Koko’s Starter Kit For Visiting Nigeria

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Nigeria can be a bit too much for a lot of people. Even people who live here are overwhelmed on most days.

Lord knows sometimes I want to pull out my hair with all the craziness that comes with it. When you think about it though, there are simple basic things that could help out. This doesn’t mean you won’t get stressed but it could make things a lot easier.

1. Learn some Pidgin English

Pidgin English also known as Broken English is something you should try and learn. It is a way of speaking here which mixes proper English with words from God knows where. Before, everyone thought only uneducated people used it, but today it is used by everyone. It also helps bridge the communication gap between people from different tribes.

So if you’re in a bit of a fix, and you feel like the person you’re speaking to isn’t understanding you properly, try to speak some Pidgin English. (This doesn’t mean Nigerians do not speak proper English, this is just a more relaxed way of talking). Don’t worry about how you sound, people laugh at mine too.

Examples of Pidgin includes :

i. How far – Hi

ii. Abeg – Please

iii. Abi – Right?

iv. Comot – Leave

v. Do quick – Hurry Up

vi. Wetin – What?

For a comprehensive list, check out Zazugist or tune in to Wazobia 95.1fm/Naija 102 fm. These stations broadcast in Pidgin English.

2. You could also learn how to say hello in different dialects/languages depending on what state you’re in. eg ‘Kedu’ means ‘hello’ in Igbo, ‘Sannu’ is ‘hi’ in Hausa & ‘bawo ni’ is ‘how is it’ Yoruba, (they usually say ‘ello. LOL)

3Be smart/sharp, because ‘if you no get sense they go just gba e loju

That simply means if you’re not smart, they will just take advantage of you. Even Nigerians have been victims of their fellow country men. While we are generally nice people, Nigerians can be a case.

4. Power cuts

Not something I’m proud of, but it’s our reality. Hopefully this ends soon. If you’re in a hotel/guesthouse, you may not notice as generators are available.

5. If you’re driving, do not let a policeman/LASTMA officials into your car!

So if driving is your preferred mode of transport while in Nigeria, do not make the mistake of letting a policeman or any road official into your car, if not you’ll get more than you bargained for. If they tell you to ‘on your inner light‘ or ‘show your particulars‘, please comply but do not open your car doors. Learn the signs too, as some routes are one way.

6. Still on the driving matter, make sure you have your documentation intact and present, but only show the photocopies.

Make sure you have your license and paperwork. When you are asked for them, please show them the photocopy (this includes your license or car papers). It makes your life easier instead of handing over the original copies.

7. Learn the culture of the state you will be visiting.

What works in Lagos, may not work in Abuja or Ekiti State, so make sure you’re prepared. Learn everything from dressing to even how they greet. Make sure you also observe protocols as some places are more traditional than others.

8. DO NOT use your left hand to receive or give anything. 

Nigerians see this as a sign of disrespect, so please always use your right hand when collecting or giving. They’ll think you’ve lost your mind.

9. Learn to be patient.

Patience is a virtue here. No point getting riled up, if not you’ll be upset for most of your day.

10. Be ready for the heat.

Nigeria is generally humid, so if possible, wear light clothes most of the time, and drinks lots of water when you’re out and about. If you want carry a bottle around. Some sunscreen is also welcome for those who don’t want to get darker or those avoiding sun burn.

11. If you’re not used to mosquitoes, bring some mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes are common here so be prepared for that.

12. Smile and be friendly. 

Nigerians are very friendly and helpful, especially to foreigners.

Make friends but of course you should be careful and wise in the process.

Yes we have a certain reputation and some of us aren’t that amazing, but really which country doesn’t have terrible people in it.

13If taxis are your preferred mode of transport, be sure to take registered taxis, or the ‘official taxis’ in the state. For example in Lagos, yellow and black is generally known as the taxi color, in Ogun State the taxis are green. Also you can get a ‘taxi guy’ who you can always call whenever you want to head out. However make sure he is someone who can be vouched for.

If you stay in a hotel, the concierge could also arrange a taxi for you, but it’ll generally be expensive.

Some taxi services in Nigeria include – Metro taxi & Uber

14. Public transport such as the Lag bus and danfos are also available and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try Keke Marwas (tricycles). Please be sure about your route or take someone who knows and you trust along.

15. Keep a detailed map of whichever state you are visiting, and plan your route/destination before setting out. One thing though, traffic also known as go-slow or holdup is something you may find yourself in especially in Lagos. So factor that in.

16. Carry the local currency which is Naira. While some places take foreign currency, you’re better off using Naira. Make sure you carry every denomination (ie N50, N100, N200 etc) and change money at a registered beareau de change or the bank. Master cards and Visa Cards are also accepted in most establishments.

17. Avoid exposing valuables, you are just attracting unnecessary attention to yourself.

18. When buying at the markets, always bargain. Don’t just accept the price you’re told. Try to be patient and tolerant while doing this.

19. Make photocopies of your passport pages and also know your nearest embassy just in case of any emergencies. Do not carry original documentations around. 

20. Avoid isolated and badly lit areas at night. (this is normal.)

21. If you’re coming for business, please make sure that you’ve conducted appropriate background checks on your prospective partner.

22. If you are going to an island, beach or any water entity, wear your life jacket and make sure your boat/ferry has a good track record. Freak accidents occur but don’t endanger yourself out of carelessness.

23. At the airport, don’t use the touts, don’t give anyone your luggage and just be generally aware of your surroundings.

24. Before you come to the country, make sure you have someone on ground who will help you. Your very first trip here will probably be overwhelming.

25. Get a local sim card except you don’t mind paying for roaming charges.

26. I’m not sure why you would come here and not contact us. Who else is gonna take you everywhere apart from us? 🙂

Random stuff will probably happen, laugh and enjoy the experience. Don’t forget to take it one day at a time.

Anyone have any more tips for newbies to Nigeria, let us know in the comment section!