Thursday, November 23, 2006

To Jos

For a book reading at Barcardi - the local watering hole. Christine and Marphy sang sweetly after Abidemi read from her book (pics to follow). Everyone wears coats and scarves in Jos, as if it is mid-winter in Chicago. I always find this comical, given that the temperature is equivalent to a mild spring day in the UK.

The trip back to Abuja in the morning was lovely, the scenery just outside the town is stunning, with the biblical Shere ridge gradually receding as you descend away from the cool air of the plateau. Unfortunately, we were stopped by traffic police in white tunics just as we crossed from Plateau State into Kaduna State. They are strategically positioned outside of mobile contact, with soldiers near by. They fleeced us for N2000 on account of some spurious missing vehicle 'particular'. Of course that's bullshit - we have all the requisite documentation. Needless to say they didn't give us a receipt. Both the former Finance Minister and the DG of NTA announced publicly that corruption is exaggerated in Nigeria. Either they are completely deluded, or they simply don't encounter it from their exhaulted positions. To anyone else, it occupies every niche of society.

Then near Abuja, the car decided to overheat. We let the engine cool down. We were near another police checkpoint. The police were irritated with us because we were witness to their continued harassment of motorists for bribes. They delayed one poor woman for 20 minutes. They only let her go when she gave them a baseball cap.

Nigeria sometimes likes to grind you into little pieces and then spit you out.


tobs 3:26 pm  

I did a lot of driving myself around Kaduna, Abuja, Jos (or rather my driver did) when I was in Nigeria. The scenery is beautiful as you say Jeremy, especially in and out of Jos.

Our driver used to have the fog lights on and drive fast through the police check points. He was convinced the fog lights indicated a VIP inside the car and that the police would leave us alone by doing so. Id did actually work and we were usually saluted when we past the police or the army. (We also had a Peugeot 406 which is the same as the army officers drive)

The bribing and the power abuse by both the army and the police is a big part of my memory of Nigeria. It has taught me a big lesson in patience, which I am harvesting in Europe at the moment.

Lastly, allow me to compliment you yet again Jeremy on your blog. I read it every day and am impressed by your brilliant writing, insight and passion. You are an inspiration. Keep it up!

April 3:49 pm  

The Nigerian landscape is beautiful, and your description of the scenery on the way back from Abuja brings back some good memories. Shame about the check points and the police men though. But they don't always ask for bribes. My sister and I travelled by car from Lagos to Cotonou in 2003 (my sister was driving) and although there were several checkpoints along the way, none of the soldiers/police men/NDLEA/Customs officers/immigration officers, or even the quarantine officers (yes, quarantine officers!) that we encountered on the way asked us for money. A rare experience perhaps.

culturalmiscellany 4:54 pm  

I had to smile when you described the people in Jos wearing scarves and hats. When I stayed there and Bauchi I shivered in my bed as I was so cold. It is really weird how this happens given that most of the time I am in the ice bucket formerly known as the UK!!

I have some gorgeous pics of the Plateau area but I must say that the drive over the border from Benin to Nigeria, about 30km north of Lagos has yet to be beaten! Rolling green hills as far as the eye can see - fantastic.

Anonymous,  5:53 pm  

Goodness gracious me. I thought I was the only dreamer in the camp. I did not realise so many people can see the beauty in this our beautiful land. As someone else said recently you need to get out of Lagos to see the real Naija. When will one of us actually become Minister for Culture and Tourism although I am sure Borishade is doing a fine job.

seun,  12:39 am  

When u are used to cold weather and you move to a 'warmer' region(though the residents feel it's cold,like Jos is the coldest place in Nigeria,)you may not feel cold at because you are acclimatized to your 'colder' environment..
That is why it seems strange to you that Jos people shouldnt be wearing scarves...But Jos is really least for those of us who live in Nigeria.I am currently in Jos .I came to Jos this year,in March .The cold season is around November- February.People have actually died of pneumonia due to the adverse weather conditions here.
In summary, cold or 'perception of cold' is subjective.

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