Lost in Work, Meetings and Showbiz: Sounds from Nigeria

12432799_10153668814527559_1166807819_oWhat an adventurous and enlightening December I’ve had. Taking on a decision to spend a two-week sojourn in Lagos for work experience was probably the second best decision I’ve taken this year in my capacity as a Publicist and Communication Expert. I will never thank Sponge Nigeria (leading Digital Agency) enough for taking me in and putting me to task and test. All my colleagues were so kind and helpful. I am afraid I can’t write about everything and what every single person did for me. You all helped me grow as a person and professionally. I hope even if tiny, I also left a mark.

Before embarking on my trip, I had to write down things I had to do, people I had to meet and places I had to go. I knew it would be hard to balance work and personal business/life in such a hectic city, and in two weeks. I just never knew that it would be so difficult and stressful. At times, I had headaches and I cried once, but thankfully I am a tough girl – I managed.  I am grateful to those who showed me guidance, and tough love.

12432713_10153668829872559_939770308_oBy the time I was spending my last three days in Lagos I had accomplished everything I wanted, if not more. Meeting up with Ice Prince at his home studio was super cool. Meeting my hommie Chin Okeke at the Lagoon Restaurant was great – certainly the best view of Lagos island from anywhere. Cobhams Asuquo having to squeeze time to see me amidst his busy schedule was something; so was my meeting with Chopstix, who was kind enough to advice me on my trip’s overall plan. He also gave me ALL contacts to industry players I didn’t have already. Chops – how can I thank you? Meeting Mike Olah  and Mavin’s Bizzle was awesome. My former boss at Coca-Cola, Otome, visited me at Sponge. Such an honour! I shared with him my 2016 work project plans and he gave me a lot of advice. Nobody knows what this means to me. This is the guy who interviewed me three times and made me write at least three proposals before I got hired as Publicist of Coke Studio Africa :-)

Read my interview with Ice Prince here.

My interview with Chopstix on his wizard machine.

12449490_10153668844137559_426904469_oVisiting Chocolate City was dope! I got to meet the whole team behind the Choc Boys. I’ve been cc’d in numerous emails with Momoh so it was good to finally see his face. It was hilarious how we had so much to talk about work from the emails we’ve been receiving. I wish someone recorded my three-hour meeting with Taiwo, Choc City’s head of PR. We bonded and were like two peas in a pod. Loads of collaboration to do – we’re just getting started in 2016. Reuniting with Abuchi, M.I’s manager was necessary. He was kind enough to advice me on my career’s advancement and on what other boss moves I can make.

I blogged about driving to the island through the hoods of Lagos with Abuchi

Meeting the media mogul Olisa Adibua was an honour and a gateway to great connects and contacts. I had previously met him twice at events over the past month and he’d given me his business card. On the last meet up I made sure that he gave me an appointment. At the comfort of his home, we discussed business extensively. From Sauti Sol matters to how we can bridge the gap between East Africa and West Africa arts and culture scene – I wish I could share details.

Meeting Tola of mymusic.com.ng and his entire music team was really great! Please check out the site. We plan to work together too.

12449312_10153668569557559_1513447993_oVisiting MTV Nigeria HQ at Ikoyi was one of my best moments. For about five years, I’ve been emailing with MTV’s worldwide Team and they’ve never seen my face – neither had I seen theirs. So meeting Lanre, Tola and the rest of the team in Nigeria simply felt like meeting old friends. We spent hours talking African music with a focus on how East Africa can get better at promotions and visibility. I was happy to hear that they have introduced a thirty minute 100% East daily segment on MTV Base. It was my pleasure to thank them for all the support MTV has shown Sauti Sol (2014 Winners – Best African Act MTV EMA).

Meeting Phil (industry mover and shaker) was important. I’ve tagged all my Nigerian girls as I hang out with him at the TRACE End of Year Party at the newly opened Hard Rock Café in Victoria Island. Phil has brought me to meet important people. As we enter the party, he’s exchanging niceties with TeeBillz and Tiwa Savage. Tiwa is such a beauty! He introduces me to the MD of TRACE Anglophone West Africa, Sam Onyemelukwe, while inside. “TRACE loves Sauti Sol and a lot from East Africa!” He says.

At different times, in different clubs, I find myself right next to Davido, Tekno Miles, DJ Spinall and my current favourite YCEE. I didn’t talk to Davido as we got crowded with photographers. The latter three were such gentlemen and fast to share their contacts with me without my asking.

Reuniting with Alex Okeke, Banky W, Lynxx and Emmanuel Ikubese was ecstatic! They were all like, “WTH are you doing here?” As we’re leaving the TRACE Party for the club, Phil pulls me back inside. “I need you to meet someone”.

It’s Wiz Kid.

The star boy is sitting right by the MD of TRACE at the VVIP area. There is a crowd of people waiting to say Hello or just shake his hand but he cuts them off to hear Phil do the intro. It’s a mystery how all this time I have never met or seen Wiz Kid perform. He’s the one person I had to meet while in Lagos.

Of all the personalities I’ve met, I can only liken his aura to 2Face Idibia’s. I tell that to Abi who is right next to me as this little movie unfolds. “He’s blessed,” she says. We end up leaving Hard Rock Café right after Wiz Kid. Surrounded by five huge bouncers in black tees and tasers, he jumps into his Porsche leaving behind pandemonium at the parking lot. There’s a crowd God-Knows-From-Where chanting, “Wiz Kid!” What a star! Phil – I mean :-)

BONUS: Special thanks to Abi, Folake, IBB, Abuchi, Lanre and Phil for being my eyes and ears in Lagos. I should do the same when you come to East Africa.

 

Top Songs of 2015: Anyiko’s Select 10

These are the songs that turned my year upside down – the good kind. While some made me fall in love with the idea of love, some made me damage the replay button. Others almost made me burst my eardrums if I wasn’t dancing over and over – to an extent I had to start a dance group: Dope Gang. Let’s go there!

1. Isabella – Sauti Sol (Kenya)

This is the ballad of ballads. If songs were people, Isabella is a beautiful goddess. Stripped down and only layered in piano and violin instrumentals, this is so far Sauti Sol’s best at flaunting their mighty prowess in writing songs for love. Its message is simple, just love in the moment – your race, religion or age doesn’t matter. Savara’s spiralling falsetto in the second verse is chilling. Very proud Publicist and friend to these guys.

2. Jagaban – YCEE & Olamide (Nigeria)

Jagaban is the nickname of Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos. Now sitting as a chief and a chairman in important associations and parties, you still can’t run shit in Lagos without Jagaban’s blessing. The traditional element in the beat of this song is too sick.

Delivering punch lines with an aggressive tiger flow, YCEE does sound like an heir of YBNL. When I first heard the song Nov 2015 while in Lagos, I wondered who dared to sound like Olamide. When I returned in December, I found that YCEE had done a remix with Olamide. “Olamide just put me on, do you know what it feels like?” He raps. Recently Olamide posted their picture performing together at Sound City Urban Blast Festival with the caption – “You gon be great bro.” I don’t doubt that. YCEE is one of the rappers from Nigeria to watch in 2016.

3. Don’t Bother – Joh Makini (Tanzania) & A.K.A (South Africa)

Sickest hip hop song and production I’ve heard all year! Illest dedication to all your enemies! The song is engineered by The Industry’s Nahreel – top Tanzanian music producer well-known as Joh Makini and Vanessa Mdee’s long-term collaborator. A.K.A brought it all. The two should do a collabo album in 2016. I wish the world could hear the Swahili, especially on Joh’s second verse. Joh Makini’s rap – the lines, message, attitude, rhymes and punch lines murdered the careers of all rappers in East Africa. RIP. Good thing y’all can start over in 2016 :-)

4. Nobody But Me – Vanessa Mdee (Tanzania) & K.O (South Africa)

pAnother winning Nahreel production, I really loved the music video and the simplicity of the song’s message. Vanessa teaching K.O Swahili lyrics was so cool. Their chemistry is at 100% and the song was a certified hit in East Africa, South Africa and the West.

5. All Your Fault – Big Sean & Kanye West (America)

Off the album: Dark Sky Paradise, this one is produced by DJ Mano, Kanye West, OG Webbie, Travi$ Scott and Wondagurl. You only top Yeezy on a track he’s delivered on once, and Big Sean did. I am a follower of Yeezus and his protégés and I haven’t seen anyone master Yeezy’s craft as well as Big Sean. Sean’s flow on this song is sicker than Malaria. I like that they both rap side by side each other on Verse 3, at times you can’t tell who’s who. The last line of the song should be everyone’s 2016 policy.

“People ask me how to make it/ I’m just like, “Man if you want the crown, bitch you gotta take it. Straight up”

6. Moto wa kuotea mbali The Kansoul & Nameless (Kenya)

This is my jam and my Nigerian best friend Abi’s song for days! Yo! I will just leave our Dope Gang performances here and pray that The Kansoul and my dear friend Maddy will deliver another mega hit like this in 2016. P.S Nameless killed it with that line, “Respect your elders! I started singing when you were still in diapers …”

7. Talk About It – Dre featuring King Mez & Justus (America)

talk-about-it-lyric-screenshotNot one second in: “I don’t give a fuck!” Have to give it up to the zero chills in this production. There were many sick jams in Dre’s Compton album but I also picked Talk About It because it’s the one time since Still, that Dre has earned all the bravado he flaunts in one song. “I remember selling instrumentals off a beeper/ Millionaire before the headphones or the speakers/ I was getting money before the internet/ Still got Eminem cheques I ain’t opened yet/ MVP shit …”  Goddamn! The song was partly written by A.J. Baptiste-Caselle, the producer/songwriter who goes by the name Jean Baptise. He’s also worked with Cudi, Madonna, Chris Brown and the Black Eyed Peas.

8. Boss – Ice Prince (Nigeria)

This is a banger, and my ringtone. It was playing in every single club I went to in Lagos Dec 2015. I really loved Ice on this one because it showed a different side of him :-) Part of its video was shot in Nairobi. The East African release of BOSS was handled by Anyiko PR.

9. Matrimony – Wale x Usher (America)

Wale has been a consistent NE-YO collaborator in his past two albums before the latest Album About Nothing. I really loved his songs with NE-YO: White Linen (Ambition) and Tired of Dreaming (The Gifted) but they never made it as big as Matrimony. I think it’s because he got my husband on a track – finally! :-)

10. Ta-Ku – Love Again (feat. JMSN & Sango)

This is a dope soul song by the Australian singer. He’s also a dope photographer – his Instagram is magic. I dig the song because it’s so original; he’s my type of underground artiste and sings to my heart. Plus I just want to love again.

Special mention goes to JAB’s Winning in Life and Leon Bridges with Coming Home.

Madness, Generators and Nairas: Insights from Nigeria

12436268_10153664393412559_881436666_oI have discovered that Lagos (Nigeria and Africa’s most populous city) is so far the only place that can accommodate my madness. Many times I have raised my voice or yelled at different instances while in Kenya, and some people took it for rudeness but I am sorry I am my mother’s daughter and that’s just how we express frustration. Everybody yells and shouts in Lagos, so naturally I felt welcomed to Nigeria during my two-week stay. I never liked the careless hooting. It caused me constant headaches and endless thoughts as to why not one Lagos driver can just chill.

I’ve deduced that everyone’s tone is higher than normal in Lagos because first – the surrounding is almost always noisy – in comparison to Kenya. There is a constant rumbling sound of generators and spiking air off their fumes. You have to shout louder on phone for the person on the other side to hear you because the network is mostly jammed.

The general madness level in Lagos is about six times the madness in Nairobi. Numbers make a perfect case study to set the background of this case scenario. If you put all East African cities together: Lagos only is still king in numbers, as of 2015 statistics. While Lagos boasts a population of over 20 Million, the population in Nairobi is approximately at 6.5 Million; Kampala a little over 2 Million; Dar Es Salaam a little over 4 Million and Kigali a little over 1 Million. They collectively don’t even sum up to 20 Million – yet we haven’t even counted the rest of the Nigerian states. This is a big reason why Nigeria is the giant of African music at the moment – their numbers patronise the rest of Africa.

Straight from the airport, driving around Lagos mainland and island is such a fresh experience! Bez, Falz, Yemi Alade, P Square, M.I, 2 Face Idibia, Seyi, Tiwa Savage and Wizkid, among several artistes, are on countless billboards adverts or on as brand ambassadors. The few non-Nigerian artistes who I saw on billboards included Adelle, Avril, Bien and Vanessa Mdee.

It saddens me that many Kenyan corporates and brands are still yet to see the full value of artistes. They would rather have models or comedians on billboards and their adverts or campaigns and not music stars. I have nothing against models or comedians; I am only saying that there is a big opportunity for Kenyan corporates to marry their brands with that of artistes.

This is my next phase of projects in the works.

Traffic in Lagos is also on a different level. The distance between the mainland and island will take you approximately thirty minutes with moving traffic. The journey around the island was always beautiful to me. I don’t live in a coastal or port city so please let me be. There are three main bridges linking Lagos Mainland to the Island. The Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge is such a babe! The 1.36 km cable-strayed bridge links Lekki with Ikoyi – these are the rich people and celebrity estates.

I visit MTV Offices and Nigerian media Mogul Olisa Adibua at his home, both in Ikoyi. Houses in Ikoyi, to be specific Parkview Estate are quite something. The road is so perfect with the estate street roads made of tiny little pebbles. Some of the grandiose mansions are painted in white and gold – no generators noise here. I was so impressed yet astounded at an affluent view of Lagos. Some parts of the city are so polluted by generator’s fumes and noise – let’s not even talk about places where there’s never power.

On my first sign of the disparity divide between the rich and poor in Nigeria, read on my first time in Nigeria: Baptism by Fire.

The world doesn’t expect a giant economy like Nigeria to be as crippled when it comes to power so while in Lagos, I try to comprehend why having power is top of Nigerian problems. You spend about 5,000 Nairas on your generator every day, an equivalent of 2,500 Ksh, depending on how you use your power. Do the math on this expense per month. Power only comes on for about four or less hours a day.

My God! Look at the queue to a fueling station in Lagos! #FuelShortage ⛽ #DecemberMadness #TotalMadness

A video posted by black roses (@anyikowoko) on

I am lucky, and unlucky, that I am in Lagos over December – when they experience the worst fuel shortages. There are times when taxi men won’t show up or refuse to go somewhere because of existing fuel shortage and fear of running out before getting fuel to finish trip. I think this might be the reason why Lagos Ubers are pricey in comparison to Nairobi’s. Partly is because distances are longer and you experience more traffic but I will never understand why our Uber ride was almost 12,000 Nairas on one ride in the island on a night of the Trey Songz concert that had slow moving traffic. We only spent like 35 minutes in the Uber. You can’t be broke in Lagos.

I empathize with Nigerians on the matter. It’s not their will to live like that but their government’s failure and the result of years of corruption and mismanagement. Why they produce crude oil but then have to import petrol and the rest after manufacturing elsewhere is a fucked up model. They now have to invest in ways of creating renewable and sustainable energy. I recently heard President Muhammadu Buhari promise to solve the power situation. He was reading the country’s 2016 Budget. Nigeria’s current power situation has crippled and disadvantaged many businesses, business people and industries. If they can solve it, Nigeria can really fuck shit up. Even more! Being back home in Kenya and in my crib makes me feel like I am working from a 5 star hotel. No power shortage, no noise, no fumes.

BONUS; I couldn’t have done anything or gone anywhere without Abi – my girl made sure I was rolling like a Queen. God bless you babe.

 

How I Ended up in Ojuelegba: Lagos Danfo Drama Part II

IMG_1112-3Just a day ago, I drove along Lagos hoods with Abuchi, M.I’s manager and he showed me Bariga – Olamide’s first hood. He also showed me Sunday Street along Pam Groove where he used to live in a tiny house with Ice Prince and M.I before they all blew up. “Now we can all afford houses and live wherever we wish,” he said to me. Thank God and hard work. “This is the city of dreams, I could never leave Lagos,” Abuchi reminisces.

To catch up on this story, read How I Ended up in Ojuelegba: Lagos Danfo Drama Part I

At Ojuelegba, we grab another Danfo to Ikeja now. The conductor and driver are both elderly so I feel a sense of security. This one won’t be dramatic. Abi and I are paying 200 Nairas each. We ask the conductor if he has change for 1000 Nairas bill – what we have. He doesn’t. On hearing this, a lady sitting at the Danfo’s front hands me over 200 Nairas so we can give him all the cash and get easy change. She confuses us when she says 200 for two. On thinking we are meant to pay 100 Nairas each, there becomes such confusion with the change as Abi hands him over the extra 200 Nairas so he can give us 800 Nairas. He gives us 700 instead of 500 Nairas since it was actually 200 Nairas per person. I am even lost now. In summary, this conductor is the worst at math. Moral of the story is the old matatu adage: do not take another passenger’s money to pay for them and always have loose change for fare.

As we are trying to get it all sorted some woman sitting right behind us decides to pock her nose in our business as if it is her money. “Nooo…. You said 1000 Nairas for four, I heard you.” Of course we know what we said but it was the silly lady sitting at the front who confused us by saying 200 Nairas for two, yet all through this fiasco she never opens her mouth once. It’s the guy sitting next to us who defends us asking the conductor to give us the change as he can attest that our math is right.

Another woman alights the Danfo asking for her change and the conductor says he doesn’t owe her anything. This is now becoming a broken record and the ladies sitting at the back of the Danfo won’t take it at all. One of them starts to descend on him, “Foolish! You are a very stupid human being for what you are doing and saying! Give the woman her change now!” I am astounded at her straightforwardness and defence for another person. Feeling sad for this poor old conductor, it’s a turn of events when he retaliates. “You are an idiot woman! Is your father a professor? Show me your degree and what science your mother studied! Stupid – shut your mouth!”

It’s such comedy and an afrocinema movie. I am in stitches and tears as these two hurl insults at each other from across the Danfo all the way from outskirts of Ojuelegba to Ikeja – our final destination.

The gentleman sitting next to us hears Abi telling me, “Every Danfo has its drama.” He agrees, “That’s how we do in Lagos. Only in Nigeria.” We are in Ikeja and this Danfo’s driver just drove fast and far past the designated stage. “Won’t you stop this bus now!” Abi is now furious. “Come down now!” Yells the driver. He really annoys all passengers by this so he gets some good insults as everyone comes out :-)

 

How I Ended up in Ojuelegba: Lagos Danfo Drama Part I

 

Danfo-Lagos-715
Pic via http://www.onestop-africa.com

After my first Danfo ride a few days after arriving in Lagos, I have almost swore that I won’t do it again. However, I take another one with my host and sister Abi right after leaving Balogun Market on a Saturday. Anyone who knows Balogun area will tell you that no bus or Uber can even dare come close, especially on a Saturday. It’s the most congested market and area I’ve been to all my life. Human beings traffic there is worse than any traffic caused by vehicles.

After spending hours at Balogun, we are extremely fatigued and will take anything that will take us to the mainland soonest. The Danfo we grab to Oshodi, close to home – Ikeja – seems pretty cool. I thank God that its seats are leather padded, my bum won’t have to hurt too much.

Before departing the conductor says that he has no change and everyone must give him small bills. We have our money ready 500 Nairas for two – I am sure that there will be no drama in this Danfo. In fact, Abi and I both lay our heads to nap as the journey to the mainland commences.

In my sleep, I feel the Danfo’s abnormal front to back rocking motion while we are on the road. At first, I think it’s the small bumps on roads but soon the Danfo stalls abruptly. There are sounds of passengers yelling at the conductor and driver—our rude awakening. Unlike Kenya where passengers can wait for you to explain the matter, here everybody jumps out demanding for the fare refund. There is a cloud of smoke coming off the Danfo’s bonnet. The conductor won’t give us back our fare, even if only to appease us after this inconvenience – at least to avoid traffic build up as we have stalled on the road. Thank God we are not on The Third Mainland Bridge, so we are encountering less traffic.

Everyone, including Abi has yelled at the top of their voices for the conductor to return our fare but he won’t. He accosts a different Danfo to pick us. Only problem is this one isn’t going to Oshodi but Ojuelegba. Ok. So this is my chance to see the famous Ojuelegba – Wiz Kid’s first hood plus Abi says it’s okay we can grab another Danfo to Oshodi from there.

How the Danfo leaves disgruntles passengers should be a movie titled The Great Escape. A number of people won’t go to Ojuelegba even though it will be hard for them to get a Danfo to Oshadi with space from this location. The conductor still won’t give them back their money. At some point, the Ojuelegba Danfo starts to take off with Oshodi’s jilted passengers’ stuff and luggage still inside. I have to almost throw out a lady’s hawking basket as she is outside crying for the driver not to depart as she tries to pull it out the window. Inside the Danfo, some passengers sitting next to Abi are fighting over their sitting spot.

On arrival at Ojuelegba, it’s just good to have passed through Wiz Kid’s hood. I’ve seen the most Danfos at Ojuelegba’s stage. Above it is a big infamous bridge known for deadly accidents as trucks sometimes fall off the rails, killing people walking and hawking on the streets, Abi tells me.

Part II of How I Ended up in Ojuelegba: Lagos Danfo Drama

 

 

Back to Nigeria: Riding in a Lagos Danfo

Danfo-bus
Picture owned by Bisola Bello.

The Danfo (bright yellow public transport vehicles in Nigeria) really isn’t for weak asses, and not for mine – especially at this point of my life because I just started doing butt squats. The Danfo we catch from Lagos Island back to the Mainland on a Monday evening is pretty decent – it has working lights, and the benches are padded with soft leather. However, it’s not soft enough. My butt really suffers from the discomfort of sitting on a bench. I can’t even start to imagine how it would feel if we rode in the Danfos with wooden benches.

At first, I am very keen to get into a Danfo to get a dose of Lagos. I also want to compare and contrast the experience to Nairobi’s matatus. My Lagos friends don’t warm up to the idea of taking a Danfo but thankfully I convince my girlfriend and host Abi. Before heading out to the island earlier, her mother gives us one look and says, “Don’t take a Danfo in your neat dresses while you’re going to town – maybe when you return. Call a taxi.” On returning we grab one in the CBD. The conductors are yelling out to passengers, just like in Nairobi.

I find just as much drama and a nuisance typical of a Nairobi matatu in a Lagos Danfo.

12351180_10153628837907559_1501250090_nThere are four rows of seats with each accommodating five passengers. Two seat at the front. Thankfully this Danfo isn’t overloaded. As soon as we depart for the Mainland, a passenger sitting a row behind us transforms into a preacher. It’s baffling how the same bus-preaching I absolutely detest and run away from in Nairobi would haunt me all the way from Kenya and catch me in the first Danfo I’d take in Nigeria. Seriously – if I want to hear a sermon, I will either go to church or read the Bible.

The trip costs 200 Nairas per person. And just like most Kenyan conductors, this Lagos conductor lets the Danfo leave yet he has no float for customers’ change. Within no time all passengers are descending on him. It’s a little too much to handle in the midst of pastor’s words; he’s literally flowing like El Nino rains. Usually everyone in a Nairobi mat will go crazy over a conductor openly refusing to give change but Lagos passengers won’t let this conductor breath even though he hasn’t refused to give back change. “I don’t have change now! Wait – ooo!” All he can say.

The preacher in the bus won’t stop. He is preaching notions from a Bible I have never heard of. “If your wife is an infidel – never leave her to marry another woman. That’s a sin … Women must never wear trosiiiiss (trousers) – never! And about make up – listen and listen well women. You’re making up yourself for who? You have four colours on your face and when you look at the mirror, you cannot recognise God. If you’re not a prostitute, leave make up now!” I am so offended by his foul mouth and cheap gospel. To make matters worse, he starts to sing. It’s such atrocity. After the singing, Abi and I are anticipating his plea for money or blessings, whatever they call that tip. But at a random stage this dude abruptly jumps out of the Danfo and flees without paying his fare. Please – this is Nigeria. The conductor stops the Danfo and runs after him. I am the only one shocked that a preacher tried to get away without paying. Abi says, “He probably didn’t pay because he was busy preaching when the conductor was collecting the money.” :-)

Somewhere along the slow-moving traffic I spot Bien on the biggest billboard along The Third Mainland Bridge. The opposite side still has Yemi Alade and Jua Cali’s Coke Studio Africa mash up—I saw this one during my last trip to Lagos.

You might also dig my series – To Nigeria and Back: Baptism By Fire – from my Travel Tales.

By the time we are alighting the Danfo, my butt is aching from the bench. My ear is aching from the preacher’s echoing voice. My tummy is rumbling from the water we bought along the street. My eyes are burning from traffic fumes. My wish to ride in a Danfo has been accomplished and I don’t think I am doing it again.

 

 

 

 

To Nigeria and Back: Baptism By Fire (Part III)

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):

To Nigeria and Back: Baptism By Fire (Part I)

To Nigeria and Back: Baptism By Fire (Part II)

 

10:48 A.M.

 

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.

 

11:45 A.M.

 

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!

 

12:05 P.M.

 

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!

 

12:30 P.M.

 

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.

 

1:00 P.M

 

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 :-)