Chronicles From Nigeria; Things I did and those I found interesting while in Nigeria for the first time

5:34:00 PM

Abuja from my hotel room... the hills were trying to get into the frame
Good evening beautiful people,

As I get ready for what I hope will be my last trip of the year I would like to share some of the things I did and those I found interesting during my first visit to Nigeria. 

(see visa requirements for Kenyans going to Nigeria at the end of the post as well as links to posts on self care when travelling

1. Abuja is BAE!!!
I would live in Nigeria for real (if someone told the sun that it doesn’t have to be that serious with its shine). Lagos took a few days to get used to but when I did, it was not that bad, it doesn’t lose its chaos; loads of traffic like we do back home in Nairobi and I think a signature of almost all cities in Africa… the loudness though, some may call it energy or zeal for life, that also gets some getting used to and once you do, it is actually exciting. I didnt get to do much sight seeing but I know I am head over heels in love with Abuja even though i was there for just two nights. It reminded me so much of my home town, Ngong with its hills and cool air.

Update - Read about my second visit to Abuja and my list of things to do in Abuja and its environs 

2 . Three lines that made my days

'How far now?" Which is a greeting, took me a minute to get with the program
'See your life'
'God will punish you'

3. Church - because I am about that life

Lenny LeBlanc leading worship

Speaking of God punishing people, I got to visit two churches in the duration of my stay, one on the night Lenny LeBlanc was leading worship and another called House on the Rock where I met my Spiritual Sister (I will blog about her soon - update, she beat me to it and did an amazing post). I love love how Nigerians went all out when it came to praise and worship, that energy everyone speaks about was all out...i was at home in church.
House on the Rock, Nigeria

4. Meet ups
I would like to thank all the people who responded to my Nigeria Call Out. My sincerest apologies to those i could not meet, special shout out to the two men with bipolar who reached out to me and MANI, the group that asked me to talk to them about setting support groups...looking forward to those reports. JCI Nigeria I am excited about the future :)

Update - Read about my 6 state mental health awareness tour in partnership with JCI Nigeria and BudgIT whose foundation came about thanks to this meet up

...why do they use soooo much palm oil?

I won't lie, the first thing I wanted to do when I landed was to get some Jollof into my system. I got to Lagos late in the evening so I had my Jollof for brunch because I slept through the morning and we made my default meal all through the weeks I was there...the issue was getting a suitable stew that didn't have as much palm oil as they serve it. Everything including vegetable soups has meat or cat fish but I managed it somehow.

I got a spot that sells 'my type of food' as my vegetarian ways are referred to but it was way out of my way. 

 My fav local drink is definitely chapman, it is a non alcoholic mix. I must confess when i heard the name i thought it was something lethal or a version of a local brew but it turned out to be a 'special type' of fruit juice.


A note for all the vegetarians out there, unless you are in a space you can cook for yourself, being in Nigeria puts you to the test. 

Update - I found a few spots in Abuja like Secret Garden and Veggie Victory in Lagos during my second visit that cater to my vegetarian ways plus I did homestay as much as possible so as to make my own meals.

6. Sights and Sounds 

I got to visit the New Afrika Shrine, home of Fela Kuti's music. I learnt about Fela thanks to his beng beng song which was popular years ago, i met him again later when reading a Chimamanda book; she mentioned high life music and typical me and wanting to be there with the characters in books, i was curious about it and when i googled, i met many artists but Fela stood out for me. I found myself watching a documentary about him (it was one of those days I went in to open one tab, 20 tabs later, i was watching this documentary) and thats how i learnt about his place aka the shrine and so besides Jollof, i went to Lagos to visit the shrine, everything else including the talk in Abuja is a cover up :)

Seun Kuti on Stage

On the night we visited, his son Seun was playing and they did some of Fela's songs so you can imagine my joy :))))) SOMEBODY SAY YEAH YEAH!!!! Before the shrine, we had gone for a Yoruba cultural night and i think this guy proposed to me after about 1.30min of serenation.

7. Peculiarities that made me happy
Sooooo in Abuja went waiting for my flight to Lagos i saw something i have never seen in my life, hawking of air tickets like the way we have matatus and they try to have all these touts trying to get you on their matatu, yes, they have that for airplanes (ok the ticket place) i was like waaaaaait and then that time we are all sweating like no man's business, yoooo that was something else. 

Why are peanuts in a bottle? Loved them though

Another thing i found peculiar (in a nice way) was the fact that they had something called Sanitation or Environmental, this happens once a month where everyone should not be out on that Saturday morning until after 10a, they should instead be at home cleaning (aka doing sanitation/environmental), i think we need that in Kenya. 

8. Lucky Buys

But i got to buy some books which from a guy selling second hand books (which can pass for brand new books) at throw away prices, i am glad i copped them there, on the main airport - Murtala Muhammed International Airport (the International Airport in Lagos) waiting to fly back to Nairobi, i saw the same books for triple the price and i was so so excited that i had gotten them in Abuja. At the international airport i got to spent the naira i had to get two classic reads; Animal Farm by George Orwell and So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba.

Update: Read my animal farm review

9. Bob Risky

I was on a panel dubbed Engagement Unusual which was highlighting how people use new media in unusual ways. This panel had apparently brought some controversy because one of the panelist, Bob Risky (don't mind my theatrics, Bob Risky is the guy in the yellow pants -  pic below) was invited. He is a Nigerian who uses snapchat to sell his bleaching products...he said for him it was all hustling, I didnt get a chance to talk at length with him but he is 'what Vera Sidika was in Kenya a few year ago or what Kim K was years when they began their reality shows and the whole socialite business. I just found him and his effect interesting.
This is how seriously i take my mental health talks :)

10. Bonus 
A bonus fav goes to Ritzy, keep learning, you have an amazing future ahead of you...special shout out to my Naija Big Bro Oluseun and my Naija beau Asurf (if i start i wont stop so let me stop before i start...luh luh love you both) 

Visa Details ( updated) ::: Kenyans travelling to Nigeria can get Visa on arrival, it is $50.In October 2016, I paid $50 and got a stamp for 30 days, something like what you get when you come back home. In August 2017, I paid $25 and I got a visa sticker, single entry for 30 days...not sure if the sticker is the new way forward but just carry $50 to be safe. It takes 2 minutes to get it done and on both occasions the guys in that office are really amazing.

Self Care while Travelling  
1. After my trip to South Africa earlier in the year, I did a post on how to take care of yourself in a foreign country
3. I have added to both those lists with a few more tips on how I took care of my mental health in Nigeria

I leave you with this frame
'Nigerian greats' hanging on Budgit Office, Yaba - Lagos where i worked from for a day

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