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Tuesday – Fond farewell

January 31, 2006

Kept awake half the night by bloody mozzie bites which felt as if they were on fire. Bloody Jonathan bloody no mozzie problem in Abuja. I get the driver to stop at a pharmacy to pick up some antihistamines and lotion.

Lunch with Bankole at the British Council’s roof terrace restaurant. We finally do the interview and then have a really good chat about promoting WaterAid and its issues in Nigeria. He’s asked me to have a read through the five year plan. It’s very ambitious, but includes no public component. We bounce around various ideas, including approaching some rap groups and talking to some filmmakers. (There is, apparently, a Nollywood emerging in Nigeria which has a huge direct to DVD film industry, the products of which are in high demand all over Africa.) When I suggest that Unilever might be approached for some assistance, his eyes light up and he tells me that Unilever sponsors ‘Super Story’, the most popular programme in Nigeria (the one they’d tried to watch when we were in Bauchi) which is about average family life in Nigeria. Obviously this is a natural place to pitch. He’s very excited about the idea and so am I. I want to put together a comms strategy for all the country programmes incorporating non-traditional methods just like this. So Bankole is going to be my willing guinea pig. If he is successful we can put together a plan for all the other offices. Makes me feel as if I’ve earned my trip.

Sam offers to take Duncan, Edmond (who’s moved from the Hilton to the Rockview) and me out tonight, our last night in Nigeria. Before that he is meeting up with some friends to watch the third Nigeria match in the Africa Nations Cup. I have dinner and watch the match in the hotel bar. Again I am the only woman in the bar, although this time there are a couple of white men. Very nail biting with Nigeria down 1-0 at one point, but they come back with two goals and the bar erupts with celebration.

Sam and his friends arrive. He suggests a club. Is it indoors, I ask. Yes, he tells me. No, I say. Tonight is my last night to sit outside for months and I’m not going to spend it inside a club. So we go off to the Paradise Hotel, which has a reggae band playing by the pool. The singer tries to get us to take a turn at the mike. Edmund does actually sing a couple of lines, surprisingly well (turns out he’s in a choir at home), Duncan speaks rather than sings a few words. I flat out refuse.

Back at the hotel, bag packed and alarm call booked in five hours for our flight to London in the morning. Nigeria hasn’t been exactly what I expected (although now I’m not sure what that was), but it has been fantastic. Certainly it’s a challenging country compared to others in Africa and the ingrained corruption makes you want to weep, but, as Bankole said earlier today, things are changing. Corrupt police and elected officials are actually being arrested, put on trial, pilfered money seized. It is something most people could not have imagined happening just a few years ago and there is a new optimism.

God, I hope I can come back to watch it unfold. Besides, I need to check up on Suzanne’s rooster.

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From → Nigeria

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