Living the Abuja Bubble Lifestyle

Dirt cheap movies too

Back at independence, Nigeria thought to move its capitol from the overcrowded, costal Lagos to a central location that would give planners a clean start and appease the major ethic groups in the country. From this desire, came the Federal Capital Territory which hosts Abuja, Nigeria’s new capital.

Like Washington, DC, much thought and planning went into making Abuja, FCT a model city. Because of this, and a few other factors, I’ve come to enjoy Abuja – one of my African favorites – while also recognizing that when there, I live the “Abuja Bubble” lifestyle.

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African Go Slow Gifts

Wait till you see the video

While trapped in an African Go Slow, you have the opportunity to see many things. Besides the colorful scenery of cars stuck in traffic, there are waves of street hawkers trying to sell all manner of consumer goods.

Everything from drinks and snacks to bathroom fixtures and even condoms and porn. But I’ve never seen this odd little thing I bought in an Accra Go Slow:

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Africans Don’t Know What Time Is

No speed visible here

I am sitting in yet another “go slow” amazed that Ghanaian businessmen can waste so much time. When I was told we were going to the freight forwarder’s office, I groaned, knowing the traffic jam that surrounds his office.

When I complained that it would take us at least an hour each way, he countered with the correct but inaccurate, “What’s the problem? It is two kilometers from here.” While that is the true distance, the complete gridlock on those two kilometers will waste most our day.

And yet here we sit, inching along at 1 kilometer an hour, my life flashing before my eyes. The big boss man, he is stoic, looking out the window lost in thought, or at least calm. His complete disregard for time is not unique.

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No Hurry in a Lagos Go Slow

A late-night “Go Slow”

Think back to a bad traffic day. When you sat in your car, inching along in a morning commute that seemed to take forever. Or a drive home that doubled in length because a traffic accident. Now think yourself lucky.

In West Africa, traffic is approaching total and permanent gridlock. And I’m not talking about the American kind, where a one-hour commute, becomes a two-hour commute, or your average speed drops to 30mph.

I’m talking about gridlock that makes vehicles useless, has managers sleeping in hotels next to work, and sends the populace out at 6 or 7am to travel 5km in time to start the work day. I’m talking about the Lagos “go slow”.

In the commercial capitol of Nigeria, there are four and five lane highways. There are overpasses and rapid bus lanes. And there are a mix of buses, cars, and motorcycles for human conveyance. But for the 14 million people of Lagos, cross-town movement has become impossible.

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