My friends/people who knew about my volunteering with this year’s edition of Aké Arts and Book Festival themed Fantastical futures think it is all glitz and glam. Well, I assure you that I haven’t gotten to the glam part yet.
Let me start my story from the beginning. How I journeyed from Yaba to Ikeja GRA.
On Wednesday the 24th of October 2018, I packed my bags and left the house; alone. But before I continue, let me bring it to your notice that I have Ekophobia which is my own word that means, “The fear of taking public transport in Lagos.” I think this phobia started when my pocket was picked and my phone stolen at Oshodi, December last year.
But that day, I knew I was on my own so I prepared myself mentally and physically for the journey ahead.
Getting to Oshodi, the ordeal of last year rang sharply in my mind and I couldn’t help but clutch my phone and purse like my life depended on it, (actually, it did. ‘Cos if I had lost either of the two, I would’ve been stranded)
I boarded a bus feeling quite satisfied with my bravery so far only for me to hear the driver asking a passenger if he still had his phone with him. Then the man (that passenger) began to brag about how he knew that the other rugged looking passenger who had alighted a few minutes after I had boarded was a thief, so he had removed his phone from his pocket.
Did I just hear well? Just when I had thought that safely boarding a bus meant you were out of danger of having your pocket picked, I didn’t know that thieves also boarded vehicles. Number two lesson being in Lagos taught me that day was, “NEVER TRUST ANY SITUATION EVEN THOUGH IT LOOKS SAFE.”
Finally, I got to Ikeja GRA. I guess I had JJC inscribed on my forehead because those Keke drivers started asking if I wanted to take drop and the bike men were beckoning on me to patronize them. In my mind, I laughed because they didn’t know I had been informed before that time not to board a bike or take drop. And that I shouldn’t pay more than 100 naira for my ride. (PS: – Lagos seems to be the only state with horrible 100 naira notes. If there are other states with this same problem, let us know biko)
I got to Ouida House, and the bookstore was amazing. The meeting for the volunteers was to start at 4 pm, I got there 4:03 pm. The thing that awed me the most was the members of staff I saw there. I mean they are all so young! I think the oldest person will be in their late twenties. It was a really cool thing. We had our meeting, got briefed, and got our T-shirts too. Then someone important walked in.
Right from the time I got there, I heard some of the members of staff talk about L.S and I kept wondering who the person was. The way my mind works, there are times I just know certain things-call it intuition, and I’ll call it divine knowledge.
I decided to ask Google to be sure. While I was still browsing, a lady walked in. Her hair was cut low and dyed gold. She had a spring to her steps, and she greeted everyone with a smile. Then it struck me that she must be the L.S even though I hadn’t heard anyone call her that.
I looked at my Google search result and bam! The picture on the internet confirmed my guess and I was speechless. I was face to face with Lola Shoneyin, the founder of Ouida Publishing house and director of Book Buzz Foundation, and her most recent milestone is the play adaptation of her book THE SECRET LIVES OF BABA SEGI’S WIVES.
After the meet and greet with L.S and the amazing line managers, we were taken to our hotel rooms (for specific reasons, I won’t mention the name of this hotel). My roommate for this period is a girl called Lydia and she seems cool. The first thing that welcomed us rather “warmly” when we opened the door was a rush of bone-chilling air. I ran to where the AC was. I looked for a button to press to switch it off but I didn’t find any. Also, there was no socket in sight to unplug the AC from, and no remote too.
I calmed myself down and entered the bathroom hoping to find hot water but there was none. There was no means of getting hot water in my room since the heater wasn’t working there. I almost cried. Lydia called the reception and asked them to bring hot water. They did and I had my bath but we forgot to ask for the remote to the AC. Then an idea hit me.
I decided to close the cold air outlet and it worked a bit. When I could no longer take it, I too called the reception and asked for the remote.
As I write this, I am carefully tucked in bed feeling warm and inspired by all that happened today. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds.
PSS: – I forgot to mention that I volunteered to be at the registration desk. I chose this because I want to get the opportunity to meet so many people. I want their presence to inspire me. Secondly, the Admin Manager for this year’s festival said she remembers me clearly because of the passport I had used to send in my application. From the little comment she made with another line manager, I think my passport may have had a hand in getting me picked as a volunteer. Moral lesson people, never underestimate the power of a photograph.