Hola peeps. Welkommen to 2015. Well, a delayed welcome so to
Came across a draft blog that shoulda gone out in January
with the opening paragraphs: No new year resolutions for moi as I
think that’s dated (geddit?) but decided to follow Skee-Lo’s 90s mantra about
wishing I was a li’l bit taller, wish I was a baller…. In
trying to be a “baller” I resigned my position with the firm in Port Harcourt
and am moving to Uganda. Yah man, remember blog entry of gazillion years ago
titled You Always Return To Uganda? Well, who woulda thunk I was prophesying to
Why did I choose to do it? Let’s just say the inner
Caucasian in me thought “hmm, what would it be like to abandon a secure job and
go on an adventure?” After decision was made I rejected an offer from another
firm to move to Lagos before I resigned from PH role. That way I was sure
there’d be no rescinding my decision. Next step was to tell my folks. I hemmed
and hawed and when I finally did it Chief was effusive in his support and
wished me the best of luck. Mom? After I assured her I’d have some source of
income and not be a destitute she nodded her head and said she’d pray choice
works out for the best.
Impressive, huh? A tad dishonest too. You see ‘Uganda’ is
euphemism for ‘South Sudan’. Had to do that initially to calm peeps down. When
peeps would initially enquire as to new location I’d say East
Africa, then it’d shift to Uganda for the more
curious amongst them, then once I saw they weren’t too dismayed about the move
I’d finally say something along the lines of ”…well in all honesty
it’s actually South Sudan” and then…wait…for….the facial expressions.
A more enterprising individual woulda captured these expressions and used them
in some art exhibit or maybe a revival of the hackneyed tagline in MasterCard
commercials of yesteryear.
Yup, Juba, South Sudan. Today marks Day 21 of my sojourn
here. Why the tracking in days? Dunno, just wanna see how long it takes before
I ignore that and move on to months. Reminds me of the weekly newsletter I used
to receive from BabyCentre.com pre-
and post my daughter’s birth. They would send weekly guides on what to expect
as a new mother. Yup, mother….guess they figured no guys would be
bothered to sign up. Cannot remember if they eventually gave up after
week 24 post-birth or I unsubscribed from the newsletter, but a part of me wish
I’da wagered to see how far they’d go. Well it’s week 2,080 now and if
your child is still living at home you have failed as a parent….
So why Juba? Well, everything the shoulda-January blog
paragraph stated and more. A business opportunity arose that involved
relocation to the world’s newest country and I jumped at the chance. Coulda
made way, way more money being situated in Lagos and woulda finally utilized
Lagos crib, but this just felt right. So far…so Juba. The people are warm and
uber-friendly and also crazy tall. I am officially the shortest man in Juba! Since
my arrival I have been sampling the eateries in order to discover where best to
eat and so far…..so Juba(?) Need to try out the spots that serve local dishes
to really make mind up, but in the meantime here is your guide to eating out in
Quality Hotel has best French Fries, but the pizza sucks. Do
not, I repeat, do not try the Quality Special pizza! Their menu is quite vast
and most things are tasty however. Also don’t ask for butter as you’d get
NOTOS restaurant has the best food I have tasted so far –
Indian dishes are nice – but bread rolls are always served cold for some
reason. Ice cream tastes thawed and refrozen.
Tulip Inn has tastiest ice cream in Juba….but it’s only
served on weekends…..and even though the ice cream machine is brand spanking
new they haven’t had ingredients for the past 3 weekends! Their chicken wings
suck. Mexican burger is nice and pizza is aiight. Limited menu though.
Terrain is some spot on the outskirts of Juba; Jebel (Mountain)
to be precise. Quite an idyllic place and Caucasians love it. Maybe ‘cos of the
Caucasians the chef didn’t believe me when I asked for my extra spicy pizza.
For some reason I’d smell the pepper but not taste it. That said it’s best
pizza I have had so far.
PANACHE restaurant? Crap pizza, crap milkshake.
Paradise Hotel? Crap ambience, nice Chinese food on a good
day. Best go a la carte, don’t try their buffet.
CROWN Hotel has best fruit juices and desserts as well. Rest
of food not so impressive.
Still in search of good food I tried some Chinese restaurant
in a Casino & Restaurant last Thursday. Shoulda known something was off
when only the ‘Casino’ part of the lettering was lit up. The restaurant was situated
in a warehouse storing mattresses and clothes for sale. I kid you not. Ever
heard of a Chinese restaurant with an ‘FC’ suffix a la KFC? Exactly! Requested
prawns and they didn’t have any, but ‘cos I was hungry asked for a chicken
wrap, which was cold. Come to think of it “restaurant” could actually be a
canteen for casino staff.
So that’s my take so far. Never could understand Nigerian folk
that pack loadsa foodstuff when travelling outta the country, but now I get
them. Miss beans and plantain like crazy. My first attempt at local bbq here
wasn’t so pleasing, but I hear there is some place at Jebel that does a
goat/chicken bbq….well from what I heard it’s either a goat bbq that tastes
like chicken, or a chicken bbq that tastes like goat….not sure really. All in
all my taste buds shall be giving it a go next week. Wish me luck.
Hotel stay gets real boring so jumped at the chance to go
out Friday night. Got to some bar about midnight and it was Habesha
night. Had never experienced Ethiopian/Eritrean music before and though the beat
was catchy I didn’t get why people ‘danced’ in one spot doing a combination of
the go-go shake and some caricature of ‘ten-ten’, a Nigerian game I recall girls
– and one particular effeminate boy who just happened to be best mate - from my
childhood playing. People-watched for about 2 hours as this was all new to me,
and kept thinking “how does one work up a sweat dancing like this?”
There was one dude though that was definitely perspiring. He
was doing the usual moves previously described, but had both arms flailing by
his side and twisted them vigorously left to right like a waiter struggling in
vain to open a wine bottle while also anticipating lift-off. I had a hoot.
When not juxtaposing cultural differences between Nigeria
and South Sudan the gym has been a useful distraction. The gym appears to be one
of the few positive thangs about this hotel as the swimming pool is more like a
bath tub and should only be used for baptisms not swimming; I keep sending
clothes to be re-ironed as laundry person “hasn’t passed freedom”; and only get
hot water in shower on Monday mornings. Complained numerous times and after maintenance
guy is sent over – been to room so many times we are on first name basis and yesterday
he asked if I’d be bestman at his impending nuptials - just like the experience
at Terrain I smell hot water but don’t feel it on skin.
So why don’t I move hotels? Kinda like the ambience here and
it’s quite close to office. Plus the gym instructor is quite helpful. At previous
hotel gym instructor spent more time dancing to hip hop beats than working out.
Being at this hotel has made me experience other stuff I previously wasn’t
privy to: Arab music videos! Unlike music videos everywhere else that inform
the viewer of the artist’s name and maybe the director, in Arab videos the
credits roll at end of the video! I kid you not. One gets to see who the grip
is, the producer, lightning dude, the whole nine yards. Amazing.
Forgot to tell y’all I resumed work out today, light
workout, after the doctor said I tore a ligament on Tuesday night. Couldn’t
sleep at all and arm had to be put in a sling on Wednesday. Either I am a
Nigerian X-Man or the painkilling drugs prescribed worked a treat.
So what else? Yeah, weekends have been particularly tough as
I have more time on my hands then and tend to miss Nigeria. What exactly am I
missing? Can’t put my finger on it, guess it’s just the essence of the country.
There ain’t no place like it. Essence of Nigeria! Now that’s
a cologne I’d pay big money for.
Glad I was above to vote in Nigeria’s presidential
elections. We did it Africans, we producing positive stories from the
continent. Forget the Burundi dude, in due time he and other sit-tight leaders
will see they cannot continue as is. Burkina Faso did it, Nigeria did it,
change is sweeping across the continent.
Know what else was sweeping across Nigeria? Women with
moustaches! Is it me or is it more prevalent that ever in the country? Everywhere
I looked I’d see them. Is it something in the food? Do women not give a hoot
anymore? It cannot be that as they are more gym-conscious than ever, so what is
it? Need to commission a study when I have cash to spare. Haven’t noticed it
much in Juba, but then again I haven’t looked closely. Don’t wanna get slapped
for no just reason.
I do miss weekly sojourns to the cinema in Nigeria. Got so bad I
was at lunch at some hotel last week when a Furious 7 poster
with a ‘Coming Soon’ sign below it was sighted. Was so elated I rushed in
hoping to find a pseudo-cinema instead I saw some dude selling bootleg DVDs!
Yup, dude’s advertising arrival of his new stock like it’s a world premiere.
Whatever next, a red carpet rolled out where he’ll give interviews to local media
giving a synopsis of his upcoming movie stock? Ridiculous.
To get out of the rut yesterday I took up a colleague’s invitation
to attend a celebration of her graduation from university. It was a grand
affair and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Spent about 4hrs there and sadly had to
leave for another appointment. Sadly? Yeah ‘cos woulda loved to try home-made indigenous
dishes. Yup, been here for 3 weeks and closest I have gotten to a local dish is
nyoma choma prepared by Kenyans. As I left I thought to
myself, “..this move is gonna be good for me….more Nigerians should move here
to learn patience….can you imagine being at an event in Nigeria for over 2hrs
and all one is served is water? No alcohol? No small chops? There would be
Did I tell you I was resplendent in a white Yoruba
traditional outfit with a hat to match? That’s right, son. Was seated in front
and though the ceremony was conducted in Dinka language, the MC would intermittently
break into English for my benefit. There were speeches, dancing, speeches, and
more speeches. Must be an East African thang ‘cos experienced same thang at
weddings in both Kenya and Uganda. Practice must make perfect ‘cos every single
person that took up the mic was articulate, no hemming or hawing. Woah.
After the hostess gave her vote of thanks – with an
honorable mention for yours truly – the MC said, “I would like to thank our
African brother for attending. I am not sure where you are from but from the
way you walked in and what you are wearing I presume from West Africa, maybe
Ghana or Nigeria. The main thing we know about West Africa is your movies, we
watch them a lot. Now you have experienced South Sudanese culture when you go
back you can include some of these in your movies and I assure you we shall
Woah, I am a cultural ambassador! Didn’t wanna ruin the guy’s
day by informing him I ain’t a fan of Nollywood, but woah. Not sure us
Nigerians appreciate the sort of impact our music and movies have on others.
Just woah. Now I wanna be a Nollywood producer! Now I wanna make my country
proud! Now I…….hold on, hold on, did that dude just mistake me for a Ghanaian?!
And what did he mean by “the way you walked in”? Is that euphemism for “you are
wayyyy too short to be South Sudanese”? And….man, need to ease up on the
In case you wondering what an Orique is it all began after a
November trip to Abu Dhabi to catch the F1 season ending race. Stayed at a mate’s
and it was sorta a guys weekend as other mates from UK and Nigeria converged
there. While walking past a Porsche Design store I saw these red
Adidas Bounce S3
and fell hopelessly in love. As they
were crazy expensive I decided I’d cop them only if I was able to complete an
everyday for 27 consecutive days as
penance. It wasn’t easy but succeeded. By the time I was done there was no size
10.5 in red so had to settle for the grey, less-shocking ones.
I plan to get the red shoes and still searching for another
task(s) to undertake. One of the guys from the Abu Dhabi holiday plans to climb
Kilimanjaro in December and that could be just the ticket. The other dudes
appear to be keen so here’s hoping.
Woah, I tend to go off on a tangent, don’t
I? Orique is…..maybe a brief synopsis of the guys will elucidate thangs:
Bobby – Abu Dhabi host; gym partner back in PH; closet
nudist. He truly is the most narcissistic guy I know. We used to push
each other at the gym and since he’s moved from PH to Abu Dhabi he spends his
time working out and exposing his nude self on Instagram. More fain than a
boyband member to show off he suggested we have an abs-off, i.e. sorta like a
dance-off where we’d compare abs on a busy stretch of highway and whoever gets
more women to crash their cars would be declared the winner, but I politely
Orique – Bobby’s childhood friend; fave hobby is growing his
beard; professional hater. Not as much a gym rat as Bobby, but his daily
exercise regime consists of: 100 pushups, hate on people around him, another
100 pushups, hate on music stars on TV, 50 pushups, call random folk on his
phone and hate on them. Plans to publish a book on how hating keeps folk
Jawz – Nigeria’s next great author; has a Chimamanda Adichie
shrine he lugs everywhere with him. You know the creative writing
maxim, Write What You Know? Sadly all this dude knows about the world he learnt
from books. He’s 45 years old yet hasn’t experienced puberty! Hangs with Orique
a lot more now so could be co-penning Haters Guide To Weight Loss.
Cannot wait to experience Kilimanjaro with these guys and
live to tell y’all about it……if they don’t sabotage my hiking gear after
reading this blog that is.
Tot ziens and God bless.