Wish for Africa Foundation


Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Returning to Lagos 2010

Preparing for Lagos

I had been thinking of returning to Lagos for a while but this is a costly event, flights, visa, hotels etc, so I had pretty much given up on it happening this year. Then out of the blue after receiving a very kind offer of accommodation with the lovely Angela Edewede Atanda (I went to their wedding on my last visit) and family in near by Ikeja and then checking out that she really meant the offer, I went into action. First Tony, he gave me his blessing, then Femi who seemed more than happy that I would pop over. Ideally I wanted to include National Children’s day May 27th, as a party was being planned for the local children in Mafoluku. I checked out that I was OK to take annual leave at this time and then booked my flights.

I planned to meet Folakemi Olaleye in London to go to the Nigerian High Commission and get my visa together (assuming she would know where to go and of course she was no wiser than me!). We met in Charing Cross station and then made our way to find an internet café as Femi had only just managed to email his passport details to me (usual problems rain stopping internet in Lagos) and I needed to print them. Then we headed for the NHC to obtain my visa.

We entered the building and went down stairs, there we grabbed our number and sat with the crowd. The closely packed seated area reminded me of Church in Nigeria, minus the dodgy sound system. Everyone was chatting as we patiently awaited our number to be called. After about an hour or so it was my turn, I went to the desk was greeted by a polite man, who then proceeded to look at my application quizzically, I wondered what I had done wrong or forgotten. He asked me to take a seat and disappeared without explanation, this hadn’t happened to others in front of me!

On his return he beckoned me over, and said could I return at 3.30 or tomorrow as the High commissioner wanted to see me. I asked was there something wrong, to which he said no they had received my email. Femi had said to me, email the NHC and mention that I was applying for a visa and tell them about my previous trip, he said they may be interested. The NHC hadn’t replied to this email so I assumed that they were not interested.

I agreed to return later that day, Folakemi and myself went off laughing at the thought of being asked to be seen by the High Commissioner. We had lunch in China town, went and sat in the sunshine of Trafalgar Sq wasting time until we could return. We made our way back into the NHC and went downstairs again. Someone came and got us and took us up stairs, we then followed two gentlemen at great speed up another couple of flights of stairs. Folakemi and myself were quiet breathless as we ran to keep up. We waited outside a room, where men in smart suits kept walking past and politely saying hello. Eventually the men came out and apologised that Dr Tafida was about to have a meeting.

We were then ushered down the stairs to another office, where we discussed with the two men (who’s name I am not sure of, Mr Mohammed I believe was one) the work and ethos of Wish For Africa, my personal experience of Nigeria, the BBC programme ‘Welcome to Lagos’. I was also asked what I thought I could do to improve the health system of Nigeria ( I felt a little out of my depth with this question I must say!). We were treated to green tea and biscuits, but time was getting on and over an hour had passed. We decided we had to go due to family commitments and thanked our guests. This was after we were informed I needed a special delivery envelope for them to return my passport/visa and we had run to the nearest post office just before it closed to obtain it.

So although excited at the chance of discussing 'Wish For Africa' with the High Commissioner and then the disappointment that it never happen, it felt an eventful start to my next Nigerian adventure. Although I was in London it all felt so very Nigerian in a familiar, comforting sort of way. :-)