Posts Tagged ‘Côte d’Ivoire’

Do you remember one of the songs Donkey in Shrek 1 sang? The one he was singing and when Shrek said not to, he asked if he could whistle, then hum?

If you didn’t see Shrek (why on earth), or you’ve forgotten, or you still can’t place which song I’m talking about, it’s ‘on the road again’… And it’s my special way of announcing that I’m on the road again! Not literally though, cos there are at least 3 flights on this trip.

I’m off to Abidjan to attend a workshop organized by the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) and because putting your trust in some carriers is akin only to fetching water in a basket, I’m flying Ethiopian Airlines. Yes that means another overnight stopover in Addis Ababa, and hopefully more pleasant tales than last time.

So, as always, we start with the night before, and I didn’t get home till a few minutes to midnight because I was chasing a client who was chasing his peers so they wouldn’t change their minds about things, and people.

Nice time to segue into the inauguration of Nigeria’s 8th National Assembly on the 9th of June and the almost magical happenings that heralded the emergence of the leaders of both the upper and lower chambers.

We start from Senate President, Bukola Saraki who went from not even being in the running one night to getting elected unopposed the next morning. Let’s not forget the mysterious meeting 51 of the senators supposed to vote went to attend (which didn’t hold & now no one knows who called it)…

Then we go to the lower chambers where Femi Gbajabiamila who was already receiving congratulatory messages (everyone was that sure) lost the Speakership to Yakubu Dogara. 189 votes to 174. So close, yet didn’t happen.

Ok, we’ve digressed enough. By 8.30am, I still wasn’t sure what I’d be taking with me, and then to compound issues I didn’t remember where I dropped my Yellow Card. Hian! I panicked, I kid you not. I was so worried!

Just when I was searching my mind for anyone who worked in the ministry of health, God had mercy on me and I remembered where I left it from my March Jo’Burg trip. Thank you Lord!

Rushed through my packing, shower, and breakfast, then it was off to the airport. Made good time, and checked in without any issues.

Really? No issues Fairy GodSister? Lol… Like that was possible! So, it’s interesting but it appears our airport officials don’t know which countries we need visas for or not. Here’s why: so one of them asked me where I was headed, and I told him Addis Ababa enroute Abidjan. Then, flipping through my passport he goes “where are the visas?” Truth? I’ve done the Addis layover a couple times so I know I don’t need a visa for that. Never been to Cote d’Ivoire though, and it just hit me then that I didn’t know.

Next thing the official says I won’t be able to fly, I don’t have the visa I need, etc. Again, inner panic, outward, ‘I’m not even going to act bothered’ look. Again, it occurred to me I could Google (had to be the voice of God rescuing his silly daughter) and so I did, confirmed I didn’t need one, and promptly shut the official up. *big, wide smile*

Permit a little digression please. There’s something about knowing our rights both as a Christian and people resident on this planet. Otherwise, we will miss out on/get robbed of/be denied so much!!

Ok, so we boarded and glory be to God, my entire row was empty! Yaaaaaass! So I ate, drank the only can of coke I’m allowed, and watched Taken 3, and the modern remake of Annie.

So Taken 3 was lovely (as always) but fingers crossed this is the last in the series biko. Except they want to become the next Empire, or Scandal, and just tell us what days it will air.

I loved Annie too, can’t wait to lay my hands on the soundtrack. Can’t wait!

Got into Addis Ababa ok, and it was off to Empire Addis, a fabulous hotel not too far from the airport. Took the stairs to and from my room on the 5th floor because #FitFam, and after a bit of dinner, it was trying to get my brain to shut down so I could sleep. That didn’t happen till 2am. Sigh.

Out of the hotel and back at the airport by 8am for the onward leg to Abidjan, which is like going from Abuja to Lagos, then heading to Kaduna. Yes. But no flight from Abuja.

Ahhh. My inner lioness escaped today inside the duty free store. Everyone was queuing to pay (Addis has amazing deals on fragrances) and then this guy bounces to the front of the line. The attendants start putting his things through so I ask if the rest of us had nothing else to do. Then he says, “don’t speak to me like that, you don’t know me”. Loooool… Let’s just say, he was pleading by the time I was done defining queues and how they help us maintain order in this world.

And then I boarded. And we took off. And seven hours later, we touched down in Abidjan, where I’ve met folks from The Gambia, Liberia, South Africa, Cameroon, etc. Promises to be an exciting 48 hours of brainstorming strategies around civic engagement, participation in the electoral process, and citizens taking charge of governance. Can’t wait!

As children, my parents always gave us stuff to look forward to, sometimes with conditions; for example “if you place first in your class I will buy you a bicycle”, and other times, just for the fun of it, dad or mom would promise to buy us a gift, or take us somewhere on a certain day. That always marked a turning point in our behaviour/carriage for that period; we would become extra obedient, extra helpful, extra helpful, extra clean, pick up our toys, stellar wouldn’t even scratch the description of what we would be become! Watching my five-year old nephew re-enact that ‘overzealousness’ when I promise to take him swimming or to Wonderland amuses me greatly, and I think, ‘jeez, were we really that obvious back then’?

There’s nothing like hope, trusting that someone will deliver on what they’ve said they will do. And even when sometimes from the word go you know those people won’t deliver, human nature dictates that we ‘hope against hope’. Then we get disappointed, feel hurt et al but give us the same scenario and we’ll do the same thing all over again. Why? Hope.

The perfect illustration for that would be me trying to train Izzie, my late Italian Shepherd (14th June 2006 – 19th December 2009) to sit. Every time I tried, saying, ‘sit’ in English, French, Italian, Yoruba, Ibo, even Hausa, that’s when my darling doggy would swear she would die if she didn’t jump, climb my back, or just stand and stare at me. Funny thing was, even after getting frustrated and leaving with all the treats I got her, next day, yours truly would be back at her kernel again! Why? Hope!

Look at Nigeria too, since the elections that produced Chief MKO Abiola of blessed memory were annulled, we’ve been striving (without success) to hold credible elections; you know, elections without Michael Jackson, Nelson Mandela and Jamie Foxx being Nigerian!

From 1999 we’ve moved from apathy to hope, to disappointment, and back to apathy. And now, just when everyone is ‘gingered’ to participate in the April polls, the fear that we might be disenfranchised is staring us in the face! It’s been reported severally that some registration centres up till now have still not been manned, some of the officials cannot use the equipment, others don’t have ink to print the data recorded, etc. yet every day we continue to troop to the sites, trusting that maybe today, stuff will go right. Why? Hope. By the way, if you still haven’t registered, where is your swag? If you don’t know the closest site to you, check http://yrn.me/maps, http://yrn.me/sng, http://yrn.me/nec, or http://yrn.me/clp; you should find maps, and directions. The registration ends on the 29th of January, so you don’t have a lot of time left!

Most of the time we hope/put our trust in things or people we know from the get go will not come through for us; have you ever stopped to wonder why that God never fails us? He does things we don’t even expect Him to do, yet funnily he seems to be the hardest person for us to hold on to?

How many of us sleep at night hoping to wake up the next day? None of us, because we just know that we will, and that our lives will continue. Do we hope that when we breathe in, our lungs will expand to receive the oxygen and then retract to let the carbon dioxide out? No, for us it just comes naturally. By the way, my doctor sister would be proud of that sentence!

If the foundation of our existence is taken care of on a daily basis by God (and without fail), what is that thing you can’t seem to be able to trust Him for? Sometimes I imagine if it were humans in charge of ‘switching each other on’ every day. Trust me we wouldn’t be having any issues with over population anywhere in the world! I imagine that some people would ‘forget’, and God help you if you fight with the person in charge of your switch!

My pastor talked about not giving up this Sunday, for me it was timely, and just what I needed (isn’t that how the Word of God always is)? He said that sometimes God tells us yes, and rushes off to give us what we’ve asked for, says yes but wants us to wait just a bit maybe because He’s seen that we’re not ready for it yet, and He should know! Other times He might say no because He knows what we want at that time will destroy us. Ditto for my nephew asking to drive the car, not with me o, but alone! I even saw an avatar that says that sometimes we ask God for stuff and He’ll probably be thinking, “you’ve got to be kidding”!

A good example would be Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast praying to God that all the local and international attention/pressure for him to cede power to Alassane Outtara (who’s the rightful winner of the elections) will go away. Are you for real Sir?

Good people, keep your hope alive. The Bible says “cast not away your confidence…..” especially in the One who doesn’t tell you He’s unable to sort you out because He’s too busy, is having a bad day or is on a vacation to the Caribbean’s. Keep your hope in Him alive, that’s what’s up!

P:S – Day 2 of one chronicle a day this week!