11/24/2008

At the risk of sounding razz...

…I do this post.

Have you ever heard of an NDE-Near Death Experience.

About 2 weeks ago I had my first NJE – Near-Jand Experience.

Before I continue, I must warn that a lot of people have lost the capacity for NJEs mostly due to the fact that they have been to jand (or watched too much DSTV). Alternatively, depending on the kind of schools you attended, you may also risk losing the NJE capability.

Me, I have never stepped outside naija- not even Niger or Togo and my schools have never really had that many white people. In fact, I remember when some Asians – must’ve been Bangladeshi or something- joined my primary school, we were taking turns to feel their hair. I follow touch O! If I remember correctly, the hair felt like plastic straws… or ragged pure water sachets.

So how do I define an NJE?

The most important factor is the people around. They must be predominantly foreign – not just foreign O! Togolese and Ghanaians no follow. They must be Caucasian; a sprinkling of chinks is permissible. This factor definitely rules out certain locations for NJEs – No hope for an NJE in Oshodi bus stop, the creeks of the Niger Delta and, of recent, the US oval office. (By the way sef, one of my very good friends thinks Obama might be the antichrist but that’s gist for another day).

The next most important factor is the environment – the architecture of the buildings, the uncommonness of the furnishings and even the landscaping.

Other minor factors also help identify an NJE. Smell for example. I imagined previously that an NJE would smell like garlic. Thankfully my first NJE didn’t cos the experience lasted 20 mins and I’ve returned there 9 more times. Speak of a nasal health hazard.

Dressing too matters – Men in skirts and women in outerwear that you previously thought was inner wear would be inarguable indicators but then more subtle pointers like the clothes looking more like they originated from Wranglers and Woolsworth rather than Tejuosho and Akpombo are indicative of the fact that you are on to something. Other stuff like language, accent and games played by the children should also be looked out for.

Now where did I experience my first NJE? No, not at MMIA or The palms but at a school – Lycee Francais Louis Pasteur du Lagos. Oya start pulling out your Harper’s French dictionaries. Its somewhere in V.I., for the rich, not-so-famous and predominantly light-skinned. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been tagging along with a cousin to drop off her daughter every morning and to be honest, I have never been around that many white people before. I try hard not to stare. I now know how the early white missionaries must’ve felt. I wont take credit away from the school though, I have only been in the kindergarten class and its kinda cool – my nursery school was not almost like that. They keep the kids very occupied with fun stuff, sometimes I feel like joining them to play with plasticine. And the older students seem to get plenty of homework considering the travelling bags they bring to school in the name of school bags. So if yu have money, send your child there so they can get used to oyibo and not stare like us.

NJEs provoke brilliant introspecting and the very first question that hit me was:
If this school were in Port Harcourt City where the light-skinned (including albinos) are an endangered specie, what will be used to guard the school???