What’s the spookiest city in Nigeria?

Laghost! (although some say its A-boo-ja)

Took me a while to come up with that suitably scary joke for this month’s blog, which I’m writing a few days after attending my friends Halloween party. I went as a Zombie Rugby player as you can see in the lead pic. Apologies for the lack of costume creativity but it is hard to find Halloween costumes in Abuja. What I’d have given for a Poundland! The party was top craic and a great chance to see some of my CHAI colleagues out of the office.

On the subject of colleagues, this month the other Abuja PULSE volunteers and I were hosted by GSK Nigeria in Lagos, and given a tour of the factory and offices. It was good to see how we operate in other markets, our hosts were incredibly welcoming, and we all really enjoyed the trip. Thanks to Bolaji, Cesar, and the rest of the team for your hospitality.

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PULSE Volunteers at GSK Lagos. Clockwise from top-left; Me, Stephen, Temi, Jeevini and Mindy.

Being back in Lagos also gave us the chance to take in some culture, so we visited the Nike Art Gallery, the largest privately owned art gallery in West Africa. There were some fantastic pieces on show and we even got a chance to dress up like Yoruba Royalty.

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CHAI Volunteers at Nike Art Gallery, Lagos. L-R; Me, Deborah, Jeevini, Mindy and Steve

We extended our stay over the weekend in Lagos to enjoy the nightlife and attended Felabration; an annual music festival to celebrate the life of Fela Kuti, arguably the most famous Nigerian musician of all-time, the pioneer of Afro-Beats music, and a political activist in Nigeria in the 1970s. Fun fact about Fela, he had 27 wives until he realised this was a bit excessive, and so switched to a rotation system of keeping only 12 simultaneous wives at a time, good call Fela. It was a pretty hectic party at the New Afrika Shrine and a once in a lifetime fantastic experience. Deb even managed to talk our way into the VVIP section hence the excellent view.

It’s been an up and down month for my voluntary work here in Nigeria. Setbacks in other countries running the Nutrition program have meant that our project has slowed down and faced funding challenges, which at the time was quite hard to take given all the work the team has been putting in. However, in our PULSE training, we were taught about the need to be flexible and adaptable, and therefore I’ve asked to get involved in some different projects which will hopefully start next week. I’ll leave you on a cliffhanger with that one, as I want to wait until I have started and can write about them more knowledgeably before giving you the detail. However, there has still been lots to do, with engaging possible nutrition partners for our projects, including my first meeting on my own with a manufacturer, and writing up reports of our field visits for the State Nutrition Officers.

Socially, back here in the FCT I’ve started playing 5-a-side football on Friday nights, which has been great as I’ve really been missing team sports, and there’s been loads of dinners and parties to attend so the time has been flying. On Saturday night, out at Sky Lounge (very much an Abuja version of Be At One) was the first time I realised just how many good friends I’ve made here that will be really hard to leave behind when I return to the UK, but thankfully that’s still 6 weeks away (only 6 weeks away!).

I’ll leave you with this photo my friend Alex (who owes me a sweet potato hat) sent me from her English/Hausa translation book. Firstly, if anyone can work out how these nouns have been grouped, I’d be glad to hear your theory. Secondly, if you look closely at the kangaroo, you may notice something odd…

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All the best,

Dogo Alex