My lift was called and we made our way through the usual noise and traffic of the morning rush. Past the men and women selling there newspapers, yams, rice, past the people tending there ‘garden centres’. Work seems to start early here, probably before the sun gets too hot (but then they are there working all day), or just that they are hard workers.
As I was dropped off and walked up to the centre I had my usual welcomes from the men at the entrance to the street. I walked into the centre which was in darkness, NEPA was down again. As my eyes adjusted I walked up an already darkened corridor past the consulting room to the stairs at the far end of the building. These stairs always fill like a mountain to climb, I think it’s due to the uneven depth of each step, certainly not to there total height, and undoubtedly not helped by the fact that it is always very warm in this area.
I thought the Doctor was out at meetings today and that I would be pottering about at the centre. As I arrived he was still there and suggested I came with him to a meeting, at a small private hospital, at which the owner may be moving away. This was in the area of Dopemu, not too far from where we had been yesterday.
On the way we passed through Akowonjo, Femi told me this area was where he worked before heading to the UK. We was about to pass the old hospital that he worked, Crystal specialist hospital, he decided to call in a pay a flying visit, the first time he had been back since 1995/6. No sooner than we had pulled up on the drive and got out of the car, came screams of excitement from people that remembered him. We went into the very busy hospital and met many people that worked with Femi They obviously had nothing but fond memories of him. Every department we walked into gave out yells of excitement; both men and woman alike were all frilled to see him. I just follow him laughing at all there reactions as he entered the rooms.
I was escorted through to meet the owner, Femi’s mentor and trainer Dr Adeyemi a renowned gynaecologist, Femi fondly recalled him being like a father to him. A lovely man that had a warmth about him and obviously, as with all we met, a soft spot for the charming Dr Olaleye! It felt great to have witnessed and been there to see the genuine affection that they all have for Femi. I see it from the pretty young ladies that I have met whilst here, they often speak highly of him, but knowing and witnessing how charming he can be; I smile and agree with them. This was genuine admiration from colleagues, people he worked with for many years before heading for the UK, this rubber stamped for me the kind of man Dr Femi Olaleye is.
After our short visit and with promises of Femi returning to see them, we headed off to the meeting. The hospital we now entered was large on first impressions, but in contrast to Crystal specialist hospital which was brimming over with people, this was quiet. The owners a man and wife, Doctors politely showed us around and Femi discussed with them he’s business. The rooms which all had potential were tatty and looked hardly used. Something wasn’t working here, a shame when you see what they have in comparison to the clinic in Mafaluku.
On our way back, we looked for roasted plantain and nuts which someone had recommended I tried. Unfortunately no one was cooking these so we settles for roasted corn, something you see a lot of people cooking and selling here in big BBQ type drums. These I was informed by Femi you eat with coconut, a combination that does blend well together I must agree.
Back to my hotel, NEPA was, as is the case numerous times a day, down as I blindly made my way to my room in the darkness of the corridor, until I opened my room and found light from the window. I grab my stuff and headed out to the bar area after spraying myself with the now compulsory insect repellent. I am hardly able to breathe for a few minutes, due to the fumes and smell, and then cringe at the string as I put some on my face. I sat myself in the usual place, able to plug in if needed and if NEPA complies. Whilst catching up with this blog, emails, policies etc and watching the staff going about their business, whilst saying welcome to me, every time they passed by.
On return to my room the internet server was down, unable to contact home, I made my way down to dinner and order a now favourite of mine, rice and sauce with chicken and plantain. This is something that isn’t on the menu but I have learned is available on asking. The sauce is red and hot and delicious, fried plantains if you haven’t tried them are similar in taste to roasted sweet potatoes but look like bananas. I feel the need for a Nigerian take away to open near me when I get home, plenty of the food I’ve tried can easily rival many Indian and Chinese dishes and I’m sure their will be some foods I’ll miss on return to the UK.