Friday 27 December 2019

Rounding up 2019

My biggest lesson in 2019 has been that it is not and should not be all about you!
It's not like I have not always known this but it has hit home so much harder through the year.

I lived in Central African Republic all of 2019 where the country has been totally run down by selfishness. I cannot and may not have accurate analysis so I'm stating very clearly that this opinion is personal.
The sun setting over Bangui

When people speak of the good old days...(I wrote a little about that here), I always ask what changed. When you dig deep, it boils down to selfishness; the need for power and control, people thinking only of themselves and what benefit they can get. I'm sticking to the everyday little things that have led to me draw this conclusion.

Monday 9 December 2019

Visiting Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire

I visited the biggest Basilica in the world! Basilica of our Lady of Peace (Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix), Yamoussoukro. It is modelled based on the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican but is the tallest and biggest in surface area in the world.
It took three years to build, between 1986 and 1989 and was consecrated by Pope John Paul II.
36 companies were involved in building it, while the architecture and design was done by a Lebanese architect called Pierre Fakhoury.

The structure might not look so impressive from outside...

Friday 29 November 2019

A sound mind

Oyine’s head had been throbbing and continually got worse. She didn’t know what a migraine felt like but if this was not one, she didn’t know how else to describe it. She dragged herself out of bed to take some paracetamol and hoped it would calm down, then she could finally get some sleep. She has had these headaches for the last few days and was afraid she was getting dependent on pain killers. At first, she thought it was lack of sleep as she had not been sleeping well.
She lay in bed waiting for sleep, insomnia had become her new reality, which was worrying. She searched her mind for what the problem could be. The only thing that constantly came up was work. She had been over worked, her efforts seemed to be appreciated but that did not change the situation.

Sunday 24 November 2019

Quinoa and vegetable mix

I hadn't cooked in a while but I've been able to change that recently. I made of mix of quinoa and vegetables. It is so simple to make and you can find all the ingredients easily.
Good food, a book and some juice make up a good weekend ;)

Cooking time : 40 minutes
A lot of this time would go into cleaning and chopping the vegetables.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Visiting San Francisco

I flew into Oakland, it is a small airport, although bigger and better functioning than the Abuja airport...I digress! Getting through was super fast especially as things are automated, the immigration process was DIY on a machine, then you get stamped in by an officer. He only asked how long I was staying for, then I was on my way. From the minute I landed to getting through, it probably took 20 minutes as the queue was not long. I picked up my luggage, then got on the Bart (metro) to meet my friend, Manuela, somewhere close to the Embacadero station.

We spent the night then headed off to the National Parks the next day. I wrote about that in my previous post. After we got back, I had 3 more days before my departure and I made good use of them.

We got back to San Francisco on a Saturday. On Sunday, there was an Opera show at golden gate park organised by San Francisco Opera, and it was free of charge. Everyone seemed pleased to be out in the sun. A few of Manuela's friends joined us and it was generally a relaxing day.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Yosemite, Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks

I visited California in September. Before getting there, my friend Manuela, who knows some of the kind of activities I would like, planned things. We visited three national parks – Yosemite National Park and Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. We started with Yosemite.

If nature, outdoors and hiking interest you, this would be something to do in California.
Yosemite National Park is known for its granite rocks, cliffs and waterfalls. The half dome and the El Capitan are two that were referred to frequently. To climb the half dome, a permit is required. That was not on our list, so we did not find out how to get the permit.
The park has a few vista points where everyone could get great views of things from.

Monday 21 October 2019

Abuja - Kaduna Express way

Get a driver if you don't want to drive. You have a car so why do you keep travelling by public transport?
"You don't get it", she replied, "you don't seem to understand the situation. When these guys see people in private cars on the road, they make them easy targets to kidnap. They kidnap people in public cars as well, but people feel safer to travel in a group".

The state of the road makes things so much easier for these guys. There have been constant speculations that Julius Berger stopped work as necessary payments have not been made. I do not understand why the government awarded a contract for the road to be fixed without making the necessary payments. Part of the express way is closed, forcing cars to drive on the one way double lanes in both directions. The tar got peeled off so the road is in an awful state. The time to make this trip can no longer be estimated especially if one happens to be on the road on a day when there is an accident or incident.
One side of the road is not functional at the moment

Saturday 5 October 2019


I have no need to care about how I look; how rough my cornrows are, or how oily my face is. There are no mirrors here anyway.

I should not be bothered much about the unsanitary conditions in which I have to live in certain villages, how I dread going around toilets or bathrooms. Who cares about cleanliness anyway.

I am probably worrying too much about a balanced diet looking for fruits and vegetables, when the only thing I find to eat here is meat and carbs. How many can afford to eat anyway.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

The journey to motherhood 2

If you missed the first part last week, please have a look here

Mrs B.
I am, or should I say, used to be one of those who desired to get pregnant on the wedding night. So two months into my marriage, I was already getting paranoid; sounds funny to me now, as I didn't know I had a bit of a long wait ahead. Six months into my marriage I discovered I was pregnant! You can imagine how ecstatic I was. There was nothing wrong with me after all, my husband was so happy too.
I kept telling myself I'd always heard that you didn't have to see a doctor until you are 3 months pregnant, and so I did not take any form of medication, not even folic acid! Two months into my miracle, I started seeing little stains of blood, I told myself not to worry as I'd also heard that spotting could be normal. However, a sixth sense pestered till I asked a close friend who had had a baby before, she asked what colour the stains were, I said dark red, and she got alarmed and told me not to waste any more time but to see a doctor! I had two scans from two different hospitals. The first said there was no fetal heartbeat. The second said there was after I asked. The doctor was more concerned with showing us the spot that signifies a baby and putting our minds to rest instead of telling us if all was actually well.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

The journey to motherhood

Ever imagined not being able to conceive as a woman? Especially when the doctors find nothing but ask the woman to just wait. The pressure from society, the looks, the hurtful comments and constant self-blame. The excuses women/men make for partners when they say hurtful things, explanations women give when they should be focusing on themselves? etc.

We are always looking to the next thing. When will you get married? When will you have children? When will the next one come? We normalize pressure and always seem to have an opinion on how things should be. We forget that the person we have an opinion about has feelings just like we do, and it is about their lives, not something abstract. I remember talking to one of my friends in her third year of waiting to conceive. I remember the despair I heard from her, but the determination to get past the hopelessness and start living for herself once again.  I will be sharing stories from three women I know, in their own words, who had to wait for a few years to have children. 

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. Enjoy.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Friend poaching

A friend shared the photo below with me as she was not pleased about a certain friend who would always corner every new friend she introduced and exclude her from activities. I wondered whether the friend made plans with the third parties when she was unavailable for instance but according to her, that was not the case.
On the other hand, I have seen a number of posts where people mention that friendships these days do not seem to have any depth, or how loyalty and integrity seem to be missing.

Wednesday 31 July 2019

Cultural sensitivity

I've found people here to be quite special, they don't seem as welcoming as one might expect when painted with the same brush of African hospitality. I wonder whether it is linked to the many difficulties they have faced.

It has been difficult to make friends with the locals as one never really knows what they are thinking. In West African countries, a certain warmth and openness welcomes you. The people have a joie de vivre that sustains you through bad days. That I'm afraid, is not the case here, people are quite serious and could flip at any moment.

Thursday 11 July 2019

Road to recovery

I found this church in the middle of a village, in the bush. A number of churches are run by Polish priests and nuns. I was talking to a priest who told me about some of his projects; one was construction of bridges to connect communities that had been cut off. He also talked of some mediation he was involved in for peace in communities. This conversation left me deep in thought afterwards.

Sunday 23 June 2019

Hemorrhoids/Piles as I know them

Disclaimer - please do not continue to read this post if you would rather not know about gross health issues. You were warned...

I got on to the plane excited as can be to be leaving the land of turbulence for a few days. Too much happened in the month preceding my trip that I simply needed a break.
The familiar feeling in my tummy led me to the loo. I thought I was going for number 1 but this turned out to be a shocker, through the entire flight.
I had had a rough month then I lost a friend. In the bid to leave, after cancelled flights and an emotional roller coaster, I bought my ticket at 8pm the night before to fly out in the morning.

Saturday 15 June 2019

La belle époque

Each time we drive past, children run up to wave at the car, something they take pride in doing. Many of them don't expect a wave in return, so I see how their faces light up when I wave back. Some of them squeal and jump with excitement while others stand paralysed with shock from the returned wave. Children are so adorable and have the purest of hearts.

Straw roofs held up by sticks as make shift classrooms and schools, children walk the distance to get there with their chalk boards as proof of learning. Dirt roads, narrow paths, vast land. Motorbikes ply the routes mostly, as well as bicycles. The few private cars give a new perspective of how much weight a car can possibly carry.

Monday 6 May 2019

One of those days...

We walked into the cafeteria just like we did every day, but were greeted by the Polish sister’s foul mood, she runs the catholic mission. It was 7:50pm and she went off..."non non non, you are late, I didn’t get any information from you, you can’t eat here, I want to let the workers go home..." and she went on a long rant, causing a scene.
My colleague and I were shocked, but he handled things so well. He started by educating her on how to address people. Instead of making a scene, speaking privately, aside, would have been more appropriate. She didn’t ask any questions, or she would have known that we had sent information in the afternoon to notify her that we would have dinner there. She tried to insist and impose her authority but he refuted it diplomatically, then we left.

Wednesday 17 April 2019

In search of mangoes

I love mangoes, so naturally, I was pleased to see lots of them in Bangui when I arrived. They were also quite cheap. I had mangoes almost everyday for the few days I was in Bangui before my move to Bouar.
Since I got to Bouar, I haven't eaten mangoes to my satisfaction because I tried a few and they were not so great.
Growing up, we had about 5 mango trees around the house which produced different kinds of mangoes, two produced the same kind. Our neighbours had different ones which we gladly shared and there were names for all of them.

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Countries to visit 'without' a visa for Nigerian passport holders

A few times I've been discouraged by visa processes or just did not have enough time to deal with it. This led me to do some research. 
I found a list of countries Nigerians can visit without visas here.

On the other hand, there are some visas that may be more powerful than you think for Nigerian passport holders. With these visas you can easily visit many other countries without a visa…dang! 
Nigerian passports

Many of these countries believe that if you have a U.S, U.K, Schengen or Canadian visa, you must have gone through some thorough checks. The visas therefore grant you access to other countries for a short stay (please check the length of time for each country). 
If you were looking for your next holiday destination, here is a list of some of the countries I found. You might need a map to locate some of them, haahahaha.

Friday 22 March 2019

First impressions of Central African Republic

I didn't know what to expect but I remember that once upon a time I had told myself that if I were to be asked to work in this country, I would politely turn it down. I had heard such horror stories from refugees in 2016 while I worked in Cameroon, who lived through the worst things. At the time, I was offered a job in Bamabari (one of the hot spots in C.A.R) and I turned it down. I worked in a town called Bertoua close to the border of C.A.R so I worked with refugees from here.You can read about my time out there from this link
3 years later I found myself on my way to C.A.R despite my once upon a time resolve. A few people have asked me where the country is so this map should give an idea. You can also see where Bouar is on the map.

I expected to be in the capital but was told last minute at HQ that that would not be the case. I was already on my way! I had tried to prepare myself but after that news, I was quite disoriented.
On arrival in Bangui, I was smashed after such a long trip. I flew to Geneva from Abuja on Sunday through Istanbul. By Tuesday I was on my way to Bangui via Amsterdam and Nairobi. When I landed on Wednesday morning, all I wanted was a bed to sleep in.

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.

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