Dear Yahoo Travel Writer-Lee Abbamonte,
How are you doing today? I hope wherever you are, you are enjoying some fresh air and cool breeze with a picturesque scene of a crystal clear waterbody as this seems to tickle your fancy.
I recently read an article that stated your opinion about Nigeria and I must say I was madly disappointed. Not because of your comment but because of the lack of reasoning that backed that opinion. It is surprisingly unbelievable that you found not even one thing to like about the country thus making your opinion even less acceptable. You have pushed me to believe that you allowed the few (and I stress on few) negative experiences you had to cloud your overall judgement of the country. I would be glad if you could feed me with validated points that would in turn convince me to accept your opinion of Nigeria.
You see, I grew up in a world that mostly rejects people of my skin colour and caliber but fortunately Nigeria still accepts me and calls me her own. So she can’t be such a bad place, what do you think?
Due to her union with other West African countries, I can travel to other neighbouring countries without seeking permission and paying exorbitant fees as would be the case if I was to come to yours. So even when I have to pay an illegal stipend to my hungry brothers and sisters at the borders, I do this understanding their hustle. Why? Because your people and some of mine delved in the slave trade which I feel is still ongoing in its own complex way and has left many of such people being mistreated. Don’t be quick to say you wouldn’t do same were you in their situation. Thinking of it, in their minds, you might actually be the corrupt one, grudgingly refusing to succumb to their own systems. Lol.
Forgive us for the numerous police shakedowns, but you see, my country cares about the security of her people and also probably doesn’t want another repeat of the slave trade if you know what I mean. Anyway, I am not sure what you experienced is worse than what my people and I face anytime we travel to yours and many other foreign countries. Whew!
I quite remember that as a child I used to travel these same waters you used to illustrate your point, and I am heart-broken at how you have managed to tarnish one of the few good memories I have of my past. You see, it was a very tough one filled with heart-retching moments that could only be escaped via boat rides on these same waters. Where one would sometimes be paid something little to act as a drivers mate on the various canoes and motor boats. To me, that was my beacon of light out of abject poverty hence I saw only beauty despite the filth.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison isn’t it? I guess beauty runs deep and is not always on the surface. I wonder why you decided to take this particular picture when turning to the other side would have offered you a less filthy one. Better still, driving on, you would have surely plied the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge which would have definitely given you more than you expected. Hmmm.
I will not even waste much time to touch on the issue of ATMs as I have visited a number of countries (of course not even an eight of what you have visited) and have experienced worse scenarios with ATMs. At least you got some money out. Just be thankful.
I am sad you did not get to experience the rich culture of my people. Our highly nourished and mouth-watering dishes? Beautiful and colourful native wear worn by our own handsome and pretty habitants? Educative and fun-filled festivals? How about our entertainment industry? Are you telling me you missed all that?
Wow, my dear yahoo traveller, you need to come back to Nigeria. The real one filled with its people and not the fake empty one you seem to be going on about. A people who smile amidst hard and trying times. A people who still offer a helping hand when they themselves are in need. A people who never seem to give up despite their struggles. A people whose light still manages to shine across the globe despite the darkness. To me, that has more to offer real travelers who are adventurous and ready to think outside the box. Wink wink.
Permit me to re-phrase your comments by saying “As far as I am concerned, Lagos, Nigeria, is one of the best places on planet Earth. I’ve never experienced so much desire to survive in a tough world. It was just a mind-changing experience getting into the country. Crossing in from Benin, we got shaken down by the border guards which made me appreciate their security detail. In addition to the numerous police check-points, the multiple ATM issues were enough for me; three times in two days, the machines dispensed the wrong amount of money but I was grateful I at least got some money out. It was oppressive and hot but I prefer that to the cold on any day. I could tell you a million good things about that place.”
I end this letter by entreating you to read my articles on my experience living here as a novice (CLICK HERE TO READ) and I know that will give you the vim to make a return trip. See you soon!