Thursday, March 18, 2010

The 219th good thing about Lagos: US tax dollars at work

We've been the participant recently in a few enjoyable evenings courtesy of the US State Department here in Lagos. I've really enjoyed getting to know our US Consul General here, Donna Blair. She's been very supportive of the American Women's Club and the US expat community in general. For two years now she's even taken a shift at our Small World booth and served up food. She'll be leaving Lagos this summer and I'm hopeful that her replacement will be as supportive to the general US expat community.

In February, we had a fun evening at the Consul General residence celebrating Mardi Gras. We donned colorful strings of beads (it was kind of humorous how our driver was really impressed by our bejeweled bodies when he picked us up after the event), enjoyed New Orleans cuisine and danced and waved white handkerchiefs to the music of the U.S. Navy brass quartet.

Less than two weeks later, we enjoyed America Day at the CG residence. This was our second time at this event, where expats and Nigerians celebrate many things American. The consulate chooses to schedule this in February, as in July many of the US expats are away on summer vacations and also it is rainy season and more difficult to plan an outdoor event. There was a variety of food served at this event, but very popular was the option of KFC. It's probably worthy of a "good thing" post of its own, but recently the first American fast food business opened its doors in Lagos. Yes, there are no McDonalds or Burger Kings here, but now there are a couple of KFC franchises. And it tastes just like US KFC, which is pretty darn good.

The event began with the presentation of the colors. Marines in uniform always look so great!

We had speeches from Donna Blair, our Consul General,

We also heard from the US ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Renee Sanders. It's great that the US is represented here by two strong black women.

We enjoyed music from the high school band from the American school and the evening was capped off by an impressive fireworks display, made even more exciting by one of the blasts which seemed to go off directly into the crowd instead of up in the sky. We were relieved there was a buffer of bodies between us and the explosion, but, despite the alarm, there weren't any injuries.

Less than two weeks after this, we enjoyed an evening of dance from the Brooklyn based dance company "Evidence" which was on the last stop of their African tour which was sponsored by the US State Department as part of their inaugural "DanceMotion USA" program. The goal of DanceMotion USA is to share work by some of America's finest contemporary dance makers and serve as a gateway for cultural exchange. No pictures were allowed during the performance, so you'll have to check out their website to see what they do, but it was modern dance at a very high level and I thoroughly enjoyed the production, which was presented free of charge. I think it's great that dance is used for cultural exchange and the hall was packed with Nigerians who also enjoyed the performance. Maybe some will argue that in these economic hard times tax money shouldn't be used to send dancers to tour around the world, but, because I'm a supporter and enjoyer of the arts, and was also a grateful beneficiary of this program, I'm all for it! And since we are still paying plenty of US taxes, it's nice for us to get a little something back for it.

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