Arriving during noon at Lagos Murtala Muhammed Airport welcomed me to a completely different world. It was hot, and humid. I started qeueing for getting my immigration approved. And waited. And people passed. I tried to ask one officer if I could pass because someone is waiting for me. Hardly any reaction. (You will find out later why)
After 2h of qeueing, standing and sweating, I finally got to the desk (a half of all the desks was not occupied or you saw officers standing there and chatting, but not really working). My European nerves were pulled as never before – but I prefer to put on a smile. And guess what? I still had to wait for my suitcase!
From where I got the suitcase, the door out to the Nigerian streets was probably 10m afar. As I got closer, a women pulled me aside, obviously noticing that I am the first time in her country, and asked for 10$…just like that. I did say I haven’t gotten any money.
Well, heading on outside the doors, I didn’t see the person I was expecting to pick me up. People stared at me. Men stared at me…starting to ask: “Are you coming for your husband?”, “Are you married?”, “Do you have a boyfriend?” I tried calling the person who was supposed to pick me up. 4€/minute. It hurt my pocket. And my European impatience. 2h passed with every few minutes hearing one of those questions and I finally got picked up. It was a dangerous car accident which blocked a road and caused a long way round. So, we got a cab (mini-bus) and made our way to my new home. It lasted 6h. We took the long way round. Already by night, we arrived in Ife. My new home for the next nearly 3 months.
Above you can see the house of friends who stayed in the professors/teachers area of the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife. Below you can see the usualy students homes (though of course they can look sooo different).
The Obafemi Awolowo University is the University with the highest percentage of Christians. There are lots of fellowships and churches who offer different services. I came to the university to foster entrepreneurship among students. Below you can see a video I took during one of the services, it is not a very good quality, but I hope you get an impression of how exciting church can be there (in comparison with Europe, for example)!
Ife is a typical Nigerian town with around 50 000 people in the North-East Osun-State of Lagos (Lagos is in the South-West of Nigeria) with a history going back to 600BC. It is claimed that all life originated from Ife.
One of the many things I appreciated was the food. Moimoi (correctly written? | picture below), Amhala, Cassava, Stew, Jollof rice, the fresh bananas, plantain, and the many other good and spicy dishes.
And oh, one usually eats with the hand. Here I suggest attention, you might find it hard to re-adjust to folk and knife 😉
Talking already about food, one should also visit one of the numerous local markets where you can get everything from potatoes to suitcases.
Ile lies in the region where people speak Yorùbá which is next to Hausa, Igbo and English one of the four official languages of Nigeria. It is a tonal language which means it is similarily organised as Chinese. The words are completely different, but I noticed clear common characteristics between the two languages. Next to the above mentioned, you will often hear people speaking Broken or Pidgin English which is a simplified version of English.
Ife itself is not really exciting as there is hardly any place to really go out and it is very rural. As in any other place in Nigeria, it can happen to you that you might be a couple of days without electricity. Not even talking about not having warm water to shower…what you anyway get quickly used to when you are surrounded by temperatures of around 30-40°C and high humidity.
What I learned was not just that one should walk slow when you are in a hurry, but also that sometimes it might be really helpful to first ask “How far?” or, when you want to take a taxi “Baba, how far?”. This doesn’t just reduce the price the other offers you but immediately creates a more relaxed communciation atmosphere.