I spent 8 days in Nigeria, split between the bustling city of Lagos and the smaller Imo State, which is located in the southern part of the country. It’s also home to the Igbo ethnic group. Although tourists to Africa tend to flock to the southern and eastern parts of the continent, I was excited to see West Africa: the motherland, and where my ancestors came from. Nigeria is also Africa’s most populous country; where there is ripe opportunity to tour local markets; and eat local food-from the popular jollof rice to fresh fish, and the staple of fried and boiled yams.
The Balogun Market in Lagos is one of Africa’s busiest markets, which was an experience in itself, weaving through the throngs of people and dodging the vehicular traffic. I spent around $30 on wax fabric at the Balogun market and $40 for sewing a unique dress by a Nigerian woman referred to me by a friend. Choosing African wax fabric is fun: there are thousands of patterns and in a seemingly endless array of vibrant colors. One of my souvenirs was getting my African fabric at the market and having a local Yoruba woman in Lagos sew for me a dress and romper.
One thing I couldn’t leave Nigeria without doing was getting my hair braided; the prices are more than reasonable! American prices for braids can soar between $100-$300 depending on the style, but in Nigeria, $20 is around the norm for a full head of hair styling. This was one of the great deals I received in Lekki area of Lagos at a shop called Cinq Saa.
Back to nature is always on my list when I visit new places, so I spent $7 as an entrance fee to the Lekki Conservation Center, which is home to the longest canopy walk in Africa. You walk through a reconstructed nature trail that has plenty of Mona monkeys in the trees, some with their babies; and other wildlife like tortoises and Maxwell’s Duikers.
In order to tour a slower paced city (Lagos is the most populous city in Africa), I flew into the eastern part of Nigeria to Owerri Airport. I went to Abia State, which is next door to Imo state. The biggest attractions are visiting the local produce markets and hailing a Keke (a Nigerian Tuk Tuk) in order to tour the Abia State and see the everyday life of the Igbo people. There are also masquerade festivals in different towns around the holiday season.
From the hustle of bustle of the city of Lagos to the Imo State, it is a joy traveling the diverse landscapes and beautiful culture of this West Africa world.