I love Naija! An even though I draw a breath of relief every time I come back to Norway or England with running water, electricity and chocolate brownies easily accessible, it doesn’t take long for me to start missing the chaotic crazy place that’s Nigeria. Because in all her imperfections, Nigeria is a very beautiful place where I have learned many life lessons and really grown and matured as a person. I haven’t really been able to share my experiences with my blog readers, but I figure it’s about time now.
I am amazed at the Nigerian way of adapting to tough situations. It seems that no matter what, we have to cope with it. Preferably with a big smile, some good music and a can of Origin, which is this herbal alcoholic pop. One such situation was the fuel strike in April and May. The strike was so bad, it even hit international news.
In Nigeria, there’s always a shortage of electricity. At first I thought some big boss, OluwaChukwu Muhammad (All major tribes represented) decided “On NEPA” or Off NEPA” just to entertain himself with the fact that the electricity would be turned off and disrupt what the general public were doing. Ok, so I didn’t really think it was all that simple. But it does feel that way sometimes and it’s become a joke between me and my Nigerian friends.
So when NEPA is off, we have to fuel the generators to get anything done. I hadn’t seen a generator until I came to Nigeria, although I know some crazy Norwegians with mountain cabins that don’t have electricity and running water use them. So I knew that they provided electricity to a house or apartment.
During the fuel strikes, life was tough for a spoiled Oyinbo like myself who is used to constant power every day. LOL. Since NEPA was often more off than on and since black market fuel cost four of five times as much as legal fuel, we were often left with no form of electricity. The black market fuel was also watered down and could harm cars and generators. So buying that was dangerous as well as pricey. Phones couldn’t be charged and none of us really got any work done since music production depends on laptops that couldn’t be charged either.
Going out was not possible unless we really had to since we had to save the fuel in the car to go get more fuel for the house. It was hot, because there was no air-condition and the mosquitos seemed more plenty than usual.
So, not having access to a lot offline, or non-electronic entertainment or work, I slept a lot during the worst of the crises. Although I did have some relief in a hotel for a few days where they had diesel generators and therefore air-condition and all the other comforts of electricity.
I also attended a few TV interviews during that time. And they all asked me how I coped with the strike. I replied that I really had no choice but to make the best out of it.
And there were good moments too. Because we were forced to entertain ourselves, we played with balls and skipping ropes in the compound like when we were kids. And sat outside and chatted while eating fresh pineapple.
I’m not exactly hoping to experience something like this again. But the experience taught me to really appreciate things I take for granted, got my skipping rope skills almost back to my childhood levels and that it really is easier to work with a difficult situation than against it. And I’m grateful for those lessons.