Nigeria will continue to amaze me as much as it amuses me as the land of my birth when I compare the so called giant of Africa and lately the biggest economy in Africa with lesser economies who probably assess Naija with awe!
There are very few Nigerians today who are highly patriotic and truly ‘Afrocentric’ as my lovely daughter, Oluwakemi Bolanle Ojulari Windapo. Perhaps because of early exposure to western culture and ways of life and seeing no big deal in studying abroad as I have made her to believe especially as far as medicine is concerned; because it makes more sense to learn with the population you will end up treating. Believing in me might be a product of Oedipus complex and bonding between dad and daughter.
My last trip to Kenya was to give the necessary support to a diligent and studious daughter in her penultimate year in medical school. Kemi chose to do her electives in two great African countries, South Africa and Kenya. With the support of her siblings who are currently studying in University of Capetown, she spent the whole of January in Cape Town at Groote Schuur Hospital, the same hospital where the first successful heart transplant in this world was performed. Going to Kenya necessitated pulling one or two strings to get her into Kenyata National Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya. My physical presence was more to support and build her confidence.
The last time I flew Kenya Airways, precisely April 2014, I was full of praises for the airline for competing favorably well with the european airlines. My mood as I flew in the brand new Boeing 737- 800 series recently acquired by the airline on Friday the 30th January was mixed: an appreciation of Kenya as a well managed economy and a disdain for the profilgacy and squander mania plaguing the so called biggest economy known as Nigeria which cannot maintain a national carrier while the more than ten aircrafts in the presidential fleet could not prevent a minister from squandering over ten billion naira on air travels. Nigeria we hail thee!
I thought the new aircraft deployed to Lagos route was a way of appreciating the huge patronage from Nigerians. But landing at Jomo Kenyatta Airport left no one in doubt that Kenya is actually on top of their game and have upped their stake as far as tourism is concerned. The brand new Boeing has come to replace a number of the old aircrafts.
Tourism, I was made to understand, is the mainstay of Kenya’s economy. No wonder, every effort is being made to make a visitor as comfortable as as possible; starting with the relatively cheap hotel accommodation with superb and most friendly hospitality. I should not miss out tHe efficiency, friendliness and courtesy of the
Kenyans are generally friendly, warm and hospitable. A typical Nigerian will find them rather slow or laid back in tackling issues rather than being seen as patient, painstaking and courteous. This reflects in their driving manners which does not get upset by the crazy but orderly traffic of Nairobi. You hardly get the noise from horns of vehicles typical of Lagos and even New York; to talk less of the road rage of chaotic Port Harcourt and Jo’Burg.
Nana, a fine lady Rotarian whom I met in Marrakech, is a rare human being! She is of many parts, passionate about service a la Rotary, friendly, generous, adventurous and down to earth. She’s a wife and the sweet mother a child deserves! Before leaving Nigeria, I requested of her a memorable introduction to Nairobi life. Nana went steps beyond. She gave me some political and economic titbits of Kenya. Eloquent, articulate and highly intelligent, I was not surprised to know she is a product of Lagos Business School, the Pan African University.
I could not hide my pleasant surprise when she hit me with the discovery of oil, the black Gold, in Kenya. But she gave me a harder hit below the belt when she made me realise that for this wonderful discovery not to turn an albatross on their cherished and guarded economy, they are taking Nigeria as a case study. I can as well believe she has known and probably seen a lot about Naija! “Is there any need to paint a fake or bloated picture of dear Naija” I asked myself. I needed to be humble, truthful, sincere and down to earth! And with that, we learnt a lot about our different cultures and nation. I was more on the receiving end and I’m grateful for it. Not only did my short stay become enjoyable like never before, it became more educativtely and informatively purposeful.
I had been to the part of the country called Kilifi which to my mind houses the best of resorts; from Diani to Malindi. And in fact I would rather tell a fellow Nigerian, holiday maker to fly into Mombasa for the best relaxation and avoid the traffic of Nairobi. There, I was mistaken. Just about two hours of pleasurable driving from Nairobi takes you to Naivasha lake surrounded by resorts that I can describe as heaven on earth.
Nana did not give me the faintest idea of what was in the offing for my Sunday but just told me to get up early to be able to accomplish my other goals for the day!
And so we set out at about 8.30 am facing the North.
Leaving a still sleepy Nairobi behind, we passed a settlement that reminded me of the then Maroko before it gave way to Elegushi Estate. Overlooking this slum from the other side of the road is a high brow estate just like Victoria Island. “This class thing is a global phenomenon” I chukled! Even the Bible says it all, “I will be gracious unto those I will”. Need I think further? Further on our way was the picturesque Rift Valley overlooked by the dangerously sloppy and windy road! And from afar one could see the grotesque Ngong Hills.
Finally and earlier than planned, we got to Naivasha and drove straight to Enashpai, one of the numerous, opulent resorts around Naivasha lake.
A quick tour of the expansive resort convinced me that it is happening everywhere in Kenya, not just the Kilifi!
On our way back, before nature got the better part of me, we branched at the “smallest church”, a Roman catholic place of worship built in 1943 or so by Prisoners of War according to the inscription at the gate! It reminded me of House of Mary in Turkey on the way to Ephesus; structurally similar but miles apart in terms of reverence and security.
This trip convinced me further the strong character that Nana is! She has a good mastery of the roads and drives very well and safely. I was ashamed of myself for not being the good company Nana had expected. I realised you can’t cheat nature as I slept and snored half way back. The previous night had been groovy! I was almost covering my face in shame as I thanked Nana while dropping me off around 1pm.
I left Nairobi in the early hours of Tuesday the 3rd February aboard KQ(Kenya Airways) Flight 532 and landed safely at MM1 at 11 am. It was most unusual that throughout the 5hour flight I did not even dose off to talk less of sleeping. However, I was lost in thought of the entity called Nigeria. I saw myself in St. Luke’s School Lalupon in 1970 when the country clocked ten and celebrated with pomp and pageantry. That was the time of oil boom. It was so good that Gen. Gowon, the then head of state came out in the open to say he had problem with “too much money”. Can you blame him? That was a young military officer who had power thrusted at him at 27! Then came Muritala and later Obasanjo. As if these ones were scrupulous, the civilians came with the soul aim of feeding fat on the nation they had waited for so long to devour. And they did with reckless abandon to the disgust of the citizenry. When tHe military came back, it was vengeful! Babangida’s regime now institutionalized corruption and thus we remain crippled under it! With the third republic came this squadermania of the national resources; the peak of which is under the current regime.
Unfortunately, the economy remains monobasic and mono-product, the oil as the backbone. The oil money which was once in excess of our need is now the source of our national malaise! The country, once flowing with milk and honey, now has its children virtually begging for food! The easy oil money blindfolded our policy makers to the extent of abandoning our renowned resources: cocoa, groundnut and palm-oil. And worse still our infrastruct ures that had placed us well above others have degenerated beyond comprehension. It is hard to believe that the same Nigeria of 1970 where power cuts had to be announced on the radio and television days before they are and generators were strange objects and, where available, were for stand-by, is the same country today where electricity from the national grid is an anathema! A former creditor nation is now neck deep in debt! It is a tragicomedy drama of the “fool and his money” that parted ways so soon. I can now understand why Nigeria is a case study for Kenya and the likes who just discovered oil, the black Gold, lest it turns an albatross and calamity of unimaginable dimension.
If the almighty Nigeria remains a fool at over fifty, it will only take the Grace of God to bring it back to its senses so that it doesn’t lose more than its money! Let pray for its survival first and foremost.
Oore Ofe Saaa!
His Grace is Sufficient!!
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