On August 16, I not only celebrated my recent promotion to Country Director but also my 36th Birthday! This is the third birthday that I have celebrated on the African continent. In 2013, I celebrated my birthday after only three days in South Sudan. My co-worker organized a cake and impromptu birthday party with colleagues from IRI and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). I made sure to get a photo of the birthday cake to remember my first birthday in South Sudan (below).
In 2014, I celebrated my second birthday on the continent with IRI colleagues in Abuja, Nigeria. I was so special that I actually received two fancy birthday cakes and a bottle of champagne (sparkling wine). I have since come to learn that Nigeria is the second largest consumer of champagne behind France. Can you imagine?! (a very common phrase on this continent).
This year, I decided to throw a party to celebrate my birthday and my recent promotion to Resident Country Director. What I quickly discovered is how expensive parties can become in Nigeria. I easily exceeded my $200 budget just buying food and beverages. And pleasing Nigerians is no easy task (smile)…But, how many times do you get to celebrate two major life moments…We had a great time socializing at the pool on my compound. Initially the rain kept us indoors, but after an hour or so, there was a break in the clouds and we were able to finish the celebration enjoying a nice Abuja evening below a few visible stars. And in typical Nigerian fashion, the Champagne was flowing as we celebrated. It was a nice end to my 35th year and a great start to my 36th year. I am no longer considered a youth by international standards…and will now have to check the box that I am 36 and above.