Let me tell you about my homeland, Nigeria. Last month I visited Abuja, which is in the center of Nigeria, and I had the time of my life…per usual.
After my visit, I realized just how little about Nigeria much of the world knows. The media has given a misconception of African countries focusing mostly on poverty, corruption, and violence (not that I deny that these things exist). However, I felt inclined to shed light to the wonders of this this country the world doesn’t know about because no one has told them. I compiled a list of 10 reasons why you should visit Nigeria, and I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as I do!
1. The Market
Wuse Market is the biggest and busiest market located in Abuja. It is probably the only place where I see people from all tribes and ethnicities, from the Hausas to the Igbos, in one general area making a living for themselves. Every time I go to this market, it’s always a pleasant (and my pleasant I mean “interesting”) experience. I meet interesting and charismatic people and also get the chance to buy gifts for my friends and family back in the States.
2. The Fresh Fruit
Being a vegetarian is not always the most convenient thing, especially when traveling to a country where the nearest Whole Foods market is a 14-hour flight away (that was just a wild guess, BTW). However, Abuja is a highly tropical area, which makes buying fresh foods and fruits easily accessible and definitely something I always look forward to.
3. The Nature
For some reason, people see me as this bohemian, free-spirited, nature-loving type of girl. I mean, can’t a girl just love the good ol’ outdoors? And boy, I tell you I couldn’t get enough of that. I mean seriously! I actually took my sister-in-law on her first hiking experience, and it was amazing. We climbed a mountain near Aso Rock and I actually felt like I was at the heart of Abuja. Of course my family and friends thought I was behaving too much like a tourist (whatever), but I just wanted to experience the city in a different way, and I’m glad I did.
4. The Color.
The Pantone Project has become my Modus Operandi everywhere I go. However, an essential piece to this project is…color. Sometimes I get bored and find myself using the same color swatches, but this city was full with so much color and life I couldn’t seem to put my cards down! Of course I got some stares, but I enjoy working on this project so much that I’m past the weird looks. In fact, now I actually embrace them. I think the world needs more weird people like me. Ha!
5. The Art
Art is undisputedly one of the most amazing aspects of traveling. Seeing the way people use their distinctive skills to create work that can only be attributed to one artist never ceases to amaze me. I mean, take this chair, for instance:
It’s made completely out of bamboo. I remember walking past it and being wowed at the things a creative mind and gifted hands can do with plants.
6. The Good Weather
Yes. The weather is nothing short of amazing—well, depending on the season you’re in. Lucky for me I went in late October so the sun was out pretty much every day, but the nice breeze kept the weather cool enough to enjoy a day out.
7. The Neighborhoods
I’m a fan of landscaping, and so many of the neighborhoods here in Abuja (namely, Maitama and Asokoro) are beautiful places to look at as a result. The palm trees and manicured grass bring a tropical vibe to the neighborhoods which make morning walks all the more pleasant.
8. The Food
Food in foreign countries is usually hit-or-miss for me. I’m always interested in trying new dishes and expanding past my natural American taste buds. Although I’m a fan of all Nigerian ethnic foods, the salads are beyond amazing! Hootas Bar & Grill is my go-to place for a nice delicious salad. The salad dressing is made from scratch and the greens have a peculiar taste that I’m absolutely in love with!
9. The People
*Long sigh*. People. Oh, the people. Meeting and seeing people from different places, cultures, or ethnicities is probably the most rewarding part of Nigeria…or life, period. You learn so much about the world around you, but most especially you learn about yourself. Nigeria is a melting pot. Each of the three major tribes (Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa) can be split into several sub-tribes and dialects. People from all over the world also migrate to Nigeria for work, education, or just to live.
10. The Nights Out
Nights out are always a blast for me. I’m not much of a partygoer (actually I’m not one at all), so nightclubs have always been out the question. However, I’ve never felt shortchanged after a night out in the city. From drinking Chapmans (my favorite drink—pictured above) while watching soccer matches, to live outdoor concerts, and even bowling with family and friends…nights in Abuja have created some of my best memories.
So there you have it..10 reasons why I love Nigeria, and I’m sure you will, too!