The Unexpected Holiday

29 04 2010

It’s Good Friday and I’m taking an ill-advised trip from Abuja to Lokoja. I’m with my beautiful and fabulously hung-over sister and a driver; we head out of Abuja at 8.30am and after an amazing five hours of skilful overtaking while dodging oncoming vehicles, driving through the bush, watching in awe as eight men struggle to get a bus out of a ditch, more driving through the bush, some sleeping, endless waiting, we decide to do the sensible thing and turn back to Abuja. This is because we’re stuck in unbelievably impossible traffic- we’ve created four lanes on what should be a single lane, stuck and going nowhere fast.

Beside us, a Federal Road Safety vehicle is jostling for a position within the melee that puts it some precious meters in front. It’s a pathetic situation and one that has remained so over the years, the Abuja to Lokoja road is one of the major roads that connect the North to the South and South East, and during festive periods, it is a constant nightmare for commuters. Will the government do something about it? Along with electricity, a decent educational and medical infrastructure, good roads in particular and a good transportation network in general still remain a prayer for us Nigerians, but I shouldn’t go into the failures of the government. We cancel the trip for that day and set off early Saturday morning. We get to Lokoja without incident and save the blood boiling heat; it’s quite an enjoyable holiday.

I meet family members that I haven’t seen in a while and catch up on everything and nothing. There’s a quaint and amusing 90th birthday party in Okene, where a 60-odd year old man shows some awesome dance steps, a climb up a mountain with a lovely view of the Rivers Niger and Benue meeting. I have a decent conversation with a couple of financiers who are looking to set up a film and TV studio in Lokoja. They seemed like people with a vision and a clear cut idea of how things can and should be done, they might be assets in my address book. Already things are looking up; I haven’t really had any decisive meeting or discussion about my project yet but the prospects of coming back home to Nigeria and thriving as a filmmaker look practicable albeit alluring. That I am pleased about; really pleased about.



29 04 2010

I touched down in Abuja on the 1st of April; it was balmy and strangely luminous, like everything and everyone had a light shimmer to them. From the dust covered fan that creaked while it rotated inconsistently due to the fluctuating current to the two immigration officers that checked my passport, wearing fake smiles and looking incredibly bored. I’ll attribute the glow to the excitement that flowed all through my body; and even while stuck in traffic at Lugbe going into the city, I smiled at the passengers jostling to get into buses and taxis; I smiled at the policeman who wasn’t quite sure what he was doing in the middle of the road; I smiled at two drivers arguing with each other while parts of their recently crashed cars lay on the road, oblivious to the horns of the other cars around them. I smiled at the sun rising and warming this beautifully flawed city, this beautifully flawed country.

I’m here to make a film about a poor, married hairdresser who through a brief homosexual encounter is able to muster up courage and stand up to her inattentive husband and ask for better. I have strange illusions of grandeur that are rooted in reality; I’m here for a project that addresses sensitive issues and themes. I’m hopeful, but I’m also aware of the difficulties that I will inevitably come across. My only wish is that this beautifully flawed land be kind to me- be more beautiful than flawed.


29 04 2010

The blog for the short film, Braids on a Bald Head. Thank you for visiting.