Nigerians travel a lot. That’s a given. However, they all seemingly engage in the same set of activities whenever they find themselves in a foreign land.
In a video which surfaced online recently, President Olusegun Obasanjo made an interesting remark on his eating preference when abroad. The former president told his interviewer, a lady, that he would be having a lunch with a friend soon, and she presumed he would be having the traditional Nigerian staples like Amala or Iyan like many Nigerians are wont to.
But Obasanjo wasn’t going to live by that rule! “I cannot be eating that in Nigeria, and come here and be eating it”, he said to the surprise of his interviewer. He said he preferred to have a taste of what the British people have in food than looking for where to get Nigerian foods while in the UK.
Obviously, Obasanjo wasn’t speaking for most Nigerians who live in or visit foreign countries in this regard. Most Nigerians will never contemplate culinary offerings of their host countries when their traditional cuisines are within reach. Similarly, Nigerians have their unique ways of vacationing which is nothing like what other nationals do. For most Nigerians, a vacation is for one or more of the following activities.
Visit to the Stadia of Foreign Football Clubs
An average Nigerian is football crazy. Hence while Americans or Europeans often mark out vacation plans which usually include trying out sumptuous foreign foods, visiting iconic sites and letting down their hair in some fantastic entertainment spots or bars, most Nigerians often have a sports club in mind when they visit a country that plays host to their favourite football clubs.
Irrespective of class and background, Nigerians flow quite easily when it comes to discussions on the performance and superiority of their favourite football clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and the rest. The love and passion for these clubs are so great that visiting them is a priority on the vacation plans of most Nigerians when they find themselves in a foreign land.
For most, their trips abroad are incomplete without some pictures in front of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium or Chelsea’s Stamford bridge or the stadia of whichever club they are loyal to. And these outings must be complemented, of course, with orders of customised jerseys and other merchandise of the various clubs.
Perhaps one day someone will work out the figure that is consistently expended by Nigerians on the jerseys of these clubs and conduct a leg-count of those who are making compulsory vacation visits to the clubs. It’s simply amazing.
These days, medical checkups feature regularly on the to-do lists of Nigerians who vacation abroad. And it’s a big deal in every sense of the word. After all, very few Nigerians have enough resources not only to vacation in a foreign land but also to undergo a medical checkup in private hospitals in Europe and other parts of the world. So don’t be transfixed when you hear some privileged Nigerians say, “You know I just returned from my vacation abroad where I had my medical check-up”.
Get this, it doesn’t matter if these fellows are well and fine or if they had received a clean bill of health from the private health services they patronise in Nigeria.
Medical-vacation, as it’s called in some quarters, is a form of status symbol. So most privileged Nigerians do share their medical-vacation treats to demonstrate that it’s a costly experience for those who can afford quality health care. Like a physician from Harley Street, a famous street in London noted for its huge number of private hospitals, once shared with this column, “most Nigerians are known to this street as charitable visitors not essential service users”. After all, health, they say, is wealth.
Often times good vacation would include a time to go round and pick some lovely personal effects such as good clothes and fine shoes. But this moment itself is the main and only vacation experience for many Nigerians. For instance, when most Nigerians discuss Dubai, it’s never on the amazing transformation of a desert into a globally noted tourist destination or other fascinating details about the city. Rather, it’s almost always about where to buy what and brandish it for some splendid pictures around the city malls.
That’s why on the back of Nigerians’ shopping prowess, the famous department store in London, Debenhams, added a Nigerian language to its foreign signages to attract more Nigerian customers.
For many Nigerians, a vacation is memorable and great only if they got on the magnificent floors of Harrods or Selfridges in London or that of other upscale stores around the world and walk out with the branded shopping bags of these luxury stores in hands. Of course pictures of the bags of these stores in hands are very essential. They are fantastic fodder for the followers of these Nigerians on Instagram, Twitter and other social media channels who must know about the “shopping-vacation” and luxury lifestyles.
Nigerians are arguably about the only people who would be on vacation and still prefer to spend the whole of their holiday indoors. It is never out of place to hear from Nigerians who have vacationed with their families in the UK, US and other such places that they had a great moment watching one African movie channel, especially Nigerian Nollywood or the other on satellite television. Even those who stay in hotels are mostly on Youtube having the best of time viewing different movies with the bliss of the super-fast internet service that such private entertainment deserves unlike the slow internet service on offer back home. In this case, a fantastic vacation is complete indoors with different movies, Nigerian dishes preferably, music, long sleep – especially during winter – and hours of telephone chats with friends and families back in Nigeria.
Don’t be surprised that attending graduation ceremonies of wards, siblings, relatives and associates abroad constitute a unique vacation experience for some Nigerians.
After all an opportunity to see and feel the atmosphere of the famous academic institutions in America, Europe, Middle-East and some parts of Africa is a beautiful memory worth relishing.
Hence, to don flamboyant wears and flash glowing sets of teeth to a camera during graduations ceremonies in a foreign land is enough bliss for some vacationing Nigerians.
Of course, Nigerians have other interests which have not been captured in this piece, but the foregoing constitutes some of the most unique ways Nigerians vacation abroad.