“Chai I no even dey Lagos”
I was chatting with a friend who came into Lagos two days ago and wanted us to see and after tying ‘chai’ my phone predicted the rest of the message. I smiled as I realised how often I must have typed those words in that sequence. I have travelled every month this year- more than once in some months (May was epic) and all these trips have been within Nigeria- why am I not global now? Chissss *in Charles’s Okocha’s hypeman’s voice*
Travelling around Nigeria has its challenges, the terrible roads and transport options will make you regret setting out sometimes, no matter how much you love travelling. However, until this trip I didn’t realise how hard it is to travel to a place in Nigeria where you have never been to before and find the interesting/tourist sites. I’m currently in Bida which is known for glasswork and metalwork- that’s what we learned in social studies, that’s what the guidebooks, tourism and hotel websites say too, but the problem is no one directs you on how to get to where you can source these things.
It’s easy to suggest that the tourist asks the locals when he or she gets there, right? Well, let me describe how I spent part of my day. I asked the young man at the reception where I could get fancy metal plates and he told me to go to old market and I would find artisans. I got to the place and didn’t see anything that remotely looked like what I wanted, I headed into the market to see if I could find one person who knew what I wanted and most importantly- could also speak English.
So, I walked and walked and wakad and wakad, until I found an Igbo man who told me how to get the closest place. All the while, I was wondering how I would have coped if I weren’t Nigerian- I wouldn’t have been able to differentiate Igbo from Nupe/Hausa and known that the man might have answers.
Many people moan about the wasted tourism potentials of this country but the truth is we aren’t even anywhere near ready to harness it. I can sit here in Bida and plan a trip to Mombasa Kenya (if the lord touches you to take me there, do not resist for I have amazing pictures waiting for me to create them there) by looking up travel sites and they are accurate even to the transport fares of bikes and buses.
I’m not interested in calling out anyone but I found it sad that the major hotel/travel and tourism websites in Nigeria- yes, even the big ones; all used the same source for their articles on Bida. Some of them didn’t even bother to edit the thing small, they just dumped it there. I don’t understand how you are advertising hotels in a locale and hoping that people would come visit but you can’t be bothered to send someone down there to create the content that would attract them?
The tourism sector that seems to have a little life here is group tours but solitary backpackers are a goldmine to be tapped too. Many people the world over are seeking peace and we can position our cities and towns to catch a piece of that lucrative pie.
I’m glad I wrote this and got most of the angst off my chest and I’m glad you read it- even if you don’t really care about tourism…