As alluded to in my last post that had to jump forward due to its pressing content, I went on holiday to my home country – but this time I went to the South-South region (via Abuja)! I have been to Port-Harcourt once before during medical school for a conference, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience (as evidenced by my decision not to write about it). This time, I was going to Warri, Delta State for my very good friend Aghogho’s wedding – so I came with a clean slate ready to soak up new experiences!
Warning: A lot happened in a few days – strap in for a fun, photo-filled ride!
Friday, 2nd April
Landing in Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport for the first time since the renovations, I had to say a prayer for the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. The discrepancy in the renovation scale is too much! Abuja’s airport is beautiful, and the wifi actually works. (By the way, after all the noise of unused SIM card, NIN etc, my Nigerian sim card which I hadn’t used since I last visited in February 2020 worked perfectly well upon insertion.)
Pulled up to Modupe’s cute house around 5am and after some quality catch up I squeezed an hour’s workout (the only time I worked out on the trip lol), then Modupe served a two-course breakfast and I headed out with Joseph – one of my earliest friends at my first Nigerian university. Joseph and I go way back to our volleyball days in uni, he was the captain of the male team and I the female. When I first joined the uni, the sports field was my safe space, so I guess you get the picture of how great a friend Joseph is to me by now? Joe willingly became my designated driver and took me from Lokogoma to Kubwa – anyone who knows the distance between these parts of the capital, knows this was no small feat! Linked up with Chiamaka and Nicole Adehi and popped up on my babe Precious who was getting married that day – all before hurrying back to the airport to get my next flight to Benin.
I arrived at the local flights departure wing of the airport with Modupe all set to fly to Benin, and the airline (Arik) said they’ve closed the flight over an hour ahead.
For those of you that aren’t conversant with the unreliableness of Nigerian local flights, let me catch you up. Aside probably one or two local airlines, Nigerian airlines are infamous for their terrible service. Postponing or even cancelling flights without notice, re-selling tickets, delaying flights for 6-8 hours without divulging any information to paying customers…the list goes on and on. So for a Nigerian airline to “close” earlier than stipulated on the ticket, you just know it’s dodgy. Whilst I waited at the counter hoping for a change in judgement from the airline staff, they gave tickets (for the same flight!) to an Hausa-speaking woman, a lady with a baby and someone else who went to the back office – clearly there were other factors in play. I don’t have the Hausa advantage so I turned to what I knew – I begged. I begged for 45+ minutes (past the original flight time of 4:05pm). Through this time, other paying customers had become a little violent and were banging on the windows, someone claimed to be calling the MD of Arik Air, others were talking (loudly) about the injustices in Nigeria…then the previously very aggressive Arik staff member called me to the desk and said that only one seat is available, that she knows I came with someone but will I take the last seat or should she offer it to someone else. Modupe urged me to take it since it was the core reason for the trip and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I got onto the FULL flight to Benin to the glory of God. I just have one question: how was the flight full when I left 9 people who had paid for seats at the departure wing?
Arik Air, two hands up for you guys!
Getting to Benin, I met up with Aghogho’s aunts and cousin and a driver took us from Benin to Aghogho’s home in Warri. Took about 1hr 45 mins and the roads seemed to be freshly tarred, so it was a hitch-free journey – which I thank God for greatly, because road trips in Nigeria aren’t the most advisable means of traveling, but the Warri airport which had been reopened in March; wasn’t yet being landed at by any airlines. Reuniting with Aghogho and my friend Gbemi wiped away the struggles as we had dinner, celebrated 5 birthdays in her family and got put up in a beautiful guest house that was a 5 minute drive from the main house.
Saturday 3rd April
We (Myself, Gbemi, Wura and Bola) got up nice and early, and headed over to the house. I joined Jade (Aghogho’s cousin) to help with breakfast since I wasn’t going to be on the makeup artist’s queue, and we basically made breakfast for over 10 people, then everyone got dressed and slayeddd our asoebi!
Urhobo culture is different in many ways to other Nigerian weddings that I’ve been to, the traditional rites are done inside the house and only the close family and friends are present for it, after which the new couple followed by their close family and the bride’s friends dance through all the guest tables. One of the guests from the groom’s side even said to us “we just got a wife from you, impress us with your dancing!” – it was certainly different, but totally enjoyable!
Sunday 4th April
This was the rest day between the two ceremonies, so we were a little chilled, I fulfilled my goal of trying starch and banga soup – a specialty of the SS that many of my friends said I mustn’t leave without trying – my dear readers, that meal is positively life changing!! Ahhh.
We later had a surprise Bridal shower for Aghogho and she truly was surprised! Our Chief Bridesmaid, Seun, is a professional event planner, so she went all out for Agohgho’s shower!
Of the many things that I loved about the shower, I think the 1hr 30 min advice session with Aghogho’s mum and aunties about marriage was the best. We gleaned candid life advice from them, complete with the sharing of down-to-earth life experiences…between them we got advice of over 70 years of marriage – powerful.
Monday 5th April
The white wedding day had come and Aghogho looked like an angel! Her dress was as elegant as she was. We got to the church early and had a beautiful service complete with an emphatic choir. Afterwards, we stood on the steps of the cathedral and sprayed confetti on the new couple just like in the movies haha.
Upon tweeting that I was in Warri, two of my lovely friends – Blessing and Emmanuel, said they had to see me – and they did! These sweethearts showed up for the white wedding and made my last few hours in Warri beautiful.
After a picture break back at the house, we headed to the reception – but because I couldn’t find a flight for the next day, I had to be on my way, but that wasn’t before Lily ensured I got a plate of food – the real MVP!
I got back to Benin airport a good 1hr 45 minutes ahead of my flight, because once bitten twice shy – only for heavy rain to pour and the airport announcer (who I believe is intentionally inaudible) said that the plane had to be rerouted to Lagos due to rain. I found this out from someone who seemed more seasoned in the use of Nigerian airports and was able to decipher the strange sounds from the overhead public announcement system. Two hours later, a plane finally arrived at the airport and I later got back to Modupe’s place in Abuja around 10pm, absolutely famished. My amigo Ubong came around minutes later and rescued me from hunger with the best sharwarma in the FCT – Chicken Capitol! My little bro Nsikan also happened to be nearby and dropped some snacks – I was just being doused with food left, right, center and I loved it haha.
Tuesday 6th April
My first flight-free day in the FCT! After breakfast consisting of the snacks Nsikan gave me the night before, Modupe took me to the hairdresser in her estate because how can one go to Nigeria and not get your hair done? Unforgivable.
After this, my best guy Colin gifted me with a 3 hour spa session at Topaz Beauty Spa; I came out feeling like a new woman!
I visited a few more friends then headed back home to get ready for a night out planned by the one and only Aramide, the best restaurant connoisseur in the capital, and my personal guy! My bro Dayo rightly said I united Abuja – as I had friends from different sectors in my life all under one roof and we had a swell time together!
Wednesday 7th April
My supposed departure day…but I missed my flight haha. Well I’d been very lucky with flights all trip long, it had to run out someday haha. I wasn’t even bummed because in my heart of hearts, I wasn’t ready to leave yet haha. After rescheduling for the next day, I got back to Modupe’s place (bless her heart, she’s the absolute best) and I went to a NIN centre in Durumi that was relatively low-subscribed and got registered; I mean, I might as well use the extra time effectively right? I renewed my GTB ATM card, popped into a pharmacy to stock up on basic meds – I’ll tell y’all the backstory of how I suffered in the hands of the NHS on top of antibiotics another day, then got a few other bits and bobs before stopping by at Modupe’s to catch up with Tosin! Hadn’t seen her since grad day so it was definitely an overdue reunion.
Later, I linked up with Toluwanimi for dinner at Bocado’s Quick Eats! First of all, there was nothing quick about their eatery. However, when my food: Starch and Owo soup (shout out to IK!!) finally came, I was seeing stars. Owo soup is another delicacy of the SS except it is a specialty and not as readily found in comparison to Banga soup. It was delicious! Personally I prefer Banga to it, but I could definitely taste why it was called special, I mean it had smoked crayfish overtones – its elite.
Falilat and Praise came by and we chilled as though we all knew each other by finding our mutual friends (Abuja is a rather small city in terms of social circles). Fun fact: Fali and I were meeting for the first time since school, whenever I’m in Nigeria we just always missed each other in terms of states – so this was so cute haha.
Thursday 8th April
I finally got on a plane and headed back to grey London lol. But before I left, Nsikan surprised me at 12:40am with a package of 5 custom made Inseekan shoes for each member of my family! I can’t wait to show you them after Joyce is done with the photos!
More pictures for good measure as per usual ETP style? You got it!
Dr. ETP xo