Back to reality…………….

Kilonshele everybody. It’s been a while, hope you haven’t missed me. Its seven days since I returned to the UK after my trip, and I am beginning to recover from my holiday blues. I have had a chance to reflect on my trip, and I feel that it as one the best decisions I have made in my life. Toward the end of the trip, I began to think about what I would write about in my final blog. It was gonna be poignant, heart-warming and …………… 1st of November arrived and I did not write a single sentence. I had forgotten that my best writing comes when I don’t plan or think too long about what I want to write. Well now I am in the zone, so here we go………..

I got the inspiration to write this post at Euston underground station on my way home from work at a snail’s pace trying to get on to the escalator. It highlighted the difference a week makes. As people complained about the traffic on the way home in Lagos, people in London complained about the packed underground trains- it’s all relative. Pic below.

The last week of my trip was pretty uneventful; I hung out with Titi most of time and just relaxed. I took my mother and Oba to watch SARO in Lekki on Sunday and I saw my boy Olu who was visiting Nigeria from the Uk with his son.  As my journey drew to a close, I realised that it wasn’t long enough. I didn’t execute all the things I had planned for the trip but I had accomplished more than I expected. The trip had given me the belief and renewed focus to work towards making my dreams a reality. I had made new friends, renewed friendships, reconnected with family and accomplished my ultimate goal of feeling at home in Nigeria.

I experienced different enviroments within days or even miles from each other. For example, one day I was having lunch with the Governor of Ogun state and Royalty, the very next morning I was eating at a Buka (local eatery). Eating at Bukas was probably one of my greatest experiences, because it provides people with a relaxed environment to eat good food, relax and mix with people from all walks of life. There is a classless society within a Buka, multi-millionaire or pauper, everyone is welcome to sit and eat at the same table- everyone is equal. The world would be a much better place it was like a buka. The gap between the rich and the poor was one of the most significant things which impacted me. This was epitomised on the day I took public transport from Victoria Island to my hotel in Ikeja. On the island, I saw the rich side of society; big expensive cars, grand houses and yachts as far the eye could see.  Within 20 minutes while I was on the bus at Obelende, an old woman came to the entrance of the bus begging for money. She looked frail and un-kept, I gave her =N=100 and the prayers she said for me was priceless.

Despite all the obvious issues with the country, the most meaningful moment of my trip was of the young street hawker who worked so hard for =N=100 (Never Expect Power Always). It epitomised the hope of a better tomorrow which every Nigerian believes.

I have met a lot of special people of the journey, it has been a life changing experience and I am thankful for grabbing the opportunity when it came round.

This will be my last post for a while; I need to concentrate on my 2nd Novel and a number of other projects I am working on. Thank you all for your support and comments, it inspired me to continue to write every day and it has made me a better writer.

Till next time…………………….KKB out

 

 

omo eko

The past two days has probably been the most exciting on this trip. It was exhausting, that’s why previous post wasn’t the most entertaining. I was exhausted after returning from working all night, it wasn’t till after I had published the post that I realised I did not comment on why paying =N=300 for a bottle of water was so significant, each bottle usually cost =N=70. I am now back in Ibadan after spending a few days in Lagos, this post continues from when I left the venue at 3:30 pm on Thursday……………. Although I am not a Lagosian, the traffic on the 3rd Mainland Bridge was legendary and I knew that if harboured any hope of reaching mainland at a reasonable time, it will be in my best interest to leave before 4pm. The hotel I was working is in Lekki , which wasn’t too far from the bridge. I was advised to take a taxi from outside the hotel which wouldn’t cost me more than =N=1,500 from Lekki to my destination in Ikeja. When I reached the hotel gates, I asked one of the security guards where I could get a taxi to GRA in Ikeja. “You want taxi? Here” he said as he pointed to a man in a grey shirt standing by the gate. The security guard motioned him over and I repeated my destination. He studied my face and said “that will cost you =N=5,000 (£20). “No way!!!!” I exclaimed and I brushed past him outside the gate”. I was really angry, I was surprised by how angry I was. I was a few meters outside the gate when I heard “kissssssssst kisssssst”. I turned around and it was the taxi driver, “ok how much you want pay” he asked. “I was told =N=1,500” I said adamantly. He shook his head vigorously, and waved me away.The baking sum had started to get to me, I was tired, hadn’t bathed and I smelt really really bad, so I walked towards him and said “ok, I will pay 2,000. He waved me away again. “Okay how much is your final price” I said. “3000” he replied. I turned around and continued to walk away from the hotel.

I was really annoyed, after walking for about 1 minute the reality of my situation suddenly hit me. I had never taken public transport from such a far distance before, this was an area I was unfamiliar with, plus I was carrying sterling and over 30k in local currency plus my passport. I said to myself “KKB, think about what you are doing”. I briefly considered going back but I had walked too far and my pride would not allow me. I saw a man wearing army fatigues coming towards me so I said “oga I beg, how I go take moto from here to GRA Ikeja” . “IKEJA? Ok, take a bus from here to Obelende and change for a bus to Ikeja”. “thank you sir”, I said gratefully. I was about to begin a journey which would be one of the defining moments of my trip. I walked a few meters to the bus stop and luckily for me the first bus that arrived was going to Obelende. It came towards the bus stop at full speed with the conductor hanging out of the side door, shouting, Oblende, Obelende, Obelende!!!! I got on and took me seat at the back, as I was getting on I heard the conductor say “I no get change o, make sure you have change o”. Luckily I had a =N=50 note with me which I gave to him when the bus started moving. These buses are not built for passenger comfort, believe me. After much turning, horn pressing, shouting, and moving very slowly through the Lekki traffic, we finally arrived at Obelende. I got off the bus while it was still in motion. As I observed my surroundings, I could not believe how relaxed I was. It was noisy and chaotic, private cars, commercial buses, okada’s and people were hustling for the limited amount of space. Everyone talking seemed to be shouting even if the person they were talking to was right in front t of them. I asked someone where I could catch a bus to Ikeja, he pointed me in the direction which looked like the roughest part of the place. I made my way to as directed and I found myself in a bus garage with hundreds of yellow commercial vehicles. The noise in this place was astronomical, conductors and drivers where standing next to their buses shouting their destination at the top of voice touting for customers. Oshodi, Mushin, Yaba,…….. They said these destinations with such speed and rhythm, one would think that it was an orchestra/opera. I finally found a bus going to Ikeja and when I confirmed the destination with the driver, he unceremoniously waved me on “get in!!! he barked. I said Bisimillah, entered the bus and sat next to a young lady eating plantain crisp. After taking my seating, I noticed a man standing in front of the bus holding small bottle and pitching to the passengers on the bus. His mouth was so sweet; he talked about the medicinal benefits of a herbal product called Moringa, “it has the ability to heal headaches, body pains, and broken bones”. He went on and on, he stopped short of saying it could cure cancer. I just sat there looking at thinking to myself that this guy is wasting his time because none of the passengers seemed particularly interested; they were just waiting for the bus to fill up with people so that we could move. The sales then said “if you don’t believe in the powers of this product, those of you have internet on your phone, guagle it (Google) and see if what I am saying is not true”. Thanks ma, you see, someone is taking out their phone and guagling it,” the young lady next to me was a pharmacist so she asked a few informed questions. After that, people on the bus began to ask her about the product, “is it good2? “How does it work”. The sales man had character and perseverance and in the 30 minutes of waiting to move, he sold three of his products. He showed that that perseverance will always achieve result. A lot more happened in the bus stop it would be too much to write about- I will save it for my next book. By 5:05pm, we were on the move, I got to talking to the young lady and I enjoyed the conversation as we crossed the third mainland bridge going towards Ikeja. I counted my lucky stars that I had avoided the infamous traffic. The journey cost me =N=250. I got off at Leventis and took an Okada to my hotel which cost another =N=50. I was very proud of what I had achieved, to others it may seem like taking public transportation by oneself is a minor but for me, I was able to say I had accomplished one of the objectives of this trip- to be independent.

Till when the internet access lets me- KKB out

It Chop my money…..

What the deal what the deal ya’all. It’s your boy KKB writing from Muritala Mohammed Airport, Lagos Nigeria. The flight was uneventful apart from a crying baby and people talking across aisles while I am trying to get some sleep. The plane took off on time and landed half an hour early.  Usually I would be happy about this but it is still dark outside and because there are no chairs available, I am currently writing this while sitting on a steel pole, which offers zero comfort.

The day of my departure started off badly, I woke with the flue which I had been trying to avoid all week. My head was hurting and my whole body was aching.  There was so many things I needed to do before my flight, buy a watch, change my fantasy football team, ……. Etc. I nearly got knocked over by a car on Camden High Street as I crossed the road to buy night nurse from the chemist because I was not my usual agile self. I did what I could but I slept most of the day until my sister and mum came to pick me up to drop me at the airport.

The flight was uneventful apart from some children crying and people having multiple conversations across the aisles like they were in their living. Despite this, the night nurse I took before take-off enabled me to get a few hours’ sleep.  Going through passport control at Muritala Mohammed Airport went smoother than I had expected, I paid N150 for a trolley and waited for my luggage. The conveyor belt was extremely slow and I was still feeling the effects of the flu.  While waiting for my luggage, I listened irritability as a passenger berated a porter for having to pay for the use of a trolley and the porter’s assistance. “In London, all this is free, she exclaimed arrogantly”. I thought to myself, “well in New York its $2 for a trolley”. I doubt she would have made the same complaint if she was in New York. She then made a statement which really infuriated me “you people in Nigeria gan sef, you are so backward”.  I could tell by her accent that she could have been in the UK for more than 5 years, yet Nigerians were already not in her class.

I collected my luggage and went through to customers, I attempted to walked towards the exit when I heard “oga, this way please”.   A woman customs officer beckoned me over to her desk; she rifled through one of my bags briefly and allowed me to go on my way.

Upon entering the arrivals foyer, I saw approximately ten men lined up against a wall. As I walked past them, I realised that they were touts. As I walked past each one, they offered to change my money or to get me a taxi. I kindly declined their offers, what amused me about the situation was that each one could see that I had declined the offer of the one in front of them yet they still tried their luck as I walked down the line. Did they I would go for their service over their colleagues because of their winning smile?

It is 5am and still pretty dark outside, my uncle had not arrived to pick me up so I decided to sit on the steel pole like my fellow passengers. The lack of seats is very disappointing. It is 5:30am and I was extremely thirsty, I asked a security officer where I could buy a drink and he pointed me towards a vending machine. I got the vending machine, a can of sprite was N300, as put a N500 note in the slot, I heard “it no give change o”. I looked to my left and short me man was standing right next to, I don’t know how he got so close without me noticing. “You have change”? I asked.   “Give me the money, I will get change for you”, he responded. I was about to give him the money when  I came to my senses, I don’t know this person, there was nothing to stop him taking my money and disappearing, this was his territory.  “Don’t worry, I will buy chin and drink, I don’t need change”. He gave a look of disappointment and slinked away. The machine rejected my note on 9 different occasions; I was getting thirstier and more irritable after each attempt. I elated when it accepted my money on the tenth try. I pressed number for my chosen product when I heard someone from behind shout “the machine is broken o, do not put money it”. I instantly became deflated and my mouth which had been moist at the prospect of drinking a cold can of sprite when the machine accepted the money a few seconds previously suddenly felt like it had been filled with sand. I pressed the buttons a few time to confirm and was sorely disappointed that the man had been correct. To make matters worse, someone had taken my space on the steel pole.

My entourage arrived to pick me up around 5:45am. It has been an interesting start to my journey and I am sure there will be more things to write about along the way.

Till next time-KKB out.

Homecoming

Essential Tools

Essential Tools

Welcome and thank you for taking the time to visit my blog; “Kiloshele-kkb”, this will hopefully be the first of many visits. I created this blog with the help and encouragement of a good friend of mine (SW), with the initial objective of sharing my experience as I embark on a physical and personal journey over the coming weeks.

This journey has been a few months in the planning, I fly out in a few days but there are still a thousand and one things I need to do. Those who have read my article “Where is home” will probably understand why I am making this journey. For those who haven’t read it, I will enlighten you over the next few weeks. Basically, there is a longing to belong and feel accepted by/in my country of birth.

During the journey I hope to discover a number of things about myself and my homeland. In addition, I aim to challenge myself in a ‘foreign environment’, get inspiration for my new book, carry out research for my documentary, have some adventure, study, catch up with old friends and hopefully make new ones, …….the list is endless.  I hope I can get it all done!

For me, Nigeria is the most unique country in the world; it is `probably` the only country where:

  • Everyone wears a watch but nobody can ever keep to time
  • A place of abundant opportunities where the belief that a man or woman can wake up a pauper and go to bed a millionaire reigns supreme.
  • Despite the hardships faced by the majority, its citizens are sustained with the belief/hope/promise of a better tomorrow.

 

It is a writer’s paradise. No two days are ever the same so I plan to share some of my experiences with you while I am there. I will write about the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

The things I am looking forward to the most on this journey is spending some quality time with my pops and celebrating my 1st odun ile ya (http://to.ly/p7qL) in 22 years at home. Can’t wait!! I am not looking forward to the mosquito’s though. As a result of my last encounter with those minuscule bloodsuckers, I was out of action for about three to four weeks. I am better prepared this time round. (Pic above).

 

A big thank you to my boss (LH) for giving me so much time off work, truly appreciated.  I will only be ‘home’ for a relatively short time.  I seriously considered staying a lot longer but upon completing the financial plan for this jaunt, the likelihood of returning to London to drink gari and epa/peanuts (http://to.ly/p74u) during the winter months put a swift halt to that prospect.

 

I endeavour to post a new story every day or two about what’s been happening and start each post with “Kilonshele” in a different language or slang.  I hope my journey will be fruitful and enjoyable, we shall soon find out.

 

 

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

 

Life is about the journey, not the destination- let the journey begin!!!!!!!!