Friday, 9 December 2011

50 Things I’ll miss about Nigeria

The end of my placement in Nigeria is looming large. I have of course, been reflecting on  the time I have spent here and what I will/will not miss.

So here it is……      50 Things I’ll miss about Nigeria

1.       Slow graceful herds of white cattle grazing the undergrowth under the casual gaze of their herdsman who may/may not be peeing by the roadside as you drive past.

2.       Careering down the road to Oro in the Kia with the crooning Don Williams on the CD player actually, this belongs in my next list, I think – after a few dozen such trips.

3.       The genuinely warm greetings and wide smiles wherever you go – something we have lost.

4.       The synchronised head-turning of okada driver and pillion(s) as they  speed  past us.

5.       The courtesy and greetings of school children and their desperate desire to carry my bag.

6.       Small children in Old Cemetry Road running to give us high/low 5’s – and then you realise your hand is a bit slimy!

7.       Abdullahi the gate man, always glad to see me and ask where I am going today – even though the answer is always the same.

8.       Gbenga washing his uncle’s car outside our bedroom window at 5.30 every morning – who needs an alarm clock!

9.       Goats – everywhere, sporting the bit of rag/plastic bag that indicates their owner.

10.   The fantastic wet season electric storms.

11.   Black kites circling overhead at the Kwara hotel, viewing the oyibos in the pool and wondering if they are edible.

12.   The girls of Pakata school in their lemon and lime uniforms, waving,  calling out ‘Mr Lea!’ and coming into my office for chats.

13.   My training sessions with the teachers – usually appreciative, if there is food .

14.   Rough bus journeys to Offa  on the second worst road in the world and the unexpected – always!

15.   My walk from Offa central mosque to Moremi  High School and the people I met.

16.   The okada ride back to the bus garage (a shack) with no helmet- reminder of my youth when I had hair to feel the wind in.

17.   The relief and delight when NEPA comes back on and the water pump works – however briefly!

18.   Watching Premier League football live on satellite TV at Sue’s, trying to fend off the kids.

19.   Playing with Meg and Myesha  - full of fun and creative games.

20.   The spectacular faded grandeur of the big houses in Oro, some with a tomb in the front.

21.   The rare beauty spot – Water View and Sobi Hill – nice relaxing places to visit.

22.   Sunday morning drums and choir from ‘Powerful Prayer’ church – actually, another for the next list!  But I will sort of miss it, painting my Sunday mornings.

23.   The deep faith and belief that any good that befalls people is down to God.

24.   The fresh breeze that precedes a storm and the sound of torrential rain flowing off the roof.

25.   Heavily armed roadside police in knitted tank tops, grinning widely as they greet us – never did manage to acquire one.

26.   Being in the classroom – a real privilege.

27.   The unsubtle and simple sense of humour – so easy to make people laugh.

28.   The kids at Hope orphanage playing with toys and just wanting to be picked up.

29.   Discovering wine in a supermarket – and having enough money to buy it!

30.   Brightly painted roofs in primary colours

31.   Old trucks from the UK still with the names of their previous owners on the doors.

32.   Udofia, Elijah, James, Emmanuel  and Francis, our ever-cheerful, friendly  guards, always grateful for their tea and toast/biscuits/jollof rice.

33.   The neighbours singing ‘hymn book’ at 5.00 every morning – just prior to the car washing ceremony.

34.   Anna and Elizabeth and their mum in the roadside shack, and baby Bridget staring at me with terror just beneath the surface!

35.   The vegetable boy who supports Chelsea - and always overcharges us –but with a smile.

36.   Baba’s handshakes – never sure where my thumb should be but glad when I realise it is still attached!

37.   Trying to work out if African Magic is a great spoof or just chronic script-writing and acting.

38.   Oro Campus on a hill overlooking the town and surrounding bush savanna – quite a view!

39.   The chilly, foggy mornings during harmatan – refreshing.

40.   The cricket match that never was – but the training was fun.

41.   Writing my Blog and composing poems of Nigeria  – it has kept me sane and my mind active.

42.   Delivering workshops and preparing presentations – tiring but rewarding.

43.   Sunlight bursting into our dark apartment when I unlock in the morning – like a release from prison.

44.   Akara  and  sweetcorn takeaways for mid-morning snacks.

45.   The neighbours in our street, so welcoming and cheerful.

46.   Funmi’s opinionated chats and interesting takes on life!

47.   The joy people show when they take to your sense of humour.

48.   The ramshackle, dilapidated state of things which is rather endearing somehow.

49.   The remarkable sights you see on an okada – six people is my record (two on the petrol tank and a baby strapped to the back of its mother;  goat, enamel bath, plate glass window, cow’s head complete with horns, threatening to disembowel any pedestrians .

50.    Having the time just to think about things – situations, priorities, values.

51.  (- OK Maths was never a strong point). The SSIT - never in the field of educational training has so much hilarity been enjoyed by so many so often. I will miss them all greatly.

No comments:

Post a Comment