I wasn’t only excited about the prospects of celebrating Christmas, in another country for the first time, but I was also buzzing with enthusiasm, to know how it felt like to be in Nigeria, in such busy period especially, with all the stories heard of the country.
Nigerians are aggressive, fighters, go getters, aweless and all the superlatives used to describe the people.
Friends back in Ghana, could not hold in with the cautious statements of “becareful, it’s a dangerous place,” “make sure you don’t move out on your own” and it sounded as if, Nigeria, was a hell on earth.
Upon all the negative comments, about the country and with a fact finding mission on the agenda, I was more than resolute in being adventurous.
I must admit that, I was a bit tensed at some point, when my flight was ready to take off, at the Kotoka International Airport at 2:40pm, the last words I vividly remember saying in Accra before my flight took off was, “Lord protect me”.
After almost an hour trip on the flight, Lagos was ready to welcome me at the Mutala International Airport.
We were in a queue doing the routine checks at the immigration and before I could say jack three people had already jumped the queue even before it was their turn, I guess that was to tell me; This is Nigeria.
At that point I confirmed one thing; “in Nigeria you hustle or be hustled”, and it reminded me of the popular Akan saying that literally translates; “if everybody is turning into an animal, you better do same”.
I had to gather all the strength to be a Nigerian, at least for the next seven days of my stay. My friends who welcomed me at the airport told me a lot of interesting things about the country and I realised that the people were more warmer, than feared initially.
My friend Samuel -someone I would be grateful to- also gave me a striking information that would later stay like a manual for my stay.
“Here there is no gentleman, if some one comes to you with fire, reply with a multiple of the fire,” he said.
Late in the night on my first day, when I wanted to experience night life, I was walking down the busy street of Ajao Estate around 10:00pm, when a car knocked down one pedestrian, with the driver driving off.
Passers-by came surrounding the victim and no one could provide help until after over an hour, when I was getting back to the hotel when I saw an Ambulance rushing to pick the victim.
As the nature of my work demands, I asked questions and I found out that, if the driver had stayed to offer help he would have been lynched to death, while anyone who had offered to take the victim to hospital would invite police trouble.
However, I have realised that, Nigerians are very welcoming and know how to host a guest. With all the impression, I had my tour guides made me felt comfortable and it didn’t look like I was far from home.
“We are brothers, they will say,” and eating some local delicacies was worth the try. Pepper chicken, eba, agushi and many others have been of good service to my tummy. The people are hard working and ready to make water even when on the desert. And if I learnt nothing at all from Lagos, I know klhow to hustle to survive a s a Journeyman.
In my next write up, I am sure to say about Calabar which will be my next stop in the Oil rich country of Nigeria. Lagos lessons have been golden and if its Nigeria, then I would want to be there anytime!
By Dennis Osei Gyamfi