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Nigeria (Abuja & Lagos): 16 Days, 15 Nights


This is long post. I had to be detailed in describing my experience in a country I love so much that I had to get a tattoo of it on my back :).  Although, I was born and raised in Nigeria, Nigerians don’t think I’m a Nigerian. I always get the ‘You don’t look Nigerian or even talk like a Nigerian’. It used to piss me off but I no longer care.

On this trip, I visit Abuja – the capital of Nigeria, 2 northern states – Niger & Nassarawa states and Lagos. I used Uber and Taxify the whole time. Taxify is the Nigerian version of Uber. Choosing the cash option on both Uber and Taxify helped. If not, most drivers will cancel your trip.

Below is my itinerary for my 16 days visit to Nigeria aka Naija.



Day 26 (July 5, Thursday): Accra – Abuja
Airbnb (3 nights)
Depart Accra in the morning
Arrive in Abuja at noon

Left for the airport in Accra early. Flight was on time. You will be asked for your Yellow Fever Card upon arrival in Abuja. I got a taxi from the airport to my Airbnb in Maitama area. When I got to the Airbnb, I almost left immediately. The place looked cleaned but had the dampness feel to it plus the internet was not working. Since I didn’t have a local number and WhatsApp was my primary means of communication, I decided to go to the MTN office to buy data for the MIFI my dad gave to me.

Later in the day, I met up with a couchsurfer – Roberta for drinks and chat at a trendy bar in Maitama area called Traffic.

Day 27 (July 6, Friday): Day trip to Niger State
Zuma Rock & Guarara Falls


I was lucky prior to my trip to have discovered Motley Travels. I found out about them on a blog post by theajalabug. I decided to try them out; I was picked up by Mark (the owner of Motley Travels) at 11am. Our first stop was Zuma Rock. We went through the Golf Club by the rock and got close to the most famous rock in Northern Nigeria. The rock is famous because you can see a shape of a face. It was also rumored that a ghost/spirit exist in the rock. The rumor led to the abandonment of a hotel building beside Zuma Rock. The workers claimed they kept on hearing ‘voices’ so Hilton abandoned its almost completed building and moved to Maitama area.

After Zuma Rock, we went on to Guarara Falls. We were the only visitor there. The hike down is easy, just going down stairs. To move closer to the Falls, you would have to climb small/medium sized, sometimes slippery rocks. My pictures doesn’t capture the beauty of the Guarara Falls. It is totally gorgeous. We took a different route to leave the Falls, this route, you would have to climb fairly steep, slippery rocks. It is appropriate to wear sneakers or hiking shoes, a small backpack or fanny pack so you can climb without interference.


Guarara Falls & Zuma Rock are located in Niger State. You can see Zuma while in Abuja, it’s just on the border of Niger State and Abuja. Guarara on the other hand is further in Niger State, about two hours from Abuja. The roads are good until you get into Niger State and encounter a stretch of road under construction. It is about a 10-15 walk down to the falls once you get to the parking lot.

In the evening, I went to an old friend’s place to watch the soccer game – Brazil vs. Belgium. It was great meeting her family and re-connecting after 5 years.

Day 28 (July 7, Saturday): Day trip to Nassarawa State
Farin Ruwa Falls

Decided to take another trip with Motley Travels. My couchsurfer friend – Roberta came along. Farin Ruwa is located in Nassarawa State, it is not a piece of cake but worth it. It took 2hours 50 minutes to get to the road leading to Farin Ruwa. Then another 1 hour (road in deplorable condition) to the last village where you begin a 6km walk. You will have to walk through three streams before getting to the Farin Ruwa’s entrance.


It took us 25 minutes from the last village to the 1st stream which is knee length deep (I’m short – 5’3). 36 minutes from 1st to 2nd stream. 6 mins from 2nd to 3rd stream. 10 minutes from 3rd stream to the entrance and another 15 minutes of walking and climbing to the waterfalls from entrance. The most difficult walk for me was from the 1st to the 2nd stream – that had several places that was uphill. The 2nd and 3rd stream wasn’t deep, slightly above the ankle.

I promise you when I say the long walk (no intense climbing) was worth it. Farin Ruwa means White Water in the local language. I was impressed and beyond excited.

Note, we decided to take the longer way to the Falls, you have an option of taking a motorbike from the last village directly to the entrance but we wanted to walk J. On our way back though, we took the bike because we wanted to get back to Abuja before it got real late. We were picked up at 8am in the morning and arrived back at Abuja around 8.30pm.


Day 29 (July 8, Sunday): Abuja to Lagos
Jabi Lake Park
Usman Dam
Depart Abuja at 5pm
Arrive in Lagos at 6.30pm
Shrine (only stay to 9pm)

We decided to cross out Usman Dam because it was on the outskirt of town. We (Roberta and I) met up at Jabi Lake Park. Jabi Lake is an artificial lake that a park surrounds. It was commissioned sometimes during Obasanjo presidency so between 1999-2006). Beautiful to go on a stroll, jog or run or anything active. We stopped by Coco Café, which overlooks the Lake for chat and drinks.

I got back to the Airbnb and later to the airport. The flight was delayed for 2 hours with no explanation. I’m side eyeing Air Peace! Arrived in my favorite city in the whole wide world – Lagos, AKA Las Gidi at 8.20pm.


Got home, drooped my bag, had a change of clothes and headed out to The New African Shrine to watch Femi Kuti perform. So back in University when I was in Nigeria, I used to go to Shrine every Sunday to watch Femi play at Shrine. So it felt GREAT to experience this again. Femi was going on a tour so it was my last chance anyway to watch him before he left. One of my secondary (high) school friends met up with me there.

Day 30 (Monday, July 9): Lagos Mainland
Lunch at Amala Shitta 2pm (Surulere)

I wanted to relax this day so only went out to lunch at a popular Buka/Mama Put that is popular for my favorite food – Amala. Shitta is an area in Surulere. Surulere is in Lagos Island. There are several Amala joint in Shitta area but Olaiya Amala somehow became more known to people. Anyways, the food was good but way too pepperish (spicy), it felt like my mouth was on FIRE!!! The customer service sucks big time. So I most likely wouldn’t go back there.

I was told of another place in Surulere, close to Olaiya Amala called Amala Akinyemi. My Taxify driver said Amala Akinyemi had better tasting food than Olaiya so I would give that a try next time. Two of my friends met up with me there.


P.S, Buka or Mama Put means the same thing – it is a local eatery. Pretty much a local version of a fast food restaurant that focuses on Nigeria cuisine.

Day 31 (Tuesday, July 10): Lagos Mainland
Nigerian Railway Compound 12noon(Ebute Metta)
Yaba White House 2pm

We took a visit to The Nigerian Railway Compound. I was told there a little museum there. Railway used to be a big deal in Nigeria. It is slowly making a recovery. The guide was very helpful and gave us so much history and info. They are building a bigger museum in the Railway Compound. The Legacy Foundation did the restoration of the museum. The foundation is involved in restoring historical houses in Lagos and advocating against the demolition of historical houses. I couldn’t take great pictures here because it started raining heavily. My friend Star, her friend and my mum came along with me on this visit.


After the Railway Museum, we went to have lunch at yet another Amala Mama Put. The Amala at Yaba White House was immaculate, cheaper than Olaiya Amala and with reasonable amount of spiciness. The customer service was good. Way better than Olaiya Amala.

Day 32 (Wednesday, July 11): Lagos Mainland
Kalakuta (Ikeja) 2pm
University of Suya

Another relaxed day. In the afternoon, met up with my cousin – Busola to pay homeage to Fela Anikulapo Kuti. We went to his former house which is now a museum. Apparently, you are suppose to make a reservation. We didn’t know that. The security guard told us a line to use so the museum can be opened for us. The barterner working at the roof top bar in the same building opened it to us.


Since he wasn’t working at the museum. He wasn’t able to give us any information. We simply walked about the 3 level museums, taking pictures and reading from the clips to get some of the info we wanted. We ended the visit at the Roof Top Bar. We gave the bartender a tip and the security guard a tip as well for telling us what to say to get the museum opened for us.

We stopped at University of Suya close by to try out the suya. Suya is the most famous street food in Nigeria. My opinion is Nigerians in the diaspora made University of Suya popular because I have tasted better suya.

Day 33 (Thursday, July 12): Lagos Island
Awolowo Museum (Epe) 
Lufasi Park (Lekki Epe expressway, Abijo)
Freedom Park (Lagos Island)
Bogobiri (Ikoyi)

A really busy day. We (my mom and I) left home on the mainland around 9.30am because morning rush hour traffic on the major bridge connecting the mainland to the island would have cleared by that time. Two hours later, we arrived at out first stop – Lufasi Nature Park. It cost N1,000/person. It is a small park but beautiful. A guide will walk you through. The animals present there are rescued animals. There’s a play area for children, an artificial lake and picnic area.


After the park, we moved on The Awolowo Institute of Research and Policy Center. Chief Obafemi Awolowo is one of Nigeria’s founding father. I grew up hearing about him, he died in 1983 – two years before I was born. His house in his home state (Ikenne Remo, Ogun State) is adjacent my family’s house. Awo as he is popularly called lived on in many people hearts. Anyways, it only felt right to pay homage to Awo. The beach is right in front of the museum!

This museum was where he was imprisoned for a month. Awo spent a lot of time going to jail. His jailers were the various Nigeria Military Head of State who were pissed at his efforts (along with others) to regain democracy of Nigeria. He was initially prisoned at a prison in Broad street, Lagos Island (now known as The Freedom Park) before he was moved to this place in Epe because they wanted to isolate him. Epe, then was only accessible by water so they thought it was a great place to hide him from the public. They were wrong, they had visitors from all over, and the people of Epe came to visit him. The then military government moved him yet again because he was receiving too many visitors. He was moved to Calabar when he was later released. We paid N1,000/person for entrance.


We moved on to Freedom Park in Lagos Island. Entrance is N200/person. I always find Freedom Park peaceful and a great place to people watch. There is always a performance there. There is an Art Gallery, a museum, food court, mini eatery and a stage on ground. There were shooting a movie when I was there. My mom left me there to go visit my grandma. I people watched until it was time to go to Bogobiri.

I was tired by the time I got to Bogobiri around 6pm so I couldn’t wait for the live music performance at 7.30/8pm. I love Bogobiri, I used to hang out here a lot when I lived briefly in Nigeria from 2012-2014. The Art around the place is fascinately. They have an hotel there as well. Thursday night is for live music. The last Tuesday of the month is for Taruwa – spoken words. Cost is N500/person for Thursday and Taruwa.

Day 34 (Friday, July 13): Lagos
Lekki Market
The Backyard (VI)

I went to Lekki Art and Craft Market to buy somethings. They have really great stuff there from bags (leather or Ankara) to paintings to cravings to dresses (Ankara print).


Later, met up with a friend at The Backyard. Oh, how I love this place. It has now become my second favorite after Terra Kulture to hang out. Ambience is great, décor is excellent. Food is not cheap though. We left before 5pm to beat the afternoon rush hour traffic. You don’t want to be stuck in Lagos traffic, it has the power to make you reconsider your life!

Day 35 (Saturday, July 14): Lagos
Makoko (meet 8am at Makoko land)
Lekki conservation park (Lekki)
Terra Kulture

Another busy day. We visited Makoko – a community on water. The community has been around for almost 100 years now. It was founded by various tribes from southwest and south-south area of Nigeria. These tribes are known to be skilled Fishermen hence the need to live by the water. The name Makoko came from the word ‘Mahoho’. The community had a practice called Mahoho where they publicly shamed people caught stealing or involved in adultery before expelling them from the community. They would put those accussed of these two crimes in a boat and go around the community shouting the person’s name and the crime the person committed. Outsiders who came to the community to buy fish and other sea food saw the practice and would refer to the community as ‘the place where they do Mahoho). It later evolved to Makoko.


This community was brought to limelight when a young talented Nigerian architect constructed a floating school. All of a sudden, several foundations was created by outsiders and several NGOs began raising money for the ‘poor people of Makoko’. I don’t know if the people of Makoko identified as poor people. It didn’t seem like it. The community was refered to as a slum on water and other names that the people of Makoko did not call themselves. In turn, the people became hostile to outsiders. You can not just go to Makoko nowadays. You will permission from a community member and big cameras are not permitted. Even with your phones, be cautious when taking a picture, people do not appreciate you pointing your camera at them. They will cuss you out.

There is only one primary (elementary) school in the community. The school cannot accommodate all the primary aged children in the community. It is in need of resources and an extension. Unfortunately, the floating school collapsed. It was rumored that one of the fishermen took one of the anchor that supported the floating school hence it’s collapsed. We asked Noah, the community leader, he said the floating school was just a model that was not meant to support many people.


One of the noticeable thing is the dirt and plastic in the water. Noah – the community leader claimed there was a sewage in the area that pushed the plastic into the community. Might be true, but we saw people in the community throw their trash in the water. They don’t see the trash and plastic issue as a problem so oh well.

We stopped by to get lunch before going to Lekki Conservation Center. It cost N1,000/person for entrance and another N1,000/person if you want to do the canopy walk, which is the longest in Africa. We decided to eat our lunch in the car since the monkeys at the center have gotten too bold. The canopy walk was exciting for some of us and scary for others. Star was hilarious – almost like she was crawling. If you are afraid of height, this might be a problem.


Eyo Statue at Freedom Park

After the canopy walk, we sat to drink coconut water while we waited for my other friends running on Nigerian time.

We ended the day at Terra Kulture. I LOVE Terra Kulture. No way, I would be in Nigeria and not go there. There is a bookstore, study area, Art gallery, restaurant and space for plays, concert and conference. Pretty much, my type of place. We dined on fried sweet potatoes, fried yams, fried dodo (plantain) and off course palm wine.

Day 36 (Sunday, July 15): Epe
Epe Mangrove

We left Lekki around 10.30am and got to Epe about 1.5 hour later. Epe Mangroves – what can I say? Simply serene and peaceful. It was a canoe ride and we visited a village on the other side of the mangrove. Upon getting off the boat, I fell into a swamp knee length. For a minute, I thought – wow, so this is how I will die? Lol.


After the Mangroove, we went to the Fish Market. We bought some prawns. We wanted to buy snails, but it was so expensive.

The last stop was the local brewery, well it’s just where a guy who migrated to the area 10 years ago produces his local gin. The local gin is called ‘Ogogoro’, made from fermented palm wine.

Day 37 (Monday, July 16):

Dedicated to running errands and brieftly visiting some folks.

Day 38 (Tuesday, July 17): Lagos Mainland
Jevnick restaurant- Ikeja GRA

Since I like food, met up with two friends for lunch. I tried an soup from the South-East part of the country. Delicious!

Relaxed for the rest of the day. Chilled day

Day 39 (Wednesday, July 18): Lagos
Hard Rock Cafe
Roots (Ikoyi)

Took my cousin along with me. I wanted to check out Hard Rock Café. It has a beach in front of it. Great view. Ambience cool. Food and drinks over priced.


Stayed only an hour before going to Roots Restaurant and Bar to meet up with a few friends. My last outing before departing Lagos. Great conversation and food. I realized why I am much happier and less prone to anxiety in Nigeria. I surround myself with strong, amazing women. That night at Roots, I felt grat being in the mix of these awesome women. I don’t have this type of support in the U.S.

Anyways, it was a great night out.

Day 40 (Thursday, July 19):
Anti-social behavior loading

Pretty much, packed and finished pending errands.

Day 41 (Friday, July 20):
Kunbi departs

Flight left at 1.40pm for Cairo. My parents wanted me to leave the house at a ridicously time. I HATE waiting at airport. In the end, we left at 10.30am. Got to the airport at 11am – no traffic! Flight left on time. Arrived in Cairo at 9pm.

Egypt Air has a service where they would put you in a hotel if your layover is 6 hours or longer. Well we waited 3 freaking hours for them to process this. We walked into the hotel in the airport past midnight. I didn’t have expectation for the hotel since I found out it was Le Meridien. I didn’t enjoy Le Meridien in Giza but this one is updated.


While waiting for hotel to be processed at the airport, I meyt some interesting characters. Well, let be back track to the flight from Lagos. I was seated by this Syrian guy who went to visit his girlfriend in Nigeria and vacation there. He said they met online and she is Nigerian. I asked where he lived and he said in Syria. I asked about the war and he said something along the line that Syria was ok. I was confused. He said he would connect to Beirut from Cairo and cross the border to Damascus where he lives. I subpected he wasn’t telling me the full story because it is just simply rare that he would leave a war torn proven (asd told by western media) go vacation in Nigeria and return to a country that has an ongoing civil war.

My doubt was later confirmed when we were talking about salaries in various countries. He said the salary in Syria has always be trash but in Nigeria, you can make good money. So I suspect he went to work in Nigeria and took the money home.

Now back to the airport. A Nigerian that relocated from London to Abuja in a time where most people are relocating abroad. He was just frustrated and tired of living abroad. I could connect with him on that. I wanted to exchange contact but was too frustrated with waiting.

Met a girl who was having trouble boarding her connecting flight to Canada. Canadian’s version of Border Control re-interview people with visas to Canada at Cairo airport before letting them board the flight. The girl had just USD400 with her, no credit or debit card, hotel booked & paid, told the border agent she didn’t know anybody in Canada (a lie that her Travel agent told her to say) and she was spending 20 days in Canada. The border agent wasn’t convinced because how can USD400 substain you for 20 days in a place who don’t know anybody. In the end, I don’t know what happened to her. She looked really sad and worried the last I saw her.


Met a guy going to Utah for his PhD in Ecology on a full scholarship #blackexcellence #naijasmart. This is his first trip to the U.S. I exchanged contact with him because why not.

The last guy I conversed with. Regretted that by the way. It began as a normal conversation. We actually talked about the girl with the issue with Canadian Border Patrol. He mentioned he was going to Dallas with Spirit Airlines from LGA. I made a joke about not getting to his destination. Then something changed when he asked what church I went to. I said I don’t practice Christianity or any other organized religion. He was shocked like most Nigerians. He wanted to further the conversation on that topic, I declined firmly. This was then it took a creepy turn.

I was handed over the room keys for the 10 people in our group of Lagos-Cairo flight. He asked me to give him a room next to mine. I ignored him. Unfortunately, our rooms ended by each other anyways because I had to put a mama and her kids in a room by each other. Anyways, I latched closed my room. At 5.30am, someone was knocking at my door. I don’t it couldn’t be hotel staff because I had the ‘Do Not Disburb’ sign on the door handle. I peeped through the hole and saw him. I went back to sleep. He called my room, when I picked up I didn’t say anything when I heard his voice, I disconnected the phone cord. I left my room at 7.05pm to go down to breakfast. He was waiting forme he said at the lobby. I left him there to breakfast. Took my time, he was gone when I went back to the lobby. Like most Nigerians obsessed in getting at the airport way too early, he left. Thank God. I didn’t make it to the gate until boarding started. Unfourtunately, I passed by him on the way to my seat on the plane.

So there is my theory. I believe he saw me as vulunerable, as someone he could take advantage of because I’m religionness. He probably assumed because I had no religion, I had no morals or ethics. And he probably wanted to test his limit. He has a wife and son by the way.

Day 42 (Saturday, July 21):
Began the long flight to New York City (11 hours 40 minutes).

Nothing eventful. Made it safely to JFK and headed to my hotel in Newark.

Day 43 (Sunday, July 22):

Arrived in Dallas at 8.30am. Moved my stuff from the storage unit to my new apartment. And got ready for work the next day.

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Naija Things

WOW! It has really been 4 months, 3 weeks and 4 days since I uploaded my last blog. So much has happened since then.

Idanre Forest: Mud thingsUntil August, I was extremely busy making a pet project (SCN) a reality. SCN (Summer Camp Nigeria) was an amazing 2 weeks experience for pre-teens and teenagers. It took place in Lagos, Nigeria and had 40 participants ranging from ages 4 to 16. It was a pilot program, had many challenges planning it but in the end it was all worth it. We gave a survey to the camp participants (to be filled out anonymously). One kid said this when asked to describe his/her SCN experience “Summer Camp Nigeria has changed me mentally, physically, socially and spiritually. It has been a once in a lifetime experience.” Another kid said this when asked about lessons they are taking away from SCN, “That humans are totally different, our characters are our greatest assets and our minds are our greatest tools.” With powerful quotes like these, I can’t help but feel really grateful to all that made this pet project a reality. Definitely my greatest highlight of this year…This is a link to the video the kids made on their SCN experience.

In September, I was mostly recovering from stress associated with SCN, so mostly I just tried to relax and get back my social life. I attended a conference in Osogbo, Osun State (about 4 hours from Lagos State) on Afro-Identity. It was organized by the one of the most prestigious universities in Nigeria – Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state. I didn’t attend as just a conference participant but as a paper presenter – YES, I presented a paper on Afro-Colombian Identity. I was pretty nervous because there were many important names in the house including Wole Soyinka. In the end, I was grateful, I got great feedback on my presentation and folks actually thought that I am incredible smart (hmm I don’t know how to respond to compliments/praises). I also made contact with amazing folks from Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Germany, Cameroon and Nigeria. As a part of the conference, we visited the King’s palace –the Alaafin of Oyo – the Alaafin is the king of Oyo state, the military capital of the old Yoruba kingdom. My first time in a palace or in front of a king – I was greatly impressed by the Alaafin, he is such an intelligent man. One thing that stayed with me from the visit is the greeting given to the Alaafin by the Brazilian and Cuban conference participants. They greeted the Alaafin in Yoruba (heavy Brazilian/Cuban accent) and using the same gestures as if they were Nigerian Yorubas. These people had never been to Nigeria before this, the greetings and other cultural displays were those handed down to them from generation to generation that survived slavery and assimilation to the mestizo culture of Latin America.


October, I was occupied with paperwork associated with completing my National service program. Remember my first post from Nigeria detailing my experience at the military camp. Well, I completed the remaining 11 months of community development. We ‘graduated’ on October 10. Gracias a Dios! So now am officially unemployed :(.


I’ve met up with 3 couchsufers so far – 2 from Argentina and 1 from France. I also hosted my first couchsurfers this month – two ladies. I have always surfed someone’s couch/extra bedroom so it was great to host finally :). I went to Benin Republic with them. It was an admazing adventure. First we crossed the Seme border (Nigeria & Benin Republic) by ourselves. Anybody familiar with this border crossing will be nervous about crossing it alone. In the past I’ve always used an international bus to cross. I had horror imagination of crossing without the international bus; however, the process wasn’t even half as bad as I assumed. If you have an ECOWAS passport, no luggage and not driving a car, then you should have zero problems. I will still encourage foreigners (non-ECOWAS passport holder) to use the international bus though; it will save you hassle and stress. On getting to Cotonou, we ate lunch and went straight to Lake Gauvie. I’ve always wanted to sleep overnight at the lake and we did it this time 🙂 #alifetimeexperience. I came back to Lagos the next time while they went on to Togo.


Oh, I also started job hunting. I’m not too picky on where I find a job but I would prefer somewhere in Africa, Latin America, or Caribbean – I wouldn’t mind DMV or NYC area of USA as well. I would prefer a job in the Education (administration mostly), Policy, Research or International affairs sector. I have experience in Project Coordination/Management, research and event planning. So please if you know of something that fits this, tell me know. I really do need a job, unemployment is NOT fun. Thanks….


This month (November), am recovering from a two-weeks mini self-pity state of mind. Mostly, I have been indoors, sleeping, eating, reading novels and doing it all over again. Today, I woke up with a promise to myself  – self-pity will not bring me anything good so am just going to take each day -a day at a time. Intensify my job search, continue to network and hang out with friends.

Remember the Team FUN adventures I mentioned in the previous post. Well since June, we have gone to Badagry (July), Erin Ijesha, Osun Groove & Ooni’s palace (September), Arinta Waterfalls & Ikogosi warm springs (October). These trips were AMAZING. Who knew Nigeria had such beautiful sites to explore. The last Team FUN trip for this year will be on November 23, 2013. It will be a day trip to Erin Ijesha Waterfalls in Osun State. If you are interested or know anyone that might be interested, please send an email to me – or add me on bbm (2998B321). Also if you need someone to organize your family trips or you have friends/family members coming to Nigeria for the holiday and need a tour guide, shoot me an email or bbm. My fees are not expensive I promise, I truly believe in exploring the Nigerian tourism sites :).


Oh, I climbed 653 stairs and walked 5 miles in one day – impressive, right? The most I ever climbed was 649 stairs at El Penon, Colombia. I went to Idanre Hills with two friends. On top of the hill is the former settlement of the Idanre people before they moved their village down the hill. The houses, Palace, court, school on the hill were made from mud, cool!

Lastly, I’m the project director for a communicator program scheduled to hold from December 16 to 21. This program – Scribes & Orators will focus on developing the writing and public speaking skills of preteens & teenagers (ages 8 to 16). Do tell your friends, family and co-workers about this rewarding program. Check this website for additional information or email/bbm me.

Thanks for reading this very long post 🙂 . I actually did miss blogging.

Erin Ijesha

p.s, Naija is slang for Nigeria. ‘Things’ or ‘Tins’ is also slang in Nigeria use to describe events or anything pertaining to how you are living your life. For example, you can say ‘Work Things/Tin’ (to mean you are at the office or working on office project). You got it? So, now let me stop this ‘blogging things’…….

Until next time…..

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As in……{Living like a local no be small thing o}

I decided staying in a village will make me miserable, plus I was rejected at the school I was posted to. According to the school’s principal, I wouldn’t cope at the school because I am a foreign trained student. So I began the process of getting re-posted to Ibadan (the capital of Oyo State). I was naive enough to believe this process would be easy and straightforward but I was dead wrong. First, there was no office or person/official in charge of this. I was at the head office in Ibadan every day for 2 whole weeks before I finally got an official to accept & approve my re-posting. I was very lucky – he (the official) only accepted my application because I schooled abroad. All my other friends that schoole d in Nigeria either had to bribe or bring their influential parent before they could get anything done.

Before & AfterI began apartment hunting – a tortuous process. All the apartments I saw were very disgusting. I wasn’t asking for a lot – I just wanted a decent place with running water. In January, I had to pick the best of these apartments. The apartment had two rooms, kitchen, bathroom and no living room. The bathroom and shower were not tiled so we had to pay for it to get tiled #1stworldproblems. There was running water, constant electricity & it was located in a very safe neighborhood. I shared with another girl.

I loved my Job at Ibadan; I was posted to a research institute – Nigerian Institute of Social & Economic Research. My boss was amazing and engaged me in several research projects. I had few friends in Ibadan so I should be happy right? No, I hated Ibadan. It was way better than the village I was originally posted to but still wasn’t the city I would want to live in. In Ibadan, there are no places to hangout during the day, no malls or interesting sights and there were plenty extremely aggressive people. The city had no flavor to it, just plain, big, dirty and very ugly! I went to Lagos every weekend so as not to die of boredom. At the end of January, I got a call – the happiest call since I moved back to Nigeria. I was re-deployed to Lagos!

So February, I was busy completing registration out of Ibadan, subletting my room and beginning registration at Lagos. The only disappointment I had in Lagos was I wasn’t allowed to work at a research institute. Lagos corpers have just two choices – working in a school or at the local government (county office). I was posted to a local government. At the office, I was told by my boss that there was nothing for me to do so I shouldn’t bother coming to work L. At that point, I started brainstorming projects I can do, no way was I going to be a bum.

Tarkwa Bay BeachIn Lagos, I began to grasp my new life. Many people consider it fun,   interesting or exotic to ‘live like a local’. This is true if the country you are living as a local is NOT your country of origin. I loved my experience living like a local in Colombia and Honduras. Living like a local sucks for me in Nigeria because I lived here for the first 17 years of my life, I have family here, I have ties here. It is simply not exotic!

With the national service program, we are paid an equivalent of USD$125 per month. I have never lived on $125 a month. The least I’ve lived on is $400/month (in Honduras) and Honduras is way cheaper than Nigeria. A bulk of my money is spent on transportation – Lagos is similar to Houston, Texas in that if you don’t have a car, getting around is complicated.

I keep myself busy and sane by taking French classes; online courses via Coursera and exploring Lagos & surrounding states. Also, am partnering with an Educational organization to launch a Summer Camp Program in Nigeria. The camp is scheduled to hold in August. Check out our website Summer Camp Nigeria.

To be honest, the move back to Nigeria has not been an easy transition for me. It has been a roller-coaster; some weeks I’m depressed, others am just fine. I continue to network and explore Lagos. Another thing I do is to organize fun trip (Team FUN) with a group of people from my network. Many Nigerians don’t travel within the country and there are expatriates interested in seeing the country. So monthly, Team FUN visits new places. So far, we have gone to Tarkwa Bay beach and Olumo Rock, pictures coming soon.

As in and no be small thing o are common slang used in Nigeria. No be small thing o means it is not that easy. As in is used in the same way Americans use ‘you know what I mean’.

Victoria IslandBelow is an interesting interview I went for in Lagos……this happened last month and I want to believe am over it by now.

Background: my friend calls me up for a job she thinks I would be interested in. The company needed a recruitment agent that spoke Spanish. It sounded like a good opportunity so I forwarded my CV (Resume). The Operation Manager gave me a call – enjoy the conversation

Operation Manager: Good Afternoon, may I speak to …..

Me: I’m doing fine, and u?

Operation Manager: fine as well, I am calling about the recruitment position. What religion do you practice?

Me: Excuse-me

Operation Manager: What religion do you practice?

Me: I have no religion

Operation Manager: You have no religion?

Me: Yes, no religion

……call drop (me thinking, what a jerk, he hung up on me because I have no religion!). A few minutes later, my phone rings

Operation Manager: hmm, would you like to come for an interview? By the way, sorry the call dropped, poor network service

Me: Sure. When is the interview?

Operation Manager: if you can come in today, that will work fine

******fast forward to the interview********

AbeokutaI was lead to the interviewing room. There were 3 women and 1 man already in the room.

As I enter the room, the man begins saying a prayer. The prayer included the ‘casting out of demons’, ‘sanctifying the room’ and several chanting along these lines. It went on for about 5 minutes. During this period, I was confused. Then I thought maybe he’s on the phone. After he stopped praying

Me: Hello. I’m Kunbi. I hope all is well

The man: yes, I’m **** ***** and I’m the Operational Manager. I was praying to cast out the demons you can with. Since you have no religion and your hair is dreadlock. All I need now is Holy Water to completely cast out the demons. So tell me, how come you don’t believe in God?

Me: (400% shocked) Oh, so that was what the prayers was all about. God and religion are not the same thing.

Operation Manager: so what happened to make you not have a religion? You schooled in the U.S.A, right? It must be the American influence. Here in Nigeria, you must have a religion. Without a religion, you are lost. You are like a headless chicken without direction. And your hair, you will have to cut off the dreads within one week of working here.

Me: okay, your opinion. Nothing is going to make me cut off my hair.

Operation Manager: No, it’s not my opinion. It is a fact. You see, I win souls for Christ. I was responsible for my best friend becoming a Christian, now he is very dedicated to the church. I just pity you because you are unfortunate without a religion. The man that will marry you will be so unlucky because he will end up with unfortunate person like you. Do you wear heals, make-up, dresses, skirts? You see your problem is, you are too simple.

Me: [my mind suddenly goes blank, as I can’t believe what I’m hearing, so I shrugged my shoulders].

The Operation Manager went on to say more inappropriate and offensive stuff………………..then offered me the position……At that point, I was ready to leave. I had been trying really hard to mentally erase all he said to me but without much success.

After this interview (my first in Nigeria), I cried. I felt so belittled and couldn’t do anything about it.

Until next post……………………………….

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Part 1: It has been a very Long Thing

Networking event - Oct

Networking event – Oct

Sometimes in April 2012, I made up my mind to return to my birth country – Nigeria. In September 2012, I packed up my belongings into 5 suitcases and boarded the flight to Lagos, Nigeria. I had a flexible plan that would enable me transition smoothly to life in Nigeria but I wasn’t fully mentally prepared to manage this huge life transition.

From mid-Sept to Oct, I hung out with family and close friends. I also started networking and re-learning directions, vocabularies & culture (call it reverse culture shock). For instance, when I went to open a bank account, I asked about their checking & saving accounts. The teller gave me a blank stare, like I was speaking in French. Apparently, in Nigeria checking account is called ‘current’ account. I didn’t know this! In Oct, I took a short trip to Abuja (the capital of Nigeria) to register for the Nigerian Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program. Abuja seem like a nice place, it is more expensive than Lagos but not as lively and vibrant.

Abuja – sieving a traditional northern food

Apparently I do not look Nigerian and my hair simply fascinates people here. I get lots of stares and the where are you from question. Most times, I have to prove to folks that I’m really from here by speaking in my native language.  I actually think I adjusted to life in Lagos well. A lot of things did not bother me, for example, electricity is erratic in Nigeria so frequent power outage is normal.

Well the most interesting experience from Sept-Dec last year was in Nov. Remember I had to go to Abuja to register for the Nigerian Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program. The NYSC is a mandatory one year service program that Nigerian citizens who have graduated from a 4yr University/college have to do before they can be employed in Nigeria. This program starts with a 3 weeks Para-military camp, followed by 11 months of community service work. My 3 weeks in camp was horrible for the most part. It was then I doubted if I made the right decision of turning down my prestige job offer from Teach for America for moving back home.  Now, sit back as I recount my camp experience…….


5 days to camp

I picked up my ‘Call up Letter’ from the NYSC head office in Lagos. Call up letter shows the state you are deployed to for camp and the rest of the service year. You cannot choose your state of preference. The government decide this. I was disappointed with mine – I was deployed to Oyo State. I wanted Lagos or Abuja. I began buying things I needed for camp. For a complete list of things needed for camp, click on ‘The Foreign Trained Student Guide: Surviving NYSC’.

Camp: Day 1

We left Lagos at 7am and arrived at my camp location in Iseyin, Oyo State at 11am. The roads were in very poor condition. We were not allowed to drive into the camp premises, so we packed the car outside. The soldiers ordered us to put our luggage on our head and join the line. So for the next 1hr, along with others, I had my 20 pounds hand-luggage on my head. Their only explanation for this was that it was step 1 in ‘swiping out the civilian thought process’. Finally we passed this stage and went through bag checking then proceeded to sit on the floor while another soldier gave us a welcome speech. After this, we were assigned a mattress and dunk bed and told to begin the never ending registration process.


Entrance of the dorm i was assigned to

I made new friends while on the line for some paperwork. Together, we continued with registration until 6pm. I took a shower outside in the open space with my new friends because there were no bathrooms. I couldn’t sleep that night. My bunk bed was in the hallway because the dormitories were overcrowded. The whole dormitory had a bad odor.


First day of camp – sit on the floor

Day 2 – 6

Since day 2 was still allocated to registration, the soldiers were lenient with us. I collected my ‘kit’ (approved camp uniform). In camp, we are only allowed to wear what they give. You can only wear your own clothes on Sunday for 4hrs. Day 3 hence wards, we had to be on the parade ground at 5.20am. Every morning, we began by saying prayers, national anthem, pledge and NYSC anthem.  See the attached photos for the daily routine timetable.

We had no toilet. They expected us to use an uncompleted building with nothing in it for shower, number 1 and 2. Remember the stranded cruise ship where passengers were asked to use a plastic bag for number 2 for 3 days. Well, here in camp, you had to use the plastic bag from 3 weeks. I began using Imodium to slow down my digestive system so I wouldn’t have to use a plastic bag. I had to learn to take a bath under 2 mins with my towel wrapped on my head. The soldiers usually come to harass us for taking our shower in the open space in front or behind the dorm. So you had to be fast about it except you want the crazy soldiers to see your naked body or you feel like being punished in only your towel wrapped around your body.


The uncompleted building with no roof, door or anything inside. We were expected to have our shower and ease ourselves there.

I also had to contract petite work to women from the town. We had to get water in a bucket for shower and to wash your clothes by hand. Getting water was frustrating enough, so I always paid one of the women to get water for me daily. I also paid to have one of them wash my clothes.

By day 3, the dorm was filthy. My dorm has 3 floors, I was on the ground floor and there were about 128 females crammed into this tight space on the ground floor. Some of these females were DIRTY. For example, it was common to see used sanitary pads on the floor, feces behind the dorm, food crumbs on the floor.

From day 3, we were made to understand that nothing is optional in camp, everything is mandatory. If caught, you will be punished severely. Punishment included locking up in a guardroom (a small dark windowless room); kneeling down or sitting down on the dirty ground for several hours or expelled from camp. You cannot talk back to a soldier or NYSC official, it doesn’t matter if you are right because to them you are ALWAYS WRONG and they are ALWAYS RIGHT!


Punishment of waking up late for 5.30am morning drill. I was never caught 🙂

Week 2

We were asked to pick a skill (out of 6 available) that we were interested in. For 3 hours every day in week 2 and part of week 3, we would be trained on the skill of our choice. I choose IT; I wanted to learn web development. Also we were given an option to train as a peer educator on adolescent reproductive health and HIV prevention and care. I signed up for this and I’m glad I did. It helped me maintain my sanity. Throughout week 2, we were busy training from 7am to 6pm every day. I loved it because it meant I didn’t have to participate in the stupid marching or attend the senseless lectures.

HIV prevention care training: graduation

From week 2 onwards, the camp commandant (the highest ranked solider in camp) came to the courtyard that housed all female dorms every night to harass and insult us. Our theory was that he came to look at naked girls taking their bath; from there he picked out females who will pass the night with him. The camp commandant favorite insults were ‘all of you are ugly’, ‘your breasts are ugly’, ‘I swear I can never date any of you’, ‘dirty girls’, ‘all of you are witches’. These rants went on for about 20 minutes every night.

Also this week, they killed three snakes. One on the parade ground, one at the back of female dorm and the last beside the kitchen. This snake incidence put a fear in me.

Week 3

Unfortunately the HIV prevention care training was over on the third day in week 3 so I had to return to camp daily routine.  Since week 2, I had learned ways to outsmart the soldiers. For example, when they come to chase us out from the dormitory at 4.30am, I remained in bed. Fortunately, my dorm did not have electricity, it smelled badly and it was difficult to walk through because of the bunk beds in the hallway. For these reasons, the soldiers rarely came into the dorm. I guess I was lucky because I was never caught; punishment for violating any camp rule went from mild to severe.  I made friends with most of the soldiers, sometimes I bought them food or drinks. That way, when I wasn’t obeying rules, they let off the hook. During week 3, we went for ‘Endurance Trek’. I absolutely loved this. We took a walk (about 2,000 of us) alongside camp officials and soldiers around the town where the camp was located. It felt good seeing people and the outside world. The walk took about 7 hours.


the line to get water for shower

Last day in Camp

I pretty much did not sleep the night before. We were told we had to be out of the dorm by 6am. At 8am, the closing parade ceremony started. After this, we had to line up to collect our ‘posting letter’. This letter has the ability to make you sad or happy. The posting letter shows the city/village/town and the institution that you are posted to work for the remaining 11 months. Keep in mind that some of the villages are in the middle of nowhere with very basic amenities. Again I was extremely disappointed with my posting letter. I was posted to some village called ‘Fiditi’. We had to report to wherever you were posted that same day. I went to mine, what I saw frightened me. If you know me, you will know I’m a city girl, I can’t do villages or small town. Those simply aren’t cut for me. But here I am, posted to a small village with mud houses. I decided then that if I was not reposted to the capital of Oyo State, I wasn’t going to do the service program anymore.

After camp

I went to the head office in Ibadan (the capital of Oyo State) to beg/request/petition them to kindly repost me to Ibadan. This process was frustrating and further introduced me to the ways things are done in Nigeria.

…… be continued…………watch out for part 2 (I should post it in 2 weeks)

Long thing = a Nigerian slang that means ‘it is not easy, it has been challenging or impossible to achieve’.