Friday, October 01, 2010

The 236th good thing about Lagos: 50 years of independence and 50 years of American women

Happy Nigerian Independence Day!  It's been 50 years since the British handed  the country's rule back to the Nigerians.  When I was asking my driver what kind of official activities were planned for today, he said that many people felt that there shouldn't be any celebrating because the country has not improved in 50 years.  Sadly, some militants agreed violently with this, as there were car bombs set off today in Abuja, the capital, near the official celebrations attended by Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's president.  8 people were killed and 21 injured.  In a CNN report on today's violence, Nigeria's Information minister said that "whatever happened, we were able to have a successful celebration."  I kind of wonder how many would have to have been killed to make the celebration unsuccessful.  But we had fireworks visible from our balcony at midnight last night ushering in the holiday, and there's been more fireworks tonight and I hear partying going on outside.  So some Nigerians are managing to celebrate despite their country's failings. We gave our driver the day off to celebrate with his family, so we've had a quiet day at home.

This last week there was celebrating with the American Women's Club.  We had our annual membership tea, where we celebrated the beginning of the 50th year of the club in Lagos.  We had balloons celebrating the years....
A Navy band -- a quartet of saxophonists played some background music...
And I accompanied on piano a duo of cellists playing the US and Nigerian National anthems.  It's wonderful to have two great American cellists here -- and hearing the National Anthem on the cello was a new experience for me.
There was food and visiting among the women present at the garden party.
I neglected to get a picture of our new US Consul General's wife, Kathleen.  It was a pleasure to meet her and her husband, Joe Stafford.  They will both be a great asset to the American community here in Lagos.  She gave a very interesting introduction to her husband before he spoke to the women present, telling about their experiences together in the US Foreign Service. 

 I was fascinated to hear that his first assignment with the Foreign Service was in Iran and they were there in 1979 when the embassy was taken over.  They were able to escape with a few other American diplomats and were hidden by the Canadians for several months before they were able to secretly escape from Iran.  I found this interesting article online telling how the Canadians helped the US diplomats through this trial.  I can't imagine what a tense time that would have been!  Hopefully their experiences in Nigeria won't remind them of those months of hiding.  The planned National Day celebrations at the American Club here in Lagos tonight were cancelled out of caution after the Abuja bombings earlier in the day and Americans in the country were urged to stay home.  Let's hope for progress for Nigeria in the next 50 years and a lot less violence!


Melissa F said...

That is so interesting. I have to say I'm a little sad to not be there and meet the new CG and his wife. Just seeing some of the pictures made me feel a little bit homesick.
I'm so grateful to read your blog and still see a little bit of what is goign on. I can't imagine no okadas either. Thanks for writing.

Kelly said...

I saw a blog when you visited Majidun Rehabilitation Centre, Ikorodu, Lagos. That is such good news. I'm happing people are still helping. I once was an inmate there as a child and I spent childhood there. I had acces to good education and I made good use of it ever since. I wish I can help the childrens home especially but since I don't have a job yet, I'm considering doing voluntary work. I remembered being a kid and some people volunteered just to make sure that I had an education and a better life. I just don't know if any existing organisation is willing to take me up. I've got to give back now that I can. I don't have money, at least not yet. I'm 22 and there's a whole new world in front of me, my strenght, sweat and work is all I can afford right now. So I'm willing to put my positive energy to good use while preparing for a great future ahead. Once more, thank you for your kindness on people like me.