This is a complete guide to recognising someone leaving the country for the first time, but unsuccessfully trying very hard to make it seem like they travel as often as diarrhoea patients run to the toilet. Leaving the shores of Nigeria for the first time is not a bad thing, as all of us born here had our first time. But for the ones that try to make it seem like they leave the country every weekend, even though the closest they’ve come to leaving the shores of the country, is their primary school excursion to the slave-trade port at Badagry, this is the way to recognise them at the airport.
1. The ladies are on very tight high-heeled shoes or sandals. Apparently, people that haven’t travelled don’t know that when you go up up in the air, your skin expands, and your already tight shoes suddenly become tighter. Heels are not comfortable in the sky, and believe me, up in the air, comfort is the number one need. By then, that saying that that geography teacher you detested so much in high school – the one whose cane required four bottles of Robb ointment to cure- that saying that he drummed in your ears, that popular saying that ‘the higher you go, the cooler it becomes’, yes, that saying: it suddenly comes alive when you are up in the sky. And then, you realise that contrary to your opinion, your geography teacher knew what he was talking about after all. Put water or meat into the freezer and test it. Did it expand? Yeah. That’s why people suddenly become magically fat in the plane. They sleep thin, but they wake up three hours later to realise that it is either their pencil-jeans has suddenly turned to broomstick-jeans, or Nanny Mcphee has magically turned them from a lepa-toh-bad to a replica of Lepacious Bose.
So any traveller that doesn’t ditch the tight stilettos with six-inch pencil heels, save it for the Friday night at the club, and instead buy the N500 colourful rubber sandals they sell at Balogun market, knowing it sure costs less, because comfort and cost are not directly proportional, believe me that person is sure leaving the country for the first time.
They start encountering their problems right from the rundown airport we have in Nigeria. With each beep at the security check point, an ear stud or two, Snoop Dogg-ish bling, heavy metallic wristwatch, giant skull belt, gigantic rings, chin studs, even teeth stud, and other things that remind us of the things white men used to shackle the bodies of our forefathers during the era of slave-trade – with each beep, those things come down one by one. Bless your soul if the person is a jean-sagger, we are left to see the already fallen jeans fall further down to the knees, and are left with the full glare of multi-coloured brief of boxer shorts.
Experienced travellers try their best to travel light, especially when it comes to what they wear on their bodies, but these ones make sure they visit the Ijebu blacksmith, and wear all his converted raw materials on their body, just because they want to travel and look like their mentors, T-Pain and Lil Wayne.
3. They are decked up to the tooth. They look very on-point. Their hair is neatly-made, without a strand out of place. They have their shades on, their lipstick doesn’t bleed. Spick and span is the word. “We must baff up to the last, and wear our best outfit” is the rule here. They look so good that they make it look like travelling out of the country is an occasion they are going to, in which they would meet President Obama, and all the important people in the world there.
When you see a guy wearing a very shiny leather jacket in July, or a lady wearing spaghetti-strapped top in January, know that you have just encountered one. “We must make an impression on these oyinbos, we need to prove to them that not all of us are ugly monkeys” is the mind-set here.
4. For families, all the kids wear and-co. If you don’t know what and-co is, let me quickly explain. You remember how during Christmas in the late eighties and early nineties, when our parents dressed us in the identical ridiculously-looking cinderella-wannabe dresses that Tailor Kola sewed, the ones that the net under the cloth was bought from aba market, and painfully pricked our waists, the ones that had plenty gum-stay to make the fruit patterns on our then-flat chests stay, the ones with the hideous-looking shoulder pad? Yes, those ones we and all our cousins were made to wear, with them looking exactly the same, the girls wearing the same, and guys wearing the same, with the difference only in size? And God help us if Tailor Kola thought four-year old Bola was actually a girl instead of a Boy. Come Christmas Day, Bola would be pathetically made to dress exactly like his female cousins, because on Christmas day, we must all wear the same cloth, anything else is a taboo! Unfortunately, the mistake couldn’t have been discovered previously, because no one was allowed to see the clothes before Christmas day, so that the current year’s style could remain a secret. After this is very lengthy description of what and-co clothes mean, I am sure you finally get the idea.
Back to the main gist, this and-co phenomenon is more common when the family wins visa lottery to the US. They dress the children alike. It doesn’t matter whether the child is five months or 15 years old. They must all wear the same thing. Girls dress alike, and so do the guys. The bigger the family, the more obvious the and-co. As house-helps and cousins are not included in the benefit of Visa Lottery, only father and mother are left to keep their eyes on four of five kids. So in case, the stubborn goat of the family decides to stray from his fellow future American citizens at the airport when his parents momentarily take their eyes off him, his and-co uniform will serve as a great advantage in fishing him out of the voracious crowd at the airport. I am not saying this is why they wear and-co, but it is another sure way of recognising families leaving the country for the first time.
5. They avoid asking questions, and end up making the stupid mistakes. They try not to ask questions, because they don’t want people to know they are travelling for the first time. They try to look confident, in order to give the impression that they actually know what they are doing. At the end, they are the ones with extra-luggage issues at the check-in counter, the ones who after twenty minutes on a line, suddenly realise that they are on the wrong queue. Sometimes, they even get to the presence of the entry clearance officer at the destination airport before discovering that they are supposed to pick and fill an immigration card, and they end up being sent to the back of a 150-man queue.
Lastly, as an added bonus, if you read these tips, and end up going around looking for people that fall into this category, you are probably a first-timer yourself, and are only trying to avoid falling into the trap of being tagged one.
And for those people that escort their family friend who is travelling to UK to Murtala Muhammed international airport, and get back home two hours later with an American accent, well… we will treat that topic another time.
Now that you have read this very 'educative' piece of mine, I don't think I need to convince you too much to nominate my blog for the Best Writing Blog for 2012, and the Nigerian Blog of the Year 2012. After all, I don write for una tire this year oo (remember the Ewa Aganyin, The script writer, Milkeyes, The Atheist, Almighty's Formula, The God of Visas, Internet Celebrity, Not Another Statistic... and loads of other blockbuster articles I can't even begin to count that I have served you guys as hot dish this year).
Oya, please, ayam begging you, head over to this link and nominate me for the two categories I mentioned. http://nigerianblogawards.com/register.php. It is closing this sunday, 23 Sept, 2012, so please, do it as soon as you read this post. After nominating (me), they will send you and email to confirm your nomination. If you don't see the email, please, check your spam mail, it will be there. If you don't do this, the nomination won't count o.