Back 2 Nigeria

I haven’t been to Nigeria since before the pandemic but had a lovely reason to return this Summer. My lovely Mum turned 70!

So I landed from the month-long trip in Cape Town, South Africa, unpacked and repacked back home in London to fly to the continent again, this time going West, to the most populous African nation.

I now tend to have a mixture of feelings when going to Nigeria as it’s so different to life in England which I have become used to. I often joke with friends that I have to switch off my England brain and switch on my Lagos brain. My Lagos brain is hyper sensitive, quick on its feet, a mean haggler and a smooth talker, it can get away with anything and smell deceit miles away.

I went shopping at The Ladymaker, a Nigerian Fashion House on the Island and got what is now one of my favourite dresses. The kind of dress that people stop you in the London Underground to ask where they can get one. The shop is small but well stocked with a nice variety and I stopped by when they were having a sale. This was great because the clothes are pricey.

Trying on dresses!
The dress behind me on the mannequin was the One 🥰
The Ladymaker

Next up my brother took me to Orile, a boutique restaurant in Lekki Phase 1. It has beautiful decor, think raffia and grass. I ordered some traditional Ofada rice which was delicious but I couldn’t complete devouring as I forgot I can’t handle hot food. I struggled on for a bit until it felt as though my mouth would burst into epic flames. So I let it go..sadly. The smoothie was great though!

Orile ambience
The deliciously hot Ofada
The cooling smoothie 🥵

A final experience of note was getting my hair done at Bloom Hair Atelier also on the Island. Now I don’t trust people with my hair but had been following the salon on Instagram for a while and was convinced from what I saw that they knew what they were doing when it came to Afro hair. So I set off for what was to become one of my best salon experiences in a while. The stylists are incredibly knowledgeable and polite. They are so considerate that when I had to tilt my head to an awkward angle so they could braid the side of my head, they brought a rolled up towel to wedge between my neck and shoulder to place my head on!

Additionally, the salon is aesthetically beautiful and stocked with contemporary hair equipment such as their soothing steamer which you lay back to experience. I highly recommend visiting this salon.

Braiders at work
End result
Close up

Going back to Nigeria this time showed me how much I have changed over the years and made me question and settle on where home really is for me.

Yoruba girl

Burundi – Bujumbura and Matana

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Sunset – if you look to the horizon you can just see the silhouette of hills in the DR Congo

Burundi is a piece of heaven. So strikingly beautiful and raw and perfect. You never hear of Burundi as a tourist destination nor do you see it in National Geographic, but it’s beauty is on par with many more famous beautiful destinations. My whole time there (3 months) was very authentic and non-touristy in many ways. I went there to volunteer with a local church in the hills of Burundi in a village called Matana.

We flew into Bujumbura, the capital city. It is very mellow, in my opinion, for a capital city. Of course it was more hectic than the villages, but in comparison to say…Lagos, another African capital was really mellow. But then again most cities are incomparable to Lagos, even the staunchest Londoner/New Yorker would find Lagos overwhelming at the very least. I would recommend visiting the tourist market which have loads of handcrafted things you can buy for people back home. Cafe Gourmand was also a nice treat, its a patisserie where you get all the usual sweet stuff and ice cream, unsurprisingly loads of westerners congregate there.

Now, Matana, was where I spent most of my time in Burundi. It is a village in the hills, Burundi is mostly hills covered in lush green and tea farms (tea is really good here). I love rural living, I live quite rural in the UK and just love the peace and slower pace of life. Matana is very beautiful and most people live off the land and rare cattle. People are proud of their cows and I saw one of the biggest cows I have ever seen in my life whilst up there, granted it was also pregnant. When it rains up here it pours, its loud and very heavy, nothing like you would ever see in England. It’s a deluge. Then the after-rain smell is just gorgeous due to all the green and red earth..urgh..perfection!

Of course, I  visited Lake Tanganyika a couple of times. It’s the biggest freshwater lake in Africa and second biggest in the world by volume. In some parts, the beach is white and the lake very clean and you feel you are in the Caribbean and not beside a humongous lake. At some point we were driving to Blue Bay resort and on one side of the road were huge hills dotted with palm trees and on the other side was the beautiful lake, needless to say I was awestruck the entire time.

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Lake Tanganyika
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Blue Bay

For the first time in my life, I finally got to see a water fall  after climbing through the hills in Rutana. The Karera Falls were amazing and I truly felt blessed to have the opportunity to be in this beautiful country filled with such natural beauty.

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Karera Falls, Rutana, Burundi

To add more to the wonders of Burundi, one of the sources of the Nile can be found here, it’s only a trickle now but nevertheless a must-see. Of all the places I have traveled to, I felt my most content and complete in Burundi; the rolling hills, the Lake, the people, the red earth. The beauty that surprised me at every turn and the the generally slow pace of life really does give this little gem heavenly traits!