A Woman in Motion!
For the past six months, I have had the pleasure of hanging out with my dear friend Kury. Sadly, two weeks ago, her time in Abuja came to an end and she boarded a plane and headed back to Washington, D.C. I met Kury when I moved to South Sudan in August 2013. At the time, she was the country director for the National Democratic Institute. I quickly discovered that Kury liked having a good time…not in a “let’s get smashed and swing from the roof”…but “let’s find something to do to keep our mind off of our living situation.” Living in Juba was not easy and Kury always found things to do – she swam in the mornings before work in the AFEX pool, played tennis on the weekends and took salsa lessons. On Friday and Saturday nights, you could always find her dancing the evenings away. I appreciate that she would often drag me along on her excursions. It was these fun experiences that help me (and others) get through our time in Juba.
In August, she found her way to Abuja to do some consultancy work. While I had lived in Abuja for over a year when she arrived, it was Kury that was inviting me to social gatherings and introducing me to the tennis courts at the Transcorp Hilton. Once again, Kury was always in motion. So to celebrate Kury’s brief time in Abuja, I decided to highlight our top three moments in Abuja.
- I have to say it was playing tennis with Kury. It’s not that we are both great (I would say that Kury is better), but it was through Kury that I learned that you could take lessons from the tennis instructors at the Hilton. And compared to the cost in the United States, it was a very good deal. Since August, my tennis game has improved significantly. However, I have not been able to beat the tennis coach but I am sure by the August I will have a few sets under my belt.
- Before Christmas, a few of my colleagues wanted to go dancing. So I called Kury and she and a friend met us at a place called “The Bank.” The fireworks started with Kury even before we entered the club. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, Kury is not shy in sharing her opinion and on this night, it had to do with her shoes. As we approached the door, the bouncer told Kury that she could not enter because of her shoes. I know, you are thinking that she had on athletic shoes and was trying to enter a club on a Friday night. But that was not the case. Kury and her friend both had on a very nice pair of flat shoes. The bouncer was demanding that they needed heels – as that was the dress code for women. For Kury and her friend, this was the most ridiculous thing they had ever heard (and I agreed with them). Kury began to debate the merits of such a ridiculous rule constantly expressing her displeasure for the “dress code.” As she was making her point, two men walked by and one of them was wearing Nigerian dress. Kury then said to the bouncer, “so you will let him in, wearing his pajamas and flip-flops but you won’t let me in.” The man was wearing a stripped Nigerian outfit reminiscing of pajamas that my father often wore at night and a pair of leather scandals. Her comments must have resonated with the bouncer as he then told us to proceed.
- One Saturday, Kury and I ventured to Silverbird to watch a movie. The night before, there were Boko Haram attacks in outlying areas of Abuja. In response to these attacks, security at the Silverbird Mall was much tighter than usually. Usually, they check your bag and you walk through a metal detector. But on this particular day, security was tight and requiring people to re-walk through the detector when the warning sound went off. So, Kury stepped through the detector and was asked to step through again. As she waited for the security officer to wave her through, a woman walked up, threw her purse on the table and began to proceed through the detector at the same time as Kury. Maybe I am exaggerating but I remember Kury physically removing the woman from the detector and then stepping through. Kury told her, “ma’am I was going through the detector.” The woman responded saying, “Well you were just standing there!” Till this day, whenever I go through the detector at Silverbird, I chuckle.
It was sad to see Kury venture off into the sunset but I thank her for making the past six months in Abuja enjoyable…She was always a woman in motion!