Lakeside Notes. The Shopping Centre

IMG_20200708_073744_087

My trip from Lagos had been long and tiring. I left Lagos very early in the morning and got to Abuja about 3pm. looking back now that seems a little bit ridiculous; leave Lagos in the morning and get to Abuja by 3pm? And I say it was a long trip? 2019 I did the same trip and arrived Abuja by 8pm! 1990 when our story began was still a good year to travel by road in Nigeria. The roads were good and safe; no fear of kidnappers and craters on the roads.
Anyway, back to our story.

My friend said we needed to shop and though I was tired I wanted to see more of this city. I was feeling euphoric at all the beautiful places I had seen and wanted more.
We did not go very far before she turned aside to a row of long buildings that looked from behind like a set of classrooms? I did not know what it was but I soon realized it was a market of some sort.

This was Area 2 Shopping Centre.

It was a row of long buildings, single-storied with several shops selling all sorts of groceries, toiletries and basic essentials. There was a restaurant in another building that ran alongside the other two and my friend stopped to say hello to a few people.
I noticed a hair salon, a barber shop and a wine shop. My head kept swinging from side to side as everything looked so neat and organized to my Lagos eyes. I cast my mind back to the Mami market in Ojo barracks where I was living at the time; I hated going to the Mami market because it was crowded and rowdy and usually tried to avoid it but it was inevitable, so I would usually make sure I shopped only when necessary.

When my friend told me we had to shop for soup ingredients, the picture of Mami market had come to my mind but I pushed it aside; I was prepared to endure any discomfort for the sake of this jewel I had just discovered. But this was no Mami market, this was what shopping looked like, for this kind of place I would happily shop everyday all day if you asked me to.

After moving around saying hello to a few more people my friend stopped in front of a shop selling soup ingredients and we bought everything from the shop including Egusi and smoked fish.

That was my introduction to Abuja’s shopping centres. I was soon to learn there was actually a market somewhere in town but people hardly went there. It was ‘far’ and most things were sold in the neighbourhood centres anyway.
Area 2 Shopping Centre was loaded with almost everything one needed for food and basic living, and there was also Area 1 neighbourhood centre serving the same purpose for residents in Area 1 and immediate environs. Truly, Abuja was an organized city.

#hometowns

Continue reading “Lakeside Notes. The Shopping Centre”

The fresh looks

All too soon, the taxi ride came to an end. As I alighted at Area 3, Open University, I knew I had found my City. I was never going to leave. I was home.


I looked around with that tremulous half smile still hovering over and around my face. I knew I must have looked like the proverbial jjc with my travel bags and wide-eyed looks but I didn’t care.My friend, at whose invitation, (not quite, she didn’t invite me but she was my host), stepped out of her office to receive me and finally I could release the smile I’d been struggling to keep in check.


My friend had always been a beautiful lady. We grew up together and her ebony beauty was always legendary but here she was before me and she looked like a movie star to me. 
Ok, maybe not quite like a move star but she looked so good!

As we walked together into her office I noticed that most people had a similar kind of look. I sat down in the office which she shared with several other people and politely looked around.
Suddenly it hit me. Fresh. Freshness.


That was the quality; that’s the similarity I was seeing. Everyone looked relaxed, fresh, calm, peaceful. The sense of aggression I was used to seeing in Lagos was absent. No one looked tensed or hurried; it was closing time but there was no frenzy to pack up and leave. I did my best to keep my mouth from hanging open as I was introduced to colleagues and office friends.


Then we took our exit. I’m not too sure now but I think someone offered us a ride home. Within five minutes we were at Area 2 where my friend lived at the time. I wondered why we had not walked the very short distance, but I kept my thoughts hidden, too many things were going on in my head. I needed sometime to take it all in. Again I asked myself, is this Nigeria?


It was a question I would keep asking for several weeks but on this first day, I sat down and waited for a delicious meal of egusi soup and eba. But first we went shopping.
I’ll be back.


#myabuja#jabilakeside#lakesidenotes#mayoresstales#hometowns#theabujaweknew#makemycitygreatagain#chroniclesofanigerianstoryteller

The Arrival 2.

 The lower part of my face was trembling slightly as I did my best to keep a straight face. The taxi headed for Area 3.


I looked around and saw a hill across the road and behind, as the taxi moved away on clean, well-demarcated roads. I would find out later that hill was Kukwaba Hill, and I would enjoy many a meal in one of it’s numerous bukkas later, but that day I was just fascinated by everything.


I noticed bright flowery plants on either side of the road. I raised my head a bit and noticed walkways. Like, real walkways, paved, hedged by plants! Was I in Nigeria?

The pace was unhurried, clean fresh. There were few cars on the road and even fewer pedestrians. The sense of peace was all pervading and I wondered if somewhere between Ibadan and Lokoja I had been abducted and taken to a totally different planet. Was I in Nigeria??


Don’t blame me. My experience of Nigerian cities up to that time had been limited to Benin, Warri and of course Lagos where I was living and working at the time. I’d spent my teenage years in Benin GRA, and I’d been to Ikoyi to visit people. Benin GRA was great and clean and nice; Ikoyi was beautiful and organized and well-laid out but this was different. This was not a “big man” neighborhood kind of vibe; it was more like, “I am-not-pretending-to-better-than-anyone-this-is-how-I-really-am”


Do you get it? Abuja was gently welcoming in a totally unpretentious, yet proud way. She was like a shy virgin sitting in the village square, totally aware of her beauty but equally unfazed by it. And I fell in love. Hard.


All too soon, the taxi ride came to an end. As I alighted at Area 3, Open University, I knew I had found my City.

I was never going to leave. I was home.

#myabuja#jabilakeside#lakesidenotes#mayoresstales#hometowns#theabujaweknew#makemycitygreatagain#chroniclesofanigerianstoryteller

IMG_20200708_073744_087

I’m starting these notes today as a salute to the Abuja I used to know and love- which, by the way, I still love very much.

I remember the first day I came into Abuja. It was a road trip from Lagos, through lokoja, or was it through someplace else? I do not remember too much about the journey but I know how I felt when I got to Area Motorpark.
I had on the kind of smile one wears when they have been handed a secret cache of gold.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. The place looked so neat and organized to my Lagos eyes. Everywhere I looked I saw order, I saw rows of houses that looked like some London neighbourhood and I was impressed.

I kept quiet though, it was too early to make any form of judgement. It was possible I had landed in the swanky neighbourhood. I rescued my bag from the bus and made to hail a taxi to Area 3 where I was to meet my “cousin.” A taxi with western Nigeria registration plates stopped and asked if I wanted a “drop.”

“Sister na drop I dey carry to area 3 o!”

“How much?”

He mentioned a sum that was much less than what it would cost for a crowded bus ride in Lagos. I got into the cab and leaned back with that smile threatening to split my face in two. The lower part of my face was trembling slightly as I did my best to keep a straight face. The taxi headed for Area 3.

#myabuja
#jabilakeside
#lakesidenotes
#mayoresstales
#hometowns
#theabujaweknew
#makemycitygreatagain
#chroniclesofanigerianstoryteller

New book alert

It’s been a pretty long minute since I was here 😅 I did mention in my last post how busy I was. My workload only increased during the lockdown. While others were lounging I was working 😪

I’m not really complaining though, always grateful for the gist of writing which allows me to work always and at all times. Speaking of writing, I have a new book out which is perfect for the times we live in 💃💃💃😜

It’s small, funny and easy read. It’s neither fiction not inspiration, it’s light reading based on a few years in my life as a child. It’s the first in the hometown series I’m working; stories that tell of how and where we grew up. I’m a sucker for history, especially when it makes me life.

The title of the book is Warri Chronicles. And I guarantee you will absolutely love it. It’s available on amazon.com and on okadabooks.com. Do a search with the title or with Elsie O. Dennis. Finish it in a few minutes and come back let’s talk about it😁

If you would like to tell the story of your hometown, guess who’s ready to listen and help you get started? Yup, me!💪

Is your city still locked down? Don’t sweat it, just stay safe. Soon we’ll be fine again.

🙏🙏

Covid-19 Chronicles

Letter to Mr. President

Dear Sir,

I have never presumed to write you a letter because I do not feel qualified to do so. But I am forced to write now because Covid-19 has made us all equal.

Suddenly we have all become like Gideon who hid to bake bread because of the enemy. Our collective enemy is the Coronavirus, and we all are hiding from an enemy we cannot see but who threatens to kill us all.

Last night Sir, in your wisdom, you extended the lockdown for Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States. Very laudable I must say. We must flatten the curve, infact, we need to eliminate it totally so we can attempt to live like normal humans again.

But Sir, I don’t know how much they have told you about the level of hunger in the land. There is something called “the lesser of two evils;” right now the people have a hard time deciding which is which.

Hunger, which leads to, or could be an excuse for crime is competing, albeit unfairly, with Covid-19.

So what can we do differently?

Here’s my suggestion Sir.

1. Keep the states on lockdown, no coming in and no going out.

2. Have the security agencies patrol the borders of these states to ensure total compliance.

3. Open up towns and neighborhoods within the States for local services and businesses.

4. Make the use of masks compulsory for everyone not inside their homes.

5. Let me explain #3. If you leave and work in Lekki, you can operate, so long as you adhere strictly to all other protocols. You cannot cross over to Ikoyi or Victoria Island or Ajah. If you live in Egbeda, you can work and shop in Egbeda but you cannot cross over to Ikeja or Idimu. You must maintain all other protocols, etc, etc.

6. The only people/vehicles allowed to cross the state/town borders would be those carrying food to the markets.

7. This would keep the local economy alive and reduce or eliminate some of the current hardships.

Sir, could we try this for a week?

Yours Sincerely,

Me, Nigerian citizen.

Covid-19 Chronicles: what’s boredom?

I see people all over social media complaining of boredom and quite honestly I envy them. I wish I had nothing to do😪

I am so busy it is not even funny. I have real work, which is writing and more writing, my own writing, clients work, housework, prayer work, school work, mother hood work! Work, work and more work!

After this lockdown I need a holiday. For real.

#staysafe #stayhome #flattenthecurve

Covid-19 Chronicles 2: what day is it?

Yesterday was Sunday. One of the challenges I’ve noticed about this period is keeping up with days of the week. It seems like it’s just, “yesterday, today and tomorrow.” The days seem to have lost their individuality to this scourge!😪

So, yes, it was Sunday, and we had church, in the living room, via livestreaming from the bigger congregation as we have done the past three Sundays. I did my best to take a shower and dress up some😅 my husband came out in a comfy pair of shorts and he found it funny when I insisted he put on a t-shirt. The look on his face was like, “are you serious right now? Is someone watching me?”

The kids didn’t even bother🤣 but we had church and it was fun. We had communion, we sang, and danced and prayed. Then when it ended we went back to wondering what day of the week it is. Saturdays and Sundays are the luckiest days in this lockdown. Every other day looks like them!😅😂

I made breakfast, lunch and dinner- who will save me from entering the kitchen please? Then I wrote the foreword I’d been asked to do. And I studied some. Yes, I studied, that PhD we have always dreamed of isn’t going to fall from the sky, so we are on the journey. I submitted an assignment a week early and my lecturer/instructor was happy (happy at the early submission, not necessarily with my work)

What else did I do? Watched bits and pieces of a movie, as I tend to do these days. Spent time in prayer, read my Bible and received calls from my two brothers, my big sister and my niece.

All things considered, it was not a “wasted” day. There’s a work type, online interview thingy which I do not really understand happening in a few days which I’m expected to prepare for 🙄. I’ll get some clarity on it today so I can prepare well.

On my plate today is work, study, prayers (all day) and may be some gardening? Exercise? Sigh!

Wherever you are reading this, I pray you stay safe, and stay sane. I pray for healing for your city, your nation and your family.

This too shall pass. #staysafe #stayhome #drinkwater

Covid-19 Chronicles.

It is a little past 4am in my neck of the woods and I just woke up. This piece was to have been written at the end of the day yesterday but as is usual with me these days, I fell asleep earlier than planned.

Amazing to think how tired one gets when there is nowhere to go! But yesterday was a little bit different from the past week; I got the chance to go out, yay! Although to be quite honest with you, I’m not sure I should rejoice.

The lockdown was officially declared in my city by the President last Monday but before then, my city’s governing authorities had declared a stay-at-home order so we were actually home for a week before we had to stay home.

For a person who works from home you’d think it would make no difference to me right? But not so, as I discovered to my surprise. Yes, I work from home but the option to go out is always there but with this lockdown there is nowhere to go and no reason to go anywhere. The first few days were surprisingly very busy for me. I was cooking, cleaning and, wait for it, watching too much TV! So much so that my work began to suffer. And oh yes, I was spending way too much time on my phone devouring Covid-19 info. But no more.

I have tried to organize my time somewhat. I’ll let my kids do more of the cooking So I can get more work done. I have loads of writing to do for myself and for clients. I also have my school work which is totally unaffected by the lockdown. So, while others may be on forced holiday, I have as much to do as I ever had.

So, I was saying I went out yesterday. I found out the supermarket at the end of the street was open for business and I went out to get bread and wine for our communion service. We’ve been attending our church service online and it’s been quite interesting, and it’s communion service today. The first thing that struck me when I stepped out of the house was the number of people outside. Even the guy who sells fruit by the roadside had his water out like it was a normal day. SMH!

I got to the supermarket and there were may be like seven or eight people in the shop and nobody was observing safe distance protocols. I asked for sanitizer at the entrance and they had none. I almost ran back when I saw they didn’t seem concerned at all, but I really needed those things so I went in but tried to avoid people, which drew a few funny looks. I didn’t care though. I tried to finish my shopping as quickly as possible and bought up all the money I had so I wouldn’t need to collect change, washed my hands with soap outside the shop, and went back home as quickly as my legs could carry me. Back to another round of hand and body washing at home before going into the house. I felt a little ridiculous but no apologies.

Later in the day I called a Doctor friend in Chicago and the stories he told me of the situation there sent chills down my spine. I won’t repeat the stories here but I can tell you, it’s no joke. I pray it doesn’t get that bad in my country ever🙏

I did get some work done. I finished a book I was reading for someone who needs me to write a Foreword, had a discussion with a possible editing client, and kind of concluded an ongoing discussion with a possible Book agency client.

Spoke to my younger brother and three of my sisters on phone at different times, chatted with another of my brothers, got a call from a senior friend, and another call from another friend, both of whom were just checking on me, us. God bless them.🙏

Another friend and former colleague chatted me up and said all kinds of words about my work with the inner city children, sob, sob😪 🙌and then made a donation to our inner-city food bank. God bless her🙏

I’ll write more about our inner city work someday. For now, I’ll stop here and go start the day with Bible study and prayer. I promise another update very soon.

What’s goin on in your neighborhood? How are you coping with the shutdown? Please share, let’s keep each other company.

#staysafe #stayhome

Do you like your work?

Writing is my work. I write articles, novels, children’s books, biographies, inspiration, short stories, name it. You have a school project that needs a second eye? APA style, Harvard? You need a ghostwriter? Editor? Need advice on Publishing? Need someone to guide you through any aspect of Publishing? Call me.

I hope you get the picture. I blog. I train. I set up libraries, train librarians, the whole spectrum! So, you could call me a bookworm and you would be totally right. But do I enjoy my work? Absolutely!

Every bit of it?

Erm…

What does that even mean? I like my work, I enjoy my work and generally, there’s not much else I’d rather be doing. I recognize I’m in the minority. A lot of people hate their jobs, and they dread going to work everyday. I was like that at some point in my life. I only worked for the paycheck.

Not anymore. But there are parts of my work that push my limits even now. There are projects I take on and I ask myself why I bother. But there are some other parts of my work that give me nothing but pure pleasure, so much so it feels like I’m just having fun.

And truly everyone deserves that in their professional life. There should be a part of your work that you look forward to, that gives you pleasure, and makes it worthwhile.

One of my brothers is an airline pilot and years ago he told he was being paid to do a job he would pay to do. He’s older now with bigger responsibilities and certain parts of his job are quite stressful. But he still enjoys getting in the cockpit and cruising.

My thing is fiction. I love creating characters, adjusting them, changing their stories, making them cry, laugh etc. It’s my “high.” My happy place. When I have worked on a writing project for client for days and weeks, or struggled with rewriting, or as is the case right now, spent weeks pursuing book sales, I come back to fiction and I feel my muscles relax as my characters take me on a journey through their lives.

They love me as much as I love them. When they are upset I calm them down. I thoroughly enjoy writing fiction. When I was a newspaper reporter, my joy was writing features. When I had a Travel business, it was taking clients on tours.

As a housewife, my joy is cooking a nice meal, and pottering around in my tiny garden.

You see this life? It’s not designed to be rock hard. Whatever your profession/career, there must be a part of it you enjoy. I have a best friend who enjoys anything with figures (don’t know how we are friends 🙄). My daughter models and finds her happy place strutting on the Runway.

There’s a happy place for everyone. Identify your own place and protect it. When the other aspects of your work gets too tiring, think of this place and receive strength to go on. I’m not talking hobbies here, I mean the career you practice from which you make money. Finding joy in your work is what a good life is about. If you absolutely hate your job then I suggest you look at your options.

Shalom🙏

..and now I really must get back to my character, he needs me😁

%d bloggers like this: