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Mossonyi in Nigeria

As I said before, my trip to Nigeria was one to reconnect with family. As I’m originally from Nigeria, this post won’t completely be from a tourists’ perspective but I will try my best to give clear instructions about navigating your way around if you do decide to visit. My family resides in Abuja which is the city where I was born and raised. With my last visit being circa six years ago, I decided it was to go back to the motherland. We thought Easter would be a great time to visit as most people would be on holidays which would also give us the chance to travel to our country home in Anambra State.

The Journey

With Abuja airport being closed down for renovations we had to fly through Lagos which was a first for me. If you’re like me who likes things to work as they should, then my advice to you would be to avoid going through Lagos. The system at the airport is designed to extort money from you. The whole experience reminded me a lot of some of the reasons why I left Nigeria. There were so many unnecessary checks and stops with each person asking at every chance “anything for me?” Another term for “do you have some money for me?” It is very disgusting how people paid to do a job get to behave in such an unprofessional manner. I made a point of it not to give them a penny. If you do, you’ll end up broke even before your holidays begin. The unnecessary checks means your flights will always be delayed and not to mention how poor the state of the airport is. Thank goodness we only spent a night there. The following day we flew to the East to head to my village in Anambra State. There we spent Easter with extended family members and captured static and motion pictures for my blog and vlog. We really enjoyed our time here as we were surrounded by nature and great food. If you’re looking to explore Nigeria as a foreigner, I’d advise you have a trusted Nigerian indigene to accompany on your travels as it’ll make navigating your way a lot easier. We visited Nkwo market, the Church and took long walks. We felt very much at home here.

Transportation

Sticking with one driver to take you around is always a good idea. Taxis seem to be the main mode of transportation in cities like Lagos and Abuja. Lagos has Uber which means you can download the app and get exploring. We were lucky to have my kid brother assume the role of our chauffeur in the city. You have the option to take public transportation like buses or shared mini yellow cabs. My brother told me about the existence of a train line which operates from Abuja to Kaduna where we initially planned on going to spend some time at Kajuru Castle but couldn’t make it in the end. We hope to hop on this train during our next visit.

Things To Do

Abuja was our next stop. A place where we would spend a lot of our time. Having arrived after a road trip lasting at least eight hours, we were in the company of immediate family. And for the first few days we were stuck at home babysitting my sister’s kids who were a handful to say the least. To avoid not exploring the city, we had to come up with a way of incorporating the kids into our movements. We took them swimming at Transcorp Hilton Hotel which has a lovely atmosphere. You’ll find a lot of tourists here and most likely pay at least five times the amount if you so decide to purchase anything. If you’re on a budget like myself then you’ll be better of eating and drinking before visiting the poolside or bringing some light snacks and drinks along with you. At night time you can enjoy good food, live music and drinks at the hotel bar. Just beware of how unprofessional the artists are as they’ll approach you for some money, lol. Another spot to hang out at night is Beer Ban where you can play pool as well as eat and drink. Something worth noting is that smoking is permitted indoors in Nigeria so you’ll be inhaling a lot of secondhand smoke while in bar type spots. Abuja is full beautiful of streets with big mansions but I wanted to capture the essence of it’s roots which is why my images showcase more of the culture. My brother took us to Life Camp where we found a Fulani settlement with beautiful hut houses. We also visited the Arts and Crafts Village where I purchased a lovely straw hat for the equivalent of £2. It is the best place to buy hand made cultural pieces. Be sure to always bargain as the prices aren’t set in stone. We also visited the Zoo. Although, I must say, the scenery was more exciting than the animals we encountered.

Food

We enjoyed a lot of good food. Lucky for us we had a Suya joint right next to our family home. Suya is basically roasted spicy meat accompanied with rich organic vegetables. Craig thought this to be the best meal ever. I also got him to try one of my personal favourite, Sharwama. It is a popular Lebanese delicacy made in Abuja. It’s a crunchy wrap made with well spiced meat, vegetables and mayonnaise sauce. The best place to get tasty Sharwama is Chicken Capitol. There are so many restaurants offering Nigerian delicacies which you come across while going about. If you prefer continental meals, then places like Chicken Republic might have you covered.

My Experience

All in all, going to Nigeria was a great experience for me. I got a chance to reconnect with family and show Craig my roots. I used to have a love hate relationship with the country but challenged myself to revisit the things I once used to hate to see where I stand. I’m happy to say I’ve made peace with it all. Find out more about my journey in my Nigerian vlog.

April 29, 2017
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My week has been full of travelling. We first set off last Wednesday night by train to London where we caught our flight to Nigeria the following morning. Only that we had to first make a stop in Instanbul and then board a flight to Lagos. We arrived Nigeria on Thursday night. I had almost forgotten what it was like to be here until we quickly got reminded by a hustler at Murtala Mohammed airport who wanted $50 from us in the name of “fast track”. You’ll be pleased to know that we did not succumb to his antics. Within two hours in the country, I asked Craig his impression and he said all I can see is everyone exchanging money for something, lol. Welcome to Nigeria! We spent the night in Lagos where my brother met up with us. He ordered the best Dominos pizza ever. It was called the chicken suya pizza. The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and headed to the airport where we had to board our flight to Enugu, again, not without a lot of kerfuffle. We arrived at the airport to find a delay with the check in due to the bizarre luggage control system. After checking in at the counter, you still need to follow your luggage to make sure it gets checked in. After clearing security and arriving at the plane, you still need to make sure your luggage arrived to be boarded on the plane. We had to identify our luggage before taking our seats. In the end our flight was delayed for an hour. While flying, Craig got a chance to see Nigeria from the sky and was mesmerised by how beautiful it looked.

We arrived at Enugu after less than an hour from take off where we caught up with my other brother who drove us down to my hometown, Alor in Anambra State. There we met my parents and other extended family who had been awaiting our visit. As a kid, we usually traveled down there almost every year for Christmas. I remember dreading it because it was such a long drive and I found it quite dull and deserted. But after living in Manchester all these years and taking up photography, I have started to appreciate nature a lot more. We stayed at our family home which was surrounded by different kind of trees. Craig was excited to explore the town and took long morning walks with my brother who showed him Nkwo market and other monuments. We had a lot of guests coming to the house to see us. There was loads to eat and drink and we didn’t waste any time tucking in. It was good to see really old family photos which brought back a lot of memories. On Easter day, I and Craig got shown how to hold a live chicken which was the one of highlights of my visit. Craig got to see animals he had never seen before and hear the crickets at night. He also experienced proper rain which he thought was very meditative as it made beautiful sounds when it hit the roofs and tree leaves surrounding us. On Easter Monday, we were back on the road. This time heading to Abuja, the city where I was born and raised which is where I’ll see you lot in next weeks posts. 

April 19, 2017
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