Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nigeria brings back Liberian memories

It has been a hectic past few months, and I realize I have not posted anything since last August, spare for the one entry last week about Ebola in Liberia. Since August 2013 I have been traveling like a mad man. I may have spent 6 weeks at my home base (Nairobi) between August and end of 2013. No wonder I haven't posted anything. Since my last trip to Myanmar, I have been to Washington DC, Cambodia, Myanmar (again), South Africa, Nigeria, Boston, DC again, Chicago, and NYC. All except NYC were work travel. Good times!

I was in Abuja, Nigeria for two weeks back in October. This blog post has been lingering in my drafts since then. What made me go back to my drafts and finish the post is my latest visit to Abuja few weeks ago. If you have ever been to Nigeria you know that it plays a major influence in African affairs, particularly West African affairs. Nigerian music, food, and style is emulated all over Africa. Nigerians are friendly people who are proud to showcase their culture, heritage, and they love welcoming foreigners to their country. The hospitality I encounter every time I am in Abuja is warm and welcoming.

As my friends know, my travels revolve around work and food. I was glad to be back in the land of spicy goat pepper soup, jollof rice, egusi soup, and eba. I was in heaven when I tasted goat pepper soup after a gap of almost one year. I haven't had goat soup since leaving Liberia. Since I pray at the temples of street food, I had to venture out and try Suya, which is meat marinated in a lot of spice and grilled on coal. Let's just say my mouth and insides were on fire after eating a few skewers of beef suya. Delicious!

The typical West African escargot is a must try if you are adventurous. I used to eat a lot of escargot in Liberia and Coté d'Ivoire, but I haven't found the same ever since I moved to Kenya. East Africans do not appreciate giant snails like the West Africans do. Imagine my joy when I took my first bite of Nigerian escargot after a gap of almost one year.


Spicy yam cakes
Egusi soup

Besides eating my way through half of Abuja, work was productive. I trained a lot of people on conducting research in malaria so we can use the information to strengthen access to antimalarial medicines in Nigeria. But enough of that...who wants to read about boring work anyway!

Some of the trainees
In between the training sessions I took a short break to walk around the hotel where we were delivering the training. I went to inspect the pool area and heard some familiar sounds. I turned around and noticed a bird cage with two African Grey Parrots. The sight released a flood of memories. Some of my friends remember Isaiah, the African Grey we had in our Liberian home. He was our child and he lived a good life until the day he passed away. I used to take Isaiah on a walk in our garden....that's right folks, I walked a bird! Watching these two African Greys reminded me of Isaiah and his shenanigans. A teary eyed moment....

Isaiah's family
I also visited the Arts and Crafts Village in Abuja. Wonderful gift ideas and some interesting items. While the beads, leather items, and jewelry were beautiful, there are some items at the market that left me feeling uneasy, sad, and angry. I saw merchants openly selling ivory items, whole elephant tusks, lion teeth, and a variety of endangered animal skins. I almost cried when I saw a group of Chinese tourists bargaining for ivory chopsticks. I wanted to bring an elephant to the market and let it trample all the merchants and buyers. It was quite disturbing! I bought some beads, two pairs of leather sandals, and left the arts and crafts village in anger.

Arts and Crafts Village
I am not sure when I will be back in Nigeria again, but I look forward to eating some good food and experiencing the wonderful Nigerian hospitality.

1 comment:

  1. Food looks amazing! Love traveling with you through your blog. Be well :)