Ha ha …. Ki Lo De and a Much Anticipated Wedding
Ha ha …. Ki Lo De
I guess you are wondering why that kind of title – Ha ha, Ki lo de? This is a Yoruba phrase figuratively meaning – Why? What I am about to write is a topic that touches a sensitive part of my heart and God willing, I intend to be a change agent in this regard. Have you ever imagined why Nigerians living abroad don’t want to come back home even when they are not doing skilled jobs in their country of abode while on expired visiting visas? I am sure the number one reason on everyone’s lip is Electricity and I agree with them since we all know that if Nigeria starts having constant power; a lot of businesses will survive. But I am going to face some other factors which most people fail to acknowledge.
1. The Sublime Shopping Experience
When I remember that in Nigeria, buying groceries for most people is a very unpleasant experience especially if you have to rely on our very dirty and overcrowded markets with market men and women rubbing sweats on you as you price each item as if you about to be cheated. I also know that it is only recently that some proper shopping malls like Shoprite and Park n Shop came up and it is a fact that only the upper class dare venture into those stores not necessarily because of item prices but that the mentality of the people suggest that their locations such as highbrow Lekki and Victoria Island is for the rich only. Now let us examine another country within Africa – especially some in the SADC Region where even their small towns boast of stores like Spar, Shoprite, Mr Price, Pick and Pay etc. One venture into these stores and see ordinary people including the lowest income brackets confidently strolling into them to buy their groceries at very affordable rates and in a most conducive environment. Same conditions exist in Europe and the US where the retail stores are easily accessible and affordable and the shopping experience is great for the customers. Another important point is that unlike Nigeria where you can count the number of good retail stores; these other countries have myriads of them at very reasonable distances. If you think about the stress of buying stuff in Mile 12 and Oshodi, you might prefer to stay in that country. Or am I lying?
2. Taking Your Babe or Boo Out
At a point or two, most of us had to take our partners out on a romantic dinner or fun day out. If I recall, the premium locations in Lagos can cause great damage to your purse. For example, I do not believe that a romantic dinner consists of a trip to TFC or Mama Cass but it should be to a Chinese, Thai or Italian restaurant maybe overlooking the ocean :). But how many working class hippy Nigerians can really afford these places without having to dig deep into their salaries? Thus a trip to Marcopolo, Golden Gate, etc is not a very easy one talking about cash. One would think that going out to eat in the so called Western Worlds will be a costlier adventure especially in comparison to the Nigerian system and knowing that they are usually more beautiful and organized. But the reverse is the case as they are usually cheaper and with more polite and courteous staff that you would be willing to part with some gratuities after the meal. Our South African brothers on the same continent are way ahead of us in this too. I still remember one night in Sandton South Africa at a top restaurant when I went to eat out with 4 friends. We ordered all sorts including a treat called 24 wings and a massive rib. We also took nice desserts and when the bill came for 5 people – it was for only 600 Rands equivalent to 9000 naira. Can you beat that? So the question is – why is Nigeria like that?
3. Hotel Costs
It is amusing to note that hotels are cheaper in other countries than in Nigeria. If you have to go and do something in another city in those countries, you will easily find cheap hotels in those cities with great service. In Nigeria, the good hotels are simply outrageously costly. The cheaper ones that are still not cheap suck so much. Some even put off their generators at 12 midnight leaving you to a very uncomfortable night in darkness and immense heat. Once again, why?
I believe that Nigeria has a big class problem. One that believes that all should not shop in the same facilities. Though this rule is not written but this form of apartheid exist. Take a trip to the Palms in Lekki and you will understand what I am saying. People dress to the malls as if there is a fashion contest going on there. I bet that a shabbily dressed individual will find it hard to enter those stores seeing the class of people coming in to buy there.
I do not think the prices of our restaurants and hotels are solely linked to market forces but a deliberate attempt to restrict the services to a select few. This raises some fundamental questions about Nigerian business men and their mentality. The Woolworth Franchise in Nigeria never made it whilst the South African counterpart has done so well. The reason is obvious – anyone is welcomed at the stores there. I have been wondering for a long time why many Franchises passed down from the US and Europe to SA are not in Nigeria despite the fact that Nigeria has a bigger market. MTN Nigeria makes more money than MTN SA so one can conveniently say that the population is a great advantage to Nigeria. So why don’t we have it in mind to provide good services to our people at lower prices and attract more customers than just the elitist few? Why can’t we have many conducive retail stores around our country providing cheap groceries including meat n vegetables without having to step into the mud and slimes? Why can’t there be restaurants, games arcades etc that one can go to relax without hurting our pockets? These are the questions that have been coming to me and I know that the entrepreneur in spirits reading this are already thinking of a solution. If you have traveled a lot, I am sure you understand where I am coming from and that you do not have to be rich to have a good quality of life. Our country provides a big opportunity for this new drive in entrepreneurship because of its huge population. Who is thinking the same way?
A much Anticipated Wedding
In another 33 hours or so – I will be on a flight to Nigeria to honor my words. A long time ago – I promised my good friend and brother – ‘Gbenga Sesan that no matter my location in this World – I will attend his wedding. I guess I am a man of my words and it is with great joy that I anticipate the union between Oluwagbenga Olabisi Sesan and Temilade Adeyinka Agbaje on the 16th n 17th January 2009. Interestingly, the Church wedding coincides with the bride’s birthday. What a wonderful birthday gift. I am so happy for them and I know that the almighty will bless their union in Jesus name. GS as we fondly call him has been a true friend n brother and we have gone through a lot together and still waxing strong. He was my best man when I married my love in July 2008. I will leave all other talks to when I give the toast at the wedding. My guy — ride on my man.