FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH **
Contributions by Deji Sijuwade
Facts you did not know about Nigeria – “Naija” in the local vernacular (Nigeria, an African country on the Gulf of Guinea, is known for its natural landmarks and wildlife reserves. Safari destinations such as Cross River National Park and Yankari National Park showcase waterfalls, dense rainforest, savanna and rare primate habitats. One of its most recognizable sites is Zuma Rock, a 725m-tall monolith outside the capital of Abuja that’s pictured on the national currency.)
1. How are birthdays celebrated?
In the European way but we do go big on birthdays. Milestone birthdays such as a 40th can be quite extravagant with a 100+ guests.
2. When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?
Both women and men shake hands. The traditional way of greeting elders is prostration for men and bowing down on one or both knees for women. It is a sign of respect.
3. What languages are spoken in your country?
There are said to be over 521 local languages spoken in Nigeria with the main three being Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba but the official language of communication is English.
4. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?
We use the 12 hour clock.
5. What side of the road to people drive on?
We drive on the right side of the road. It is said that ‘if you can drive in Nigeria you can drive anywhere in the world!’ It is a question of survival of the fittest and expats should only do it with an experienced driver. The traffic is truly insane.
6. How important is punctuality?
Nigerians are not generally punctual (traffic does not help) however, if it is a business meeting they are more likely to be punctual. There is still the culture of African time.
8. Are there any Traditional Dances?
Yes there are traditional dances performed at weddings and festivals.
However, over the years, dance styles have evolved from one dance step to the other. Here are a few dance steps we know in Nigeria :
Galala – Watch
The Galala dance is like the official dance for the Nigerian ghetto community. The dance is promoted by musicians who are products of the ghetto hood such as Daddy Showkey, African China, Baba Fryo and even Burna Boy in ‘Run My Race’. The Galala dance involves the legs being moved backward with hands forward.
Etighi – Watch
Etighi is one of the new-school dances brought from the Calabar/Akwa Ibom part of Nigeria. It involves the hips being carried up and alternated in left and right direction. It also can be mixed with azonto as you can have the hips up and the hands doing the azonto. It’s popular in songs like ‘Kukere’ amongst others.
9. What traditional festivals are celebrated in your community?
The Eyo Festival, is a Yoruba festival unique to Lagos, Nigeria. In modern times, it is presented by the people of Lagos as a tourist event and, due to its history, is traditionally performed on Lagos Island.
The word “Eyo” also refers to the costumed dancers, known as the masquerades that come out during the festival. It is widely believed that the Eyo Festival is the forerunner of the modern day Carnival in Brazil.
10. What are your seasons like?
There are really only two seasons; the Rainy Season (May – August) and the Dusty and Cool at Night Season (August to April)
11. Tell us an interesting fact about your President?
On 29 May 2015, Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the 15th head of state after winning the general election. He is a retired Nigerian Army major general and was also Head of State of Nigeria from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état.
In December 1989, Buhari married his second and current wife Aisha Buhari (née Halilu). They have five children together, a boy and four girls.
12. What do we need to know about schooling in Lagos? Is it easy to get your children into a school of your choice as an expat?
It is getting more and more difficult to get children into the International Schools and there can be waiting lists of up to two years therefore it is essential to start planning two to three years ahead if possible.
13. Is the housing market still ‘tight and fast-moving’ or is new development changing the situation?
There are limited good properties available in popular expat areas and they go quickly as some agents and landlords tend to work on a first come first served basis. Nigeria has large families so finding 2-bedroom properties can be quite rare and properties are still mostly unfurnished. Due to the traffic it is important to first be accepted into a school and then find accommodation as close as possible to the school.
14. What types of industry do you find other than oil?
The telecommunications sector is growing, and there has been a resurgence in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
15. How do people spend their free time?
It is very much a social culture, so clubs, gyms, bars, are popular and going out to restaurants and cinemas is also popular. People go to the beach but this is usually a day trip as there are no resorts as such. Shopping malls are a new and growing phenomenon.
16. What do people drink?
Beer – Heineken and Guinness There is a Guinness brewery in Nigeria so Nigerians like Guinness a lot. Also spirits.
17. What is a popular local dish?
Jollof Rice which is a hot and spicy meal. The dish consists of easy cook or basmati rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, spices (such as nutmeg, ginger, pepper, cumin) and chili pepper; optional ingredients can be added such as vegetables, meats and fish.
It is often served with fried plantain and salad.
Suya which is skewered beef (like a shish kebab) that has been spiced and marinated then put on to the fire on the local Bri stands, fried and heated up in front of you, and then sprinkled with hot ground pepper.
18. What do you pay for? (USD1 = approx. Naira199)
In a restaurant…
A cup of coffee – NGN 850
A Coca-cola – NGN 250
A 2-Course meal for 2 people – nothing extravagant – NGN 19,000
From a shop… A loaf of bread – NGN 300
19. Security – in general?
It is moderately safe in the day in the areas such as Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki where the middle class and higher live and also the expat community. We tend to have a lot of security there but it is advisable to put your windows up in the car in traffic and not go on leisurely walks out on the road in the late evenings after 10pm as this would definitely be a bit of a security risk.
** Meaning: From the highest authority. From the source.
Origin: In horse racing circles tips on which horse is a likely winner circulate amongst punters. The most trusted authorities are considered to be those in closest touch with the recent form of the horse, that is, stable lads, trainers etc. The notional ‘from the horse’s mouth’ is supposed to indicate one step better than even that inner circle, that is, the horse itself