Road trip to Portharcourt

The furthest I ever traveled growing up was to my hometown in Edo State which was roughly a four-hour drive spent with my face pressed to the windowpane of my dad’s Honda Civic. In excitement, as we zoomed past thick clusters of trees, I must have reenacted an adventure story where I would get lost in the woods a thousand times.

That got old fast, and subsequent years were spent with me sleeping away the travel time and wondering if travel would ever be as exciting as the first time the idea was announced to me.

I was deployed for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC-a mandatory one-year national program after tertiary education) to Port Harcourt, the rumored most happening state in Nigeria after Lagos and Abuja, I was so excited I wanted to resume camp for my Youth Service that second.

Photo credit – PH Drones‏ @drones_ph

I had the playlist I would listen to all through the 10-hour bus trip planned out; my matching outfit was guaranteed to tell the world I had spent the better part of my teenage years in Lagos State, and the sunglasses (you can’t go on a trip without sunglasses) were set in the pocket of my carrier bag.

I was off to explore a whole new life; my name could have been changed to Dora.

To say the least, the actual trip was much different from the trip in my imaginations, and that led to me creating a checklist I religiously follow when embarking on a long trip.

Let’s flashback for a second. The most cost-effective means of travel in Nigeria is by bus. However, if you can afford flight tickets and know your travel mission is time-sensitive, by all means, take a flight; but if you are ready for an adventure, please, travel by bus.

You think you have seen all Nigeria has to offer until you travel by bus.

Most of my fun memories were derived from countless hours spent on bus trips I took frequently on my way to and from my University which was located in another state. Among these memories was the discovery of new playlists, eavesdropping on beliefs so queer I forgot I wasn’t a part of the conversation, passengers becoming the experts at driving when you hit that traffic jam to Neverland, or sampling delicacies from roadside merchants.

Sampling delicacies by the roadside is for the brave-hearted, if your stomach walls are not thick or too sensitive stay away from them.

Fish and Boli, a Portharcourt delicacy

Port Harcourt was the first 10-11 hour trip I had ever braved, and despite the contrast in intriguing sceneries, as the hours flew by, I realized my legs were made to endure shorter trips, and ten hours was a lot of time my playlist wasn’t ready for. From then my travel checklist became more realistic.

One, you cannot take a ten hour trip in ill-fitting clothes. Your soul will never forgive you in another ten hours after that.

Two, power banks are as essential as air.

Three, drinking water before a 10-hour trip is the apple Adam and Eve ate in the garden of Eden- the bane of all long trips.

Four, trust that no restroom stops along the way would have the essentials, go with your own tissue paper. 

And, my favorite, carry along water and drinks you would consume with you from home. Sometimes the prices merchants call for them are ridiculous.

That being said, I staggered out of the bus ten hours later rumpled, humbled by a dead phone, but excited to see what other lessons Port Harcourt had in store for me.

Independence day — National Owanbe day

On the 1st October 1960,my dear Fatherland gained independence and became a sovereign nation,Nigeria, I hail and doff my hat for you.

Today,this giant clocks 60 years old and I really want to say a happy birthday to this great nation.

Oh great Nigeria, I call you thus as so much greatness lies within even thought your steps falter and your tongue stutters,you still remain a giant.

In a bid to attract foreign visitors to our dear nation, I have a strong feeling we should re -christen this day our national owanbe day. This I believe will attract more visitors and the international media will put a spotlight on us which will keep the world smiling in the face of so much gloom as a result of the recent pandemic. The world sure needs a time of refreshing and something to smile about.

Model- Queen Mo the Diva on Instagram

World over and even for Nigerians in diaspora, we are known for our lavish partying and over the top celebrations. Nigerians have been known to spend fortunes on weddings  or burials, amounts that could easily buy a house or set one up for life. We are the go lucky happy kid, who always finds something to laugh about even in the worst of cases, turn up memes with national issues and even start selling customized merchandize for such events. So why can we not just turn this to a national treasure ? Instead of having propaganda agendas, unending meetings, anniversary committees and what nots, lets just have a giant party nation wide. Customized Nigeria at 60 Ankara and lace made available and delivered to our houses. Then maybe this will help us know the actual number of people who got the Covid-19 relief materials. Imagine, this can even shed light on how well the national cake is going round by the number of selfies we see popping up. The Yoruba people of Nigeria will say “ko wo ankara ko je semo ” (No uniform Ankara for the party, no food for you ).

Model – k_thepsalmist on Instagram

Lets us have one giant party in states and local governments, estates and streets with each region celebrating their local talents, local Mama put/eateries given government money to make delicacies for citizens to walk in and eat. Nigerians are hospitable and we have amazing delicacies worth trying.

Independence inspired meal

How else can we celebrate this day and touch the life of Nigerians, make the masses happy, break records and get the attention of the whole world ?

Source – loveweddingsng

Where did this crazy idea come from ?

Every year on the 1st of October, I see a lot of pictures popping up on social media with Nigerians dressed in GREEN and WHITE, with a lot of efforts and creativity in place. Even schools are not left out, requesting preschoolers up to secondary schools to dress in national colours . Thus why not turn this day to a national treasure/man made festival to greatly promote tourism with awards for most creative dressing etc and over the years, nations of the world will travel to join the party and eventually visit other attractions. Something irresistible must surely draw them here.

In the spirit of a true Nigerian and love for my Father land, I say have a restful holiday, happy Independence day, your path will  shine brightly and long live Nigeria.

 

 

 

 

The rain Corn

In the build up to Naija Corn Fest 2020, we had a series of educative posts about corn, why it is important as a staple food, Africa still importing corn from developed countries and also the economic value reffered to as “Yellow Gold” in developed countries. 

Barely a week after, a CBN circular spread like wild fire saying form M (form M is a mandatory statutory document to be completed by all importers for importation of goods into Nigeria )has been banned for all importation of Corn/Maize. This means no form M,no official (cheap ,regulated) rates for buying dollars for foreign exchange.

The CBN circular stopping form M

This invariably means no regulated funds for buying corn. i.e it is an outright ban on importation of Corn. It is also worthy to note that Corn has been on the export prohibited  list before now, meaning we do not have enough so we can not sell out. All importation and exportation of corn/maize and seeds are now prohibited.

How ordinary people will be affected

Imported corn will probably still be available at the mercy of merchants who dare to smuggle in the produce. This means Corn importation has now been declared a contraband/prohibited item just like the status of imported rice into the country. In the long run, everybody feels the heat as everything we use corn for gets to increase in price. However it still feels lopsided as other processed corn items/derivatives importation have not been banned e.g corn starch etc.

As a result of the ban, the Animal feed industry was the first to cry out, according to Dr. Folarin Afelumo, President of  Feed Industry Practitioners Association of Nigeria, FIPAN said “the scarcity of grains (maize), if not urgently tackled, spells doom for the industry which is worth over N500 billion”.

Animal feeds

Speaking with a chicken poultry farmer, a measure of feed usually goes for #96 now goes for #185 and it is still rising which will push up the eventual cost of chickens they raise. Egg sellers have added money and its only a matter of time for baked goods to go up.

The question is how then do we increase our production as a country to become self sustainable.

The real issue and what can be done

According to a report by IITA, Africa imports 28% of its required maize grain from countries outside the continent as most of the maize production in Africa is done under rain-fed conditions. Irregular rainfall can trigger shortages and famines during occasional droughts. Today, a certain percent of required maize by Nigeria is lost as a result of importation ban, another percent lost as a result of sketchy rainfall in cities within Nigeria where the maize/corn is grown, yet another loss as a result of poor farming methods and all the youths gone to the city for the white collar jobs. And to top it all, we are still missing some as an aftermath of Covid-19 .What percentage of required corn do we have left for the teeming population?

To bring our corn production to speed as a nation, we need to start massive mechanized farming, irrigation and definitely more than one corn planting season in a year by rotating all the vast expanse of land we have as a nation. There is no better time to plant and invest in corn production.

Naija Corn Festival 2020

We planned to host the First naija corn festival on the 4th July 2020 but Covid-19 happened.
In place of that we decided to host a CSR programme bringing corn to our community for free and we urged people to post their corn eating pictures with #naijacornfest on social media to join our e-corn party. Most people did not post the pictures directly, rather they sent them to us to post and till date ,we have some yet to make it to the gram.

Some of the pictures on Instagram tagged #naijacornfest

The 4th of July 2020 dawned as a rainy day yet my spirits refused to be down, I was optimistic and excited as getting to plan the day itself was a leap of faith .Thus the rain was no discouragement, we were ready to take it on plus God blessed us with amazing set of people who stepped out of their comfort zone to be a part of the event. Though we started later than planned we were able to touch locations within Surulere, and Kilo as our final bus- stop.

Amazing crew braving the rain to share Corn

Courtesy of the rain, we could not do as much video as we would have loved to, plus we totally forgot about the instgram live promise due to the downpour. see here with no sound  the short clip on Instagram live which would have been great content for the video but our video recorder battery had shut down by then. Below is the event re-cap.

 

 

We stopped by at some amazing peoples house like Ajala Nene and  Devee Apparels to give them corn and by this time I was soaked to my shoes , I had to beg for tea (black) to get a bit of warmth. Our final stop was Yakoyo eatery on Ogunlana for take – out hot Amala. By the time I got home, I was already sneezing and my nose was blocked. For the next 2 days, I upped my intake of Vit C to 2000gms and by the third day was as fit as a fiddle.

A big shout out to all our friends,family and people who came across the adverts and registered, to those who went out of their way to cook /buy corn that day ,we celebrate you specially. Up till the 14th of July, we were still receiving pictures with people joining from all over Nigeria, the UK and the US.

While preparing for the Corn  Festival, I met a young man who printed on the packaging used for the corn,he supported us by posting about the event and recently also celebrating this hardworking and diligent Corn seller who is his Mother.

We celebrate you hardworking Mother for all that you do.

The Corn conversation is just getting started.

Have a Corntastic day !

 

The Naija Corn Festival

We have a dream, to create new tourism attractions for Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Thus the introduction of our flagship event named “Naija Corn Festival” which we intend to develop and deliver at a global standard to attract visitors from all over the world.

Corn festivals are not new as there are countries all over the world who currently celebrate this with history of the festival spanning over 40 years e.g. South Africa, United states, Canada, Britain and Australia. The United States is the largest producer and exporter of corn, accounting for more than half of world corn exports with production in the 2018 -2019 at an estimate of 366.6 million metric tons. Investopedia 2019. “Corn is sometimes referred to as “yellow gold” because it is used to make so many products and byproducts that end up throughout the economy from, food store shelves to gas pumps to industrial chemical plants” Reuters 

Maize aka Corn is the most important staple cereal crop in sub- Saharan Africa. It contains approximately 72% starch, 10% protein and 4% fat, supplying an energy density of 365Kcal/100g and is grown throughout the world (Ranum et.al 2014). Corn is rich in fibre and plant compounds that aid digestive systems and eye health. It is high in carbs but when eaten in moderation and cooked with methods to enhance the nutritional value, it can be part of a healthy diet. According to IITA – “Maize, Zea mays L. (corn), is the most abundantly produced cereal in the world. All parts of the crop can be used for food and non-food products.

How much corn did Nigeria produce in 2019 ? How much of this corn was utilized or wasted because we could not preserve nor process them into finished products to reach consumers timely. Currently the scarcity of corn for local farmers in poultry business is making the news.

The largest African producer is Nigeria with over 33 million tons, followed by South Africa, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Africa imports 28% of its required maize grain from countries outside the continent as most of the maize production in Africa is done under rain-fed conditions. About 50 species exist and consist of different colors, textures, and grain shapes and sizes. White maize fetches premium prices in Southern Africa where it represents the main staple food, whereas yellow maize is preferred as animal feed in most parts of South America and the Caribbean. Yours sincerely prefers yellow corn especially when it comes to making Pap aka akamu/ogi.

The desire to host a Naija Corn Festival came while reminiscing about the traditional yam eating festival in my village. I really do not remember nor recollect the details of the ceremony but remember vividly my Mum hammering on us not to eat the new yam until the festival in the village is done. Over time the tradition has worn off as being a Christian today this could be tantamount to idolatry.However, I miss the thrill, revelry and jamboree of having so many yam delicacies to eat all in one day.

There may be a counter argument as an organization focused on tourism which is in sync with preserving our cultures and tradition. But the truth remains that if we do not engage our youth and populace who are mostly not interested in the yam festival happening in the village, other world festivals and carnivals will have them travelling abroad to attend.

What started as reminiscing is actually  deeper when scratched, as a company we position ourselves as a hub for “education and rejuvenation “and this is what the event will achieve.

The Naija Corn Festival will be an opportunity to showcase our indigenous foods made with corn. We will also  highlight and have sessions on how to develop the available growth areas in food processing, how to create value,new products and business opportunities. . Also based on the need and awareness for healthy eating today, it is essential to enrich maize based meals thus we will bring nutritional experts to educate on how to avoid mal -nutrition and vitamin deficiency diseases.

Why Corn ?

Because Corn is everywhere and keeping it out of your shopping basket is a challenge.
Next time check the label of canned goods you want to buy and see how corn has sneaked in everywhere.
Derivatives of corn get used as a food filler, texturizer, emulsifier, sweetener, preservative, adhesive and many other applications.

TGIF vs Company culture

Thank God its Friday is the regular trending hash tag for the last working day of the week. Friday is the day everyone gets to relax and unwind as the parte after parte is about to begin, someones laptop is shutting down as early as possible, rallying friends and colleagues for a hangout. The ladies sometimes band together while the guys also call for a night out with the guys.

The co-operate world is not left out as most companies make it a part of their culture to organize social events on Fridays, characterized with music, food, drinks, karaoke, dancing competitions etc. Everyone gets to unwind and to be honest, some don’t know where to draw the line . Take for example an employee who is widely known for drinking to stupor at such events to the point of misbehaving. Does management and colleagues still have the same level of respect for that individual ? Or does h/she become the subject of hushed whispers in the office ? The human mind can be prejudiced and judgmental thus HR can reach out to the person saying can you please tone it down at TGIF events.

In response, h/she could become quiet , withdrawn, touchy and become anti social at a supposed company social event. Thus making it counter productive which can eventually lead to employee not motivated and this may hasten exit from the work place.

On a Friday, companies can try to find more creative ways to getting everyone amused and get social, some companies even ask employees to contribute money for Tgif ***rolling eyes. For me, a spa Friday with all the works won’t be a bad idea plus good food after, I will go home walking on air , relaxed and bet you my thoughts will be crystal clear.

Hello management and HR, a social evening is a great time for team bonding , don’t dull on this, get your thinking caps on,

Have a great Friyay !

Okada and Keke Napep ban

This should have been the title – I do not miss Keke Napep (Tricycle) but ends up being my ramblings about keke napep cos I still like bikes.

The Lagos (Nigeria) state government recently announced a ban on motorcycles popularly known as okada and tricycles known as keke Napep. The announcement was initially thought to be a rumor as past governments attempted it in 2017 but was eventually lifted and they continued operations until 1st February 2020. There has been a massive outcry from both riders and the commuters not to talk of the untold hardship upon the masses. In my interactions with people , there is a bit of mixed feelings as regards the recent development but for me ,I feel the pain of only the e-hailing bike services as a huge investment has gone into this sector and should be recouped, they also remain my trusted allies despite their lapses.

There is a love-hate relationship between myself and keke napep as a result of my experiences. I have seen emergency cases rushed to the hospital and the lady was in a coma just from a keke accident . On one occasion I had an escape, the guy was speeding recklessly and with several warnings, he refused to slow down only for the keke tyre to remove in motion while we were on top speed. Our saving grace was that no vehicle was coming from behind or in front of us and how i was able to hold tight a 6 months old baby remains a great testimony.

In the coming week , I started taking e-hailing taxis then had to start driving again which is not my favorite past-time in Lasgidi (Lagos). If you don’t drive in Lagos, you presume and assume they are the coolest inventions but if you have been in a keke or bike accident before, you will be angry and while driving they seems to be worse than bikes. Mainly because they feel like they are mates with cars since they both have a roof over their head compared to okadas. At the same time they are still dragging equality with bikes by wanting to pass through that small space like them which totally makes them neither a car nor a bike, just annoying and sometimes a pest.

Keke is cool and fun in fact they can make you arrive in style if you don’t want to take a taxi, even bridal parties have used it on their wedding day  and I have countless selfies taken in the comfort of keke napep. My all time favorite favorite keke had nice graffiti and inspirational quotes written in colourful ink, fan, Tv screen and a jar of sweet to welcome you, though it was empty that morning. Then it became a norm when “Corporate Keke Guy” started operations , these guys wore suit and tie, shirts, plus dress down Fridays with branded T-shirt. The service delivery was also commendable and it was indeed comfortable riding one as I had no reason to complain. 

Early morning Keke selfie enroute the office
Keke graffiti, a lovely sight to behold.
Corporate Keke

Now, what happens to the Co-orporate keke guy and other keke guys ? Do they migrate to other states or what plans are in the pipeline for them. And for the motorcycles, I sincerely support regulating and bringing back the e-hailing bikes as they seems like a necessity for this city called Lagos.

 

 

 

 

Falling in love

Once upon a time, I sojourned to a land unknown, to study a course stumbled into by serendipity and while studying found my voice, today the rest is history in the making. I enrolled in Tourism development as part of a double major course and found myself in a class of 5, the only female, 1 Briton, 2 Vietnamese and  lastly from Phuket.

L-R : 2 Vietnamese, Tutor, myself – Nigerian , Phuket – Thailand, Briton

They all had dreams,  plans and 2 of them had a Tourism related job back home. Class was fun and very interactive as there was no where to hide in the midst of a crowd of five. At the beginning, I had fuzzy pictures in my head of what I wanted to do with the course or greater still trying to figure out what am doing in the class .

One day, just like waking up from a deep sleep, it became crystal clear thus Travel begins at home (Project TBAH) was born and I started embracing,  my deep – rooted love for going out, follow – follow (following parents on trips, market runs, barbershop, mechanic workshop  etc)  and travelling .

Memories came flooding back of  trips I made legally and illegally all fresh and green . One day,  while still in Primary school on a PE (Physical Education) uniform wearing day.  PE uniform was dirty from school  and on getting home, refused to change it, played some more , climbed trees and part of lunch spilled on the front. Later In the evening,  Mom was speaking with my Uncle about an errand to my cousins house, before she concluded with him, I quickly went outside and sneaked into the boot of the car (see below the car type,very roomy boot ) Panel van (as we used to call it then )


Took a good position and balanced well.  He pulled out of the compound and no one noticed I was missing. Midway to my cousins, I startled my Uncle by jumping from the boot to the back seat. Luckily for us both he had a lot of shock absorber so he did not crash the car. I moved on to the front seat and chatted with him all the way oblivious of the storm brewing back home.

Back home, it was getting dark and a search party was looking for me everywhere, including under the beds. Eventually someone suggested I probably followed my Uncle but Mom was double sure I did not as she saw him drive out.  After a call to my cousins  land line phone, everyone breathe a sigh of relief as they now know my where about.

On getting back, I got the beating of my life for :

  • Going out looking this dirty !
  • Hiding in the boot and startling my Uncle : which Mom said could have caused an accident.

Did i stop doing follow follow ? No but I sure never hide in the boot ever again !

What is in a name : My fruity trip

The thought of going somewhere new or old or just anywhere is always super exciting, exhilarating and fun.

I know, I am gushing over the words , but I really can not help it, travel does this to me.

Mango is my favorite fruit and I am always happy when it is in season, sometimes I process it into juice or smoothie all depending on my mood.

Today I stumbled on the South African airline called Mango. This sounded like melody to my ears, just rolling the name of the Airline on my tongue not the fruit ( the picture in my mind : words paint pictures in our mind ) I could literally feel the taste and breathe in an exotic Island  at the mention of the airline.

Safe for constraints, I will head to South Africa right away to board one of their craft, hmnn, this can happen sooner than I think not minding the fact that the only African country I have visited is Cotonou.

This brings to mind that a name can create feelings or re- awaken memories that will attract people to your product or destination.

Hello World

Hello world, we are here !

Welcome and thank you for visiting this page, we really appreciate this gesture and promise you an awesome time as we explore the world together. Travel begins at home is not your regular travel blog, it is an experience we hope to create with everyone finding their voice and space in the whole wide world.

At travel begins at home, we believe since the world travel means “to move or go from one place to another”,  we will use the word “travel” without a restriction of distance covered. We also believe that “home is where the heart is” so wherever your heart feels at rest, a sense of belonging, welcome and relaxed, that is home.

Welcome home

 

…..education and rejuvenation

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