Filing my complaints

So, Nigeria was great and all, and I loved being there, but if I could be permitted to complain about one or two things, I’d really appreciate it.


We stayed with my grandmother and she does not have running water, or flushing toilets, so the well became the one thing we were very familiar with. You know the drill: every time you need to do something that would require the use of water, you had to fetch your water first. I didn’t mind that part. I also didn’t mind bathing in cold water every day because it’s so hot that you really don’t want anything remotely warm touching your body anyway. What I did not enjoy was using the bathroom for purposes other than bathing (if you catch my drift). And as you can imagine, one of the two functions you do in the bathroom was more labour intensive than the other, but what can I say: I survived and I would do it again in a heartbeat (and I’ll have to anyway the next time I’m home, so I might as well not complain).

The only truly traumatic part of the whole business had to do with the fact that I hate bugs. I don’t care where these bugs live — Canada, Nigeria — I just hate them. One bug I hate more than any other is cockroaches (ayinyun? someone please spell it for me!) and I hate them even more now, ever since my cousin (who was so amused by my fear) told me that they can FLY. And guess what would happen to me every evening when I felt the urge to go? I’d open up the bathroom, peer in while waving my flashlight around wildly, and see a cockroach. Immediately my urge to go would vanish.

My grandmother is not into babying grown adults when it comes to things like this. I think she would have been more compassionate to the younger me but at 29, I’m expected to be a big girl (imagine!). She would just laugh when I returned to the house and ask me if I had seen a cockroach again (since I returned so quickly). Although I know she’s right, and they won’t hurt me, I am just too scared that with my luck, a fearless flying cockroach would try to molest my nether regions. I know: baby.


NEPA (I didn’t even know their name had changed to PHCN) sucks! I just have to say that. I would like to know why a system whereby all of Nigeria that is on the power grid has access to electricity 24 hours a day is so difficult to implement. Now, I’m probably naive and uninformed, so it’s very possible that you all know why this is, and will tell me in the comments, but I honestly don’t know and I didn’t ask while I was in Nigeria so that’s why I’m asking you now.

Living without power wasn’t a big deal, mostly since I was too busy dealing with the fact that I wasn’t going to have any internet access*. What use did I have for electricity when I didn’t have a computer and internet to use it to power, right? :) The only time I was really annoyed to lose power was the night before we left, when I needed light to be able to pack my bags and make sure I didn’t forget anything. The rest of the time it was a manageable inconvenience, nothing flashlights and lanterns couldn’t handle most of the time. There was a huge storm on November 11, and we didn’t get power back until November 15 or 16, and when it did come back, it was just for a short while.

My grandmother does have a generator, but she’s rather thrifty and really only used it when it was necessary (if she or someone in the house was in the middle of doing something — other than simply watching tv — requiring electricity) and we didn’t want her to alter her life just because we were there so we pretty much just lived the way she did. I did miss reading at night though.


Wow. Everyone we talked to asked us how we liked the roads. There were some good paved roads but in many of the neighbourhoods we visited and stayed in, there were some really awful roads, with potholes big enough to lose vehicles in, and roads that cars had to traverse in a zig zag fashion, turning sharply to avoid getting their car stuck in a hole. One time I witnessed a stranger to my grandmother’s street driving down the right side of the road as if the road was paved and becoming stuck very soon afterward. Driving these roads requires a special set of skills, for sure, and I’m sure i would have damaged a car instantly if I tried to drive on some of those roads.

So, these are my main complaints about Nigeria. Stay tuned for my adventures photographing Nigerians.

*A note: there is internet in Nigeria of course. It’s just that the power outages and the hours of operation of the internet cafe near my grandmother’s house did not make access to the internet feasible

20 thoughts on “Filing my complaints

  1. OOOOhhh mai dayyyss…I am furst!!! yay!!! yippeeee

    Yeeehaaawww!!!Was first on Vera's blog yesterday and today I am first on GNG's blog…hmmn this is a sign!!!ha ha ha!!!

    Okay BRB…and if care is not taken,I will be first,second and third!!YUP!!!

  2. Hmmn GNG…in one post you have more or less captured the issues we are dealing with in naija!…LACK OF OR INADEQUATE INFRASTRUCTURAL FACILITIES!!! I have no idea why o!!!

    Don't understand why we are suffering in the midst of plenty! I guess some pples' pockets are being lined even as we speak by the mere fact that PHCN delivers epileptic service(s)…don't ask me how o!!!

    Still laffing @ your fear of 'roaches…hee hee hee…

  3. i lived in Nigeria for over a decade and in all that time I never saw a cockroach fly until I went back… imagine my shock… my fear… it was so unreal… this weird big bug flying… at first I didnt know what it was… infact I think that I need to go buy some HotShot bug spray for my next trip

  4. yup cockroaches can fly…and i so dont like them @ all!!!I love reading at night too so dread when i have to go to Zim where they dont have electricity almost every day…sigh….

  5. i hate cockroaches as well..can u imagine i cant even spell it in yoruba…lol..

    apart from all you have listed…one thing i hated from just returning the amount of checks that take place in the airport..KILODE! i had to pay 1k at some point cuz i was carrying food stuff…

    o ga!

  6. omg, cockroaches…. no way! I remember my mum told me that she went to Florida once and encountered flying cockroaches… I think those breeds exist mainly in hot, humid places. In any case, I've avoided Florida since ;)

    One word about power outages: Enron! Yes, there is major profit in sporadic electricity service, and Enron screwed the hell out of California in the early 00's by exploiting this. Since Nigeria suffers from major gov't corruption, there is no wonder that the infrastructure is poor. My bf says they just pocket the $$ given to them instead of fixing the roads etc.

    Also a word about your previous post: you need more confidence! Too bad you can't be social in the same way that you write, because we're all so intrigued! Maybe if you could transfer that ability in some way… Why are you going to play mom figure to your sis and that guy if you liked him? He prolly figured you weren't interested and decided to take his chances on your sis. Most guys are just as insecure about asking out girls as girls are about guys. They don't want to take a major risk of rejection. So they go for girls who seem like they like them. He was prolly wondering why this girl who seemed so interested on the phone was so cool to him in person. But part of me is also like, never go for the same guy as your sis. With me and my sis we have completely diff. taste and if she likes a guy i'm automatically like ewwww. Lol. Anyway, the moral of this story is a little flirting goes a long way.

    Sorry for the long post!

  7. ok, what can a true 9ja girl say now? the water issue will get better. the electricity will get better. the roads will get better. we are getting there. as for the cockroaches, no comment.

  8. Urgh cockroaches are just nasty; whether the steroid-filled giant flying ones or the supposedly petite ones that I tend to see more often here in the States…all gross. So all I can say is kpele that you had to deal with that. I second what Jessicah above said about the *jealous sister edition* post.

  9. Eeeeeeeeeyah ndo, pele, sorry! Just because I can imagine your frustration, I'm at home all the damn time except when I'm here in the States during the semester and I still hate every single one of those things…

    You know the thing though? I think it's because Nigerians have accepted it and continue to think of it as a way of life that things aren't changing {even if they are it's verrrrrrrrrrry slowly} That really isn't the way life is supposed to be and no one should tell me that it is.

    It's character building to have experienced all that and it makes you grateful for everything but really ahn…

    Everyone has their day to complain jare…feel free…

    In the meantime 8 more days till I'm back in Lagos…Yayy me!

  10. E go better,

    everything good will come,

    as for the flying cockroaches i've encountered them to especially at night toooooo. Hmmmmmmmmm really scary.

    Im new here sha

  11. na wah oh!

    the roads and the power holding i know, but i didn't know of the lack of water and indoor plumbing!

    i agree with Lolia, it builds character!

  12. The cockroach thing sent me Can't stand bugs. Anyways, the light and water thing was just an experience for you. I am waiting for gist from you Lagos or Abuja experience. Did you go to LAgos or Abuja? Update

    How is your sister and the guy she met in Naija? Are they still in talking terms.

    I rather you date a Nigerian guy in the states than from Naija. You will definately meet a guy abroad that defines your style and taste, marrying Naija men from back home, it takes a while sister for him to grasp the system.

    Intereting post, reminds me of my sweet grandmother, can't wait to see her again.

  13. LOL! Wow, I found myself laughing out loud because although I am not Nigerian (I am married to one) and I haven't yet had the pleasure of visiting, I could still VERY MUCH relate to this post because I experienced the same things during my recent two week visit to my native home of Jamaica in the Caribbean. The lack of smiling in pictures, the water situation, the roads, especially the zig-zagging to avoid getting caught in pothotes, the forced power outages, and the bugs!!

    I found myself checking the bathroom walls first for roaches when I had to venture to the bathroom at night, (which happened every night). Fortunately for me, I didn't encounter any flying roaches, if I had, my family would have heard a scream come from my throat that would have echoed throughout the district!

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