Chronicles from Keffi and Abuja - Part 1 (10 things to do in Abuja and its environs)

10:40:00 AM

Caught mid laughter at a picnic in Keffi 
Hey hey beautiful people,

It's been a marathon week for me and my mental health awareness tour here in Nigeria, and I want to bring you up to speed with what I have been doing since my last updates - the epilepsy awareness gig in Ibadan and activities that I scheduled to do .

1. Roadtrip
The morning after the epilepsy awareness gig in Ibadan, we went for my radio interview at Nigeria Info FM in Lagos (where one of the presenters remembered me from my panel discussion in Abuja last year)

I met the beautiful and soft spoken Sitawa Wafula from Kenyan today as we talked about #mentalhealth illness. A conversation we don't like to have. Sitawa Wafula is a source of reference for people looking for support and information on the topic. Sitawa aspires to build a resource centre where people that have mental health issues can gain access to information online and all the help they need to manage their conditions. Once homebound by epilepsy, mental health advocate Sitawa Wafula found her strength in writing about it. Now, she advocates for others who are yet to find their voices, cutting through stigma and exclusion to talk about what it's like to live with the condition. You can follow @jci_nigeria to learn more #mentalhealth #stigma #voice #speakup #radiogirl #bealifesaver #youcansavesomeone #lifeofaradiogirl
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We then flew to Abuja where Dayo received us at the airport. I did a two-hour tweetchat - using the JCI Nigeria account which I had taken over to discuss mental health in Africa - as we drove for a little over an hour from Abuja airport to Keffi. It was a working road trip for me but Dayo had a lovely playlist.

Doing a tweetchat on mental health in Africa as we head from Abuja airport to Keffi
2. Jollof
When we got to Keffi, I made an appearance at the JCI Nigeria board meeting to appreciate JCI Nigeria for partnering with me. It is at that meeting that I met, Oluchi - the most amazing human - she, Dayo and Nyi made Keffi totally amazing and are definitely treasures I will carry with me from this amaaaazing country. Unfortunately I had my first seizure of the trip that evening at Keffi, mostly due to temperature changes. I slept it out and woke up to a big plate of Jollof which I chopped mercilessly - still working on my Nigerian pidgin...this was a special moment for me given it was my first serving of Jollof since I got to Nigeria.

3. Network 

With Owen from a coalition of mental health organisations in Nigeria

The next morning I had a session at the JCI conference that was bringing together members from Northern Nigeria. The theme was promoting active citizenship for national unity and I spoke about the need for self care in promoting active citizenship highlighting some things to look out for and simple things to do as part of self care. I made it short because the guy before me had a 70 slide presentation and I needed to practise what I was teaching...taking care of my audience. I had really amazing conversations with the participants during the break, including Owen from a coalition of mental health organisations in Nigeria and made 'interesting connections' - Oluchi knows what happened here.

4. Go for a picnic

In the afternoon, i went for a picnic which I totally enjoyed - from dancing to Nigerian tunes, trying out Che Che to experimenting on zobo/sobo (drink made from hibiscus and ginger) and grant malt, a non alcoholic malt drink, as I played hide and seek with 'potential suitors'...I loved the energy and the vibes at the picnic.

5. Try some Egusi soup
Ooopsie, I remembered to take a picture when I was halfway...this is Egusi 

I had egusi for the first time and looooved is a soup made from melon seeds and palm oil. At first I doubted it because it looked like scrambled eggs.

6. Attend gigs were people have traditional regalia 

It is a skirt 'hides'
After the picnic, I attended the conference closing event and it was amazing to watch the dances to and how the different tribes wore their traditional regalia.

Aren't they lovely?
7. The Fish Market
On Sunday, we had early lunch at the mammy market at Abacha barracks. This is a fish market, at the Junction of the roads leading to the airport and Abuja Nigerian geography isn't the best.
Dayo vouched for stall No 6 so if you ever find yourself here, look out for No 6
It is full of stalls surrounding a large space where a group of ladies make fish in all types of ways...if that makes sense.  

 My Naija these humans 
Since I don't eat fish, or any other type of meat since my body started reacting to animal proteins, I had fries and hottest pepe, like sweating give me loads of water hot, and tried out orijin zero which is the non alcoholic sibling in the orijin fam

8. Games village
After lunch,  I facilitated a support group meeting which I will talk about in my next post alongside my Monday I visit to the main hospital that offers mental health services in Abuja followed by a very productive meeting with one of the leading mental health NGOs in Nigeria.I stayed at games village in Abuja which has the nice recreational activities from table tennis, basket ball court and a good running path. I didn't take any pictures because I don't go running with my phone but I did some amazing outdoor workouts which was a good deviation from the indoor yoga I have been doing since I got to Nigeria.

9. The Secret Garden 

After my Monday meetings, Oluchi took me for lunch at Secret Garden where we just chilled and had some pizza and salad.

Our half half pizza

I loved that they have a whole page on their menu for vegetarian pizzas (who does that?)...they definitely won my heart and tripped it over when I learnt they can do a half half pizza so we did a half peperoni for her and half mushrooms for me.

Sneak peak of the amazing soul that's Oluchi

10. Zuma rock

Abuja is a lovely place with loads of rocks and hills around it. I am so glad I got to see a lot more than I did last time. I was informed that there is a rock that has a human face and was shown pictures. I never got to see it but that's enough reason to bring me back to hike the rock with a human face.
My last Abuja chillout - The Secret garden

My mental health awareness tour update: On Tuesday, I flew to Benin City for a radio interview and a few meetings - I will update on that leg of the trip when I get back to Lagos. I will also do a post on my experiences meeting mental health service providers in Abuja; a support group, hospital visit and mental health NGO. 

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