Tuesday, 29 March 2016


In 2003, I attended the International Bar Association conference which held in Durban. Durban is a beautiful city. The people have a sense of tourism. All through the length of this MIGHTY water (like bar beach), they built hotels, I mean sky scrapper hotels where you can be viewing the water front from your room.

Throughout the time I was there, there was no power cut.  The hotel and accommodation for Beach Hotel which was a standard sky scrapper hotel was about N4,500 and entitled you to a healthy breakfast better than what you get in some 5 star hotels.

The breakfast was the only thing I could eat because their food and our own are not the same. You will see something that looks like rice but nothing that looks like stew the way we know it in Nigeria.

Before we embarked on the journey to South Africa, we were warned that their cities were dangerous and advised us to move in twos and threes.

Anyway with that warning, I decided to ‘respect’ myself. So I did not move anywhere with anyone not even in fours and fives.

I stayed in a conference hotel and I joined the bus from the hotel to the conference venue and back. I went to the shopping malls only twice.

In front of my hotel, I used to see these guys that looked like Nigeria’s version of area boys milling around all over the place. I was told that they had knives with them. I did not attempt to find out whether the people who told me were correct or not.

Somebody explained that a lot of them were busy fighting apartheid and did not go to school and now apartheid was over, they had no job waiting for them.

I was privileged to see one Nigerian joint MAN MUST WACK right behind the Beach hotel. by this time, we were all tired of eating the food we were offered. We wanted our own food.

In that restaurant, I saw many boys/men. It appeared that they live there because their clothes hung in one corner of the room.

They were happy to see fellow Nigerians and asked us for the latest information. At that time, the internet was not common.

In the cities of Durban and Johannesburg, I wondered how those who had no job survived. I did not see open market like we have here where you can go and bargain and buy from the ordinary man. Everyone did their shopping in those big malls. The same is beginning to beginning to happen in Nigeria with the emergence of shopping malls selling almost every soup ingredients.

I am not an economist; I don’t know what this portends for the men and women in the market when shopping malls take over everywhere.

A Nigerian delegate nearly lost her gold chain when one of those boys that hung around in front of the hotel, snatched her gold necklace. The woman was so smart that she caught him by the wrist and snatched the chain from him. That for me was bravery as I would have just run away!

I left Durban to Johannesburg. My uncle who was a pastor of a church took me from the airport to a hotel near Hilbrow. I don’t know how true but he told me promiscuity was so high that if you dared to preach against it on a Sunday service, the following Sunday, you would have lost some members!

This Hilbrow neighbourhood was notorious for criminal and criminal related activities.

He took me with the car glasses wound up, through Hilbrow.

We saw some guys leaning on cars in front of these high rise buildings.

He explained to me that they were mostly drug dealers from everywhere including Nigerians.

He explained that whereas some people were earning decent salaries, some others are committing and living a life of crime.

Later that night, he brought two guys from my maternal home to visit me.

I don’t know them but usually, when any of them hears that one of their ‘townsmen’ were in town, they usually come to visit them calling you sister like they have known you all their lives.

I asked the boys what they were doing and how life was. They complained it was not easy because of the crime rate and the rate of killing. They said one was never sure of his life.

I asked them why they don’t want to come home. They asked me what they were they going to do at home without money. They said they are hoping to hit it bigg then they will come home. For according to them, without much education and skill, there was not much they can possibly do.

For now, they reiterated, they were too ashamed to come back to Nigeria empty handed.

I had no answers for them. After we talked, they left. My uncle then left and told me, I was likely to hear gun shots in the night, but I should not be scared because it was a regular occurrence. I was so tired from all the stress of the previous days that I just slept all through the night. I don’t know whether any shots were fired in the night because I was asleep all through.

I was very happy to pack my load in the morning and head to the airport back to Nigeria. Not that Lagos was perfectly safe, but at least I was going to be among my people where we understood each other’s language and ways.

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