First trip abroad
My first trip abroad was 20 years ago. It was for business. I was into telecommunications business then. So I went to Dubai to buy a whole lot of stuff.
Last holiday abroad
My last holiday abroad was on February 9, 2019. After my International
Culture And Art Festival (ICAF) at Carlson Suite, Radisson Blu, St.
Julian’s Malta, I left for Holland, where I rested for two weeks.
The best locations I have ever been to are in Kenya––Diani and Masai Mara. In Kenya, you have the bush and the water. The water is when you go to Diani, where you have one of the best beaches in the world. It is close to Mombasa. In Masai Mara, the wildlife is something out of this world. I had a serious blast in Masai Mara. We lodged inside the Spirit of Mara. I’ve been around the world but Kenya is my favourite. When I say I had a blast in Kenya, I’m talking about the food and the people––and Kenyans love Nigerians. The resorts and the facilities they have are amazing: neat, nice and affordable.
My laptop, because the internet makes the world easy. When you think of important travelling tools, your mobile phones and laptop must be included. If you are not even internet savvy, when you begin to travel, you’d learn, because it is a tool you cannot do without.
If you are a frequent traveller, food is something you need to be prepared for. I went to Benin Republic and I couldn’t eat any of their food. In Ghana, I was also having some challenges. Of course, in Europe, we have some brands that had gone everywhere. You can have the normal, popular culture kind of food, but then you will miss our food a lot if you are the kind of person that loves eba or ‘swallow’––to use our local parlance. But then, there are African kitchens everywhere; though they might be expensive, some also are quite affordable. In Berlin, for instance, it is expensive in some places. To get an affordable one, you have to travel very far. In Charlottenburg where I was staying, every restaurant was very expensive. Imagine when you have to feed at 25 or 30 Euros, which comes to between N10, 000 to N12, 000 per course meal.
Yes, at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, United States of America. I have never seen anything like that in my life. In fact, there is nothing like that anywhere in the world. It is a site people should visit. When you see it, it blows your mind a lot. The sight of the Grand Canyon National Park, even in your wildest dream, you can’t contemplate it. Watching it on TV is not the same thing as seeing it with your eyes.
Importance of travelling
It is important to travel so that you don’t end up not knowing what the world looks like. In my last trip, I met somebody who went to Barcelona with his family from Malta. He spent just 90 Euros––less than N40, 000––on the flight ticket. There was a promotion for like 15 to 19 Euros return ticket per head, which made it easy for families to go and have fun.
Those people that cross the Sahara desert, if you show them some parts of Africa, they would never leave Africa. They go through that because they don’t know, and they have not been exposed. Some of them have not even been to Lagos. Most of them come from villages in the North or other remote parts of the country and started trekking through those hazardous parts of the Sahara. People need to be more exposed.
Curating art expo abroad
It is hectic. It has not been easy but one thing I know is that I’ve always received support from people that know it is an art show, and that it is for the good of the sector. And if they know it, they support it with everything they have. However, there is a culture difference.
For instance, in some places abroad, gathering 100 people in a show is seen as a good show, compared to Nigeria where in most shows, you see more than 1000 guests. To them (westerners), it is unimaginable; in fact, some of them would wonder what you are doing that over 1000 people would turn up. It is like bringing all Europe in one show.
There are other issues like language. You have to mind your expressions, body language. In Nigeria, we don’t really care about body language but over there, they care, because it tells them a lot. Even, the tone of your voice can scare a person if it is not properly modulated, and he would never come back, and he’d begin to see you as an aggressive individual.
Timekeeping is another thing Africans should learn. Abroad, people don’t play with their time. Time is about the most important thing to them. In my trips abroad, 1 pm is 1 pm. If the discussion is for an hour, it dares not exceed it, otherwise, you would notice that the person that was cooperating with you suddenly starts getting angry.
He begins to see you as an enemy. Everything is done with time because the person discussing with you has other jobs to attend to elsewhere. For us, we can waste all the time. It is not like that with them. To cope, therefore, one needs a lot of adjustments.
Eke is the Chief Executive Officer, Simpli International, organisers of the International Culture and Art Festival (ICAF). Interviewed by Simeon Mpamugoh