You Are Most Welcome to Nigeria!
After 15 weeks of displaced status in the United States, I have finally returned to Africa. I arrived in the United States thinking I would only be in my native land for two weeks but nearly three months later, I have returned to the field. Sadly, the situation in South Sudan is very complex and constantly changing. For that reason, I am being reassigned to Abuja, Nigeria where I will be working with political parties in preparation for the upcoming elections (February 2015).
This is the second time in less than a year that I have moved to a country sight unseen. While I justified the move to South Sudan by saying I have traveled in East Africa prior to moving to Juba, I also had friends who were just a quick flight from Juba. Nigeria is a beast of a different color. I have never been to West Africa and my friends in Rwanda are now an eight hour flight away (including connection). So, in some ways, Nigeria feels like an island. The bright side is that Kenya Air will start flights to Nairobi from Abuja in June, so that will make traveling a little better.
Initial Impressions on Abuja –
- Abuja has a standard international airport unlike Juba. The Juba airport can best be described as a house. It is also important to note that the Juba airport does not have lights, so no flights in or out between 7pm-7am.
- Certain neighborhoods in Abuja have sidewalks which I did not see in Kenya or South Sudan. I do recall seeing sidewalks in Rwanda.
- Abuja has massive expressways that whisk travelers from the airport to the city. The expressways are well maintained and new construction projects are everywhere. It is easy to see the influence of oil on Abuja.
- The security threat with Boko Haram is real and people are aware of the situation. As people have welcomed me to Nigeria, they have apologized for the actions of Boko Haram.
- Bryon Cage, a gospel artist from the United States performed in Abuja on Tuesday night. If I would have been here longer than a night, I would have went to the concert. This would have never happened in South Sudan…