Nigeria has been in the news frequently over the last few months, and none of it has been good news. What happened to us last week, though, won’t make the news, and it certainly doesn’t fall into the category of negative publicity for our beautiful country.
Christie was on her way back from taking some visitors out to a shop and was almost back to the house when the car stopped running. In the middle of the road. Just quit. Turned off as if she had taken the keys out. Kaput.
So there she was, hood up, a crowd gathering in the middle of the road, hoping to help or catch sight of the bature with the broken-down car, while the first time visitors to Nigeria wondered what they had signed up for. The car was in a left-hand turn lane—well, the equivalent of one, as such a thing doesn’t really exist here—and creating quite a scene.
I (Chris) was sitting in my office when one of our colleagues came in and said, “I just saw Christie across the street with the bonnet up.” (That’s when I learned that bonnet is the UK word for hood.) I grabbed my phone and ran out to see what was happening. It didn’t take long to see the car and the growing crowd.
Eventually, the crowd shrunk to only two men who seemed to know a little something about cars—which is way more than what I know. We pushed the car off to the side of the road, where they said, “Oh look, your alternator belt is loose.” (That explains the battery problems we’ve been having for the last seven months!) A few twists of the wrench and a jump start later, and our car was not only running again, but an ongoing problem was solved by two complete strangers!
In some ways, I’m glad Christie broke down in the middle of the road in Nigeria and not in the States, which would have required a lengthy phone call with AAA followed by a lengthy wait for the tow truck while dozens of other cars would inevitably pass by and honk for delaying them by two minutes.
But this… this is what I would call classic Nigeria. Not the Internet scams or Christmas Day bomber or civic unrest or oil pipeline sabotage. Classic Nigeria is an attitude of hospitality and a help-your-neighbor-out mentality. Classic Nigeria is an attitude of empathy, of knowing that It Could Be Me so maybe I should do something. Classic Nigeria is where relationships trump even the inconvenience of not reaching your destination exactly when you thought you would – even when curfew is rapidly approaching – and having your plans completely redirected.
This, this is Nigeria.