#TravelThursday: Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Monsieur, Monsieur, la bathroom s’il vous plait…

It is one thing to decide to explore West Africa by road. It is another thing entirely to choose to visit a francophone country when your French is bare minimum. My trip to Abidjan, can best be described as an exercise in hilarity and I am here to share it all with you.

So I set out with a couple of friends from Accra on a fine Saturday morning. My trip to Accra from Lagos is story for another day. We drove down to Takoradi and got in around 1pm. We were going to take a bus from Takoradi to Abidjan but there was only one bus for the day and we missed it. Next option was to take a smaller car to the border and another vehicle from the border into Abidjan. Seemed simple enough.

We were told we would have to pay to get our passports stamped at the border. Stamping at the Ghana side was fine, but at Cote d’Ivoire, everything changed. First, we had to do the yellow card check. Mine was checked and returned to me but the officer held on to the cards of my two friends. We were confused for a few minutes until we were ushered into an office where a lady explained in rapid fire French that the others needed to take the Meningitis vaccination because it was not on their card.

It was a funny conversation with me trying to explain in my halting French that they had taken the vaccine in recent time but before they got their yellow cards which explained why they didn’t have it on their cards. The lady kept insisting, her words spoken in French moving at the speed of light, that if the vaccine was not on the card, they would have to take the shots. Finally, after about 20 minutes, we gave in and they paid some money to take the shots. (Side note, the injection didn’t hurt even hours later which is unusual for a meningitis vaccine but ok.)

Next, we had to deal with the immigration guys who insisted we should pay 10,000 CFA per person in order to get our passports stamped. Might I just state for the record here that it is possible to travel across these borders without an international passport. An Identity Card would suffice and you wouldn’t have to pay a dime. But we had already offered our passports to be stamped and there was no going back. The driver had told us it was possible to bargain with them since we did not know the price before then and did not change enough money at the border.

At the first point, we met this man who looked smiled at us politely and said he wanted to marry one of us. We had nice banter until we were told the price and we said we didn’t have enough money with us. We tried to bargain with him but he referred us to another officer. The second officer haggled and haggled, at some point insisting that me and one of my friends must pay the full price since we both had US and Schengen visas on our passports. The ridiculousness of his logic was really amusing. After we managed to agree to 10,000 CFA for all three of us and were about to pay, the first man showed up suddenly like something out of a nightmare and insisted that the money was too little. The smiling, joking face was gone and was replaced with this firm, mean look that was just frustrating. He took our passports and had to follow him and massage his ego for almost another 30 minutes before we finally ended up paying 15,000 CFA in total. The naira equivalent of that sum is approximately N9,300.

So you know this thing some drivers do in Nigeria where they carry an extra passenger but tell you the person will be dropping off shortly? LOL. Apparently, it’s not peculiar to Nigeria alone. We got back to the car we had chartered on the other side of the road and the driver had picked up 3 women who he said were just going somewhere in front. That somewhere in front turned out to be inside Abidjan, almost 4 hours from the border. Why are people like this?

Oh, so while we journeyed, bestie became pressed and needed to ease herself. She kept telling me in English so I could communicate to the driver in French as the official translator for the trip. Brethren, I was already tired and stressed from the entire journey and even the small French I was speaking was tired. Next thing that came out of your WCW’s mouth was, “Monsieur, monsieur, la bathroom s’il vous plait, la bathroom!” Till date, each time we recall that, we all explode in laughter. It took a few minutes but the driver eventually understood what I was trying to say and pulled over. Ps, I should have simply said toilet. But mans was tired and the posh English speaking part of my brain had been activated.

Because we were scheduled to leave town the next day, we decided to explore the nightlife in Abidjan. Mind you, we made it to our hotel around 10pm after spending the entire day on the road. On the plus side, the roads were pretty good so we didn’t feel it so much. After checking in, showering and changing, we took a taxi from the front of the hotel and the driver was really gracious, dropping us off and picking us up at intervals before finally bringing us back to the hotel. He didn’t speak English but thankfully, my French was enough to get us through the night.

What I love about Abidjan nightlife first off was that you could find food at any time of the night. Google maps was quite useful in showing us restaurants that were close by and there seemed to be a lot of them concentrated in one area. It was like a 5-7 minute drive from the hotel and even at midnight, the restaurants were full of people and they still had good food. We managed to find a waiter who spoke a little English and we ordered.

The driver had dropped us off and agreed to return for us in an hour. He refused to take a down payment as well and I was grateful first, for his trust and second, for the assurance that he would indeed return. And when he did, he took us to a club where we danced our tired feet off for another hour before returning to the hotel. I was really excited to hear a lot of Whiz Kid and Davido blasting through the speakers. Nigerian music really making the waves. Next to the Nigerian songs, there were a lot of Makossa type songs that had the girls there going wild. Unsurprising anyways because we were in a Francophone country.

The following day, since we didn’t have much time to spare, we went to visit the zoo. The zoo was fair in terms of maintenance and I loved that it was really cheap to get in- 300 CFA per person (approx. N190). I guess I would say we more than got value for our money. There were snakes, lions, crocodiles, monkeys, chimps, birds, a zebra and my personal favourite, an elephant.

Abidjan is an interesting place. In contrast to other capital cities I have visited, it does not have a grand allure to it. I would not describe Abidjan as a mega city. But I guess that would be asking for too much. The highlight of my trip was the visit to the zoo. When visiting a new country, I try to check out museums, zoos and old historical buildings. Those are my default go to places, unless something else is suggested.

When you visit a new place, where do you like to go? Plus have you ever visited Abidjan? How did you find it?

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Updates and a New Category

Hi guys! It’s been quite a while since I was consistent on the blog and I have thoroughly missed it. But in between the madness that was Law School, I have had so many random thoughts and ideas that I penned down, waiting for the right time to flesh them all out and I am so glad that I finally have a moment.

If you know me, you would know I have a lot of interests and the last few years of my life have been about me zoning in on one of those interests and nurturing it passionately to a point where I can confidently balance it with other interests and not feel like I am drowning. I think I have come to that point but time will tell.

Err, what’s new? A Blog series is underway. I started writing it sometime in 2014 and it started coming together nicely between 2017 and 2018. I have a few episodes down and I already love the characters. Fingers crossed you’ll love them too. I would start sharing immediately but my laptop gave up the ghost last week and pending its resurrection and my putting down a few more episodes, I will be unable to share. So pray for a miracle guys! Something new is coming your way and I’m positive you’ll enjoy it.

I’ve got some short stories coming anyways. The beautiful thing about short stories is I don’t necessarily need my old laptop for inspiration. The notes on my phone plus random things around me will be inspiration enough, so I’ve got you guys covered. Stay tuned!

What else is new? Travel Thursday! Yay!! Again, if you know me, you’ll know I am a travel enthusiast. I love visiting new places but I hardly ever share about them. Actually, one of the items on my bucket list is to visit 30 countries before I turn 30. I have 10 under my belt so far and I have decided to start sharing stories from my travels in a new category on my blog that I have titled Travel Diaries. I have been meaning to write travel stories for the longest time but I have always held back for a multitude of reasons. But in the ever famous words of my cousin, “no more!”

Thanks to encouragement and support from my soul sisters Chidimma and Queen (they’ve earned this shoutout), I have resolved to share my travel stories; the good, the weird and the downright hilarious. The stories will be shared every Thursday and I really do hope you enjoy them and find a bit of inspiration as well.

That’s about it I guess. Summary, Oge_writes is back to telling stories and is assuring you of at least one new post every week. So help me God. Enjoy the rest of your week folks and see you Thursday with our first travel post. Who can hazard a guess of the city or country?

Home

X is laughing with his hands to his chest, shaking his head with a look of mock fear on his face as you drive into the compound and slowly bring the car to a stop.

“That’s it! You are never driving me again. I’m really, really not ready to die yet.” He says

You shrug and flash him a grin as you step out of the car.

“You’ve seen the whole world already, what else is there to live for?”

He looks at you and shrugs.

“Nothing much actually. Just my parents, siblings, and maybe you know, this crazy woman I’m contemplating spending the rest of my life with.”

You laugh as he makes his way out of the car and to your side, taking you by surprise as he steals a kiss.

You squirm out of his hold, suddenly feeling shy and he smiles.

“So this is it?” he asks as he looks around.

You nod quietly and look around you as well.

“This is it. This is my home.”

The tranquility is relaxing- a quiet stillness. Even with the gentle breeze that blows, there is no sound of rustling leaves because the compound has been swept clean. The faint pattern of the broom strokes give that away but it is nothing like the artistic patterns you and your siblings deliberately made while sweeping the compound all those years ago.

Above your head, the pride of Barbados flowers sashay ever so gracefully from the branches down to the ground. And that moment, that moment when you look up and catch a single petal falling down to your nose is so magical, you want to pause time and preserve that moment forever.

X observes the faraway look in your eyes and he links his fingers with yours, tugging gently so you snap out of your reverie.

“Let me show you around.” You say.

He follows your lead and as you walk towards the back of your father’s compound, it suddenly feels like déjà vu. The memories of your childhood come rushing back to you but even more formidable is the memory of you sharing this space and all those childhood memories with Obinna. You falter in your steps and X cautions you.

“Easy Mi Vida!

It is only then that you become fully aware of the fact that you haven’t been home since that weekend two years ago when you brought Obinna to attend your father’s birthday dinner. If a flicker of guilt or sadness dims your eyes, X misses it because you chin up and keep walking.

The rose-bed that used to lie in front of the house is no longer there. Of course it wasn’t there on your last visit, but neither were the flower pots your father has now placed right under the windows. Tiny sprouts are peaking out and you make a mental note to ask him what he planted there.

The garden looks a little different from your last visit. It is almost as if something changes every time you visit. The fence at the entrance of the garden has been collapsed, alongside the fence at the corner, backing the garage. So rather than a garden cordoned off from the main compound, what you now see is one large compound extended to envelop the garden. So when you walk right round the garden, you soon find yourself right where you started at the entrance of the compound. X laughs at the slight surprise on your face.

“Something wrong?”

“Oh no. It’s just… different. There was no access from this point before.”

“Ah. I see.”

You smile at him and with his fingers still linked to yours, you return to the garden again, this time letting yourself get drowned in the endless waves of nostalgia that hit as you tell him stories of your childhood. X is thrilled and the way his eyes light up as you regale him with your tales is so rewarding. You have been teased for talking too much but that is one “defect” X is unwilling to help you cure. He is always so attentive and engaging when you speak, one would think you were constantly spitting gold.

Your tour ends right under your favourite guava tree and after telling X about the scar on your knee that you got from falling off the tree, you reckon it’s time to shut down the time capsule and return to the present.

“You know, I still can’t picture you as a skinny tomboy despite everything you have shared with me today.”

Your back is against the tree and your arms are folded loosely across your chest while X stands a few feet away from you as he speaks.

“It shouldn’t be that difficult to picture. Don’t you remember what I was like in my 100 level?”

“Nope! I didn’t know you that well in school. We only became proper friends after graduation, remember? And each time I saw you, you looked ten times hotter than the last.”

You blush and take in a deep breath. This is perfection in itself and it feels surreal. Being here with X, sharing this moment, designing memories that you know you will cherish for the rest of your life. A lot has happened in the last two years to bring you to this point with X and there is so much that you are thankful for.

And when you consider what you deem to be the biggest blessing of all, it is tainted with a hint of sadness. The hint escalates rather quickly into an overwhelming feeling that washes over you and floods your eyes.

X notices the tears as they well up in your eyes and they startle him.

Mi Vida! Is something wrong?”

You shake your head and try to blink the tears away but his concern darkens his eyes further and he takes you gently into his arms.

“No, Mia, you’re crying. What is it? Did I do something?”

You shake your head but the lump in your throat is so huge, it prevents you from speaking and of their own accord, your tears flow gently down your face and on to his shoulders where your head rests. X hugs you tighter and rubs your back as you shed silent tears.

When you’re finally done, you raise your head and step out of his embrace feeling slightly embarrassed. His eyes hold curious concern and his arms hang loosely around you.

Mi Vida?”

“I’m losing my home.” You say, dabbing your eyes as you speak. Your mascara has dripped alongside your tears and stained his white shirt and you feel guilty again because you know how fussy he is about his appearance.

“I’m so stupid for crying, I’m sorry.” You’re trying to brush it away but X is having none of it.

“What do you mean losing your home?”

“This place. Dad is selling it next year. He said he wants to leave.”

“Oh my love!”

His hug is tighter this time as he pulls you into another embrace and you rest in his arms, feeling safe and loved, grateful for his presence.

“This is all I have ever known baby. I don’t know how to let it go. I don’t know how to deal with the fact that after next year, I’ll never be able to return here again. Can you see how peaceful and perfect it is?”

The tears threaten to overwhelm you again but you fight them and win, only by swallowing lump after lump as they rise in your throat.

Mi Vida, look at me-” he says as he steps back and levels his eyes with yours.

“Home is here-” he taps your chest gently as he speaks

“Right here in your heart. No one can ever take it away from you. Every single memory you have as a child in this place, you carry it in your heart. And whenever you feel lost or homesick, you can very easily draw on them and re-live them as though you were here.”

You nod and sniffle and he gently strokes your cheeks.

Mi Vida, home is wherever we decide that it will be. For me, home is you, and wherever you are. It’s why we’re here, together, right now, sharing this precious moment. Home is you Mi Vida, and I want you to think of me as home too.”

You nod again, fiercely this time and reward him with a light kiss for his kind words that soothe your aching heart.

“You know, it’s funny. I have lived in multiple cities and countries since I first left home 6 years ago but no place has ever given me the same feels as here. Nothing even comes close.”

You notice a sudden aloofness in his eyes that tells you X is no longer with you.

“Baby?”

“I have an idea.” he says

“Why don’t we make some videos? And take loads of pictures too and you can journal about this trip and how it’s made you feel, and that way, you preserve this particular memory forever.”

Your face lights up like a constellation of stars and you squeal in delight.

“Yes! Yes!!!”

X takes the car keys from you and dashes off. You remain rooted in your garden, awestruck by this amazing man who is doing the absolute most especially seeing as you hadn’t imagined meeting anyone who would be as kind to you as Obinna had been.

X returns seconds later, selfie stick in hand, camera ready. You blush the entire two minutes it takes him to get the angles right and as he hits the record button, you go on and on and on about your childhood home in this tiny, beautiful northern city you have called home for the greater part of your life.

“…So I’m a little sad that I’m leaving all this behind, but I am so grateful for every single memory I have created here.”

That is how you wrap up your monologue and you find yourself infinitely grateful for the huge smile X has plastered across his face.

“Oh wait! One more thing!

There’s this song I used to sing with my dad a lot as a kid. I think I want to sing it here.”

“Yeah? This should be fun.” X says

You giggle loudly and then you start.

“I love to go, a-wandering, along the mountain track

And as I go, I love to sing, my knapsack on my back

Val da-ri, Val da-ra,

Val da-ri, Val da-ra-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha Val da-ri, Val da-ra,

my knapsack on my back

X’s laughter is gentle and teasing but you do not stop. Rather, you break into a dance, skipping and twirling around the garden, disturbing the peace like you have been known to do but feeling the happiest you have ever been. Because in those minutes while you sing, you’re a little girl again, riding on your father’s shoulders and yelling the chorus right into his ears and giggling as he dances around the garden with you.

X does not stop the video recording so you sing the chorus multiple times, throwing in some shaku shaku moves and a couple cartwheels for good measure, until you’re out of breath. You both collapse into a laughing happy heap and X finally ends the video.

X kisses you on the forehead and with his arms wrapped loosely around you, you finally get what he was trying to say earlier. This is home, right here, nestled in the arms of the man you love. A man set to meet your father with his close relatives in another 24 hours to commence the traditional rights of officially seeking your hand in marriage- the iku aka.

Some other day, you will tell the story of your journey with X and how you got to this point. But that day is not today. Today, you have found the true meaning of home, you have created beautiful memories and you will treasure them forever.

Clean Slates and Marathons

There’s something about starting off the New Year with a frenzy that never gets old. We tend to feel like we have a fresh slate, a new lease on life to start again and so inadvertently we put ourselves under undue pressure to run and achieve and before the first quarter is over, we find ourselves burning out.

I’d been thinking of putting out a few tweets but my restless mind wouldn’t let me articulate properly so I settled for a blogpost instead.

First of all, breathe. It’s a New Year, yes but you can leave some of the pressure behind.

At the end of last year, so many people wrote reviews (I did too). Some had had a fantastic 2017 with countless accomplishments, some had a not so great year and if you’re human like me, you may have felt a pinch reading some of the reviews and asking yourself why your year could not have been as great or why you could not achieve as much. Again, breathe.

Now the New Year is here and there is a measure of pressure to accomplish so much so you can also write about them. But slow down for a minute and think on this. Life is in seasons, and there are phases for our journeys so you must be patient with the process. I have written about the need to stay in your process before and this post is to reiterate that specifically for the New Year.

You must pace yourself out. Refuse the pressure to succeed overnight at anything. Refuse the pressure to suddenly get married or make babies or get a job or buy a car or own your house or even landed property. I know this is easier said than done but see, your peace of mind is so important! I say refuse the pressure because if you aren’t careful, you will find yourself measuring your progress with the scale of others’ journeys whereas you do not know all the details that make up theirs. Take some time off social media for a bit if you will. I promise it helps ease the pressure. Because if you can’t see some stuff, then you can’t be envious. Pace yourself out.

Towards the end of last year, I came across this brief thread by @Gbemisoke on Twitter, it had to do with her personal experience and it resonated deeply with me.

See, while you are in your process, people will attain the things you desire  even before you do. Find courage to be genuinely happy for them without malice while you stay in your process of building, trusting and waiting. Because there is the law of seed time and harvest and some seeds take a greater time to grow than others. But by all means nurture patiently till your harvest comes.

As we venture into 2018, here’s a friendly reminder to you to:

  1. Stay in your process. Embrace your journey. Own your process and love it.
  2. Mind your business. Comparing yourself with others will nearly always leave you feeling inadequate. But you don’t even know what makes the other person lose sleep at night. Every rose garden has got its thorns.
  3. Take care of your mental health. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking depression isn’t a thing. Be deliberate about what you feed your mind with and the people you let into your space.
  4. Invest in a journal. If you use an iPhone, try the DayOne app. It is so efficient for documenting your journey and for measuring growth. iPhone or not, invest in a journal and be dedicated to it. You can thank me later.
  5. Embrace an attitude of gratitude for all that you have while waiting and working for all you desire.
  6. Choose to be happy. Be deliberate about this. Indulge in your favourite past times on occasion. Choose your happy. Do not leave that to chance.
  7. Set SMART goals and be strategic and deliberate about executing them.
  8. Consciously reject pressure brought on by the experience of others. It can be such a drainer.

The New Year is a marathon and if you know anything about running, you’ll agree with me that you don’t use the same pace for a sprint as you would a marathon. Again, pace yourself out, be deliberate about your journey and enjoy your process.

May the New Year be kind to you, but more importantly, may you be kinder to yourself in the New Year.

Love, Light and Good Vibes only.

@Oge_writes

2017 In which I Lived My Best Life Yet

I remember exactly where this picture was taken, when it was taken and exactly how I felt in that moment. It was the eve of my 25th birthday. I was sitting on a ledge overlooking the River Seine in Paris and there was a wellspring of happiness and perfect contentment, bubbling from deep within my heart and overflowing well over on the outside.

In so many ways, 2017 has been my year and if you have followed my reviews since 2014, you will agree with me. 2017 was the year in which I lived my best life, maintained my authenticity and deliberately chose to be happy.

At the end of my 2016 review, I came up with a relatively simple plan for 2017.

  • Live vivaciously but make responsible choices.
  • Read a lot more.
  • Travel some more. My goal is to visit at least 4 new countries. A girl can dream no?
  • Throw fear out the window and choose love, peace and happiness.

And as the sun sets on 2017, my heart is bubbling over with joy and contentment because I lived out my simple plan for 2017. And I will share that journey, as usual, with a breakdown of each month.

January

2017 began on a really high note for me. I was in the US with cousins I hadn’t seen in over a decade and as the turnup Queen/Minister of enjoyment that I am, we were moving across cities and lighting the entire place up. The first couple of weeks in January were super LIT!!!

I returned to Scotland in the middle of the month and my body broke down from excess enjoyment. Lol. But there was the amazing Bridget to nurse me back to health.

February

February was good to me. My mooting partner and I won the semi-finals of the Main faculty mooting competition for my Law School and I was really excited and equally nervous for the finals. I was mostly buried in school work in February and then I had moments of doubt with one of life’s numerous choices. Look, fear is such a killer. We must learn always, always to replace our fear with faith. It’s really hard but it’s well worth it.

March

Mooting finals came and we won! It was surely the best way to start the month! The result of this win was that my name would go up in the “hall of fame” at the Law School library as one of the winners of the 2017 main faculty moot. I was super pumped.

I lost an essay competition I’d entered into but this didn’t dampen my mood at all. I had a lot going for me and I was super content. School work was a bit intense but I powered through. I lost an aunt this month and it hit me hard.

On the up side, I began making active plans towards my travel goals for the year and that had me excited for the most of March. I also realized I’d put on some ridiculous weight and it was time to hit the gym again. Being thick is attractive to some people but I wasn’t sure it was for me. Heh.

On a whole, March was really, really good to me. Especially the 8th of March 🙂

April

The best month. Always the best month!!

It began with a lot of pressure with school work. Then my Schengen visa came through and mans got on a plane to go see the city of Paris for Spring break.

See ehn, find you some good friends. Honestly, find you some really good friends who think the world of you. Because the month of April for me was made perfect by some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for. I spent two weeks of the Easter holidays in Paris touring, laughing and living my best life without a single care in the world. I had people who ascribed the highest level of  value to me go out of their way to prove their love for me in kind words and dinner on a boat cruise for my 25th birthday. I still can’t get over it. I shed so many happy tears that day (yes, I bring on the waterworks pretty easy. Sue me.) My birthdays have progressively gotten better through the years and this 25th one legit took the cake.

Of course I had to embarrass my friends by turning cartwheels randomly in the middle of the streets of Orleans. That’s my trademark. Constant unruliness.

April was really, really good to me. I laughed, a whole lot, I smiled till my cheeks hurt and for every single day of the month, my heart was full.

May

Final exams. I’d been preparing through the semester and when they came, I felt really ready. And after the exams came the groove. Next to April, May was another awesome month. I hit my travel goals when I went on a Euro tour with my cousins. From London to Rome to Barcelona to Paris and then Frankfurt. I hit my target of 4 new countries this year and it was really exciting. Travelling opens your mind in more ways than you could ever imagine and I was so glad I could do it.

Rome was warm and welcoming. I definitely want to go again sometime. Barcelona was mehh at first but then we took a hike up the Montjuic castle and the view was so rewarding plus the salsa with gorgeous, waist-winding Latino men? Yes please!!!!!!

I’d been to Paris before but we checked out new sights together and Frankfurt was more like a quiet getaway- a time to rest from all the travelling.

Best believe I stamped my signature unruliness across Europe though, cartwheeling at St Peter’s Basilica, dancing randomly at malls, train stations and on the streets. Lol. So, so extra this one. The Lord be with the man that chooses to wife me.

May was really, really good to me.

June

The month began with depression. It was as though my enemies reckoned I’d been having too much of a good year and they had to get me. I failed one of my courses. Ok not fail like I had to rewrite it, but I scored a D which is as good as a fail in my books. And that totally unexpected grade knocked the wind out of my sails. That should have been one of the easiest courses, I had worked so hard and it made no sense at all. But Abba had a lesson coming.

Anyways, I spent the weekend with my phone off, crying and just totally out of it. But Eloho came to my rescue and so did Mr. N. I know both of you will read this- bless your hearts for being such incredible gifts to me. And bless your heart too dear Bridget! I can’t imagine how unbearable it must have been, living with me for those 3 days but you are such a gem.

Guys, find you some really good friends that will move mountains for you. ‘nuff said.

Ah, I was saying Abba had a lesson coming. Almost 3 weeks after the results came out, I showed up at my graduation not exactly excited. Another degree in the bag. No big deal. Well, until I received my certificate and saw that I’d made a Distinction. See, when you will and run and Abba decides to show you mercy, it is such a beautiful sight to behold. I wept happy tears (Yes, again with the waterworks. Sue me na). Hard work for all the 2 years had paid off. Baby girl had an LLB with Distinction.

Definitely my favourite grad picture 😁

And then the day after, I got on a flight and moved back home to Nigeria.

July

The first leg of Law School resumed in Bwari. I got frustrated by the registration process that took 6 hours but still wouldn’t finish. (If only I knew what would happen in Lagos a few months later. LOL.)

There’s something about coming from a system that works down to a place where inefficiency is the order of the day. I still can’t wrap my head around it. And no amount of mental preparation was enough to equip me for the madness.

But in the midst of all the chaos, I met good people, made new friends and tried my best to settle into life in Nigeria. For whatever it is worth, this is home.

August

Ah. August was a really good month filled with lots of love, laughter and wide and wild smiles. Law school was still on but there were so many good vibes coming my way that I didn’t feel any pressure. I also did more reading this month and that left me feeling happy.

September

Snuck into Lagos for small weekend getaway and I totally had a blast. September started on a really good note for me and that long weekend away from the stress of school was so needed.

I read Trevor Noah’s ‘Born a Crime’ and it was brilliant. Totally my book of the year.

Wrote Bar 1 exams which were pretty ok. Just like that, 3 months of Bar 1 had flown by and that phase was over. At the end of the month, I moved back to Lagos, supposed city after my heart. El Oh El.

October

Food poisoning had me admitted at the hospital with drips and injections being pumped into my system for a whole day. Was quite a horrid way to start the month, but I bounced back. Commuting around Lagos was super stressful, I lowkey began to contemplate my supposed love for the city. Fam, Lagos is stressful. (Note to Mr. N; if you remind me about that blogpost on falling in love with Lagos again ehn…)

October was a good month, save for the stress of commuting. I met up with a lot of old friends I hadn’t seen in years and made a couple of new ones too. Of course you know by now that I am people person. Relationships and human interactions in general excite me.

November

Hehehehe. Bar 2 of the Nigerian Law School resumed in Lagos and I spent one full week doing registration. I almost went mental! To think that I’d complained about 6 hours in Abuja months before, only to come and do one full week in Lagos. I am tired of Nigeria abeg. Send help.

Classes began and they were every bit as intense as I’d been warned they would be. But then again I am Oge, the poster kid for workaholism so I fell into step after a couple of weeks.

Then I had the opportunity to do something really amazing for a short gig and it worked out so well. I was super happy and proud.

December

This month has been a fine mix of everything. I had a meltdown after struggling with power issues in school. It wasn’t just the power to be honest. So many things about being back in Nigeria had been chipping at me over the last 6 months. “Death by a thousand cuts” a friend called it. And so it was that I found myself in my room on a Sunday morning wailing buckets and nearly cussing myself out for moving back to Nigeria. Brethren, send help.

I made it through the remainder of school and fled to the comfort of my mother’s arms the moment we got a break; after my body reacted violently to the stress it had endured of course. And then I came home to super amazing news such that all the suffering I’d endured so far suddenly became inconsequential. Abba remains super faithful.

My 2017 is nearly at its end and I am so grateful for all that the year has been for me because just like I set out to do this year;

  1. I lived vivaciously as you could tell from the numerous trademarks of my unruliness across different cities.
  2. I read a lot more books than I have in the last 3 or 4 years put together. 12 in total. Hopefully more next year if Law School will let me see road.
  3. I travelled a lot. 5 new countries this year even more than the 4 I originally set out to achieve. So proud of myself and so thankful too.
  4. I threw fear out the window and chose love, although to be fair, sometimes it did feel like fear was hanging on the window sill mocking me and daring me to shut it out completely. I still have some work to do in that department. As for peace and happiness, those pretty much sum up the entirety of my year.

My writing suffered this year. I didn’t write any series for the blog even though I had a couple I was working on. School pressure never let me make enough progress to begin sharing and I certainly did not want to start and leave you guys hanging. If you read Damage Control, you’ll understand. But I did some screenplays and I’ll be happy to share when production is finally complete. The blog grew to over 100,000 hits this year. Thank you guys for sticking around. I will make up for this season. Best believe.

For 2018, I plan to keep it even simpler- Stay authentic and keep living my best life.

It’s the parents’ wedding anniversary today. 3 decades and then some. May 2018 for you be as fresh and flourishing as the love I see them openly display for each other. It is the absolute cutest thing.

Love, Light and Positive Vibes!

@Oge_writes

For Wukeh; The Friend that sticks closer than a brother

Meeting and being friends with you changed my life.

You are the gift that keeps on giving.

You have blessed my life’s journey with your kindness and your warmth.

You overwhelm me with your love in the way and manner that Jesus would.

And you have facilitated some of the deepest and greatest connections I now have 😉

I remain thankful for you with every passing year.

Thankful for the Jesus-expression that you are.

Thankful for your solid counsel through every chaotic season.

Thankful for your unyielding and unwavering faith when doubts assail me.

Thankful for every random act of kindness you have sent my way.

Thankful for your assurance that you always have my back.

I remain thankful for you and your essence.

I could write an entire book on your person and how you love people so tangibly. An entire book would not even suffice to share on how you inspire, motivate and encourage. You give yourself so freely to everyone in need and somehow you never seem to run out of steam.

I could write an entire book and maybe some day I would. But for today, let a short blogpost suffice.

You are amazing Wukeh and I’ll never stop telling the world about you; the incredible human that transformed my life.

You’re my favourite person for all season and I love you so!

Happy Birthday my precious 💜💜

Oceans Apart (20) by Milli

Behi lay on her bed reflecting on all that had happened in the last few weeks. It had been a rollercoaster of events and it had taught her a really big lesson. All because she wanted to get back at her ex she had almost lost the love of her life. Bimbo had almost lost his life to. She had been putting up pictures and captions about forgiveness on her social media platforms. She hoped it would minister to someone out there. She also thought about how her revenge plan had put a strain on her and Osas’s relationship. She had been her best friend for such a long time and had always been there for her in the good times and the bad. She could have lost her as well and all for what, all for nothing. In all of this, she was glad the drama was over and things had settled down.

Bimbo silently got dressed in his hospital ward. He was going to be discharged soon. He had packed up all his things and could not wait to leave. He was not exactly the praying type but he knew deep down that it was God who had saved him from that terrible accident. He had another chance to live as a better person which he was going to do. He was a different person now. Although he was still going to be using crutches for some time he was so grateful to be alive.  He said a prayer of thanks to God and asked that He help him live a better life. He thanked God that Behi and Dozie had forgiven him as well. He finished dressing up and went down to the reception to wait for his dad. He was walking of these hospital doors a new man.

Dozie was packing up his bags and other things for his journey. He and Emeka were leaving the next day. He was glad the days of drama were over. He had no idea all of this was going to happen when he came. He just wanted to surprise his girlfriend but lo and behold he got stabbed. Sometimes he still could not believe all of this had happened. He was glad Behi had learnt her lesson. He had seen a different side of her he had never seen before. The anger in her eyes when she slapped Bimbo that day at the restaurant was something he never wanted to see again. He felt bad she had not told him about Bimbo in the early days of their relationship but he could not blame her. It was not easy for one to start talking about all that. He folded his last piece of clothing and put it in his box.

NEXT DAY

“Hmmm….some people are not crying…or should I say wailing.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”, Behi asked giving Osas a puzzled look.

“Er…it’s just that the last time somebody was leaving for London I did not hear word. Some people’s tears could fill a bucket”

“Go away jo”, Behi said picking a throw pillow and hurling it at Osas.

“It’s true now”…Osas, said laughing.

“Yes, you are right.”

“So are you following him to the airport?”

“Yea I am”

“You know the last time you couldn’t go because you could not bear it…..chai…me to I will love o”

Behi shook her head, This girl was just a clown.

“What about you though…I mean you haven’t dated anyone in a while”

“Abeg ….I’m not ready jare. Just leave that one. I know you just want to change the subject. Don’t bother because I will not let you rest today.”

Behi laughed. This girl knew her so well. She would meet up with Dozie later that day. He would be gone for about six months after which he would return finally. Osas decided to come stay with her until it was time for her to leave. Osas was truly the best friend ever.

Eno had missed his friend. He was glad he was finally coming back. He was also happy that Bimbo had been discharged. The past few weeks had been something else. Bimbo had really gone through a lot of pain. He actually shed a few tears when Chuki had sent him pictures of Bimbo and the car. He was in a terrible state and the car was a complete write off. A guy who was so jovial and vibrant had been reduced to almost nothing. He had prayed every single day for his two friends and God had answered. He was glad that Bimbo had apologised to Dozie. This accident had really humbled him. He couldn’t wait to now see the new Bimbo. However that will be till Christmas as he planned to go back to Nigeria then. He wondered how things would have turned out if he had told Dozie what had been going on form the start maybe things would not have gotten this bad.  He was glad it had all come to an end.

“Hey boo”, Behi said giving Dozie a hug.

“Hey, how are you doing?”

“Very well my love, I am really happy.”

“You should be sad…I’m leaving”.

“Yea but you are coming back…..or aren’t you?”

“Er…I don’t know…might stay and marry some Bri-ish lady”….. Dozie said in a funny accent

“Okay o…..I will just pretend as if I didn’t hear what you just said”

“Hehehehe….you know I can never leave you, he said pulling her into his arms”

“Awww”

“I am so glad we were able to get through this boo….I am sorry for everything again.”

“It’s all in the past now baby you don’t have to apologise”

With that, he gave her a kiss. At that point Emeka walked in

“Hey, please o…I don’t want to spoil” , he said laughing.

“Are you all set?”

“Yes, I have put all the boxes in the car.”

“Alright guess we are good to go. Let’s go in and see mum one last time”

They all went into the house and their mum prayed for them and blessed them.

The drive to the airport was fun as they relived the good times they had had in their relationship and teased Emeka about not having a girlfriend. He told them he still was not ready to get into a serious relationship but said that he really loved what they had and was very happy they were able to get through the whole ordeal.  When they got to the airport Behi helped the brothers with their bags and waited with them a bit.

“So tell me something, were you afraid or should I say jealous when I said I would stay back and marry a British lady?”

“No…I wasn’t”

“Hmmmm….really”

“Okay…maybe a little”

“Hehehe…I knew it. Six months isn’t a long time baby. I’ll be back and we will take our relationship to a whole new level. Please don’t just hide anything from me again alright?”

“I promise I won’t”

“I love you very much”

“I love you too baby”

He hugged her tight and gave her a quick kiss.

“Dozie…we need to go o…we cannot miss this flight again”, Emeka said tapping Dozie’s shoulder.

“Take care Behi we will miss you”, said Emeka giving her a hug.

“Bye loves”

She watched them walk away until she couldn’t see them anymore. She walked out of the airport back to where her car was packed enjoying the cool breeze of the evening on her face.  As she entered her car she said a prayer for the boys. Everything was fine and everything will even be better when Dozie got back. She was one lucky girl. She drove home as happy as ever thinking about the wonderful days she and Dozie had ahead of them.

Yes!!!! Ocean Apart has finally come to an end. However I want to say a very big thankyou to God Almighty for giving me the strength to write this series trust me it was not easy but He was faithful. Thank you to Ogechi Nwobia, who used her blog as a platform for me to share this series. We have never met but she is an amazing person and an amazing writer as well. Thank you to every single person who has read this series and has encouraged me in one way or the other. To those who leave comments as well I say thank you for taking time out to do so. To those who give me constructive feedback I say thank you as well. I promise I won’t stop writing. I hope you all were able to learn something from this.

God bless you all.

Oseremen ‘Milli’ Okpere