"The moment we [Africans] lost our languages was also the moment we lost our bodies, our gold, diamonds, copper, coffee, tea." - Ngugi wa Thiong'o

16 October 2015

In Nigeria: It Seems that Last Impression Lasts

Arrival Hall at Port Harcourt International Airport - Nigeria
After alighting from a Lufthansa aircraft at Port Harcourt international airport, Nigeria, an airport official directed the passengers to a makeshift tent. I looked at the marquee and enquired from the official; please where do you say we should pass through. He retorted; can’t you see the arrival hall there?

Well, we proceeded to the tent that has 'ARRIVAL' written on it and indeed, there were immigration officers and other security personnel waiting for the arriving passengers.

After going through immigration formalities, I waited another few hours to collect my luggage. To be honest, that was the most bizarre arrival hall I have ever seen anywhere in the world. You can’t even see such a thing in a war torn Somalia.

Anyway, while waiting for a friend who has come to pick me up, a young man approached me and asked; would you like to hire a limousine?

For a moment, I thought he was sharing a joke in order to brighten my mood, so I simply smiled. But the guy persisted and said, Oga (boss) I will give you a very good rate. He showed his ID and upped his marketing.

At this point, I wasn’t too sure if he was genuine about his limousine stuff or up to something else. And so, I sarcastically asked him; do you have a helicopter for hire?

But my friend showed up before the limo guy could say any other thing. Thereafter, I told my friend that I suspect what happened to me at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, is about to happen again.

In 2004, as we were loading our luggage into a car, a certain man practically chased us away from the Lagos airport with the excuse that we were not allowed to pack our vehicle at that particular spot.

However, a few minutes drive into our journey, a vehicle double-crossed us and robbed us at gun point in broad daylight (8 am).

Actually, the man who chased us out of the airport was part of a robbery syndicate operating at the Lagos airport at that time. He used that ploy to evaluate us before informing his gang to pounce.

Now, I said to my friend; that guy over there said something about limousine hire but I suspect he’s shadowing me. I believe he’s just assessing me in order to determine whether or not to inform his gang to get ready to swoop.

Surprisingly, my friend confirmed that there are limousine and other exotic car hire service at the airport. The information reassured me that at least I am safe and nobody is watching me with any criminal intent.
A portion of the road leading to Port Harcourt International Airport - Nigeria
We eventually drove out of the airport. However, the road from the airport to the hotel was so bad that I wondered how a limousine could manoeuvre these bad roads, especially the ‘swimming pools’?

By the way, if anybody hires a limousine, everybody including the ‘bad boys’ at the airport will assume he’s rich. And they may trail him to his house - assuming he was not robbed at the spots where the roads are bad.
Front View of Port Harcourt International Airport
In contrast, when leaving Nigeria through the same Port Harcourt International Airport, you’ll find a magnificent edifice that you’ll never believe was the same airport you came into the country through.

Apparently, Nigeria welcomes her visitor in a ragged tent to remind him that he is in for a rough ride. Then when the visitor is getting ready for the worst he is offered a limousine ride to confirm to him that he is in a country full contradiction.

And when the same person is about to leave the country, he is driven to the airport in a rickety taxi and passes through a glorious departure hall.

Obviously, the rickety taxi is to tell the visitor that Nigeria is aware that he found the country wobbly. But the country has a splendid departure hall that will put you in the right frame to return to civilisation.   

First impression lasts, they say, but in Nigeria it appears that last impression lasts. That seems what the country is all about.

No comments:

Post a Comment