3 Side businesses you can start in Nigeria

Summary: multiple streams of income is key

So, in the world we’re living in now, Nigeria most especially, having just one stream of income is probably not the best. I know there a million businesses that can be done by the side, but in this post I’ve listed just 3 that I think are quite unique and common to the Nigerian economy. They all require a certain level of capital, either in the form of money, land space etc, but suit yourself. My main purpose of writing this is to hopefully ignite something within you to do a bit more; don’t put all your eggs in just one basket, spread your tentacles like an octopus, branch out like a tree (The Gifted Tree heheee). Alright, lets get to it;

1. Dog rearing
Getting started: A dog, dog food, dog kennel/land space (love, care and affection also)

With the unfortunate rise of insecurity in the country, security measures are also on the rise. Some go for security guards, IT measures e.t.c, but here in Nigeria, our preferred and most trusted method are security dogs lol. Apart from security dogs, more people are also keeping pet dogs at home, either pure breed or mixed. So get on the band wagon! Start with one dog/pup. Then if you know someone that has a dog of the opposite sex, you can make a deal and have the 2 dogs mate. The offspring can then be shared between both parties. Take care of the puppies till they’re weaned or till when you deem fit, and sell them off at your desired price; obviously, do your market research to know a reasonable price range, but some good breed dogs could earn you as much as 120k.

(PS: I believe currently, the security industry in Nigeria is actually a very valuable one, apart from security dogs, the demand for IT security options, human security personnel, security infrastructure is on a huge rise, which may not be so obvious actually. Security companies like halogen are doing extremely well and growing bigger by the day!!!)

2. Farming
Getting started: Land space/plant pots, a fruit/seed/plantable tree part

Plant anything from cash crops to crops for personal consumption. From vegetables to even nuts, and supply either as fresh unrefined products or go on to process the crops. For this you could have an unused part of your house, or even just buy plant pots that are portable and also easier to manage. I know of people that grow their own plantain, blend and dry it, and go on to package it as  elubo ogede to feed their family, and also to sell. Yes, processing can be as little as drying and blending with equipment you already have at home. Also, you can kick it off with one or two crops or products you have easy access to. Just to help out, you could start with common and frequently used raw materials such as; plantain (could be used for plantain chips, elubo) Yam (elubo) Leaves (fresh veg, frozen veg,dried veg), Maize (sweetcorn,pap/ogi), the list goes on and on..get creative!

3. Buy and sell
Getting started: Capital for buying the initial goods

I personally am not the best when it comes to sales. I have tried oo,and I know its not my calling, but if you have a flair for selling things, read on. A good reason to get into this is if you have access to areas where certain products are sold cheaper. You buy the product cheaper, and sell to those who don’t have that same access (or who prefer the convenience of not going there) and sell at a slightly higher price.
I remember going to Shoprite (a popular supermarket) one day and a man was at the till paying for about 20-30 loaves of bread. People were just laughing, but I wasn’t the most ecstatic person ’cause all I needed was a loaf, but there was none left 😦 . Anyhow, I doubt he was buying it all for himself /his family, the truth is he was probably going to resell it somewhere else. In Ibadan (the best city in the pacesetter state) there’s only 2 branches of Shoprite, one in Dugbe and another in Ringroad, and so others living quite far from this areas, like Akobo wouldn’t easily have access to Shoprite and hence, their bread. So, this man could easily go and resell the bread in those areas and make his profit even if he’s just adding as little as #30-#50 per loaf . Common “buy&sell” products are fabrics, fashion items and food items, but to be honest, any product in demand can be bought and sold, you just act as a middleman, or as I like to call it, a 21st century connector!

……I’ll keep it sweet and short this time around, but remember, a tree doesn’t just grow solely in one direction, it branches out through its many stems, and that allows it to receive more sunlight to help it grow, so branch out! Get more “sunlight” and flourish like a palm tree!

PS: The new timetable for Batch A 2017 NYSC scheme is out now! Registration opens 17th April


Lots of Love,

Ore Zanetta Berakah


Smiles,cries and decrees: Life after camp

I intentionally haven’t written till now so I could get as much into this post as possible!
Hmmm….there’s a saying that NYSC life just begins after camp, no be lie oo. Camp is beans compared to post-camp.

Sha sha, I’ll pick up the mic from where I left off last time, to fill any gap (P.S: I’ve included some camp pictures I missed from the last post..enjoy!);

Last day of Camp

We received our placement letter last day of camp, after which you’re expected to report to your PPA (Place of Primary Assignment a.k.a. the place you’ll be working during your service year) immediately to submit the letter. The organisation can then accept or reject you as an empoloyee. A fault that is currently in the NYSC scheme is that companies, either public or private, are actually not always informed in advance that corpers will be posted to them. (A friend of mine got posted to ECOWAS, but was rejected because they had only requested for corpers for the previous year and not this current year again, but that wasn’t taken into consideration by NYSC, so corpers were still posted there, only to be rejected). For some, even if they are informed, they are not aware of the number of corpers that will be posted to them, and so that eventually leads to a lot of companies rejecting corpers and mehnnn the process of looking for another PPA teh oo (is a long process), coupled with the fact that you may be in a new state, plus  lack of accommodation and transport knowledge, it can be quite annoying.
The way it should work is that you report to your PPA and they reject/accept you, but sadly that process is way longer than it sounds! For some it takes a day, for some weeks, and for some months, believe it or not.
I had a few friends posted to state admin board. The state admin board comprises of many secretariats; health, education, transport etc, so they usually have to do an internal placement and post you to the relevant department. Straight after camp they got there and were told to come back the next week. The next week they got there and were told to come back after the Christmas break. Fast forward to after Christmas, they got there on a certain Tuesday as agreed oo,  then they were told to come back the next Tuesday. That next Tuesday they got their posting to the education secretariat, and then were told to come back the next Tuesday. The next Tuesday they came, received their posting to the secondary school board and were told to come back on another day before finally receiving their specific posting to their schools…E dakun, na only Tuesday dem dey work for there? (Is it only Tuesdays they work there?) I was speeeechles!

Getting my placement letter
Personally, I didn’t receive my placement letter that day ’cause my original uni transcript was missing (as I mentioned in a previous post), so had to stay home till I received the document from school. We were told to return back 1st week in January, Jan 4th to be specific, but nahh,  that didn’t happen lol. Got back here 3rd week of the month, as I was still waiting for transcript and chilling at home! I didn’t miss much though, so no regrets.
I came the week a new batch was to go to camp and so the person to “clear” me wasn’t on seat. I went Monday, was told to come back Wednesday. Went Wednesday, Thursday and finally Friday till I met the man that eventually “cleared” me (confirmed  the receipt of my transcript and approved the release of my placement letter). I was literally in khaki 7 full days, back to back. I just don’t get how only one person in the whole of NYSC office has the authority to clear me …if he should go for monthly honeymoon ko?
Anyhoo, from there I now had to go back to camp to actually collect my placement letter. I booked an “appointment” the day before going to receive my letter, and was told to come anytime from 10am. Fam, I got there a few minutes past 10am, and called the lady I had spoken too. She told me she quickly stepped out and would be back around 12pm. She asked if that was okay, and obviously, me that I’m desperate for letter, I said it was fine. 12pm came oo, the lady hadn’t come, decided to wait a bit before calling her. 12:30pm…1pm, she still hadn’t come, so I called, just in case she had forgotten me oo.
Fast forward to 1:30pm. ..2pm…2:30pm…3:00pm..before she finally came. Lol I just didn’t know what to do, what’s that saying of “beggars are not choosers”…I understood that clearly that day and the truth is even if she came 10pm that day, I would have still waited ’cause I really wanted to get my letter that day, I no get choice. Anyways, after waiting for some time, I sha got my letter and left. Hmmmm, didn’t get an apology from the lady for not keeping to our “appointment” time, not that I was really expect it oo,  but it would have helped soothe my pain small. Anyways, I sha got my letter and I was happy jere.

(Morale of the story: bring all the ORIGINAL shine shine documents you need to camp for registration so you don’t need to do unnecessary waka like I did after camp)

Reporting to my PPA
So I finally got my posting letter! Ehhh hallelujah oo! I can’t forget this day ever! The morning before I reported to my PPA I prayed concerning it ( hmmm learn how to kabash before you start NYSC o,  makes your life way easier). So I asked God specifically for favor and that protocol would be broken for my sake. 2 things I did here; I asked God, and I also spoke it out loud. Out to the earth and to the ears of everyone I was going to meet later that day!
Fast forward to later that day. I  got there o and the first thing I see on the door is that they’re no longer accepting corpers! Ehh aya mi fe ja  (in literal translation: My chest almost burst open in fear) Asin, I was like whaaat? Anyways, I still entered and spoke to a lady, I told her I had just been posted here, her reply was one I expected “didn’t you see the door, we’re not accepting corpers again, sorry”. Nne, I for don faint for there sef. I didn’t know what to do, it’s like my brain froze, I was thinking about the process of reposting, how long it would be e.t.c, and I just didn’t want to go through that. So I stood. I stood and stood in the same position for probably an hour or longer, tears filled my eyes, I was hungry and tired but I didn’t know what to even do from there. So I just stood. I was standing close to the stairs, so I just greeted most of the people that passed by. I tried to smile a bit and greet them as they passed, that was the only thing my brain could process; just stand and greet.
About an hour or so of doing that and at the verge of going back home, one of the people I greeted initially called me and asked what was wrong (guess my fake smile didn’t work lol). I explained to him that I had been posted here, but they were no longer accepting corpers. He directed me to the director’s office and told me to just go and plead with her, as only she could overrule that instruction. I stood in front of the director’s office thinking about what I was going to say,  and whispering silent prayers (prayer is the key,  prayer is the key, prayer is the master key ooo). As I was about to step in, another lady from the man’s office called me and asked what was wrong, I explained to her and she told me to come in. There were about 8 or so people in that office and they all listened to what I said. They told me not to worry and assured me that it would all be fine. Before you knew it, everyone in the office was helping me one way or the other. They called people they knew, they met with other people in the office, they were literally up and running just to make sure I got accepted (I won’t go into too much details for now), but before I knew it, by the end of the day, I had been accepted there and I could finally smile genuinely! The only way I can explain that day is FAVOUR!!  About 7 grown men and a lady leaving their jobs and running round for small me, eh! na GOD o! only favour seriously!
After I had been accepted, it still took more than a week before I was finally posted to my specific department (internal posting), of which I came back to the office almost everyday of that week as directed, so they wouldn’t forget my file in a side pile.

Getting rejected at PPA
Can I please stress that there is no valid reason for you to stress if you get rejected from your PPA. I probably stressed more than I should have when they didn’t want to accept me. It takes a lot of energy from you, so don’t oo. Don’t stress, don’t cry and don’t beg the people too much, some people’s ego’s are already big enough as it is. Just say “Ok, thank you.” and leave (humbly, not rudely o). After that you can go to your zonal office and apply for a reposting (which could take some time tbh,  because NYSC isn’t the most effective system, but eh, what’s the rush?) or you could find a place that’s ready to accept you and send in a request letter to NYSC as I mentioned in my previous post (official NYSC paperwork would still take time, but you can still start work immediately regardless).

Starting work
Alright, so that’s that. I officially started work the day I was posted to my department, which was about 8 days after I was accepted at the organisation.
As God would have it, my office ended up being quite close to my people that help me the first day, and so we’re like besties now lol. But anyhoo, yeah, I started work and I got quite bored to be honest with you. There wasn’t much to do at all, “idle” is probably a better word to use, but I always had a book I was reading so that kept me busy and my office had a small library which I also tapped into lol (Seriously, I believe God sent me there so I could get the opportunity to read some of their books that I probably may not have had access to…y’all know I’m a serious book eater! )
After about 2 weeks, I was quite tired of just coming to work, gisting and reading, and I felt like I was losing myself. All my ginger to work was fading small small, so I tried to look for something else to do by the side. Remember when I said I had to be coming back everyday till I was posted to my department?  Yeah, during all those waka waka I met a man in the office that worked in another department, he explained what he did and it sounded quite interesting, so 2 weeks later, that conversation came to mind again. I just knew our meeting wasn’t in vain and there was still more to it. So I looked for this man, ehh I looked oo sote (looked for quite some time), but didn’t see him again (he worked offsite), so I started asking round for him, but it was hard at first ’cause I couldn’t even remember his name. About 1-2 weeks later, I had found out his name, and had gotten his number. I called him up and all I said was “Good afternoon sir, this is Oreoluwa, the corper from…  ” and before I could say “DODO”, he somehow remembered me and said he had been expecting me! EXPECTING  ME????? Eh y’all need to know how funny this God is oo. I was shocked!  We arranged a meeting, I asked if there was an opportunity for me to come work with him in his department part-time,  which he agreed to! I later told my boss about the arrangement, “to gain more experience in my service year”, a polished way of basically saying I was bored, and she agreed . So, currently what I do is 2 days in one department, 2 days in the other department, one day for my CDS (Community development scheme) and 2 days for the weekend obviously. I still get to read my books, but also gain relevant experience on the other hand. It’s literally the best of both worlds for me and when I think about how everything turned out, I laugh and just whisper a “Thank you Lord” .

I hate to confess that I cried a few times, but to be honest there were times were I felt extremely frustrated. Going to the same place over and over again, always in my khaki, white top, socks and trainers in the heat of the day chasing up just one person, only to be told to come back again the next day or day after. I questioned the point of the scheme, I questioned people’s morals, I questioned if it was even worth doing it gaan, I questioned if people actually had emotions or a conscience, I was tired! There’s no other way I can put it, but I’ve come to realize God is still in control, and so the pieces of the puzzle are still falling in place.

**[P.S: Remember, you get out as much as you put in, and in all you do “…it is better to give than to receive…so SERVE]**


Lots of love,

Ore Zanetta Beraka

When will you CRY?

When I was a decade old,
I ran errands for a mama at fifty
I learnt rhythms at bed from her
For she’s a professional bed-athlete

I’m two decades old
Grown,attractive and busty
Abigail is on her (mama’s) imitation,
she is next rated field star.

I told her,friend stop this,
Sweet turns bitter to cause a cry.
She laughed me and asked,
have you ever seen Mama in tears?

In anger,I went to the old woman,fuming
when will you,leading horse stop straying?
when will you quit racing with men on defiled bed?
When will you contract STD?
when will you cry?

*Inspired by Odetokun Elijah’s When Will You Die?*

© Josh’ Oloyede Oluwafemi

Bipolar Nigeria

In hustle and bustle I see survivors
In unemployment I see opportunity
In necessity I see inventors
A rugged people
discontent with non-chalancy

The giants of Africa themselves.
The lionesses of the jungle
Knowing, that irrespective of the state of the jungle
the lion will never ever eat grass.
Not pride,

not bowing to the now,
but bending only to select.

From okadas to keke na pepe
range rover conditioning incomparable to that undetterd okada breeze
road bumps resembling roller coaster rides
horns hooting true feelings of drivers
sirens ringing only for richly, not the poorly
Inequality grips.

From hijabs to white garments
from “bawoni” to “sanu”
56 years in matrimony
divorce proffers a solution;
“irreconcilable differences”.
Our strength now our weakness
Diversity wasted.

Public funds now private property.
a land so rich
birthing the wealthiest man in the continent
the smartest kids in the UK
the most educated group in the US
yet home to the poorest of the poor
with people living on less than a dollar
Corruption speaks.

Tinted glasses
raised fences
guard dogs
barbed houses
Insecurity bogus.

Wasted capacity
static potentials
heads turning back and forth
reflections of Lot’s wife
Pillars of salt.

Hot and cold
rich and poor
happy and sad
An oxymoron story.

This problem needs a solution
This storm needs to be still
This sickness needs a cure

Diagnosed with Bipolar disorder
and with the cure in our own hands
will we ever be healed?

Sun.Sand.Social…My NYSC camp experience (part 2)

<—Continued from Part 1

Me o,  I research almost everything, so I had a rough idea of how much to take to camp. Wasn’t sure if there would be an ATM machine on camp, but there ended up being a few sha. For the 3 weeks I spent on camp, I used about #15000. That’s just me though, some used less, some more, depending on where you ate, how often, tailoring adjustments, washing, ironing, platoon contributions, phone charging, ronzing allowance (because some people came to find wife/husband on camp o lol) etc. It may sound like alot of money for that duration, but you’ll be surprised how money flies on camp (coupled with the current inflation in the economy).

Hmmmmm as the last few days of camp approached, there was a natural tension that could be felt as everyone anticipated PPA. That’s your Primary Place of Assignment, and basically where you’ll be working for the service year. Where you get poosted to for your PPA could be determined in 3 ways;

1. Leave it to fate: Some leave it to NYSC processing, and tbh get quite good postings.

2.Pre-arranged: Some already have a job or have applied to one prior to NYSC. All you do is ask the company to send in a request letter to NYSC, and they then post you there (as long as the company/the job is in your state of deployment). There is nothing illegal or bad in sending in a request letter for crying out loud! Some people make such a big deal about it.

3. Good gestures and good attitudes: Lastly, being a good person and talking with people on camp. Nice gestures like returning a lost purse of money can earn you the priviledge of choosing the PPA of your choice. Having a good relationship with staff can also lead them to ask you where you would like to be posted. As long as you’re not bribing anyone, there’s nothing bad in this also.
Get involved
Personally I enjoyed NYSC. I knew it wasn’t going to be Sheraton hotel and definitely wouldn’t be all fun and games, but looking back I really enjoyed it; met crazy amazing people, tried new food, and got to lose a bit of the weight…what more could you ask for? Obviously I wouldn’t want to go back again, but the memories make my heart giggle.
Camp is 100 times more fun if you actually take part in activities. I took part in drama and debate for my platoon. Also, I got involved in a group called ENGINE; Educating Nigerian Girls In New Enterprises (a collaboration with Mercy corps and NYSC), so got to do a documentary interview and went on OBS (the camp radio station) for that. I took part in a skill acquisition programme where I learnt how to make shoes and bag, so watch out for my beauty line soon oo.

So yeah, get involved! There’s sports, pageants, cooking competition and so much you can get into. NYSC Camp only happens once (unless you fail service year lol), so make the most of it

It’s funny how majority of people have a negative mindest towards NYSC, even my younger ones already hate the thought of service year. I still have about 10 months to go, so I’m not in the best position to comment about the year as a whole, but what I know is optimism helps and you get what you put in. Don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m just excited about the year…new state, new friends, new work, new opportunities, new challenges, new food, new stories, new memories…you get the gist!

Lastly, remember it is a SERVICE year. As much as we all want to get good jobs or stay at home with the fam, I think it’s fundamental to note that NYSC is a  year to serve. Whether you’re posted to a school you didn’t want or a company you admire, Serve! Let service be your motto. Till we learn how to serve humanity, we may not move forward as a country, so use your NYSC year as practice. Make the most of the year and just have fun! Remember in all you do “…it is better to give than to receive “(Acts 20:35).


Sun.Sand.Social…My NYSC camp experience (part 1)

Please forgive my lack of juicy pictures for this post, had some issues recovering them, but I’ll have them up as soon as possible.


Hmmmm so, where do I even start oo.

NYSC orientation camp. It’s like its own reputation preceeds it. I had heard so much about camp, and I’m almost tempted to almost say I was prepared for it. My expectations were not much at all as regards living and facilities, but were quite high regarding social life and all that.

Sun, sand and social. 

That’s the best way I can describe my experience. You are literally in the sun from its rising to its setting (no jokes)…should have taken a before and after picture, so you see the way I tanned under the sun. Sand! Kaii, harmattan showed itself. Dust was everywhere. You get used to the smell of dust, the subconscious inhalation and obviously that’s followed by a terrible runny and irritated nose. Lastly, social. You’re sharing a camp with over 2900 people, you’re  bound to meet people that you’ll bond with,people you’re not so fond of, people just as crazy as you, people of all shapes and sizes that you interact with over various team activities, or even group punishment…anyhoo, before I do bebelube, let me go right back to the start.

Alright, so let’s start from when I got my call-up letter. My heart beat was like drumrolls as the day neared to finding out where I had been posted to. I literally had one eye open and one hand covering my state of deployment while checking lol…don’t even ask me why I did that. Posting came out on Tuesday I think, and  I had to be in camp on Thursday for registration, so literally 2 days to prepare, sort out transport etc. When you get to camp, they give you something called transport allowance of #2500 ermm…I don’t even want to talk about this. For us that had to travel long journey, well…the cash came in handy on camp.

Getting into camp

I got to camp the first day of registration, as the eager beaver that I am, and was welcomed with corpers singing. To be specific, “follow the  leader” was the song. Before we could go passed the first check point, we had to sing the song to the soldier’s satisfaction. I then went through 2 other checkpoints before being allowed into the camp. Once in camp, my luggage was searched before being finally directed to my hostel. After that, the on-camp registration began. Oh my! I don’t know what it is with me and these long registration processes, but I had to do mine over 2 days. The main issue I had was with my transcript. Hmmm let me just tell you now. When they say “original copy” of anything, just know they want color and shine. If the document no get color or shine shine, all dem stamp or seal or something of that sort sha OYO lo wa oo (You are on ya own). Also, don’t think you can come and do 21st century tech guru for them. Everything has to be hardcopy. Paper, and fine paper for that matter. For Naija dem no dey do save the tree matter o, so bring official original document. Anyhoo, I didn’t have my shiny original transcript and so my posting letter wasn’t released to me immediately after camp till I took it to the HQ. If you can, get to camp the day before registration gaan or the last day of registration when most people would have been sorted because of the queue, but that means you may get improvised rooms like classrooms etc if there’s no space, but you know what they say…something’s gotta give.

Oh the rooms! We were literally 40 in my room. 20 bunks, 10 on each side. I know it sounds crazy, but the truth was that it wasn’t actually that bad. I literally had the best corner mates and roomies at large, you know when you meet crazy and crazier people than you, kaii!! Even the earth would shake lol. The beds were closely jammed together though, you would have to turn or hold yourself well before you could enter the corner and reach your bed. we had a verander where most people took their shower even though we were told not to, but the alternative was the bathroom that had 5 showers for about 200 people, which unsurprisingly were not always the cleanest. We had 5 toilets also. I personally didn’t use the toilets till the last week of camp, I felt more comfortable doing shotput, than sitting on a WC, but eventually I did sha. Luckily we had a good supply of water on camp. We had water just outside our hostels and so didn’t really have to waka plenty. Ah yes, if you’re a unilag student or an avid watcher of jenifa’s diary like I am, you know “any work”.. These are people in the hostel that shout “any work” and are ready so do “any work” for you with the specified payment. For someone to fetch water for you was #50, for hot water you pay #50, to wash clothes, it was #50 per clothing item (depending on the cloth). Hostel was like the safe haven during camp.

Day-Day activities
A typical day at camp was you waking up at around 3am,  and by 4am, the soldiers start blowing their whistles and beagles. “If you’re walking, you’re wrong” was the slogan, and so you literally had to run from hostel to parade ground. Depending on the mood of the soldiers that morning. If you’re found walking you would be told to do frog jump or squat or sit down…whatever came to their mind. Devotion starts 4:30-5:20 on the parade ground…STANDING. Then morning “assembly” follows till about 6am…STANDING. Then morning exercise till 6:30…STANDING, then morning parade….Still STANDING. You literally stand from 4am-7:30am.
You’re then allowed to go back to hostel to freshen up, eat, sleep till about 9am, and then lectures commence.

Lectures go on till about 12pm. Then some free time or man-o-war activities or sports later in the afternoon. About 4pm, another parade practice takes place till about 6:30 pm.

The evening is usually filled with social activities like talent show, miss nysc, mr macho etc, and that goes on till about 9:30pm ish…and then lights out at 10:30pm. You then have the priviledge to close your eyes in peace and dream that you’re in wonderland…till 3am the next morning.

Ah, food. My regular food was dodo. Plantain. Literally my best food. Originally I bought 3 pieces of dodo at #50, and then I found this place that sold #10 per piece…mehnnnn my day was made..”I don port oo” was my song as I changed joints quicker than you could say “Dodo”. Food was provided free on camp though: breakfast, lunch and dinner at specific times of the day.However, due to long queues, the need for sleep, activities and just personal preference, I ate at maami market occasionally. Kitchen food was good for me tbh,  cooked well, tasted nice, reasonable portions, but obviously some days were better than others. Maami food price. Chai!!! Initailly, when we arrived at camp, a plate of rice with plantain could be #500, but thankfully the camp officials had to set some policies and helped in bringing that down to about #300. Food from almost anywhere in Nigeria could be found in maami; from amala joints,  to calabar kitchen to masa joints, fruit and smoothie bars etc…for anything your tummy desires, just call on maami.

Maami market
Maami,  oh maami. Maami market is literally as aboundant as a lactating mother. Maami has everything, and I mean everything! From make-up, to food, to tailors, to shirt designers, to dry cleaners, to phone charging spots (yes, you have to charge your phone at maami, it goes for about #50/100), printers, pharmacy… Everything! But they all come at a (slightly extorted) price. To  iron full khaki, for example, was about #300. As long as you know your way around maami though, you’re sorted.

Secret to Maami :

1. Know the different prices of everything.

2. Learn how to bargain (first price they call is almost always not the real price)

3. Have your own regular people (they’ll tend to bring down the price if you’re a frequent customer)

4. Phoneee (phonetic accent) may take the price up, better speak normal Nigerian english or pidgin or your native tongue

5. Learn to greet and gist with maami marketers, just be nice to everyone in general (you look better when you smile :))
The gist continues in Part 2 –>

Bumpy roads and fat yams….Niger state!

Summary: Under-developed living in the 21st century

Wow! Where do I even start. I recently had the privilege of going for a medical outreach to a town in Niger state with an amazing group of people.
Firstly, I didn’t really know what to expect,  yes I had a rough idea; rural area, maybe I wouldn’t shower for a few days, maybe there wouldn’t be hot water, maybe I wouldn’t have my favorite meals etc…I wasn’t expecting luxury obviously…but seemed I had set my expectation too low, as everything was greatly exceeded.

The journey was probably more of a task than the outreach itself. Kai! The trip took about 15 hours. Coupled with the adventures of Nigerian road, made the ride a memorable one. I’ve never appreciated Ibadan roads so much! My friend, truly you don’t know what you have till it’s gone ooo. Some roads were obviously wonderful, tarred, bump free and smooth. Some on the other hand were tarred, but abandoned a.k.a unmaintained. But that was nothing compared to the untarred roads mehnnnn, the relative time between one bump and the other was approx. 2.5 seconds, each bump resulted in a collective jump of those in the vehicle, each collective jump caused an ache in an area of the body, the overall body ache resulted in the unoptional use of 1g paracetamol and aboniki at the end of the trip. Without a doubt if the roads were a bit better, we would have spent far less time on the road.

My eyes had never been opened till then about the importance of good roads. Within the village, driving a distance of 4-6km could take about 2 hours on road! I was dumb-founded. How wouldn’t transportation be expensive when a lot of factors are to be considered? Time on the road, physical injury that could be sustaibed, special skills to maneuver the vehicle, car repair due to the harshness of the road etc

I’ll stop nagging about the roads (for now), just so I can get into the sweet gist. The medical outreach lasted for about a week.Certain things stood out to me during the trip and I’ll just highlight them;

Ignorance: Imagine people don’t know the age of their children??? Call me ignorant, but I never knew illiteracy could still be at this level in this country in the 21st century. For some, their highest level of education was knowing the market day. An obvious minority went to school, whilst the majority did not. From those I spoke to, lack of education wasn’t as a result of lack of funds, but mainly one of 2 reasons; farming or distance. Some parents don’t see the point of the education and so prefer for their kids to go to the farm. Secondly, schools were inaccessible to the kids. Some families lived as far as 2 hours away from the nearest school, so obviously that would be a task.

Farming: Niger is undoubtedly the biggest and widest state in Nigeria (by land mass) and this was quite evident with the aboundance of farm lands (but lack of people) that covered the area. Farming is a way of life for those in Bassa. The fathers, mothers and children wake up early before the cries of the chicken to go to the farmland, and can be there till evening when the sun is going down, No one probably understands the famous quote “make hay while the sun shines” as much as they do.

Disconnection from the outside world: It’s like they live in a world of their own. Though only a few hours from the capital city, Minna, it’s like the city is not aware of them and neither are they aware of the city. Do they even vote…do they have a say in who rules the nation…are they communicated to??? Many questions plaqued my mind.

I adore a simple lifestyle, but my definition of “simplicity” begged to be redefined. Technology is yet to find its way to their minds, so majority lack TVs, radios, phones etc..In dressing, no one is trying to wear the latest style or outdress the other. Who sends? Typical day outfit is a top and wrapper for the ladies and almost the same for the men.The keyword however was contentment. They were a people content in simplicity.

Obviously all parts of a nation may not grow at the same pace, but the contrast is outrageous. What pains me most is that within this community, potential leaders, teachers, doctors, fashion designers, presidents reside, and the thing about potential is that it can remain dormant for life if it is not put in use. As an “ex-physics student”, the potential needs to be made kinetic.

I wouldn’t trade my trip for anything (except the drive to and fro). Thoroughly enjoyed it, but more so the priviledge to be exposed to the hidden side that we don’t really see or hear about. Anyhoo, as part of penning my experience down on paper, I put together a piece telling of my experience=>> Check it out below!

Tales from Bassa land

Bumpy roads as roller coaster rides
chicken cries as morning alarms
Short buildings leaving a sunset unobstructed
The abundance of dust echoing profound truth;
Of dust we came
and to dust we shall return

So far away from civilisation, civilisation begs to be redefined
far from the handcuffs of technology
the confines of fences
Freedom at its best

Soprano voices of the female anopheles
Bass cries of grazing cows
Tenor horns of rugged bikes
Sealed with alto voices of babies’ cries

At night, the town comes alive
bats usher themselves into their day
kilishi and suya sellers doing what they do best!
mothers with saggy breasts but firm hands;
offspring in arm and a hoe in the other
Farming as a purpose
An education
A job
A livelihood all in one.
Food production at its finest;
From planter to reaper
processor to consumer
A self-sustaining cycle
Plates coloured white
served with yam, iyan, maize, and spin-offs
Intake of carbs expended in farms
BMIs intact
making kwashiorkor nothing but a myth.

Family planning knocks on clay bricks
With 20 helping hands round the house
20 farmers on land
pre- and post- natal care, self taught.
Education creeps into the minds of the illiterate
kajal lines make-up the faces
sensual features highlighted,
Black. Bold. Beautiful

A non-chalant unambiguous majority
Unaware of the outside world unaware of them
Content in simplicity
Blessed with so vast a land
Separated by a stone throw
But mouths filled with different tongues
With hearts like fertile ground
hungry for the truth
The saving grace
Yielding fruits of 100 folds
The leaders of tomorrow
The future of our generation

My heart cries to tales from the land of Bassa
A child born of power
Unravelling the hidden treasures of Niger state


Lots of Niger-love,

Ore Zanetta Babalola