Just when I thought I had heard enough accents at Ouida House the previous day to last me a lifetime, I didn’t know it would get worse at the AkeFest18 venue- Radisson Blu Ikeja GRA.
It was the beginning of events for the visitors. Those who hadn’t registered earlier came down to the venue to register today. It was a crazy rush and everyone wanted to be attended to quickly so that they could join the opening ceremony.
Remember the reason I had chosen to stay at the registration desk? Well, it didn’t quite work out as planned. Even though I got to register and attend to a lot of big names in the literary space but I didn’t even know who they were until they had written their names on the card for their lanyard.
In my head, I had certain expectations of their looks. Mostly because of the pictures I had seen on the internet. But most of them were a far cry from those pictures in reality. Take for instance, Igoni Barrett, the author of Blackass. He was at my desk for over 5 minutes getting registered and I didn’t even know he was the one because he wasn’t wearing his dreadlocks! There were only two people I was able to recognize because they still had on the looks I was familiar with; Ayesha Harruna Attah and Kunle Afolayan.
Let me take you back to where it all started.
The first person (visitor) Toby and I attended to was a woman of African descent. If you ask me, I will say East Africa. This woman came with expectations that were sky high and when we couldn’t meet them, she became irritated. She talked about how much she’d paid for the event, and how we took more time than we should attend to her.
The funny part was that she didn’t even spend up to 5 minutes at our desk. We didn’t let her drama spoil our day so we continued our work with smiles on our faces even though we were starving. After the hassle with the first woman, a nice German woman came to our registration desk.
Her card was foreign and for some reasons, our POS rejected her card several times. But in all these, she was calm. She encouraged us to take our time and answer other people first while she waits till the POS decides to work in her favour. But unfortunately, it didn’t.
What struck me was the difference in character displayed by both women. I mean Africans are known for African time which isn’t a good thing, and some of us are trying to change that narrative. But I kept wondering why the African woman would give us attitude like she doesn’t understand the problem Africans have with timing and organization while the German was more patient and encouraging. (If you have answers to this or feel there is something I should know regarding this, please do well to leave your comment).
More people came, and more accents were heard. The funny part was the people that were forming. It is true that when you are in Rome, you behave as the Romans but some things are not just meant for some people abeg. It was as if everyone, (by everyone, I mean Nigerians who could have stuck to what they know) wanted to belong to something. In the way, they were dressed and the accents they used. I could even tell when laughter was faked.
In spite of this, there was a rhythm to the American accent spoken by people from different countries in the room. The unity of sounds and voices made it seem like they were cut from the same cloth. Different races with one voice.
As if to crown my day with goodness, and most likely compensate for the stress, one very nice man said he brought chocolates from England for the volunteers.
As I ate the chocolates, I let the sweetness wash away the stress from that morning. Trust me, those chocolates couldn’t have come at a better time.