nigeria / 9ja land
…slowly she created many bonds. beautiful friendships. during her work she met other families that gave her love, invited her to expensive lunches/dinners and ironically now the family boi lived with always gave her food! in the one year that she worked for them, boi managed to open new business opportunities and brought much success to the company she worked for. and now that she had all these wonderful connections, they suddenly became affectionate toward her. her boss even called boi her own daughter! when it was time for her to leave she wanted boi to stay, or go home n come back to continue working for them. but boi was done with them! they love me now because they’ve seen my value. because i’m useful to them and their business. but when i was vulnerable and needed their love they treated me harshly.
boi was now ready to leave the dark continent having created for herself what she needed for a comfortable lifestyle. boi knew should she stay there longer she’d have an easy luxurious life. but boi didn’t wanna stay.
but leaving africa was no piece of cake! after working for more than a year and saving every month, boi still hadn’t managed to accumulate even half of the ticket money. no matter which travel agency she called, all quoted a price more than double of what boi could pay! and boi didn’t wanna ask daddy to send money frm home :p
how am i ever gonna leave this place?? boi wondered! surely my boss wouldn’t help me financially. only a miracle can take me outta here, boi mused sadly. have faith! you will go…something within told her.
then one day as boi was having her bucket bath, she hit upon an idea. what if i go to the airlines office directly and ask them to find me a cheaper deal instead of knocking on the doors of travel agencies?
boi took half a day off work and went to the island, the posh part, of the city where she lived. boi was awaiting her turn at the airlines office and wondering if she’d get lucky. when she met the official at the desk she told him the ticket prices were too ex and she couldn’t afford them but she needed to go home. after searching the system for a few minutes the official found one day, just one day, when the price was half! every other day the price was more than double! book that day for me, boi exclaimed!
what a strange stroke of luck! wow!! boi thought as she left the airlines office. that was a miracle! still the price was slightly more than she could afford but atleast now she could imagine traveling. boi then went to another airlines hoping she might get something slightly cheaper but with no luck. it started raining and boi thought her share of miracles were over for that day. nevertheless, she went to yet another one… egyptian airlines! the officials there were v. rude and as she awaited her turn, boi didn’t even feel like talking to them. boi had already witnessed them treating other customers harshly. customer service didn’t exist in such highly corrupted societies like nigeria, boi noted with disgust. esp. one particular strange-looking girl with no hair on her head, was shouted at twice! poor thing, boi thought and had no wish to repeat that fate for herself. so she got up to leave. but as she went outside it was still raining so boi was forced to spend a few more minutes inside. it was then that this strange-looking girl approached boi and asked if she was able to get her travel deals. boi told her that she got a ticket to india from another airlines but wanted something still cheaper. the girl saw the quoted price and told boi that she was a travel agent and she’d give her a further discount, a price boi could just afford! wow miracle! miracle! double miracle in one day! you’re my angel, boi told her. boi couldn’t believe:) overjoyed, boi thanked her stars and took leave of this stranger.
oh btw, what’s your name? boi asked the girl.
‘faith’ said she.
you have a beautiful name. i’ve never met anyone with that name. boi waved goodbye to the girl.
boi pondered her experience, about meeting faith and two miracles the same day. wow, it feels like finally i’m ready to leave this place. and boi wasn’t sad at all. because she knew it was about time! i must have learned what i came here to learn, that’s why now the universe is helping me to leave….successful and accomplished! during the one & half years that she was in the dark continent, boi had learnt many a thing.
boi realized something very important. throughout her stay there, boi had noticed that the blacks treated the blacks worse than the whites (expats) treated the blacks. naija was an extremely corrupted society and the imbalance of wealth distribution (like everywhere else in the world) accounted for extreme poverty of its people. however, the blacks blamed their misery on the whites. even after so many years of independence, they merit their poverty to colonization & racism! boi felt they just needed someone to blame so they didn’t have to take responsibility for their plight. the nigerians didn’t know what sugar canes were but they used sugar cubes in their tea! boi had traveled extensively in the country visiting more than half the number of states and she had hardly seen any factories or farms. although there’s so much greenery and fertile lands, not a single farm! they import fruit juice from other countries, boi noted, and pay five times the price on tax and imports duty but don’t think of opening a juice factory of their own! they go to supermarkets and patronize foreign goods and the goods from their own land, as few as there are, rot on the shelves! no wonder they all want fast n easy money; that’s why there is so much fraud^. as a country with such a huge oil reserve, boi noticed inflation everyday on fuel prices and nearly 22 out of 24 hours a day with no electricity! people lived in darkness, literally!
boi felt that life was shouting out a huge message to her by bringing her there. wasn’t it true? boi wanted the same for herself! we all do. we all want the faster and easier way out, a fancy life without having to learn its ways. boi had learnt much through her sufferings; i needed to live and to suffer a lot to understand that love is an act of faith!
^note to reader: they are even so proud of it, they make songs about it that sell like hot cakes!
question: how would you define life in such a reality of extremes; what meaning would life take on for u?
but that wasn’t all!
coupla weeks before her travel, one night boi awakened to find her bed floating in water! it had rained so much that her room flooded and the wooden bed she was sleeping on, was floating! so much water! wow!! all her belongings were submerged – passport, books, certificates, nice clothes…. everythin’ destroyed! ohmigod! i have to travel in three weeks and… where’s my passport?! boi groped in the darkness through the water and found it. it was… soaking wet! shit! what am i to do now? the family lived upstairs while boi lived downstairs in their house. and knowing the rains, they’d never told her it could flood that bad! apparently it happened every year! had she known, she could have saved her passport upstairs in one of their rooms. and now it was too late!
boi rushed to her embassy the next day. they could issue her an emergency passport in less than a week but she had to pay 10,000 naira which is almost $100! wow, where am i gonna get the money from?! i’ve spent all my money on the tickets… even though she felt the family/her boss should contribute part of the money, boi had too much pride to ask them for it. they weren’t nice so she didn’t want their favor. the least they could have done was to tell her about the floods so she wouldn’t have to face this situation now. boi prayed earnestly: dear god, please send me 10,000naira somehow, from somewhere… i wanna leave this country in one piece!
about a week later boi visited one of the families she had befriended there. they knew abt the flood. boi sometimes used to help their little daughter with her mathematics. the father slipped in something inside her bag and told boi to open it once she got to her house. when she was finally back that evening, boi opened it and then started crying… inside was 10,000naira!!! a gift! how could they know i needed exactly this?? boi couldn’t believe her eyes!
‘cuando se desea algo el universo conspira para que se haga realidad’
(translation: when you desire something the universe conspires to make it a reality)
i wish this journey would end soon!
it is ending. aren’t u finally leaving africa?!
no i mean this journey to destiny… i wish to find my destiny asap!
oh never wish for that!
because the journey is all you have. it is the journey to self-discovery. and self-expression. so get as much as u can from this journey. it is actually by living the journey in all its aspects that u will finally be able to find your destiny.
and remember ithaca.
ithaca! yes, i remember ithaca… and i love ithaca 🙂
when you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
the lestrygonians and the cyclops,
the angry poseidon – do not fear them:
you will never find such as these on your path
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
the lestrygonians and the cyclops,
the fierce poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your heart does not set them up before you.
pray that the road is long.
that the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop by phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.
always keep ithaca in your mind.
to arrive there is your ultimate goal.
but do not hurry the voyage at all.
it is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that ithaca will offer you riches.
ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
without her you would never have set out on the road.
she has nothing more to give you.
and if you find her poor, ithaca has not deceived you.
wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what ithaca means.
(watch the ithaca video)
~ extracted from the book magicNine by Baisakhi saha
“i was in nigeria during april 2007 to august 2008 on a student exchange program through AIESEC, in abuja and lagos.”
P.S. watch me dance salsa in africa: this was a surprise farewell party thrown for me by my boss at goge africa where i did my second exchange. since it was a total surprise, i wasn’t even properly dressed for it and hence had to dance barefoot in lieu of heels. i learned salsa in africa, but when i went to latin america on my next exchange, i felt like i danced better than the latinos 😉