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Reading ‘Looking for Transwonderland’ in Abuja

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The book: Looking for Transwonderland, Noo Saro-Wiwa

The place: Abuja

Nigeria at last! It was a long, intricate, bureaucratic process to get here – the toughest visa process I have ever been through, including countries like Russia, Sudan and Libya – which I suppose is reasonable, as I doubt the UK makes it particularly easy for Nigerians to go the other way. Still, when I was finally awarded my visa I felt a sense of achievement similar to that of having completed a bureaucratic Iron Man challenge – and even then, the chap on arrivals at Abuja airport on Sunday threatened to send me back because I didn’t have a print-out of my return ticket. (He finally let me through after making it clear to me that if I overstayed the nine days he had permitted me, I would be put in handcuffs and presented to the British High Commission.)

And look, a rare example of place/book congruence! I am really enjoying Saro-Wiwa’s travelogue, and very much getting the point of reading a book about a place while actually in a place; thank you, Captain Obvious. I really should do this more often.

I am also really enjoying Nigeria. It is my first time this far down in West Africa (having previously meandered down the coast as far as Guinea-Bissau), and I have been startled by quite how much the landscape and vegetation looks like South Sudan. I suppose it makes sense, as they are quite similarly situated, climatically speaking, but it keeps giving me strange little starts to be driving through something that looks very much like South Sudan, except instead of lurching at a snail’s pace along a rutted and boggy road, I am whizzing down a well-maintained federal highway. It’s a rather arresting visual and visceral idea of what South Sudan could look like after years of concerted growth and development.


BIG ROCK, between Abuja and Kaduna


Big ideas, between Kaduna and Abuja


Heavy rain in Abuja


Written by Jess

September 3, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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