Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Retro Africa Abuja

To a large extent, my parents are responsible for my love for art in many ways. We grew up with art works hanging all around our house. My parents have a collection and once upon a time when we complained that there were too many of them in the house, they found a way to buy us over.
This explains why when I saw this gallery on a friends story on Instagram, I asked my friends to meet up there. At the end of our visit, we were glad we stopped by.

Retro Africa is in a residential neighbourhood and in a part of Asokoro that doesn't seem to have much. Without the right address, you might wonder if it even exists but as you drive in, this photo below welcomes you.

Just after that, the next thing you'll notice is the room full of butterflies. I was quite impressed with it. I can't think of how much time it must have taken Habeeb Andu to finish. At night, the lights settle nicely on the white walls and illuminate the place making one appreciate every piece in that room.

We were fortunate to have been welcomed by Chuks Okobi, the restaurant manager. Upon telling him that we wanted to see the gallery, he showed us round and was extremely patient to take as many photos as we wanted. There are two floors with art works, the ground floor and the first floor.
The ground floor has art works of emerging artists while the top floor has works of established artists such as Abdoulaye Konaté.

Retro Africa opened its doors to the public on January 26th 2019. Although they had been in existence, they only had pop up events that would last for a few days. The place is divided into three parts...the restaurant which is called the Pavillion, the hotel which is called Atelier and the Gallery.

Abdullahi Umar and Dolly Kola-Balogun are the co founders. I asked Abdullahi why they decided to get a base. He thought they would have a wider reach as one of the downsides to pop up exhibitions was that people would miss out, as the exhibitions lasted for a few days. With the gallery, people could always catch up. The current exhibition is called 'masters and contemporaries'. They reached out to the emerging artists as some of them had been part of the pop up exhibitions, other who weren't honoured the invitation and it worked out well between both parties.

Posing in the gallery on the ground floor
Between floors, we were shown the hotel (Atelier), there are only four rooms. We saw 2, one goes for 70,000 naira and the other for 90,000 naira. They are both comfortable and a good number of items in the room were made in Nigeria. The bathroom is a good size with a nice shower head and plants to complement the natural side to things. The more expesive one has a living area in addition to the room.

Trying to understand these abstract pieces of  art work

You'll notice that I've left my thoughts on the art works out, intentionally. I would prefer for you to stop by and form your own opinion, I'm not trying to make anyone biased with what I think...although I gave a little away with the photo above :-)

The Pavillion has offers where on certain days, selected dishes have discounted rates. Thursdays are for games, we chose the right day to visit, what a coincidence. We also had a discount on some of the dishes we chose. The food was not bad but I generally like to go back at a different time to be sure that the food is indeed not bad. The first time, I just may have been lucky.

Games night at the pavillion

The view of the pavillion
Somewhere on the side, there is a wide green space, a garden, that will be put to good use according to Abdullahi. The space will eventually used for events with music and peotry. They hope to invite artists for live performances.

An upcoming event to look out for will be a wine tasting event at the end of March. Tickets for this will be on sale soon.

This might be a new spot, but they sure have big plans for it. Do stop by when you have the chance. It is located at 12 Ukpabi Asika street in Asokoro.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Riding with volunteers in Tanzania

For the past year, I have lived in Kibondo in Western Tanzania, where I worked closely with the Tanzanian Red Cross. I'm describing one of many days working with the Red Cross volunteers in one of the three refugee camps, Nduta refugee camp, which is home to nearly 100,000 people...  

I wake up to crows making loud caws and take a look at the time. It's 7am already and the day awaits.
I get ready and off we go to Nduta camp, the camp is about 36.2 sq km
There are close to 300,000 refugees in the three camps in Tanzania. Although there is no conflict, the country has become a safe haven for people from nearby countries ridden with different forms of conflict.

Bumping and jostling in the car with every movement, the dust is all I see ahead of me as there is no tarmac. We arrive at Nduta just in time to catch the morning meeting. Right after the meeting, on cue, bicycles are rolled out. This is the daily routine. The volunteers ride the rocky paths of the camps to deliver family news to their fellow refugees. For some refugees, this is the only way to get any assurance of their family member's well being. They cherish these moments. Sitting at different call centres where we provide free phone calls to the refugees, I smile all the time till my face hurts. I see the way their faces light up when they hear a loved one's voice and it warms my heart.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

How easy is it to travel around Africa?

I've noticed how a good number of African travellers seem to prefer travelling to other continents. For some time I did the same, especially because it was the easy way out. But as I've started travelling more around Africa, I have discovered that there is so much beauty to discover. 
Unfortunately, there are factors that stand in the way. I'll share my top four below.

1) Flight connections - getting from point A to B around Africa is a major challenge especially where the countries you are trying to visit do not have airlines that fly directly from the originating country. The flight connections between countries are quite challenging. A trip that should take a few hours can take an entire day in comparison to flying to any country in Europe. For instance, if I were to fly from Abuja to London or to Paris, I would be there in 6 hours. If I were to fly from Abuja to Tanzania, I could spend the whole day. I would have to fly to Addis Ababa, spend a few hours there before I get to Dar es Salaam. Not to talk of the ungodly hour that the flight arrives in Dar.
Around West Africa, connections are even more tricky. To get to Dakar from Abuja, Asky airlines is one option. It would take 7 hours or longer to get there as there is a stop over in Lomé, Togo. Another option would be to use Ethiopian airlines, so I would leave West Africa to the horn of Africa, then return to the West and this could take anything from 18 hours or more. How ridiculous is that?

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Faith restored II

I wrote this post sometime in 2017 and somehow a few things have happened that have made me to write a follow up post.

We went by car from a town called Kibondo in Tanzania to Kigali, Rwanda. The driver in question had never been to Kigali so was not sure how to get there. The trip up to the Rwandan border was fine. The driver happens to be a restless man. He seems unable to allow things happen or allow people do things for him. He always wants to be in control. When we got to the border, he needed to do some paper work to be able to drive in Rwanda with a Tanzanian licence plate. He gave an agent the papers to process but just would not wait or let the agent do his work.
He ventured out on his own to get it done. In the end, he paid twice and wasted time going all over the place when we could have been on our way.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Mafia Island Tanzania

Does the name of the island bring anything to mind? My best friend could not stop laughing and kept teasing me about it.

According to Google, Mafia Island is part of Tanzania's Mafia Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean. Large swaths of the island's southern coastline and surrounding waters are protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Mushroom sauce

I went to the market and there were mushrooms everywhere so I got some. I was chatting with a friend and she asked for the recipe I would use. 
I told her that I would have to form one especially as I did not have fresh cream to make a usual mushroom sauce. She doesn't like cream anyway and was keen to know the outcome.

Cooking time: 1 hour

Friday, 21 December 2018

Bagamoyo, Tanzania

I am sure you have read so much about Zanzibar when it comes to travelling to Tanzania...I have spent the year here and have found different parts that deserve a lot of attention. This country is beautiful and there is infrastructure for tourism to thrive. When people ask me about travelling to Nigeria and West Africa, I tell them that there is a lot to do but we have some catching up to do compared to East African countries. West Africa is more about the culture and the people.

My latest discovery was a town called Bagamoyo. It is on the coast and is about 63km from Dar es Salaam.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Mtwara, Tanzania

I visited Mtwara this week and was pleased to discover this part of Tanzania.
Mtwara is in the South of Tanzania and it is far more developed than I imagined it would be.

If you have followed news on Tanzania recently, you may have seen that cashew nuts was in the news a lot. The nuts are mostly produced between Mtwara and Lindi. As we drove here, there were cashew trees all over. There are big cashew farms. Surprisingly, all the Tanzanians I was travelling with had never eaten cashew, only the nuts. Tanzania is one of the biggest producers of cashew nuts in Africa and it adds a percentage to their foreign exchange.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Perception, Expectation and Reality

I recently had a conversation with a friend about perception, expectation and reality. It seems like people tend to be influenced strongly by other people's perception of them and this leads them to behave in certain ways.
The fact that sometimes people perceives you in a certain way does not mean that you are necessarily that way. On the other hand, one person's perception of you could influence other people's perception of you even before they have the chance to ever know you or meet you.
I am an advocate for creating impressions for yourself. A person's feelings or experiences do not have to be mine so I prefer to form that for myself.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Dijon, France

When most people think about visiting France, the first thought is usually Paris. Why not?
Beyond Paris, it's worth noting that there are many other places to see in France.

I visited Dijon for the first time and found it to be a charming place. La porte Guillaume is a historic monument leading to into old Dijon/the city centre. The arc has a significance of freedom for the city and it is from as far back as the 18th century.
 Once you walk past the arc, this is the view.