Listening to the news yesterday that 88 people had been killed and 200 injured at a bus station in Nigeria, brought a shudder to me.
What was most shocking personally was that terror attacks – which has long been a northern and north-eastern issue in the country, particularly in Maiduguri, ironically known as the ‘Home of Peace’ – had come to the peaceful capital, Abuja.
Having lived and worked in Lagos – the rough-and-ready commercial capital of Africa’s most populous nation – and travelled widely throughout the country, there is so much that is positive throughout Nigeria’s densely-populated mass that does not generate coverage in the media.
Here are three aspects of Nigeria that do not get enough media attention, but which I feel its 170m people should feel particularly proud of:
1. The people:
Nigerians’ innate joie de vivre, hospitality and warmth is infectious. Rarely did a day go by where I didn’t find myself laughing heartily with locals in business meetings, over a cold Guinness – held dear by Nigerians; the beer is sold more than in any other country worldwide – or at a party. Nigerians love to have a good time and are as welcoming as any nationality I have ever met.
2. Nigerian Suya:
Suya is amazing! It is barbecued meat which you can find on most street corners in Lagos and in most street stalls around Nigeria. I even sat down to eat the delicious dish in the north of the country, Kano, long-associated with church bombings in the domestic and international media, but it was a very pleasant meal in peaceful surroundings. Despite the multifarious nature of the country, the meat is eaten everywhere.
3. Natural beauty
Nigeria’s tourist industry is growing and, as the country continues to develop, sooner rather than later it will tap into some of the picturesque lakes, waterfalls, long, golden beaches, tropical forests and wildlife it boasts…
When that day comes will depend as much on its ability to quash insurgent groups as on its ability to brand itself as a bona fide location where international tourists can enjoy what it has to offer.