From Lagos, with Love

by Sunny McGaughey


Entrance to Freedom Square, Owerri, Imo State

Entrance to Freedom Square, Owerri, Imo State

Fresh Dates!

Fresh Dates!

First night out in Lagos

First night out in Lagos

First Night in Lagos - Happy Birthday Sadé!

First Night in Lagos - Happy Birthday Sadé!

Arts Cafe - they serve soy milk!

Arts Cafe - they serve soy milk!

Front Doors to Temple Cottage. A super cute boutique hotel in Lagos.

Front Doors to Temple Cottage. A super cute boutique hotel in Lagos.

The Lobby of Temple Cottage wearing a bag from Miss LAX, Urban Outfitters Jacket, Zara Shorts, & Hervé Leger Heels

The Lobby of Temple Cottage wearing a bag from Miss LAX, Urban Outfitters Jacket, Zara Shorts, & Hervé Leger Heels

Angel Villa - a cute hotel where the Egg Sauce was Bomb! Dress by urban Outfitters

Angel Villa - a cute hotel where the Egg Sauce was Bomb! Dress by urban Outfitters

A back shot just because.

A back shot just because.

On my way to Imo State! Dress from Revolve Clothing  

On my way to Imo State! Dress from Revolve Clothing  

A Mom & Pop's restaurant on the road side in Owerri. Halogen Hat, Zara Shorts, Sam Edeleman Sandals

A Mom & Pop's restaurant on the road side in Owerri. Halogen Hat, Zara Shorts, Sam Edeleman Sandals

Sign at the Village in Owerri

Sign at the Village in Owerri

Palm Kernels being shucked for oil. 

Palm Kernels being shucked for oil. 

A house in the village.

A house in the village.

Entry to the farm in Owerri. 

Entry to the farm in Owerri. 

Corner Store in Owerri

Corner Store in Owerri

All of Owerri's Rotary's are adorned with historical and majestic statues

All of Owerri's Rotary's are adorned with historical and majestic statues

Standing proud with the statue at Freedom Square

Standing proud with the statue at Freedom Square

I finally made it to Africa! It's a trek a lot of black folk dream about, but never get to fulfill and it was only my second time traveling abroad. I was prompted to go by my best friend - Sadé Diké (she's Igbo but her first name is Yoruba I know, long story) - who is half Nigerian to finally make the voyage with her. I was excited to visit Nigeria, however when telling others about my trip, I would get mixed reactions from blacks and whites alike. It's crazy how the propaganda of media has infiltrated all of our minds to have this horribly specific picture of Africa. I'm grateful to have experienced first hand of what Africa really is and really has to offer (not that I thought any differently). 

Our first stop was in Lagos, Nigeria which is a major metropolitan city in the country that's comparable to New York in the States. Like any major city, there were crazy traffic jams, street food, and nightlife. Much to my surprise there were a lot of foreigners in the city (i.e. Europeans), which I later found out were called "Expatriates" by locals. An expatriate is simply someone who was sent to build out and work for a company from their native country. I went a ton of places while in Lagos (they have Uber FYI) which included a cute little café - Arts Café -, night clubs, and hotels with my new favorite meal Egg Sauce and fried plantain. I literally ate this meal every single morning and sometimes twice a day. The fact that it was the most amazing thing I've ever eaten and it was super convenient for a traveler. FYI, travelers in developing countries have to watch what they eat and drink to steer clear of shit fits. Side note, there's a ton of preparation that one must take before going to a developing country that I had no clue about and all of the costs surrounding the necessities. Like 1, getting drug's up so you don't catch Malaria and die (which is totally avoidable if you take your meds. In total, I had to get seven shots just to step foot into Nigeria which cost me $700. One must also purchase a visa, ehem, $400. Hey, it's all good because I had an amazing time that can't be replaced. However, I do know that it blindsided me so...I'm just trying to help a brotha/sista out - Yamean? 

Aaaaaanywho -

After visiting Lagos we took a hour plane ride to Owerri in Imo State, which is where Sadé's family is from. Owerri is much quieter than Lagos. It was more of a tropic serene getaway. In American terms, it would be like going from NYC to Ft. Lauderdale. We stayed at the super cute hotel Oxygen Holiday Resort where we could lay out by the pool, drink champagne, and of course eat egg sauce. I ventured to the village to meet Sadé's extended family, where I saw some awesome architecture and palm oil being cultivated from the root. Village life can be a stark reminder that we actually don't need much to survive and be happy. We ventured to restaurants to grocery stores where the sobering awareness of colonization was ever present in the stores beauty aisles as every beauty cream, soap, and lotion had bleaching agents in it. It made me sad, but only hopeful that if black images are presented in a more positive light we can unravel the harm of this thinking. A few tourist spots later; Freedom Square, Freedom Falls, and one of the many busy picturesque squares in the city intersections. 

Nigeria was a beautiful country that simply needs more awareness of all its beauty to be spread to travelers. I would recommend Nigeria to any and everyone and will be back!

With Love,

Sunny