One day I was browsing through twitter and I saw an advertisement targeted at girls between the ages of 18-24 years, who were interested in a 4-day Journalism & Leadership training to be held in LAGOS.
According to the organizers, there would be free transportation (from anywhere in Nigeria, to and fro) free accommodation and feeding. And I thought, Ah ah, just like that? In Lagos?
I was skeptical about applying, but I still went ahead and did so. I was selected a week after. Excited, I packed my bags and left for Lagos like I knew where I was headed. The training was scheduled to hold at Virgin Rose Resort, Victoria Island. That was about all I knew.
I had been to Lagos a couple of times and in fact, I was born there but I had never travelled there alone. I still do not know what kind of ‘liver’ I gathered to travel to Lagos for something I wasn’t sure was real, and I didn’t tell anybody except my dad who allowed me travel (another strange thing).
In the bus an elderly man sat next to me, he didn’t talk to me oh, until we arrived Lagos then he asked me where I was going. I told him I was going for a training and I explained it to him. He began to tell me about how his daughter escaped being kidnapped in the name of so-called trainings. Hmmnnn…
I looked back. Abuja was too far from where we were, and I started asking myself; is this how my story will end? Well, we got to Jibowu and the man helped I and my friend (who I was traveling with), to get a cab going to Bishop Oluwole street, where the hotel was located. I said all the prayers in the world while we were in that cab.At some point we were just going around, in circles, this continued till it was 8pm! Finally, we got to the hotel, and I couldn’t wait to meet a receptionist or somebody there to confirm if there was indeed a training to be held there.
I finally did, she smiled, said yes and directed us upstairs where other girls were, my God the relief I felt. The fact that there were so many ladies also got me scared. I didn’t sleep that night, I kept waiting for the part where they’ll take us to Italy.
The following day we were taken to Oriental Hotel and Suites for the opening ceremony; there was free makeup sessions for us. It was just amazing how they wanted us to not just feel beautiful, but to look beautiful too. We were treated to sumptuous lunch later and had other fun activities. I think day 1 gave all of us an opportunity to bond and make friends with each other.
Day 2 was really cool, I enjoyed every bit of the journalism lecture taken by each facilitator, my favourite line by Ms. Tara was – “There’s a difference between proper news and propaganda”, in my head I went “hmmn rhymes”
Day 3 Oh my God, we were taken to see the Malala documentary, and we were also given free T-shirts, it was so beautiful. All of us in our black Tees with “Educate A Girl” printed in bright pink colours.
That documentary opened my eyes to a lot of things. I didn’t even know who Malala was or what she stood for until that day and her story really motivated me.
And then finally there was poetry night; the energy that night was incredible! I heard poetry in different forms, and my favourite line from the anchor of the poetry night, Ms. Shade – “Poetry is sacred”
I wished it would never end, because the experience was too beautiful to capture with words. At the EAG training (organized by Whole WoMan Network™, LadiesFund® Pakistan/Toronto and Dawood Global Foundation) in Lagos, I met girls who inspired me to be uncomfortable with “Normal“; girls I could hold intelligent conversations with; girls who are still my friends to this day.
There was food too, so much good food and I really loved my hotel room and my roommate who was a teacher. It was awkward conversing with her on the first night but she made me comfortable and told me a lot of stories and we had great conversations.
In the end I could only come to the conclusion that only deep love would make anyone want to go this far to enlighten strangers. It turned out it was real and was one of the most amazing life-changing experiences ever.
I learnt that GOOD things happen in Lagos too 🙂