Tuesday, July 1, 2014

For Two Nigerians, the Wonders of Senegal!

        Ecole National des Arts, Dakar

Yesterday, I was in a taxi with my dear friend and artist Jerry Buhari who was here in Dakar for the just-ended "Artistic Education in Africa" conference organized by Raw Material Company. We were headed to Lalibela, the Ethiopian restaurant in Rue A. At some point, the taxi, driven by a man who must be in his 70s, made a turn to join another road and, just then, a military vehicle driven by a young uniformed soldier blocked our way. The soldier apparently had knowingly made the wrong turn and would not reverse. Jerry and I know, the Nigerians we are, had seen the unfolding script play out many many times before back home. Anxiety. But what happened reminded us how far away Dakar/Senegal was from our Nigeria. Our driver rolled down his window, repeatedly yelled out "what the hell are you doing?! And then proceeded to order the soldier to reverse his car. The soldier, knowing full well he was wrong, hesitated a bit, mumbled some kind of apology, reversed and went on his way! Miracle in Senghor's land! The script Jerry and I had read back home would have had the soldier descend from his truck, pull out the bloody civilian driver, and maul him right there for disrespecting a military man. If he were inspired he would even flog the occupants of the taxi for having the bad judgment to patronize such insolent cab driver. And nothing, absolutely nothing, would have happened to the uniformed Nigerian mad dog.

We mourned Nigeria, again. 

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