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Saturday, 4 January 2014
My Impressions of Nigeria by Efua Armstrong
This post features a Ghanaian (Efua Armstrong)'s impressions of Nigeria based on a 3 night stay in Lagos...
I think it’s only fair that I write a sequel post to my Nigerian friend’s impressions about Ghana. In any case, I think it’s wiser to put in a disclaimer that his post may be more interesting and richer in experiences than mine because he has lived in Ghana for close to 4 years while I only spent 3 nights in Lagos.
I arrived in Lagos in the company of my Rotaract/Rotary friends. The immediate sentiment I felt upon arrival into this new environment is that of constant haste, hustle, and a general lack of patience for anything more especially sluggish driving. I always thought that if one could drive in Accra, they could drive anywhere but I’m yet to edit that thought. Also, Ghanaians are law abiding as compared to Nigerians..I think crossing the red light in Nigeria is legal!
We arrived late and were driven all the way to Lagos Island where we ended up in a place called Freedom Park; a former prison now converted to a recreational park where concerts etc are held. A memorial concert for Mandela going on there when we arrived. I was so famished that I couldn’t wait to eat something…then out of nowhere came the menu with the famous word “swallow” …okay so what’s this “swallow” that is supposed to be food and not an action necessarily?.. I soon found out that “swallow” is supposed to be a ball of cooked starch that is to be eaten with either soup or sauce. (Please help me out with a better definition of “swallow” if I didn’t get it quite right)..
Moving on, I had the chance to interact with our young Nigerian friends and I realized a common characteristic that they all had…Nigerians are persistent and would press until they have what they want. Coming from Ghana and being used to the laid back “lets give it to God” kind of attitude, the Nigerian adamant and persistent attitude made a strong impression on me. But on a more serious note, Ghanaians are laid back and aloof that sometimes is scary! We are indifferent about so many things, a typical example that I constantly wonder about is how foreigners had the audacity to come in, steal our natural resources and still have the guts to shoot locals who tried to stop them! God! would Ghanaians have gone scot free else where if they had done the same thing?!
Lagos is beautiful but also highly stratified so that one immediately knows when they are in a rich neighborhood and a not too wealthy one. The stratified society is not one to confuse. You need no cursory glance to realize it. You just see people and vehicles and infrastructure that inform you of the “zone” you are in. I didn’t experience the Apartheid system but something about Lagos helped me appreciate what I had read about Apartheid better.
In the midst of all this, I had my personal confusions. The whole Niara Cedi conversion confused me and led me to commit the gravest mistakes I think I ever made in a while. Back at our hotel, I had the chance to bond with people in my train that I hadn’t bothered to get to know and also fool some more with ones I had exceeded the stage of formal pleasantries.
Lagos was fun, gave me a different cultural experience, new friends, a chance to serve humanity with Rotary/rotaract and a better appreciation of novels I had read from different Nigerian writers.
Once again, this is a one sided impression of a country and its people based on a 3 night’s stay. I generalized a lot and judged a whole country based on conclusions I drew from only being in only one part of the whole country so I’m open to corrections/more light being shed on certain aspects as well as more details!
I’m waiting for your comments Dimeji!..
To read Dimeji's Impressions of Ghana on Efua's blog, click here
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