part of her?

  13. yes o...the car thing is so true..and its an african thing, not sure about the northern part of africa tho..i cant stand a messy kitchen or bathroom and an untidy room..does that make me a cleanfreak like writefreak..? i guess..what you said tho can be true for the older generation..that always wants to be "prresentable"...
    glad u enjoyed ur trip.

  14. Happy New Year FG! welcome back, sounds like you had a blast! Very happy for you. Thanks for checking on me in november, been so busy with everything and nothing.
    Its great to have you back, patiently awaiting pictures,and more of JDTA.
    Have a very fulfilling year

  15. Happy New Year FG! welcome back, sounds like you had a blast! Very happy for you. Thanks for checking on me in november, been so busy with everything and nothing.
    Its great to have you back, patiently awaiting pictures,and more of JDTA.
    Have a very fulfilling year

  16. Thanks for your comments guys, sorry I've been slow in updating!


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