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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Monday, August 27, 2007

Stories From the Never ending wait

We filed out of the plane and l watched us from a distance. There is the odd businessman and visiting families, the church group, the traders, and the football team. I don't know why but people tend to tell me stories thus in the long wait at the airport l knew quite a bit about some of the passengers, maybe too much for my peace of mind. As we filed out l could identify who belongs in what group by their hang luggage. I had my ever-present Mac book, a novel and a bag of exotic African spices and dips (I know food again). The footballers wore a lot of diamante bling, colourful hairstyles and had bought a lot of electronic gear which l teased their coach about. The traders had huge Ghana must go bags bulging with god knows what "wosiwosi" (bits and bobs), the families had confectionaries and business men had duty free perfumes and alcohol. One lady stood out with a truly humongous Gucci carrier bag concealing no doubt the latest oversized IT bag. Had spoken with her earlier, pretty face, lovely smile, bubbly personality, related to a recently indicted (for corruption) public official. There is the young lady who had a leg problem from an okada accident; the long wait and flight had caused her leg to swell to scary proportion. I saw her go by too, obviously ill but courageously smiling, her face ashen and gaunt from the disease that ails her. She had told me earlier of how she was thankful that she carried an antiseptic lotion with which she wipes the leaks from her breast every 30 minutes whilst the long wait persists. She was worried about not getting home a second day as she had run out of her medication, l suspect she has cancer but l am too humbled by her little revelation (the other in her party didn't know what ailed her) and too Nigerian in my sensibilities towards taboo subjects to probe further, suffice the bit she revealed without prodding. I know she is with the church group and l silently prayed that god answers her. She more than any should sue the airline. I also saw her. Her revelation had rocked me to my bones not only in its content but the matter of factness of delivery. Valium popping since 16, sexually abused by male neighbours since childhood, father also started sexually abusing her and her mother (resentful of not being allowed to work by her husband despite high qualification) who on discovering choose to maintain" her perfect family façade by ignoring the abuse and starving the young girl. The abuse continued with her younger sister and god knows who else, the man, a well-respected pillar of the society. Then I watched us pick our bags and the Abuja passengers depart, strangely l missed them we had spent two days together in a strange human union. The rest of us retired to the bar at arrivals to wait for daylight, the plane landed at 3.30 am and no one in their right minds would leave at that time and run the risk of violent armed robbery. So l watched us at the bar, the attendant is lethargic, the food was dead even before it was cooked, and the place smelt curiously of condensed urine and fried food. The TV is on but he picture is faced black and white playing African music video back to back. I watched as the passengers slumped on the stools, their luggage and the floor. The traders buy beer, the families; biscuits. Soon the traders are chirpy and nodding to Olu maintains yahooze. l walked into the toilet and l recoil in horror and quickly resume my perch on my bag. After a while the gloom and doom of the plane gets to me so l tell my driver to let's leave, I'd rather face the robbers. This was 4.30am.

Fortunately, the car pack attendants tried to extort money off the driver and the ensuing arguments lasted 30 mins, enough time to reduce the risk of certain death from armed robbers. 5.10am we headed home and l watched Lagos awaken. It is yet another day in the city of god.


Sherri said...

the horror!
keep ya chin up girl,
can't tell u how much u inspire me.

Unknown said...

Wow I'm First, Trully City Of gods, it is crazy, anoinying , funny and unbeliveable this counrty we call Nigeria. And the sad part about it is Virgin Nigeria might never apologise. If that Flight was coming to any other country or better yet this western country we live in they won't dare try that mess. Fummi God has giving you a beautiful gift and i'm glad you use it in the manner in wish it needs to be used. We have to keep talking, keep raising awearness of this indiscent act, nobody like their name tanish, maybe they will start acting right we have to raise our voices and complain where it is needed. If there is a way, people on that flight should write a letter of complaint to board of directors of Virgin Nigeria, something will hit a nurve.

Nonesuch said...

O ma ga o. Wat a journey. Welcome back.

Anonymous said...

My sister just got went back to Lagos from London, she spent 3 weeks and Virgin Nigeria lost her luggage and didn`t get it back till her last week, so she spent 2 weeks without her luggage.
Apologises? For where......

Next time you could try Bellview for South African Flight,they have a new manager(Kemi)she knows her stuff.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ all, eyin enia mi (my people) thank you. The head of communications has already started talking to me and apologizing as can be expected. My concern is not about me but all those people on that flight and subsequent flights. They must get apologies and compensation even as a token. l am aware of the challenges of operating in Nigeria, aviation fuel is scare even as we speak but there is a level below which a business must not sink and there is a universal industry standard for addressing lapses when they do occur

Anonymous said...

Laughed about the recoil when you entered the toilet.I am sure that was the last straw that broke your back.

Asper our avaiation industry, i guess they just do things as they please, this same Virgin turned my friend along with a host of others away on Sunday that they did not have aviation fuel and their trip to senegal had been postponed till Wednesday.

Anyways, Welcome back!!

Iyaeto said...

Funmi pele. Next time don't fly any airline that has anything to do with Nigeria.(i'm not being unpatriotic!)In d days of Nigeria Airways , I've been stuck in Murtala airport for 18hours!I had gone thru security and passport control and the didn't let us out.I vowed never to fly anything Nigeria again. I missed my flight b4 (not my fault but the airline's) I got well compensated for their mistake. Now , since you said you box was broken, put in a claim for the box,and that your nano was stolen from the box ( can they prove otherwise?).I hope you complained b4 u left SA if not there is no harm in trying by writing a "strong letter". It always works for me. Welcme back to blogville!

Funmi Iyanda said...

@iyaeto, we must not give up on Nigerian brands o, we must harrass them into better performance, they in turn must harrase government for better policies and infrastructure to protect their investment.

Unbiased said...

Damn!!! Funmi that is it. I aint ever doing the VA nigeria thing. Thank God i am booked with British Airways. If i had a virgin nigeria ticket i will just return it. Not that virgin atlantic is any better. What happened to common cortesy and customer satisfaction. Pele o!!

Unknown said...

I flew virgin nigeria in june from gatwick to lagos.I had a delay of almost a day and all we got was 2 5pounds vouchers for breakfast and lunch which was not enough for a decent meal at the airport.
We also got a dummy letter for a 20% discount .I wanted to use this even thou those with similar experiences at the airport told me that it is of no use.
On getting to there office i was told the discount is on a ticket that cost over 200 thousand when i can get a one year ticket for 110 thousand.
It makes no sense there was hardly any apology the ground staff where very rude i felt very slited and almost missed my grandmas funeral that i came for.
In summary virgin nigeria is a sad story and no one shuld ever try them again unless they change their ways.You are someone with a voice so maybe you can fight for those of us that have been so unfairly treated one way or the other by the airline

kshorty1 said...


Hello Funmi,

Thanks for the info. This is just a reflection of what Nigerians go through in so many spheres of life each day. The worse things get, the worse they become. And yet most people don't think there's anything wrong because we have become like a boiled frog happily stewing in it's own juices without realising it's about to die. Truly if things go on like this, it's only a matte of time before Lagos collapses.

Decay doesn't happen overnight. The signs have always been there.