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
Cape Town – South Africa is overhauling its controversial visa regulations that saw a 6% decrease in arrivals, the worst industry performance since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis – but the changes are not in effect as yet.
The Cabinet approved recommendations by the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) tasked with evaluating the immigration rules and its unintended consequences are expected to be implemented during the next three months.
Cabinet said all other administrative issues affecting the relevant departments will be resolved through inter-departmental engagements, without compromising the safety of the children travelling to and from the country.
Introduced in June, the new rules required visitors to apply for visas in person at South African embassies to have their biometric information taken as well for children travelling in and out of South Africa to produce an unabridged birth certificate, which details the particulars of both the mother and the father of the child.
IMC DECISION TAKEN: Visa requirements for foreigners travelling to SA revised
- In countries where there is no South African mission, the department of home affairs will accept applications by post.
- This will apply for tourist and medical visitors only.
- Postal applications will see biometrics of travellers, including finger prints and photos, captured on arrival at ports of entry.
- Biometric pilot site ports of entry are OR Tambo Airport, King Shaka Airport, Cape Town International Airport.
- Countries like China, India and Russia, certain measures will be put in place to ease the process of application, in particular for tourists.
- South African children travelling out of the country will still be required to submit the current child-travel requirements, including a parental consent affidavits as a means to protect the minors
- The validity of this affidavit will be extended to no longer than 6 months.
- Details of parents will also be printed in passports, so that parents whose particulars are printed would therefore not be required to carry the birth certificates. (However the DHA advises that this form of identification still be carried as a form of proof.
- For inbound travellers, the proof of original birth certificates or certified copies would only be required during the application process, as this is in line with practise in many other countries. (As is the case with the South African Children travelling in and out of South Africa, the DHA advises that this form of identification still be carried and will reserve the right to investigate suspected child trafficking on a case by case basis.)
- Cabinet also approved changing the term “unabridged birth certificate” to “birth certificate containing parental details”.
- DHA is also considering long-term multiple entry visas for frequent travellers.
The DHA said, “Cabinet has mandated DHA to put in place the necessary legal instruments to give effect to this decision. The status quo will remain until such time the DHA has provided a legal instrument for this category of travellers. In the meantime travellers are encouraged to comply.”
This article was originally posted here
Moving to a foreign country inevitably throws you into situations you’ve never experienced before – whether it’s a new language, unfamiliar social etiquette, or the loss of your favourite home comforts. Yet every time we move beyond our comfort zone, we grow, build our confidence, strengthen our resilience. Often we surprise ourselves with what we can achieve!
Psychologist Katie Reindl shares five tips that’ll help you become more comfortable with the uncomfortable…
When you’re on the edge of your comfort zone…
Do you remember the first time you felt butterflies in your stomach? Maybe it was right before you had to give a speech – or was it before your first job interview? I still remember my first experience… I was six years old and my dad was driving me to my first piano recital. I remember feeling confused: I was excited to get to my destination, but I also wanted the car to slow down because I felt anxious. How could a negative and a positive emotion collide like that?
Fortunately my dad put words to my emotions by asking, “Do you have butterflies?” Being so young, I took him literally. “What is he talking about?!” I thought. Seeing the confusion on my face, he explained the flurry of sensations – like butterflies unfolding and fluttering their wings – when we feel uncomfortable. Little did I know that this mix of feelings was something I’d experience many more times in my life.
Have you ever heard the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone?”
As expats, in a “foreign” environment and ripped from our everyday comforts, we are brought back to these feelings over and over again. A wise friend warned me prior to my voyage from North America to Europe that I’d experience this a lot – and often! – in my new environment. I didn’t believe him until I stepped onto the cobblestones of the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, where I was about to set up my new home.
At first, when you feel the butterflies, your immediate reaction is to run away or resist (the classic “flight or fight” survival mechanism). As easy as it would be to seal the lid on the jar holding those butterflies, and to run away from the discomfort that a foreign experience creates, is this what we really want? No, we want to grow… and to learn how to work through these uncomfortable times. For it’s true that when we are placed in new situations, our body and mind start to flourish and ignite.
So the next time you come face-to-face with the uncomfortable, remember these 5 tips:
1. AWARENESS: Get in touch with what you are feeling – physically too! Your body provides essential information about your inner world. Acknowledge your body’s responses – like those butterflies – for they are a resource to help you trust yourself through this new experience.
2. FEELING: Understand your emotions and what is driving them. Step back and think about why you are feeling the specific emotions you’re experiencing.
3. MEANING: Think about the value of working through this stressor and what meaning you may eventually gain from this experience.
4. MINDSET: Turn your fear response into courage. Trust that you have the strength and confidence you need to execute this task.
5. REFLECT: Take time for reflection, either via a journal or telling a friend about your experience.
Remember that some days will be better than others, so don’t get down on yourself if you just want to run away. Return to the pointers above and you’ll be taking the first step towards turning these stressful situations into opportunities to grow your own wings.
“Let’s set the butterflies free today… try something to make your butterflies come alive. You don’t have anything to lose.”
“What if I fall?”
“Oh but my darling what if you fly…”
This article was originally posted by Expat Nest here
Last Friday was a day to remember. Students will remember it for their victory over the government, President Jacob Zuma will remember it as the day he was forced to cave in, and the African National Congress for their inability to successfully hijack a march. But for South Africa’s tourism industry it was a red letter day; the day the industry was saved. And for South Africa’s economy it was the day proper governance won out against massive egos and dark, impenetrable threats about ‘national security’. For Malusi Gigaba, it was a day of personal humiliation. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
There are many beautiful places in the world to visit. South Africa is indeed a stunningly beautiful country. But not the only one in the world. And it is on the other side of the world. It does not take a genius to understand that we don’t need to make visitors’ lives more difficult than they already are.
Six months ago we warned Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba he was going to have a huge battle on his hands around his insistence on new travel regulations. We said he was going up against not just one industry but several, and that the combined weight of the airline, tourism and travel industries would be ranged against him. Later, when Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom broke Cabinet protocol and went public with his criticism of the regulations, this writer suggested Gigaba might win out, not because he was right – and he was catastrophically wrong – but simply because he appeared to have more power within African National Congress (ANC) structures.
That was despite the fact it was clearly insane to demand that people wanting to travel here first travel thousands of miles to the nearest South African facility to apply for the biometric visa, that it was virtually unprecedented to declare that children must have their unabridged birth certificates with them as well as their passports, and that the damage to our economy was plain and visible for all to see.
But, on Friday, the Cabinet proved both Gigaba, and this writer, very wrong. In a long and complex statement, it revealed that almost all of the new regulations were being dropped. In a lengthy release, it was explained that some changes are being introduced immediately, some over the next three months, and some over the next year or so.
There are many changes, but at the risk of over-simplification:
- the demand for unabridged birth certificates to be brought with children coming here is being quietly dropped (but people will be urged to bring them, and will have to use them to apply for visas);
- those needing visas will be able to apply through the postal service or use an accredited tourism company, depending on where they are; and
- biometric information will be captured at international airports as they arrive.
Crucially, the demand that South African children travelling out of the country must have their unabridged birth certificates will remain, but the wording around the document will be changed, to make it slightly easier. And school principals and those running sports teams will be able to sign consent forms to allow the children out of the country.
The Department of Home Affairs was quick to rush out a statement, explaining how it “welcomed” the changes, and agreed with the Cabinet on the major issues. But it was the reaction of the tourism bodies that showed how much of a victory this was for them, and the scale of the defeat for Gigaba. Tourism Business Council chairperson Mavuso Msimang (who had previously been scathing in his criticism of Gigaba in the way that only a former Home Affairs director-general could be) congratulated and thanked the Cabinet, explaining that this is pretty much exactly what they wanted. He said it showed the “patriotism and maturity” of ministers. Other tourism figures echoed those comments, saying that now the job of rebuilding had to start. No doubt they celebrated as the students did on Friday night, just with slightly more expensive tipples.
Up until Friday’s statement, it had appeared that Gigaba had the upper hand. In public, he had been both bombastic and personal in his defence of the regulations. He had claimed that the rapid decline in visitor numbers was due to the tourism industry’s “failure to market the country” correctly. There were claims from his department that the tourism industry “was putting money above children”, with the implication that they would be happier making money than preventing children being trafficked. And there was the comment that revealed that the department was making a complete mistake of governance, by saying that the regulations, and their financial cost, would all be justified, if it stopped just one child from being trafficked through the country.
Of course, Gigaba was completely missing the point that governance is all about quantifying risks, and managing competing interests and problems. Missing from his rhetoric was any hint of reasonableness, or link to reality: there was no acceptance of our porous borders, of how easy it is to move between South Africa and, say Zimbabwe or Mozambique, without bothering with a border post.
All in all, this was bad politics. Every time he spoke on this issue, Gigaba raised the stakes for himself, he painted himself into a corner by refusing to accept any criticism of the regulations, and he came across as uncaring and not prepared to listen. It was his way or the highway. Which makes his humiliation all the greater.
Gigaba has often been seen as someone who could, one day, be president. There was been talk of a 30-year reign for KwaZulu-Natal, with President Jacob Zuma, then Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and then Gigaba as president. At other times it was claimed that Gigaba would run a ‘super-ministry’ which would be centred around public enterprises, a suggestion that he would be next in the line of succession after the deputy president.
Instead, Hanekom, who has occupied important posts in the party (including of course chairing its disciplinary committee during the expulsion of Julius Malema), has emerged the victor. He only went public with his criticism of the regulations after essentially being dared to by Radio 702’s John Robbie. And when he did so, he came armed with facts and figures. Then, clearly, he won a huge game of back-channel politicking. It will be some time before the facts emerge about what really happened in Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inter-ministerial committee, but Hanekom has shown he is someone not to tangle with.
Another possible result of all of this is that it would seem unlikely at this point that Gigaba will back any bid by Ramaphosa come the ANC’s 2017 conference.
It is not just Gigaba who loses face here. His director-general, Mkuseli Apleni was also vociferous in his defence of these regulations, and he too is now wiping yolk from his face.
And Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete has perhaps been even more aggressive than Gigaba himself, both in words and in tone. While it’s understandable that tempers will flare under this kind of pressure, it’s important to ensure one does not come across as aggressive. Tshwete has the kind of background (and surname) that makes some think he too could enter the Cabinet one day. He is certainly very professional to deal with, and has a great capacity for work. However, this episode may be an important lesson for him not to over-spin the matter.
There are other implications for this about-turn by the Cabinet. It should not be forgotten that it had approved the original regulations. The damage to the economy was completely foreseeable, so why did the same people who reversed their decision make it in the first place? Did no one pay attention? Did they just go with Gigaba because they felt he was the coming man, and Hanekom was not?
And then there is the criticism that is now being voiced more and more often that no impact assessment was carried out by the government before these regulations were brought in. Surely someone neutral should have been asked to investigate what the impact would be? There was such a storm of negative reactions from every side of the political, business and public arenas. Did the Cabinet really have to wait for the damage to be done before understanding how wrong it all was?
In reality, this episode shows just how badly policy is made in this country. Facts and figures were thrown out the window because of the political personalities involved. Unfortunately, the economy, and the world, rely on facts and figures.
In this case reality, and South Africa with it, have won, and Gigaba has lost. DM
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