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尼日利亚的日子 Days in Nigeria——Kuan Baker

estella  12-06-12 17:28

Language:中文 pin yin English

I am an intern from the People’s Republic of China currently living in the Goge Africa office of Mende Maryland Lagos Nigeria, where I am completing my 2009 Summer Internship. This morning was different and memorable because it’s the first time that all three foreign interns made it to the office ten minutes early.
Daphne (the intern from Taiwan), was the one to suggest we meet earlier than usual. She sacrificed the most by getting up at 6am to give us a friendly morning call. I was the second to get up while Sophie (the French Intern), was the last to heed the wake up call. 
I doubt that she was able to sleep very deeply because I made a lot of noise that morning while moving water from the water tanker to the bucket. Even though she was the last to get up, Sophie was ready in time for our last work day together at Goge Africa.
Poor Daphne. She’s sacrificed a lot here. Not only did she wake up early this morning (which hardly happens where she studies in Taiwan), she has also woken up every morning at 6am instead of staying in bed and sleeping. 
Why? Because the place where we live is called Moshalashi, it’s surrounded by seven churches. It seems that speaking to the Lord at early dawn is ideal in Nigeria. The peoples’ presence at the churches at early dawn indicates belief in Jesus is strong here. His influence is so powerful that He makes each one of his children energetically and vigorously march to the churches at dawn. There they shout, scream, sing and pray in their loudest voices.
I have to say that Nigeria is so different. I have been to the local churches several times and what I see is almost like “a big concert” beginning with singing and ending with dancing and praying . There are “singers” on the stage and their “fans” will follow everything they sing or do. After that, a speech will be delivered, which we call preaching, don’t we? But the Pastor is so powerfully eloquent that it sounds more like a promotion for a product on TV.
And why not? After all, he is promoting God and the right way of life for a Christian. People here spend so much time praying. I studied Arabic literature in China so I used to believe that Muslims were the ones who prayed the most. Alas, when I looked at our Christian brethren in Nigeria, I saw people who sang from afternoon to night.

The difference between Nigeria and my home shocked me when I first arrived at the Murtala Mohammed Airport. The people around me made a lip synching noise I had never heard in my country. Later during my trip to other states of Nigeria, my driver, Felix, told me that they just wanted to be my friend. Now I am used to that kind of sound, and can even make the hissing noise myself. I’ve found it works very well when trying to get people’s attention.

Sometimes, we interns can go to the University of Lagos (Unilag), because we came to Nigeria with an AIESEC exchange program. We go there to see our friends and do volunteer work at schools in the area. The common routine involves calling a motorcycle (that looks more like a tricycle) by making the lip hissing noise, and then bargaining down for whatever price the okada (the name for motorcycles in Nigeria) rider tells me. I stop bargaining when he agrees to carry me from Moshalashi to Unilag for less than three hundred Nigerian naira. 
There in Unilag, the rest of the interns and myself have to wait at least 2 hours, although we could have been late for two or more hours. We interns are used to that already, because our friends in AIESEC told us ---this is Africa, so they work with African time, and there is no time-discipline. Yet I am willing to make the long trip because it makes it possible for us to enjoy the food at the Students’ cafeteria. I love the chips there. Some interns will come all the way from the Dolphin estate just to enjoy the chips, and of course the salad, which is mostly favored by the girls.
I prefer the beef though it is very hard to chew. I think that when I return home, I will miss the food here, all of it, especially Amala, EbaJollof rice. But most of all, the three of us will Suya (roasted beef with chili pepper) so much. We are addicted. I heard that this miraculous thing called ‘Suya’ has made a lot vegetarians become carnivores when they return to their country. I also enjoy the alcoholic brands here like Star, Stout and Smirnoff ice (though it is a lady’s drink in Nigeria).
Nigerian people are very friendly. Many strangers will help us when we are in trouble, and children here call us “oyibo” (means ‘white-skinned’ in Yoruba language) and will accompany us all the way to our door. But the night time here often means something unsure for us. You know, even police will ask you for money in the dark. I still can’t understand why some people here are so eager to ask for tips at night.
So, from morning to night, this is how I spend a day in interesting and exciting Lagos, my home in this country.


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Edit on12-06-15 16:24