When I turned 30, I wrote a book called Diary of A Mad Black Woman and one of my favorite lines on finance is “I love the good things of life and I like to be able to afford them not only when I need them but when I want them”. A few things may have changed now as even though I love the good things of life, I do not like to be the one paying for them anymore.
A few years ago, we had an African Media Parley in Nairobi and I was coordinating the logistics for the travel party, including a delegation of Lagos State Government officials, and media moguls from all over Africa, I was the PA to the KORA President at the time.
Running around for the visas, ensuring that the tickets were correctly issued by the agent, being told that visa slips were almost finished at the Kenyan consulate in Nigeria and some people will have to get their visa on arrival in Kenya while baby seating my nephew did not exactly give me time to prepare for the trip.
It was travel day and I hadn’t even done my hair, I rushed to the airport, managed to convince the Kenyan airways officials to board me without a visa & just when I thought I had escaped, the immigration officer at the airport looked at my passport and asked what I was travelling for, I explained that I was part of a delegation for a media parley and next thing he said was “at this age you don dey cross border go sell market” I was deeply offended but before I could say anything, it was final boarding call and I ran in; I arrived the airport in Kenya and then I got informed that Nigerians are no longer given visa on arrival. I stayed at the airport for about 3 hours trying to sort this out, making calls while trying to decide between going back to Nigeria peacefully or trying the popular “do you know who I am? stunt” I was eventually referred to someone who was to decide my faith and he said “I am sorry madam, you will need to return to Nigeria to sort out your visa” I was quite indifferent by this time and I started texting my boss to explain when my name was announced to go for my visa as they had received a call from the ministry of tourism to let me in.
I got the visa and headed out of the airport feeling a bit uninterested. I saw someone holding a placard with my name, walked up to him with my media assistant and we were lead to a black colour limousine (woohoo, I’m the popular Celine Dion,LET’S DO THIS). My steps changed, I put my glasses on, changed my accent and convinced myself that the world was my runway. We got to Serena Hotel Nairobi, walked into the reception and I was shown to my room; “welcome to your home for the next five days ma’am, here is the key to your suite” it took me about 10mins to understand what she was saying, I thought I was in heaven. There was a big fruit bowl on the table, nice roses on the side table and a bottle of red wine next to it with a card that read: Good Morning Victoria and Welcome to Nairobi, we wish you a pleasant stay
I walked into my room, locked my door and slowly started taking in everything, the bed was royal, “Nairobi is not such a bad city you know. I was on the bed day dreaming about making a life in Kenya with Limousines and suites in 5star hotels when the room phone rang, it was my boss “Victoria je t’appel depuis mais tu ne decroche pas ton portable” ( Victoria I have been calling you but you aren’t picking up your cell phone) he said angrily, my brain quickly reset, where is my phone??? I ran to the reception but it wasn’t there, we started trying to trace the limousine and eventually found the phone inside, from that moment my day moved to fast forward, meetings, briefing, venue reccee, more meetings, welcoming other delegates…
I got back to my room at midnight, picked an apple from my fruit basket, rushed a shower and went to bed. Up again by 6am the next morning and same “busy bee” routine for the next 4 days. Every evening I got back to a withering bouquet of roses, a new fruit basket and a new bottle of red wine which I never touched.
The media event was successful and my boss decided to take me for dinner at the Carnivore that evening seeing that I did not get to see the city at all, we fixed a meeting with a business interest there and I finally visited the much talked about Carnivore.
I was told that Carnivore Nairobi serves all sorts of meat but I did not understand till the service started, each time a man in animal skin appears with a different type of meat, mutters something that I couldn’t understand and drops a new serving of meat which I kept tasting till I had the misfortune of asking one of the men what meat I had just been served and he said “madam the one that you just finished was a crocodile and you have just been served a monkey”. Ayemi oh, you mean you allowed me eat a crocodile???
My throat started itching furiously, my belly started swelling (psychology), hell no!!! I ran to the rest room and started trying to throw up to no avail and that was the end of fun in Nairobi for me. My boss had asked me to take two days more after all the guests had left so that I could rest and see Nairobi a bit but after the crocodile, I just wanted to leave, I called and rescheduled my ticket for the very next day, packed all my bottles of wine as hand luggage and ran to the airport struggling not to miss the flight as everything was now last minute.
“Madam you cannot take those bottles on board the aircraft, we are sorry” the voice of one of the airport staff trailed me and that is how I forfeited 6 bottles of sophisticated red wine while managing my itchy throat and swollen stomach as I boarded the plane. The person seated next to me was Miki Dada the famous Nigerian Media and Communications expert & Executive Producer of the prestigious AFRIMA AWARDS and he tried hard to explain to me why the aircraft may crash land with us and how we stood no chance of surviving a crash from that altitude. I kept trying to change the topic to no avail and I eventually called one of the air hostesses to change my seat.
As I moved to my new seat; scared and extremely sober, the one thought on my mind was: KENYA WETIN I GAIN