will i ever grow up.

a post about Abuja

Posted in Personal stuff by ladybug on December 6, 2011

I love writing about first impressions of a city. It’s spontaneous and blunt, a random thought that is swirling in your head, it might not be accurate but it’s somehow more real than actual facts. It’s like snapping a photo. You’re there and you see something, a light, a shape, an atmosphere and you try to catch it before it goes away.

Abuja has a special atmosphere. It’s a capital, but has nothing of it. Well it does have embassies, a parliament, it is house to a president and to a few 4 million inhabitants, but that’s more or less it. There isn’t much to see unless you’re into malls and hotels. You can’t really walk around the city since it’s all highways, and if not, the streets have no pavement and the houses are inside compounds that have high walls so walking wouldn’t be interesting anyway. And it’s crazily expensive. Much more than major european cities. The corruption is one of the worst it the world. The people are nice, but hey, I’m white. I feel I’m a foreigner, that I’m not very welcome, especially as a Lebanese citizen. Lebanese people are known to be racists and which is totally true. I wish there was a special paint that could make me go black ((and never go back)–(I couldn’t resist to the temptation of doing that joke…hahaha)). But even with all this, I love it. I wouldn’t say I would live here, I would never, nor do I say that I would like to come back again, I probably won’t; but I’m happy I’m getting to know something so different than anything I have ever seen. I don’t judge cities by the number of museums it holds (this one has none), or by the quality of its clubs or the brands of cars they import. How can a city still stand against globalization? I’m not saying it has completely, but somehow it’s still very African. I went to shower after swimming in the pool today, and all the white women were dressing up under their towels while African women were all naked with no taboos whatsoever. That’s in my opinion much more “civilized” (argh how much I hate that term) than the foolish middle aged grumpy women who respond to their governments requirement of civility and morals.

But that’s not what makes this city a city. You start from zero here. Everything is so new. 20 years ago it was still a village in a deserted land. What is striking the most is being there in time, seeing things building up. Seeing it grow bigger and wider, and knowing that if you come back in a few years, it would probably be completely different. It kind of reminded me of the game Sim City. Oh we have an empty space here, let’s put up a lake.

Well that’s my impression after 2 days. And no photos for now as the internet connection is probably the slowest on the planet (finally I found a country that has slower internet than the former Lebanese connection haha).

Until I write again,