Exactly one week ago I was in Lagos recently for the #TheREDSummit, the 10th anniversary of Red Media Africa, and the gala in honour of 121 media legends of our time. Truly successful event which I was proud to be a part of. It was exciting to meet people (some I didn’t know and others I’d built relationships with on social media), to listen to different views on media, communication, the next 10 years, etc. Two ladies stood out from all the new people I met; Adenike of Naija Info FM, and Toyin Poju Oyemade – gorgeous women who love God and are fun, down-to-earth, I could go on and on! Truly exciting.
I also enjoyed the time away from work (even though I was pretty much working from my hotel), from Abuja, from the norm. I thank God for the opportunity to travel which always ‘disrupts’; I wonder how bored I would be if I couldn’t ‘up and go’ every once in a while.
I spent a lovely time in Lagos, almost destroyed by the traffic (which is high up on the list of why I detest the place to be honest). On Saturday I’d gone to the University of Lagos to be a part of the event organised for students in media and communications drawn from a number of schools. I met some really fascinating people, including Anita Erskine, a former Studio 53 presenter who was brutally honest when we spoke about wake-up calls, women helping women, and how she got to where she is now after waking up one morning and Studio 53 was over (for a number of reasons). Love her!
I left with Tosin Ajibade (Olorisupergal), and we were stuck in traffic just leaving Yaba for approximately 2 hours 45 minutes. Sweet baby Jesus I dislike Lagos for the traffic! It was awesome to talk through social media et al with her the entire time (wonder what I would have done if I was in a cab) but I got back to my hotel and passed out!
Speaking of hotels, one day I’ll chronicle the different hotels/hostels I’ve stayed in in this life; this trip was spent between Oriental Hotel and The MoorHouse. Obviously the latter beat the former hands down!
On Sunday the 18th of October I went to brunch with my girl Tokes and her friend (now my friend) Joy; we went to The George Hotel, also in Ikoyi. Hilarious afternoon full of good food (which I love), great laughs, and even greater conversation! I know we shouldn’t (so soon) but I’m looking forward to doing that again!
Then it was back to the hotel, snatched up my things and sped off to the airport. Made good time, checked in, and we boarded a 5.30pm flight on time. Medview. Remember the drama on Wednesday when I flew in with them? That story is here.
So we take off, I’m wedged between a guy with a really smelly armpit and a buxom, really chubby lady. I decide I will distract myself from the fact that I don’t have a window seat.
The pilot comes on to say hello and announces there’s a storm coming over Abuja and he’s going to try to get us there before it, and to enjoy the flight. I settle into the book I took off my friend Chinma (was so good to see her, especially since we missed each other in Boston just last month)!
Next thing I know, the plane LITERALLY drops; taking my stomach with it. The next 10 -13 minutes all I can see from straining to see past the lady’s arm/body are thick clouds, all we can feel is bumpiness, like we were trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to avoid potholes. Everyone started praying (loudly), except the man with the smelly armpit. He just looked straight on.
I was afraid. I’ve seen turbulence, but never like this. And then someone started saying, “Father if it is your will”, and in my mind I’m like, “I’m under 30. God’s plan for me is NOT a violent death”. And so I willed myself to block her voice out of my mind, and started praying for composure for the pilot.
The longest 11 minutes of my life. I thought of my nephew, and how he wouldn’t remember me, and then of my folks and how crushed they would be. Instructive to note I didn’t think of work, folks owing me (and they are plenty, sigh), or of anything beyond my nephew and my folks.
I snapped out of those thoughts, and this song came to my mind. “Miracle Worker” by Glowreeyah Braimah and Nathaniel Bassey (it’s one of my favourite songs ever) and so I was alternating between the song and prayer.
Pilot (Captain Boye) comes on. Says we couldn’t avoid the storm, and he can’t land so he’s going to go ‘try’ through “The East”. He sounded so calm (and I was really thankful he was communicating with us – God bless him). Cue at least 30 minutes of circling. Lagos to Abuja is approximately 50 minutes; we took off before 6pm and by 7.30pm, we were still solidly in the air.
I started listening for the sound of the wings broadening (I’ve become used to that sound) because it tells me we’re starting to descend. Sometimes I’d hear a sound, but it wouldn’t be it. The woman beside me started singing Igbo songs, and I remembered my mother. And I prayed even harder.
It went quiet for a bit.
Then I heard it. The unmistakable sound of the wings. We’d commenced our descent! I started crying. Then the pilot announced it, and the woman beside me started crying too. She hugged me, and in that moment I felt my Aunty Pat. So I hugged her, and rested my head on her ample bosom for a bit.
The landing was rough but I didn’t care. What!!! People started clapping, shouting. “Praise the Lord, Halleluyah, God is good” rent the air, and people congratulated each other as soon as they dried their eyes. Even the men. Even the hostesses. Pilot was unavailable to the folks who wanted to say hello (I totally understand). Everyone started calling everyone. I rang my sister.
She said she was asleep and when the rain started (apparently it was that intense), it woke her up, she rang me and when my number was unavailable, she knew I was in the air and started praying.
I got my luggage, got in a cab, tweeted “God himself landed our plane tonight”, and wept all the way home. Get there and guess who runs to get the door? My nephew. Cue fresh tears as my munchkin wrapped himself around my neck. Boo thang didn’t even notice my tears with the 100 questions he started asking.
Exactly one week after that flight, and my eyes are still watering as I type. As I imagine how the story could have ended different.
But it didn’t. And I’m thankful. Today, and everyday.