Sunday, August 27, 2006

Abuja bush bars

After over 2 years in Abuja, we had out first bush bar experience last night. Abuja is almost famed for these off-road shacks that come into their own at night time. I'm not sure how many there are in the city, but its the equivalent of the London pub - there's one on every road, or so it seems. Its quite an interesting space to study - most of the time they are hidden from the road in the shade of trees - you only know they are there from the cars parked on the kerb nearby in the evenings.

The one we went to (just down from Dunes), you walk down a tree lined path by a furiously gurgling small river and come upon tables and a bar and the fish grill after about a 50 metres walk down a narrow path. Phenomenologically, when you walk down a tree-line path, the body is given a sense of expectation of the scene of arrival - in this case, the expectation was not quite met. The tables were dirty and the fish (which everyone else except Bibi and I tucked into) took about an hour and a half to arrive. I kept thinking if I owned the joint how much lovelier it would be - I'd level the floor and cover it somehow (it is just uneven bare earth), add lanterns to hang from the trees (perhaps chinesey to create a rosy romantic vibe), get a decent sound system to pulse out some smooth Lagbaja in the background and generally tone up the experience.

As it is and from what I've seen, the fish/bush bar experience is a little underwhelming. I guess the shade makes it a good place to discuss that all important contractor kick-back outside of the bright day of watching eyes, or to take the mistress to profit from the discreetly tenebrous cover.. But maybe sans-tilapia, you cannot but miss the point of Abuja bush bars..


TRAE 5:28 pm  

you got that right bush-bars (as you choose to call them) are one of the defining points of Abuja. a spot for everyone, from secret romantic rendezvous to bussiness and criminal meetings to parties and church fellowships. too bad i don't drink.

A shame,  7:08 pm  

sounds horrible. But then when has cleanliness and creating an aesthetically pleasing environment ever been important to Nigerians?
In every rich oga's house the building is built and millions spent on designer furnishings, ridiculous fountains etc... But look at the same house five years later, not a lick of paint, no tropical plants, just grubby handmarks along the walls, broken door hinges, you get the picture. Sad to say, but the only time you see a well maintained office or building, you can guarantee it is owned and run by foreigners (read Europeans)
by the way, this also applies to Nigerians living abroad. I've seen some of the filthiest houses in Chelsea and Hampstead. It's like the owners just don't SEE the dirt!!

Patience,  7:19 pm  

It is a wonder you haven't died from cholera, dysentery or some horrible infection eating out in such places. All you have to do is visit the kitchens and bathrooms of a restaurant to see how clean the establishment is. I would never risk eating or drinking at a Buka or Bush bar, you really want to suffer eh Jeremy!
I have to agree with the previous post that when I first moved to UK I was amazed at how obsessed with cleanliness the British are, something that never really concerned me growing up in Lagos. Five years on, I am the one obsessed with cleaning and find myself cringing at the sight of dirt when I visit home. Is it a cultural thing? Who knows, but I've been brainwashed for sure.
Maybe Nigeria should start a clean up campaign?

Anonymous,  8:23 am  

Trae, what are they called? All my Nigerian friends seems to call them bush-bars. Please let me know if there are other names for them.

Barb,  9:18 am  

So? Jeremy...there's your new business the sound of this "Bibi's bush bar"..let me know when it opens

Anonymous,  10:10 am  

i dont subscribe to this nigerians are dirty and europeans are clean idea. wonder where that came from. wrong stereotyping if ever there was one.
i've lived in britain for about 10 years and i've seen badly kept houses belonging to african and european pple in equal measure. you are either 'neat' or you are not. race does not come into it. i used to visit some village homes back in nigeria back in the days while campaining for my dad in some local elections and you would be suprised how clean these homes are despite the fact that they have thatched roofs, bare earth floors no tap water etc.
there are many rat infested pubs and restaurants even in the uk. if anyone has read the book 'hotel babylon', eventhe savoy hotel has its fair share of vermin.....

Kevin O'Rourke 12:40 pm  

If you want a decent fish bar experience I'd recommend Mogadishu barracks (formerly Abacha barracks). It's out past Asokoro, close to AYA junction on the Keffi road.

Anonymous,  7:19 pm  

GOSH!!... Nigerians are not all dirty!!!... i happen to come from a family of very extremely clean conscious NIGERIANS. so it's awful to generalize and say "nigerians".instead the previous comments should read "some nigerians"!!

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