The Cat is out of the Bag!
The cat is out of the bag! A very American colloquialism for the facts have been revealed. It is true, Sheila and I are leaving Nigeria. Each time I say that I have to take a break and let it sink in. After five and a half years, Sheila and I are heading out of Nigeria to a new exciting destination. I don’t even know where to start to express my sadness for leaving this complex and chaotic country. I know some of you are thinking, Sentell, we have read your blog and we are sure you are happy to leave. Yes, it has not always been easy but Nigeria holds a very important first in our lives. This was our first home after we got married in 2016. And since that time, we have hosted numerous friends in our house celebrating Nigerian independence, American Thanksgiving, Christmas, my parents’ first trip to the continent and so many other things. Nigeria will forever have a special place in hearts.
I will never forget the day IRI told me they wanted to send me to Nigeria. I was hanging out in Washington, DC after being forced to evacuate out of Juba, South Sudan because of the armed conflict that begun on the night of December 15, 2013. I returned to the US in February of 2014 for a work conference and ended up staying in Washington, D.C. because I could not return to Juba. During those three months, I tracked developments in South Sudan and filed reports with Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, April 16, I was called into my director’s office and told that I would be transferred to Abuja, Nigeria. I was shocked because I didn’t know much about Nigeria and didn’t know anything about Abuja. To be honest, I thought Lagos was the capitol of Abuja. I went back to my desk and typed Abuja into Google search. I was horrified when I read, Nigeria violence: More than 70 killed in Abuja bus blast! I sat back in my temporary desk space and thought, “Where in the hell are the sending me!” I spent a week trying to negotiate a new destination. Maybe you could send me to Uganda, Kenya or even keep me on the South Sudan portfolio. But my director was adamant that I should go to Nigeria. So, on Thursday, May 22, I started the trip to Abuja, Nigeria. I first went to Kenya to pick up items I left in Nairobi then I headed off to Abuja to start my new life.
It’s amazing how fast five and a half years flies by. I can’t say that I was always having fun during those five years but I am truly grateful for the experiences that have taken place during that time. I will continue to reflect on my time in Abuja over the next fifteen days as we prepare to leave Abuja for our next destination.