Tuesday, October 30, 2007

AIRPORTS AND OTHER STORIES I



The nature of my job involves a lot of traveling. I'm usually out of Lagos at least once in a month. Most of these journeys are made by air. In the last 6 months, I have been able to visit all the airports in the East - Benin, Owerri, Enugu, PH (NAF Base).

It is said that the airport is the easiest place to meet up with executives that you would not ordinarily have access to. You get to queue up with them, rub shoulders with them, even sit down beside them and strike up conversations with them. These "big men" would regard the fact that you are on their flight as a sign that you have achieved some form of personal success. A list of some of the "popular folks " I've flown with would include - Olisa Agbakoba,Senators Olorunnimbe Mamora and Ganiyu Solomon, Alhaji Arisekola Alao, Tunji Otegbeye, Sunny Nneji, Jumobi (RMD), Wild Child and Ibinabo Fiberesima

Air travel is regarded as the exclusive preserve of the rich in this country. It is supposed to confer an air of superiority on those who can afford it. It sets you apart from the rest of 'them' who only make do with seeing planes while they are in the skies. The ambience of the Airport Arrival and Departure lounges usually sets the stage for the 'Airport Mentality'. The scene begins as you alight from your vehicle, get your luggage from your boot and trolley your load into the departure lounge. Looking around serves as a form of education for the uninitiated. A quick walk into the departure section for the foreign airlines would reveal various innate characteristics of Nigerians. You get to see the community members who have put together money to send their beloved son for further studies abroad. This set of people can easily be identified by the large display of ethnic attires and endless torrent of prayers and advice for the (un)fortunate traveler. Another set you would see is that of young boys and girls who have come to see off their 'homeboy' whom the Gods have blessed with a visiting visa to some foreign country. This homeboy has probably been on the visa application thing for ages. He has tried under various guises - student, refugee, visitor, at last, an act of omission or commission at the foreign embassy leads to him getting a Visa. Another set could be that of the boyfriend who is going on a foreign trip escorted hand in hand by his girlfriend. They look like a scene out of a romantic movie as they push the trolley slowly on the check in queue.
A common denominator in all these groups is the penchant for individuals to respond to phone calls with "I'm at the International Airport/ Mo wa ni Airport bayii" as a replacement for the "Hello" Word.
A comedian once said the place you can see Nigerians put up their best behavior is at a Foreign embassy in Nigeria and on arrival at a Foreign Airport. These are places where you can give the Nigerian a good slap and he would delightfully turn the other cheek.
I have had various interesting flight experiences that I would like to share.

Something I've noticed about Nigerians on local flights is their penchant for sharing their experiences on foreign flights and comparing both of them. I was once on an Arik Air flight to Benin that was as turbulent as it could be. On that particular day, Arik Air was the only airline that operated from the Domestic Airport. Other airlines cancelled their flights. The Lagos - Benin flight usually takes 25mins, however we were onboard this flight for almost an hour. Terrible rain and lightning made us stay onboard the aircraft for about an hour before the plane could take off. During this period, the pilot was busy turning the plane around and "searching for network". At this stage, I was extremely disturbed. We later took off and headed towards Benin. On approaching the Benin Airport, all the elements of the weather came out in their full glory. The plane ride suddenly became as smooth as a bus ride on Ikotun-Ijegun road. The flight pattern changed to that of a sinusoidal wave. In the midst of the turbulence, some Tokunbo Nigerian behind me was running commentaries on how his flights from Texas to wherever were often bumpy. He kept yapping about how his flight from Madrid to wherever was also rough. Meanwhile, I was in front of him confessing all my wrongdoings from my time to the time of my great-grandfathers. The guy kept blabbing. The next thing was that the pilot announced that he had tried to land but couldn't see the runway and he would make another attempt. he also mentioned that in the event that his second attempt at landing was unsuccessful, we would return to Lagos. I was already shouting in my mind - My guy bone this thing, make we go back. I discovered at this point that Mr. Texas/Madrid behind me had gone quiet. I think he realised that heaven did not discriminate in its admission list. Your chances of surviving a plane crash have nothing to do with the extent of your travels. I almost lost hope when the chap beside me started singing hymns. We landed safely.

Something else I usually notice at the airports is the way rich/elite mothers and their kids relate. It is becoming commonplace to see Middle aged women, hippily dressed with low-neckline blouses revealing cleavages (better still remains of cleavages) strutting their stuff across the airport lounges. Not so far behind are their foreign looking kids who speak some gibberish that resembles the English language. The kids often come with exotic names like Isabella, Donatella, MichaelAngelo, Tarzan and Damendra. Imagine this conversation b/w the mother of such kids and her close family friend who she meets at the airport

Mother: Ah, Aunty Yetunde, E ka san , O to jo meta, Oju yin ree
Family Friend: Ijo kan pelu bawo ni
Mother: Hey, Kids , come and meet Aunty Yetty
Kids: Hi Aunty Yetty
Family Friend: Bawo ni o , Se dada lewa, Ah E ranti Aunty yi to n gbe ni Agege
kids: Mummy, Mummy, Where is Agaygay? Is Agaygay in Nigeria?
Mother: You know these kids, They really don't understand Yoruba, they only come

for vacation. Getting a Yoruba Teacher for them is so hard. All they know is
Cartoon Network
Family Friend: So what are your names?
Kids: My name is Tarzan, My name is Damendra
Family Friend: Iro Oruko Anjonu wo niyen, Jide and Dayo la ma pe awon omoyi keto ko won losi

America

...to be continued

13 comments:

stuck in my throat o said...

LOL at the women conversing.
People should stop using living abroad as an excuse not to teach their kids their language. The child understands the language spoken to him or her.

2ndCorin5:17 said...

LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!! wow! I love dis posting about airports! I can SOOOOO relate
U forgot to mention, the crying kinds like myself... so sad to leave mommy, daddy and d fam.. I guess its rare.. thanks for stopping by my blog... do come again. Be safe

ozaveshe said...

tarzan...

there's someone i sometimes call tarzan. lets just say he's a 'member' of my family...

K said...

a smooth account here..but you and I know where thiss really belongs men...put it on stage!!!

CATWALQ a.k.a LAGBA-JESS said...

LOL
U r one character.
Thanks for stopping at my blog...
Where did u hear Tarzan and Dhamendra sef? Why not Amitabh and George of the Jungle?
Nonsense but I know what you mean about Nigerians and airports. We are the only ones that dress up to get on a flight...every other culture is jeans and tshirt or something they think is along those lines. Our people (myself included) have been known to spot their sunday best...

laspapi said...

This was well written- Tarzan boy and Dhamendra?

pamelastitch said...

LOL!!

Comrade said...

@stuck in my throat
People always need excuses. I think we need to understand that our native languages are not primitive.
@2Cor5:17
Hope u're ok
@Ozaveshe
44 comments and counting.
@ K
Plans are on. We're starting up soon
@Catwalk
Thanks for stopping by. Honored to have one of the queens of blogville on my blog
@laspapi
Greetings, fellow thespian, See you on stage soon.
@ Pamela stitch
Thanks

shola pacheco said...

comerade,this ur blog na wire ho,,i couldnt stop laughing,oh well nice one

Anonymous said...

This is my first time here and I must say this article is very funny. Hmmm the airport one is soooo TRUE, you see people galloping around aimlessly as well. The one that vexes me atimes is the people wey just manage get visa wear the wrongest clothes to travel. They often range from massively uncomfortable to useless against the elements but its fun to observe, quite interesting to observe.

I think it is a shame (even if you do not live in Nigeria) when Nigerian kids can not speak their local language. If you see Asians in the Western world, they speak their lang with pride. I see no reason why I can not blast my Nigerian lang with pride but its a mind thing. When the parents feel that its 'touche' for the kids not to speak naija lang (not to mention our peculiar slangs) then ,can you blame the kids?....True talk

Black Man Comes said...

HEY, i copied the story of baba dauda and mailed it to friends, with due recognition of the author of course.

Anonymous said...

this is 2funny i have cousins in 9ja born and bread there and they supposely can't speak or understand but anywayz i have a 10months old baby and he's already speaking yoruba like gba gba u need to see him so cute and also a 4yr also speaks and understand and am not giving them any kinda lesson cause i need one too but alwayz i was born and partly raised in the u.s and 9ja i don't know much bout 9ja but i can speak and understand very well much better than people i know born and raise in 9ja

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