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Up on the road: online Diary Nigeria – October, 5th/6th 2017

Students from the Department of English and American Studies on Excursion to Ibadan
Lagos. Photo: Isabel Dückert/Valerie Pobloth.

Lagos. Photo: Isabel Dückert/Valerie Pobloth.

October, 5th

Where does the journey start? On the plane? At the airport? Or rather, a few months before, in your own head? Sometimes you can picture the destination quite clearly, imagine the locals, their clothes and behaviours, their food and their way of life. This is not the case. No one had a slight idea of what this trip is going to be like. And I dare say, those who thought they did have an idea, were profoundly wrong. Met by chaos, unusual noises and people, looking partially friendly and partially suspicious, a group of Potsdam students acco arrived in Lagos, the largest city of Nigeria. Let me the big adventure begin.

October, 6th

The first day of a trip is always special, so everyone was really excited. And it was special indeed! In some  very special ways. 

To begin with, we spent half the day stuck in traffic. Hours on end. Unbearable, you say? One of the best cultural experiences! You get a real insight into a typical Nigerian lifestyle. On the way from Lagos mainland to Lekki Island, for example, you can marvel at wooden shacks standing on stilts in the water, only reachable by canoes. This part of Lagos is  called Makoko and supposed to be the world’s biggest floating city. 

Moreover, you can see food stalls, people carrying stuff on their heads, salesmen ready to supply you with banana chips and popcorn... And of course, the omnipresent Nigerian police. They spotted that one of our drivers was talking on the phone and immediately made us pull over. He was told to pay a fine of 15,000 Naira (ca. 35 €, the income of a bus driver is around 18,000 Naira per month) and had to show his driving license. But then the driver dramatically begged them to waive the fine and let him go, and that he would never do it again. The discussion went on for over 10 minutes. We were super nervous, already looking for our passports… We heard a lot of stories about the Nigerian police, and since we had no clue what was happening, we even wondered if we were going to end up in the police office. But in the end our driver  got really lucky and only had to pay 1,000 Naira. Incredible! When the driver put up the window and continued driving, he smiled at us and said: “Welcome to Nigeria!” 

After this adventurous drive we met the Yoruba activist and linguist Kola Tubosun in the Nigerian Cultural Center. While we were having lunch and local palm wine (a very special drink, which we could not really appreciate due to its smell and acidity), he gave us some inside information about the linguistic  situation in Nigeria. In terms of culture, we visited a stunning art gallery, called Nike Art Centre, where some beautiful examples of typical Nigerian art are displayed. We even met the galerist,who was really welcoming and full of spirit.

In the end, everything in Nigeria turns out to be a cultural experience somehow. Buying a SIM card, for example. In order to obtain this tiny essential, they take your fingerprints and your picture against a white background. The reason? Security! Apparently, this issue is very important for the country.

Text: Anna Korneva, Valerie Pobloth, Isabel Dückert
Online gestellt: Agnetha Lang
Kontakt zur Online-Redaktion: onlineredaktion@uni-potsdam.nomorespam.de

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