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TOURING THE AFRICAN GIANT ” Nigeria”

TOURING THE AFRICAN GIANT " Nigeria"

 

Arriving at the international airport in Lagos, Nigeria. The industrial and former capital city of Nigeria had a tremendous view I could never forget as I felt excitement flood through my veins. I had earlier searched online about Nigeria and found that it is an African country that has many natural landmarks and wildlife reserves, the largest Africa oil producing country, Africa’s largest economy since 2014 and the most populous country in Africa, according to 2009 estimate it was said to be inhabited by up to 154,729,000 people, no wonder they are called the giants of Africa, Nigeria is a country with preserved culture. There are over 500 languages spoken in Nigeria with English as the official language and other 3 main languages which include Hausa spoken in the North, Igbo spoken in the southeast and Yoruba in the southwest. There are several tourist attractions in Nigeria but had less visits over the years due to insecurity, the Niger delta area is unsafe to tourists because of continual low-level violence between government and militant group and several kidnappings.

 

Northern Nigeria is unsafe for foreigners (especially westerners) due to religious and ethnic tension ,lawlessness and current activities of Islamist groups such as Boko haram.

Eastern and western Nigeria are safer for foreigners but there is high rate of arm robbery. I was there to see Nigeria it in person because the internet could not satisfy my curiosity.

 

My friend Mohammed who was a Nigerian was waiting for me at the airport. We hired a car and driver from the transport company Uber at a cost of $10 to the luxurious hotel very close to the airport, Sheraton hotel owned by a foreigner, the receptionist had a conforming and welcoming smile. The hotel had a very large swimming pool, my room was neat and well arranged with a large bed at its center and a in-house bathroom and toilet attached to it, it was definitely worth the $176 a night I paid for the room and more like a home away from home.

 

After resting, my friend decided we should go out to eat even though we could order from our room, he suggested we should check out one of the foreign restaurants e.g the sky bar, the grill at Eko hotel and churasco’s but me being an adventurous traveller I turned him down and I opted for a local restaurant to try out Nigerian delicacies, there were many traditional cuisine to enjoy which included the Afang soup, Okro soup, Owo soup, and starch, plantain( fried,boiled or roasted), Pepper soup, Amala, Eba, ego pounded yam called Iyan, Jollof Rice, groundnut soup, Isi Ewu(goat head stew),Egusi soup, Ikokore, Owerri soup, surprisingly most off the meals were between $3-$8.

 

Beware; the food differ greatly in taste, spice and flavor and its not uncommon to have lots of pepper in soups, they can be very hot and spicy probably even more spicy than Spanish chillies. I love the pounded yam with egusi soup, as I ate on my first night, I felt odd as realized I was the only one using a fork, as people ate it with their bare hands.

 

Drinks are also relatively cheap with most sold around $2, non alcoholic malt beverage are very common in Nigeria, Heineken, Star, Harp, Gulder and other international beer are also available. Other cheap drink of choice is gin,which is locally made but its alcoholic content are too high so its better to stay away from this. Water sold in plastic bags are unsafe and may carry some nasty diseases but bottled water sold for 25 cents like Eva produced by coca cola are safe. Other drink to consider include palm wine, zobo(red soft drink, a tea of dried Roselle flowers), kunun and ogogoro similar to gin.

 

Transport in Nigeria was also relatively cheap with car and bus as the main means of transport, getting around by bus or car is relatively easy except there could be delays due to traffic jams within most cities. There are multitude of coaches and buses in Nigeria and transport companies including ABC transport, CHISCO, uber, taxify and many others. The Lagos state government also operate a transit system(BRT buses).

Transport by boat isn’t widespread unless one venture into reverine areas also transport by train are not advisable for foreigners.

Most of the trains in Nigeria are for cargo transport though the government are pursuing a wide nation train network.

 

No doubt Nigeria is endowed with beautiful scenes and interesting places that are worthy for the eye to behold.

 

We visited La champagne Tropicana beach resort located in Ibeju lekki area of Lagos ,the resort has a unique blend of natural environment which include a savannah,an extensive sand beach, a fresh water lake and accessible mangrove forest coupled with adequate security and customer friendly staff to ensure an experience like no other.

 

We also visited the Nigerian national museum located at Onikan Lagos island, the museum was founded by English archeologist Kenneth Murray in 1957, the museum has a notable collection of Nigerian art including pieces of statuary and carvings and ethnographic and archaeological exhibit with one of the most notable being jemma head, part of the Nok culture.

 

We also visited the bar beach, a beach situated at Victoria island on the Atlantic ocean along shorelines of Lagos and it’s the most popular beach in Nigeria.

 

We also visited freedom park in downtown Lagos, the park served as a national monument, a historical landmark, arts and recreation centre and a cultural site. It was built to commemorate the 50th independence anniversary of the country, the park was constructed to preserve the history and cultural heritage of Nigerians, monuments in the park reveal the Lagos colonial heritage and its a serene abode for recreational entertainment.

 

We were also at the Omenka gallery at Ikoyi Lagos, a contemporary art gallery, which represents Nigerian, and international artists at its exhibition space in Lagos.

 

We later visited the Balogun market located on Lagos Island, this market has no particular address because it sprawls across so many streets and is recognized as the best place to buy fabrics, shoes and all sort of wears. At the market you are expected to haggle for goods, as a general rule the real price is about half the price that was first asked so you are expected to bargain and ignorant people end up paying very high price than normal.

 

As I prepared to return home, I as a tourist had to take a lot of gift back home for relatives and friends, so Mohammed suggested several places to get souvenirs which included try gifts in Lagos island, the Lekki gift company at Lekki, souvenir-etcetra at surulere but later settled to order it online on the two leading online stores in Nigeria, konga and jumia and they had it delivered to my hotel.

 

As I stepped into the terminal, I realized i had spent less than $2000 .I just explored just one state in Nigeria out of 36 and I had so much fun. Nigeria is definitely a place for everyone to visit at least once in their lifetime and one day I will surely be back to see more of Nigeria.

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