By Yomi Kazeem
My heart bleeds every time I see the news awash with reports of people gone missing. It’s a sad phenomenon we may, sadly, have to live with. Asides the occasion of kidnapping, a lot of people just don’t know where they are, hence they are lost. In service to humanity – without any intent to receive a Nobel Prize in return for my efforts- to prevent any other reports of missing people, I offer a simple lesson of geographical bearings and orientation for people who may get lost in Nigeria.
The easiest way to tell you’re in Nigeria is to understand the simple concept of darkness and light. When you walk around for a while and cannot spot any working light bulb that is powered by electricity, even with your 20-20 vision, you’re surely in Nigeria. Don’t jump to conclusions and assume you know everything just yet. Even if there is electricity, give it a few hours. If the electricity goes off, again you’re in Nigeria. Please note that there is always an abnormal incident every once in a while. If you ascertain that you’re in Nigeria and there is constant electricity for an extended period of time, do one of two things: If it lasts a day or two you are just plain lucky but if symptoms persist for a week or more, please call the police or go to the NEPA office near you, something is wrong somewhere.
Another way to know you are in Nigeria is to buy a local newspaper from a local vendor; if it has any of the following headlines then you are in Nigeria for sure.
‘A fool at 70 is a fool forever!’
‘National Assembly session disrupted by a brief boxing and chair throwing match.’
‘NLC threatens nationwide strike, calls it off and threatens again.’
‘Multiple accidents on Lagos-Ibadan expressway caused by Olympic-pool sized pothole.’
Another popular way of realizing your geographical status here is to ‘shine your eye’. If you see plenty ‘fine fine’ cars, follow the trail of these cars. If they drive into a building with a dome, ask somebody what the building is. If the words ‘National and Assembly’ are uttered, congratulations are in order, you are not lost. You are in fact in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
Now, dear friend, please don’t start assuming the worst about Nigeria. There are less odious ways of ascertaining where you are; Nigeria-wise.
If, per-adventure, you come across a large group of people under canopies with blazing music and robust women with identical ‘iro and buba or gele,’ you are at a wedding in Nigeria. If you spot anybody wearing just an identical ‘gele’ without the matching ‘iro and buba’ like everyone else, no worries; she just couldn’t afford the’ iro and buba’. The ‘gele’ will suffice to prevent her enemies from laughing at her.
Friend, they say when in Rome, act like a Roman. Since you’re already in Nigeria, act Nigerian. Look for a spare chair and take it as close to the party as you can while putting on your best game face. Track down one of the servers and ask, as though it’s a fundamental human right, for a plate of food. Eat, drink and be merry while you can, but before you leave wish the couple well and send them your best regards, not wedding presents. It’s not stealing; it’s just the survival instinct of life of the ‘Mo Gbo Mo Ya’.
Since you were once lost but have now been found, go ahead and sing amazing grace…