WOW! It has really been 4 months, 3 weeks and 4 days since I uploaded my last blog. So much has happened since then.
Until 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 – firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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…..
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.
I 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.
In 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’.
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?
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********
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……………………………….