…the city that never sleeps
Lagos is undoubtedly the largest city in sub-Saharan West Africa. With a whooping population of about 21 million, the city still has more than enough room to accommodate foreigners/tourists from across the globe.
I recall my mother telling me fascinating and interesting stories about her eight (8) year stay in Nigeria’s capital, Lagos, as a teacher. She always gushed about their local foods, their friendliness, their ‘notorious’ cunning and outspoken nature (which is obviously no news to Ghanaians). I managed to make quite a few Lagos friends here in Ghana, but that didn’t satisfy the intense desire to explore my ‘mysterious’ new love and for some weird reasons I could feel the spirit of Nigeria calling out to my soul. I’m sure most you are wondering what at all could be so special about another West African country almost similar to Ghana? Well, we’re just about to figure that out.
And just like I was under a spell; I woke up one Friday morning and decided to book a flight to Nigeria. My departure was scheduled for the next day (Saturday, 5:30pm) and my excitement definitely knew no bounds; I felt like I had won a million dollar lottery.
At about 8:30pm, the last flight (AWA) headed from Accra-Lagos finally arrived in Murtala Mohammed Airport (Nigeria’s international airport named after General Murtala Ramat Muhammed, the military ruler of Nigeria from 1975 until his assassination in 1976) after an hour and a few minutes of delay at the kotoka international airport. After a very rough and scary landing, we finally made our way off the plane. Ooohh my! I could feel the strong Lagos wind of welcome all around me; I knew I had ventured into a different territory when an airport official spoke to me in a very harsh Nigerian accent. His approach was quite bold and a little unexpected but that definitely shook me to the core and got me confused at the immigration point. After a few minutes of going round in circles, I finally made it out of the airport with my luggage still intact. I walked into a large crowd of wild drivers clad in the famous traditional Nigerian wear; each one of them eager to assist. Some pushy men came on to me with mobile phones, literally forcing me make a phone call to my ‘supposed host’. Not knowing where to go nor which direction to turn to, I followed a barge of individuals to a car park adjacent the beautiful and well lit water fountain at the airport. I spoke to one of the drivers who agreed to take me to my hotel (which apparently was off the mainland) at a 7000 Naira charge… how convenient!
EKO HOTEL AT LAST!
Let’s face it… Nigerians are counted among the most feared people across the globe. U.S president Donald Trump couldn’t hide that fact in his infamous ‘travel ban’ in which Nigeria was indicated. Despite the notable Ghana-Nigeria connection, the fear of the latter cannot be denied and this is primarily because of the excessive ‘juju’ and murders portrayed mostly in some movies. In addition, Nigerians are known to be high time scammers and it’s believed that ‘cyber fraud’ popularly known as ‘sakawa’ in Africa begun in Nigeria…but let’s not accept these perceptions yet because I met some of the friendliest people on earth in Nigeria!
As I relaxed in the back seat of the rented car, I kept praying to God in my heart for safety because there I was (with my faux locks held up stylishly in a kente head wrap) with an unknown man in a country I have never been before. Bizarre Images of kidnaps and murder rushed through my mind which made me visibly terrified but for some reasons, I managed to stay calm. The third mainland bridge engulfed in all the lights and serene atmosphere was a beauty to behold! It was incredibly long and very well tarred which made it convenient for drivers to commute between the Lagos mainland and island. After twenty (20) minutes of what seemed like an endless drive, we finally arrived at the plush Eko Hotel and Suites located on the Victoria Island. The gigantic beauty is said to have hosted countless wealthy and powerful guests from across the world and whoever designed its plan was indeed a genius!
Suite no. S304 was assigned to me after wasting several minutes checking in with receptionist (whose name I should have taken for his profound kindness and assistance). I dipped myself into a nice warm bath at almost 11:00pm, got all dressed up and ready to explore night life on the island but to do that I’d need a good guide/company and a driver. No other name rung louder than that of my good old buddy, Ehiziojie Okoeguale fondly addressed as “Dadaboy Ehiz” (the happiest presenter in Nigeria), Host of MTVBase Naija, a well acclaimed professional in the Nigerian creative arts industry who has managed to work his way into the hearts of many entertainment lovers across the globe plus he is an amazing individual who seeks the interest of others first before his own…enough about him!
Okay now back to the subject of discussion… Ehiz got to my suite at about 10 mins to midnight with his famous locks on full display after I reached out to him via WhatsApp. We launched into a deep conversation about Nigeria and the cool places yet to be seen; he made mention of the incredible beaches and amazing wildlife to see but honestly, I was only interested in seeing the slums in Lagos as portrayed in wizkid’s ‘Ojuolegba’ music video. I found myself dozing off amidst the conversation and Ehiz upon seeing that dashed out of the room for an event he was supposed to host.
SUNRISE, COFFEE AND THE TOUR!
Curtains flew wide open at about 8am, inviting in the beautiful rays of sun which kissed gently on my face (a sign of good things to come). I took a quick shower, had some coffee, said my prayers and stepped out to explore Lagos Island all by myself.
The island is said to house most of the richest folks and businesses in the country. Hosting just a percentage of the Nigerian population, it still looked crowded and very busy. In the quest to convert some few cedi notes to Naira, I was directed to the Eko Traders Association which was just across the street from the hotel. Realizing immediately from my accent that I was Ghanaian, the traders immediately warmed up to me and gave me the best rate. Well truth is, some were only interested in cheating the innocent young lady but the genuine ones popped up and came to my rescue. On the list of places to see, I first decided to go to the Ikoyi mall to see for myself if the shoppers had similar characteristics to those in my motherland. Aye! Talk of massive window shoppers, the blind date lovers and the human strollers… Naija no dey carry last!
NIGERIAN JOLLOF AT LAST!
A plate of jollof rice with grilled chicken please! I responded as the cute waiter bent over for my order. Well, truth is Nigeria has some fine collection of men and what’s funny is, they aren’t the ones we see on TV. Large grain rice, little salt, too much pepper and no spice to taste; perfect definition of what I was served… it would take three (3) extra plates of proper Ghanaian Jollof to wipe out the Naija taste from my taste buds…oh! How I craved for some Adabraka Waakye with some plenty shito alongside some soft wele…
HARD ROCK CAFÉ!
…After a drive within the city, I made my way back to the suite in time to get myself together for dinner. On my way back, I couldn’t help but notice the tiny islands of slums beyond the third mainland bridge which reminded me so much of Nima, mamobi, fadama and some parts of Accra Newtown back in the city of Accra. Moving forward; I freshened up changed into some hot pants, a thin strapped top and a peach kimono. Before I could say jack! Dadaboy, was at the door looking all simple but classy in a pair of Jeans and a white Tee and we made our way straight to the famous Hard Rock Café. Chai! There’s nothing like rolling in Lagos with a celebrity; you get all the VIP treatment and the necessary attention you need o! Hahahhaha
A fine establishment situated on a sea shore, wooden floors, vintage designs and costumes of past and present legends hanged beautifully in glass frames… yes! Just like I saw in Dbanj’s ‘Emergency’ music video; Hard Rock café embodied classiness and simplicity with the perfect touch of lighting giving it the obvious look of an acknowledged international establishment.
Truth be told, Nigeria has the best collection of beautiful women who are very well acquainted with the art of Make-up. I think the only difference between Ghanaian and Nigerian women with all honesty is that, they are natural slay queens who can ‘beat’ their faces to the desired level of perfection but with that taken away, I think Ghanaian women are undoubtedly more fabulous. Salute!
The party got started at the beach with lots of beautiful people to socialize with, Great music from an exceptional DJ (of whom I forgot to enquire), enough drinks available to go on multiple rounds and being the only Ghanaian present at that particular moment made it much easier for me to make some more Naija friends; speak of hospitality at its best! Here’s the thing guys; I’m not really into these celebrity- fan stuff but only for the music duo P-square, I wouldn’t mind screaming my head off in a second. Yo! I’ve been there from the days of get squared – gimme that – temptation – ifunanya- no one like you straight to the trending ‘Nobody Ugly’ so I know what I’m saying. So something really sad happened to me, I was informed at the beach that the duo were present and just when I was about to say “oh I would like to meet them”…my phone went dead! So then what’s the point in meeting them if you can’t take a picture? And with all the disappointment in my heart, I immediately had dinner, said my good byes and left the premises. What a shame! Hahaha. It was almost midnight when my uber driver dropped me off at my suite but looking at streets of Lagos from the café, it felt exactly like 8pm.
To be continued…
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Nana Yaa Asabea.