In life, experiences that are dear to us are ones we would never forget and my experience in the city of Lagos will be one I will forever cherish in my heart.
I went to Lagos on the 6th of November, 2018 along with my course mates of the Department of History and International Studies from the prestigious Kogi State University.
We started our journey from Anyigba, Kogi State at about 9:15 am and it was all laughter and endless fun until we got to our destination at about 1:15 am the next day.
In the course of the journey, we had so many twists and turns which was the major reason we arrived at our destination late. One major reason was the incident of a deflated tire from one of the transport vehicles and a heavy load of traffic in Lagos and the natural occurrence of rainfall which lasted for long was the major setback in our delay.
The next day, at 4:30 am, exactly three hours after our arrival, we started preparing for our first tour in Lagos which was en route to the historical area in Nigeria’s history, Badagry of course!
At 6:00 am, we started our departure for Badagry and it was not a funny experience, we were truly shown the other side of Lagos as we were stuck in traffic for one good hour before we got to our destination at 10:42 am.
Badagry, as we were told in classes, was really a sight to behold, we were welcomed with great hospitality and we went on a tour around the area and it was anchored by Mr Cornerstone. Mr Cornerstone unravelled many things to us, he told us about;
The history of the Slave Trade in Nigeria.
He showed us the Brazilian Baracon (Slave House).
He showed us the first storey building built in 1845.
He showed us the chains and shackles used to get hold of the slaves during that time.
And finally, he took us on a boat trip and we went to a place called “Journey of no return” but we definitely returned.
The next day, being on the 8th of November. We headed to the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (N.I.I.A) located at Victoria Island, Lagos. We were warmly received and we were briefed about the organization’s history and objectives. The organization made a humanitarian effort of donating books both old and new for us to take to our departmental library.
We didn’t spend much time as we spent the other day at Badagry. So, in no time we started heading back to our resort in order to rest and prepare for our last tour.
On the last day, we prepared to make a visit to the palace to see the Attah in Lagos in the person of Chief Yakubu Sani Ejima. When we got there, he was not on seat, but after waiting for him, he appreciated us for coming and we had time to ask him some few questions in which he answered us diligently. After that, we had a series of pictures with him and we had to head back to the hotel to rest and prepare for our departure the next day.
We were all smiling as we were heading back to school because we had experienced what one would consider an opportunity and am very sure we grabbed it with both hands.
Growing up, I’ve always loved to travel and because of that, I never let go off opportunities that will enable me to leave an environment for a while.
Lagos has been like a dreamland for me to visit because of the stories and pictures I have seen. When the opportunity that the Department of History and International Studies came up that we should visit for an excursion, I did everything possible to get the money ready just so I would visit this great city.
Few days to the excursion, I had not paid and the hope of going was beginning to dwindle. I thought hard because my money wasn’t complete and those that promised to assist were not giving positive signs. I looked all around and amidst this; I lost half of the one I got due to carelessness. My hope was lost until God so kind proved himself and sent help to me and that made me happy. My health was the next challenge that would’ve discouraged me from going. But I said it’s a must that I would go. Thus, I got drugs to suppress it with the hope that I would be fine and that when I return, I will take proper treatment.
On the 5th of November 2018, the night before we left, it was indeed a long night as I kept turning sideways on my bed. Before six, I was already dressed and ready to go to the venue where we were asked to meet (Faculty of Arts and Humanities). The delay in calling the list took a long while. Patiently, they called out all the names and we left.
Day one (1)
We left Kogi State University Anyigba at around 9 am. The students really turned out for the trip due to the way the activities was drafted, especially the Day 4 (the beach party). Four buses were used, two long buses (Coastal) and two 18-seater buses.
The journey was smooth. Though, one of the coastal buses kept on having issues. We passed through many states and stopped at Ogun for lunch. It was indeed fun. We chatted, slept, woke up and made fun of ourselves. In a different way, it was hectic too as we thought we would arrive early to rest but it never happened that way.
Finally, we got to Lagos as late as 12 am. Trying to locate our hotel where we would lodge became another issue because almost everywhere was blocked. Finally, we arrived at Mile 2 in Ajegunle around 1:48 am and decided to take pictures for fun.
We settled in each room (4 persons in one). The hotel booked was two, though not far from each other. I settled in with three of my level mates. At around 4 am, we were told to take our bath and get dressed as our activity for day 2 was to visit the slave port at Badagry. We woke up so early so we could beat the traffic Lagos.
Day two (2)
We left the hotel as early as 5 am and a few others that were late left by 6 am. Because of this, the busses were filled up and some of us had to use the popular “Molue” in Lagos. I’ve heard of Molue, I thought it was something special from any other means of transportation. I never knew it was the normal 18-seater bus I know. I felt glad that I finally entered one.
We got to Lagos state university and settled in our bus the way it should despite the issue that happened (a minor altercation between a lecturer and a student that provoked anger), and straightway we went to Badagry around 11 am or so. We went to the Brazillian Baricoon and got enlightened on how slavery started there. We saw a lot of things including the rooms where forty (40) slaves were kept, the well they built, the first storey building and the well built by the missionaries.
We went to the point of “no return”. It wasn’t fun walking it, and we saw the attenuation well and we were also enlightened on its effect on the slaves. We also went to the Atlantic Ocean which was the point of no return. This was one of the most amazing parts of the trip. I got emotional and felt the pains the slaves felt. Till date, I didn’t want to imagine it.
We left there later to get food to eat and afterwards returned to our lodge. Though we kept missing our way; we arrived at the hotel late, we ate supper, bath and slept. Behold, day two (2) was gone.
Day three (3)
Day 3 was a visit to Victoria Island, the Institute of International Affairs. Well, this is one of the most beautiful places in Lagos. It was quite far from the Main Land. Though, we didn’t leave early like 5 am as we left for Badagry. We left around 7 am and we got there by 9 am to 10 am. We were warmly received because they already prepared and were waiting for us. We were led into the conference room which felt and worked as the National Assembly at Abuja.
We had a chat with a few key persons and we were enlightened on a lot of things. We also discussed the on-going debate, if it was wise to keep importing or should Nigeria start producing and exporting. It was an educative moment. At the end of it, questions were asked from all levels.
I recalled asking on the environment, especially on the flood in Ibaji, Kogi state, and the government action towards it. I also could recall Mrs Chinwe telling me it was already in consideration as they have sent a bill of request to the National Assembly. We were given six books each for free and we also took pictures and thereafter went sightseeing to their library and book shop. It was really a nice time indeed; some students got great books relevant to some of our courses.
Still, on day three (3), we left the Institute of International Affairs and went to the Shoprite at Victoria Island, Lekki. It was huge and quite different from the ones I’ve seen in places like Enugu and Abuja. Things weren’t as cheap as I knew it to be since I’ve paid a visit to two others.
But moving around and feeding our eyes was worth it. We got ice cream, cake and some of us got food. I in particular got chicken and ice cream and it was worth the price. We stayed for a while and then after all the pictures, fun, sightseeing, it was getting late and we had to go, considering the usual Lagos traffic in the evening.
Day four (4)
Tour was on Friday, we didn’t leave early like other days, and the plan was to change hotel accommodation for the few lodging at Mile 2, The Galaxy Hotel. We were asked to get dressed and get ready to change lodge. That day, we were instructed to put on our different native attire because the activity of the day was to visit the Onuh of Igala in Lagos state and from there to the beach, we also got our beach wears ready because there would be a need to change after leaving the Onuh’s palace.
It was a colourful day as all of us appeared in our divers’ native attires. At first, I didn’t go with any because I never knew we were told to come along with it since I was not there at the induction. I felt odd not having, but fortunately, a friend carried two along, gave me one. Guess what! I was given a Yoruba attire (Iro and Buba).
I was so happy because it looked so great on me as if I was measured before it was made. I took a lot of pictures in that attire and I enjoyed it. We later left for the palace which was in Mainland. We got there and due to our number, the palace wasn’t accommodative for us. We were welcomed in though and asked to wait for the Onuh while some other junior Kings attended to us.
When the Monarch arrived, drinks and kola were presented as offering to the gods. To our amazement, it was accepted. It was then broken and shared. We had a nice time chatting with the king. We were taught how to greet and also reply greeting. It was a new experience but welcoming. I could remember, Joseph, a student from 200L did the interpretation.
The king entertained questions and gave us bottled water. After that, one of the leaders of the Ebira clan came around too. After everything, we had picture time with the king and the other traditional rulers. After that, we bought food, ate and headed for the beach which unfortunately couldn’t work out. This became an issue between some of the students and lecturers. If the lecturers had allowed the students to go for the beach party, the hold-up would have made it difficult to come back in good time to travel the next day back to school.
However, the students were angry that their money must be refunded. This argument lasted a while but at last, we all retired to our hotel to rest and for those of us that changed hotel, the new place wasn’t really nice as it looked abandoned for a long time.
It was stuffy and even looked old. Well, I preferred the old one being the new one but since it was just for the night, we endured it. The place boomed with music until almost dawn. We couldn’t get much sleep. Around 4 am, we were up again to get ready for our journey back to school.
Day five (5)
We woke up early to prepare and leave for school. We left very early at 5 am. The journey wasn’t as rough as it was when we were coming. It was in a way smooth and fast. This time around, no bus agreed to wait for the other, it was more like every one of them on their own.
It was on a Saturday and my bus arrived at the school at 8 pm. We got lucky as we saw a car that took us to the front of the hostel. We were all exhausted. Even at that, I washed a few pieces of stuff so I could meet up with certain things before Monday.
Lagos is indeed a large city. So many things that I have heard of, I actually looked forward to exploring. I didn’t behave like a J.J.C in their market or in trying to buy something. My roommates were like buy us Agege bread o! When I saw again bread, I was disappointed because I expected something totally different but bought it for them all the same.
I don’t think I would love to live in Lagos because of the traffic, congestion, air pollution, and the hotness. Frankly, it wasn’t funny. It was indeed quite an experience as I learnt a lot. I made new friends and saw a side of life I haven’t seen. Ask me if I would love to visit there again and my answer will simply be a big YES!!!
Nigeria is the most popular black nation in the world and a trip to this amazing destination really worth it. The numerous tourist attractions spread across the country is incredible. Nigerians are lovely and hospitable people. The cultural and festivals will gladness you and will also form part of your travel experience.
Below are Reasons why Nigeria should be the perfect choice for your first international travel experience:
Nigeria is a suitable overseas destination for Africans, as its visa-free and visa on arrival policy makes trip planning stress-free. Recently the United Kingdom Embassy in Nigeria launched 24 hours visa services and this is another bold step in right directions to attract tourists to Nigeria. You can get more information on visa processing and procedures at the Nigeria immigration website. Once you get the visa, exchange your currency and don’t forget to come with your travel insurance in case of any emergency. Arrange your travel documents and get ready to explore Nigeria.
2. A travel checklist for Nigeria is easier than you think
Nigeria has two seasons and each offers a unique activities but the best time to visit Nigeria is between November – February (peak season). Nov – Feb is dry season and there is a whole lot of activities going during this period. If you want to enjoy a trip to Nigeria, travel light. Make sure you pack wisely. Arrange all your travel documents, footwear, first Aid kit, travel insurance etc.
3. Landing in Lagos is just the beginning of the exciting adventure
The Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos is the busiest airport in Nigeria. Flying in and out of Lagos is not for the faint-hearted. You need to get prepared for the whatsoever thing that comes your way. As soon as you touch down at Lagos, be vigilant and watch all your belongings.
4. Touring with public transport is the funniest thing to do
There are various travel and tour companies in Nigeria that organize tours for tourists. You can contact any of the tour companies to plan something good for you. If you really want to have crazy fun, tour with Nigerian public transport and see Nigeria in full.
5. Nigeria hospitality will leave you overwhelmed.
Nigerians value strangers. Nigerians cherish and adore strangers a lot. They are ready to welcome any traveler to their home anytime and any day. They have the same attitude of treating strangers either in the hotels in the cities or local’s house.
6. You will be astounded by the Nigerians unique way of life
Nigeria is certainly different from every other African country. Despite the fact that Nigeria has different ethnic groups, they still see themselves as one and love one another. Nigerians have a unique way of celebrating every occasion.
Things to note:
Travel insurance: If you don’t have travel insurance, get one before coming to Nigeria. An unexpected event can occur at anytime and anywhere. You need to be proactive against any emergency.
Language barrier: Nigeria has 3 major ethnic groups and each ethnic group has its own unique language. Because of this difference in language, Nigeria official language is English. Try to learn some local slang or phrases.
Sometimes, we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot afford to travel abroad for vacation. Well, you are not alone. Nowadays, many people prefer to spend their vacation in their hometown rather than travelling to the expensive cities around the world. You will get to love and appreciate your hometown when you learn how to explore your hometown like a tourist.