Sunday, February 26, 2006

At the Zoo

This morning, we drove to the zoo. Sister Yetunde and friend Ebun (up from Lagos for the weekend) wanted to see it. The Abuja Children's Park and Zoo sits in the lee of Aso Rock, the mighty sleeping elephant that guards Abuja.

We were the first to arrive, at 10:30 in the morning. A sticker at the entrance indicated there was a wifi hotspot in operation. I asked the women at the entrance if the wifi was working (every sinew of my being told me it would not be).
She said, "eh - you can bring your laptop and surf de net. It is working." I switched on the wifi on my pda, and lo and behold, I was connected. Blimey, things are changing.

We sat on some new concrete benches they have put up under the shade of a tree and admired a flock of wildebeest. I read bbc news online as one of them greeted us with an almighty honk that reverberated across the fields - a cross between a cow's moo and a rippling fart. I wondered why they would give the zoo free wireless internet - apart from oddbods with fancy phones like moi, there is nowhere to plug in your laptop, and scarcely enough shade even under a tree to see the screen. There must be a reason, but it escaped me to think of it. I hear there is wireless access now at Wuse market, which is even more of a mystery. Perhaps they are anticipating the market traders will all buy wifi-enabled tablets and start checking stock prices at lunch time..

We saw zebra in the distance, a tatty looking dromedary surrounded by goats, a bored cheetah in an enclosure far too small for its lithe musculature to sprint around and more everyday animals like horses, geese and ducks. A sign by the lake promised crocodiles as well as all manner of tropical birds, but all we could see was the flat blade of the water's surface, reflecting the foliage on the banks on the opposite side. The birdsong by the lake was lovely - a gentle operetta of sound - layers of love songs interlaced with one another in the air. The cafe by the lake was closed, and there were no boats, even though there is a jetty. If only the management could see the Serpentine in Hyde Park I thought to myself. Lovers would take a rowing boat out to a secluded corner of the lake, bookish types would come with the solitude of a book and sup endless espressos until its conclusion in the corner. Sunday papers (which would, in this imaginary scenario, be a joy to read) would be laboured over. What's that? Oops, I'm dreaming again.


Musings 8:17 pm  

Hey! Are you trying to say the Sunday papers are not interesting?????

Akin 3:29 pm  

Hello Jeremy,
I liked your journal entry about visiting the Zoo.
Between the ages of 6 to 9, I lived in Jos which had a big expatriate community such that I was in a school where the natives were almost outnumbered.
I remember visits to the Jos Zoo where we met a 400-year old tortoise amongst other animals like camels, snakes, lions and elephants.
I suppose it was then more a colonial infrastructure.
Anyways, your views of Nigeria do remind me of a Nigeria when we were wild and carefree, they was a real middle class strata then - Early 70's that is.
I might just visit again after 16 years away.
Shame your blog service does not have trackbacks.

Chika Okafor 5:17 pm  

Things are really changing if there is Wi-fi at the Abuja Zoo and Wuse Market .
Maybe if more people in Nigeria start to set up more DIY antennas like the one by Geek Corps we will have more hotspots over the country.

Ugo Okafor for Spectrum Women

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