On my last night in Nigeria right after the AFRIMA Awards are over, I am suffering from a serious Jamais Vu maladie. I have already had a difficult time as it is but I am suffocating from a bizarre feeling that tells me that the worst is yet to come in the morning. It’s so strange to know that you are being affected by impending misfortune seeming familiar albeit the fact that you’ve never experienced it. I am so devastated – I can’t talk or do anything other than sleep. Abi and IBB’s attempts to try cheer me up hit rock bottom. I’ve also changed my mind about going to the after party.
True to my instincts, in the morning I wake up to news that we all missed our flights because the 1:50 p.m. indicated on the tickets meant a.m. But why? Even if we wanted to leave at 1 a.m. we would still have been at the event at that time. I am in Nigeria with Sauti Sol for the AFRIMA Awards accompanying them as group’s Publicist and Tour Manager.
Before proceeding with this blog, you might want to catch up on the series of unfortunate events that led me here (if you haven’t already):
We had initially all agreed to meet at the lobby at 10:00 a.m. so as to leave hotel in time to make it to our previously planned 1:50 p.m. flight but it’s almost 11:00 a.m. and I am still calling hotel rooms to get my guys together. I haven’t told them that we missed our flight yet because I don’t want them to panic and make me panic more so I am handling it with Sharon (head of Sauti Sol Bookings) and Ade (our contact in Nigeria – who won’t be reached on phone). My plan is to get Sauti Sol to the airport and however way into the only other available flight leaving at 12.50 p.m. By the time I get to the lobby I find Savara, Bien and Polycarp going completely ballistic. Somehow, they know that we missed our flights and I can’t even hear what they are telling me because everyone is talking, even yelling, at once. “We can’t stay here another day!” – “We have a new album to launch!” – “We have a meeting with Alikiba tomorrow morning in Nairobi!”
Some of the things I struggle to hear.
I then realise that Chimano is missing and I never got to hear from him since he never picked any of my phone calls to his room. I also haven’t seen him from last night. As Abi helps me check out the rest of Sauti Sol, I rush to Chim’s room.
I am standing at the hallway knocking at his door so hard and screaming so loud I don’t care if I am about to annoy or wake up the whole floor. He opens the door casually with that WTF look. He just opened his eyes the first time since he returned to the hotel in the wee hours of the morning from the after party. Chim is a rock star. He’s not the least bothered that we’re both about to miss our yet-to-be-booked flight. I have no time to yell at him. I dump every single thing on sight into his suitcase and pull both the suitcase and him – OUT!
We are at the lobby. Oh my I can’t see the rest of Sauti Sol. I hadn’t still got through to Ade or our chaperone Blessing (who BTW went missing soon after the event last night lol). I bump into Ade. She assures me that she is sorting our flights as a group of managers pounce on her as soon as I let her off. On asking the receptionists about the whereabouts of my people, “They took a taxi to the airport” – they tell me. They have also left with all our money and visa cards; so we can’t also take a taxi to make it there in time. I have to think quick. As Chim checks himself out, I see a random bus at the hotel driveway. I quickly run to it and even without greeting I ask, “Where is this bus going?” Airport. Someone responds. “Is anyone here having a flight at midday?” I ask. There are at least two people in there. Chim and I hop into the bus. Inside we both find space ONLY for two. There are bags and suitcases all over, we can hardly even see out the window. It’s been minutes and we are not leaving. I am so agitated I have become Nigerian, shouting shamelessly, “Can we please leave now!” Apparently there is a lady from Cameroon waiting on her sister and we have to wait for her. Grrr!
We finally depart and amazingly encounter no traffic to Murtala Muhammed Airport. On entry however, there are crowds pushing in and making it such a slow process. “If you not travelling – get out ooo! I won’t repeat again!” The police warns. I am in utter shock that Nigerians are allowed into the airport even when you are not a travelling. I am more surprised at how dirty the airport detectors are.
Within no time, we’re all reunited.
I don’t understand why the plane hasn’t left us yet. The rest of Sauti Sol say that we hadn’t been booked into the new flight and we have to pay 100 USD each. I am still trying to call our host but they forbid me. “We are going to sort this ourselves,” they assert. We have spent at least thirty minutes in search of an ATM and another thirty minutes to get a bureau to change Nairas into USD. Finally the airline officials allow us to pay in Nairas. I am always left behind sorting the wahala. As soon as we pass one hurdle the guys run off towards the plane – I wonder why this plane hasn’t left already, and 100% sure that I will be left behind.
By the time I am helping Polycarp check in his guitar – it’s been such a stressful airport time. None of the systems between the ticketing and check in office are connected. We literally have to run up and down floors and stairs to make sure there is communication between the two offices. The dude at check in won’t check in Polycarp’s guitar saying, “It’s up to you now, Sir.” He wants a bribe because he saw us hold lots of Nairas. “Just check in that guitar that’s my life,” says Polycarp before leaving me behind.
I make sure everything is in before heading over to the plane. By this time, the security officers are really wasting time I don’t have – having to open my bags after every three steps. I am so dejected and fatigued – I don’t see any of the boys. I won’t be shocked if I miss my flight. I am also no longer worried; I will just go back to the hotel and sleep off this stress. I am no longer looking at the time. The announcement keeps going off, “Passengers to Nairobi …”
I have made it into the plane. Phew! This flight is almost two hours late for departure. I swear! But why do I have this stupid aisle seats near the loo? I need to call Abi and alert her that I have made it into the flight but I have no airtime. Thinking of miracles, the lady next to me goes: “You are Anyiko!” Yes. I reply. “My mum is such a big fan of yours and your TV Show! That’s why I know you. Let’s call her!” I am soon talking to her mother who lives in Malindi. Turns out she’s a Kenyan lady who was in Nigeria to attend a friend’s traditional wedding. We quickly make friends, our warm meeting quickly making me forget the madness that led me here. She even lets me call Abi on her phone. My nightmare just got reduced to nothing but life’s little pleasures.
BONUS: I would have lost my mind without Abi and IBB – thank you my Lagos goons, for the Jollof Rice, and everything. I owe ya! I pray that my next trip to Nigeria is better, and that Amazing Race never bring its contestants through this airport :-)