N. F. Kenure
I was telling a friend N* about needing to change the ticket for my vacation from Zanzibar to somewhere, anywhere with beaches. As a Nigerian passport holder, my options are limited given the time constraints. It pretty much boiled down to Seychelles or Mauritius. N says she honeymooned in Seychelles and thinks I should go there. She and her family have lived in Nigeria for over 10 years as expats. When she got married and went to Seychelles, her husband assured her Nigeria - their home to be looked like Seychelles. She paused dramatically when she said this and we both fell into fits of laughter.
“He told you Nigeria looks like Seychelles?”
"And he lived in Port Harcourt at the time!
I understand that Port Harcourt still styles itself as the garden city even though the last flower there was probably chopped off to make way for another ugly shanty years ago, but comparing it to Seychelles at any point in its past just has to be a stretch. Right?
“- and at the time, when I first came to Nigeria, to get to Port Harcourt, you had to land in Owerri and then drive to Port Harcourt, imagine my shock! Do you know what Owerri is like?”
Her eyes are wide and questioning in exaggerated humour.
“ Yes, I know what the airport in Owerri and the drive to Port Harcourt is like.”
Unfortunatly, I do as I am from Owerri. Every time I land there, I shake my head at the desolation that is Nigeria.
So destination and tickets changed, and we jetted out to Seychelles.
I mean look at my view right now.
Even though we are the most inert crew, preferring to enjoy a day at the beach with nothing to do, yesterday we managed to go on a boat tour that included snorkeling and island hopping. I learnt first hand that swimming in a pool and the ocean are two very different things.
On Moyen Island, I suddenly had a feeling of deja vu. It looked just like my village- the plants, fruits and even the smell of unpretentious rice that wafted from an open window. The only thing missing was yet another scent- burning palm kernel. Minutes after thinking this, my husband points out a palm tree to me. There is something about access to greenery that we as Nigerians are missing out on and this place brought it
home as it took my back.
It took me back to walking and having fruits heavy with juice fall right at my feet.
I don't know what this is, but when it fell , I picked it up and ate it.
Now that I’m here, I think about the comparisons, Port Harcourt is a coastal town too. I never saw a picture of what it looked like pre independence but my father says it was a beautiful idyllic place. Who’s to say it didn’t look like this?
I have many questions about this place and have a feeling our guide Mervin is not quite equipped with the history of the people. I wonder what colorism is like here. What about social mobility? There’s one university and one polytechnic. What will become of Mervin with his beautiful raven skin and copper tinged head of coils?
So yes, Seychelles is like Nigeria, if you are short sighted like me, always forget to wear your glasses and squint really hard.
Jun 14, 2019