Michael Jackson is Alive in Nigeria!

All those reports of Michael Jackson’s recent demise? Faked! The King of Pop is not dead, he’s now a King Cop in Abuja, Nigeria, directing traffic with the moves that made him famous. Doubt me? Then just watch this video:


Do you see those moves? That style and spin? There is only one person who has that Thriller move, those Billy Jeans – its him, Michael Jackson! Believe me or beat it!

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This Photo Almost Got Me Arrested in Lagos, Nigeria


Honoring death by fighting for rights

So I am running along a random street in Lagos, when I see this poster put up to honor the Glorious Exit of Chief Ezekiel Ojo Alabi Farukan of Lagos Nigeria

Thinking its a beautiful way to honor death, I take a photo, and then I hear yelling. A Nigerian policeman is running at me screaming that I cannot take a photo and he needs to see my camera.

Yelling back, I tell him I am respecting the dead, and he should have more respect too. I then I show him what I am photographing, the poster. He demands to see my camera. Just before we were really going to get into it (I was not going to give up my camera) a woman got off a moped and jumped into the debate.

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Landing at Lagos Nigeria International Airport LOS


The view from the wing

What does it look like to land at Lagos, Nigeria’s Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS)? For those who wonder, I made the following movie while my flight approached and landed just for your enjoyment.

I’m always amazed at the view – those endless shanties that spread out into the horizon. That all that humanity can live so close together. Its not the vertical living of Hong Kong, but Nigeria doesn’t have Asia’s organization either. All those people you see while approaching Lagos International are scrounging for a living in the midst of African chaos.

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Running the Abuja Obstacle Course


And no running too!

If you’re a runner, African can be a challenging place. There are few African joggers to be seen, as running is not really considered a sport to be practiced. Either you’re a good runner and so do it as part of a team, or you don’t run unless needing to for a specific purpose.

So I am often asked why I run across Africa. And looking at the obstacles in my path, you have to wonder how crazy I am. In Africa, any street that is paved, is usually high traffic, forcing me to run on the road shoulder. There I follow the well-trod path that others also take, being vigilant for the common leg-breaking hazards like these…

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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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Best Grilled Fish in Nigeria: Abacha Barracks


The fish is that good

Howard whispered two words to me that got me excited. He said “grilled fish” and I responded with a quick “let’s go!” It doesn’t take much more than the temptation of fresh fish, grilled to tasty perfection, to get me going to the ends of Africa.

And getting to the Abacha Barracks in the Mogadishu Cantonment outside of Abuja did seem like a drive to the ends of Africa – or at least the taxi driver bitched the whole way like it was. Once there, I was a little confused. We pulled up to what looked like a simple Nigerian market. There was nothing to make it look different than any other market. But I was told to walk into the middle.

Inside the Abacha Barracks market is a whole other experience. About 50 fish sellers are arranged in a circle with bars facing the circle of fishmongers. These fishmongers do not sell raw fish for you to take home however, they sell the best croaker and butterfish for direct grilling and eating right there.

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Chinese in Nigeria: Where Do They All Go?


China Southern Airlines at LOS

Sitting here on this Nigerian flight from Lagos to Abuja, I’m surprised to be the only “white” guy on the jet plane. That the majority of passengers are black Africans is not surprising of course, but its the other ethnicity present that shocks – Chinese.

And I do not mean a Chinese here or there. I would say that about a third of the flight is Chinese – not Asian, not Japanese, not Thai, Cambodian or Indonesian. Not even “Overseas Chinese” from Singapore or Hong Kong, but full on mainland Chinese who very much look the part.

Chattering away in putonghua, with the mannerisms and dress of middling businessmen, they are an uninspiring lot at first glance. But by the second or third take, I start to wonder what they’re doing in deepest Africa.

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The Last Days of Lagos, Nigeria


Gombe House going to squatters

Back when I was eyeball deep in OLPC controversy, I had lunch with a writer from MIT ‘s Technology Review. In the midst of our conversation he raised a fear about developing world cities. He said, “They’re not sustainable” and was concerned they will collapse soon.

At the time, I wondered what he meant, as the cities I’ve seen seem way more vibrant than many of our own here in the USA. Then I went to Lagos, Nigeria.

This is a city that was once prime. You can see it in the buildings now left to rot. You can feel it in the way the people talk about the past. And now, with decades of neglect, you can see that its on decline.

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Coughing and Choking in Kaduna


Gonna kill all of us

When I travel, I like to start my day with a morning run. Not only does this let me sightsee at speed, I enjoy watching different cities wake up while I plan out my schedule for the day. I usually go for a 5 kilometer run, wandering where I please to be guided home by my Garmin Forerunner 205.

This morning, in Kaduna, I was almost guided to my grave thanks to the many suicidal scooters in Nigeria. But not how you might expect. I was never in danger of being hit, or even side-swiped by a scooter.

No, I was brought to my knees in a fit of couching and hacking by the clouds of scooter exhaust that filled the air and my lungs with toxic blue carbon monoxide.

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I’m Scared of Nigerian Scooter Drivers


Nigerian death on two wheels

Do you want to get crazy? I mean really insane? Living life on the edge, with glory or death a millisecond apart? Then forget hang gliding, BASE jumping, or any other “extreme” sport you can think of. Nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the death-defying act of riding a scooter in Nigeria.

And this act of utter bravery stupidity has nothing to do with the cheap-ass Chinese scooters that the Nigerians buy by the crate, no the risk comes with the suicidal Nigerian drivers themselves who have no sense of road rules, basic safety, or even common sense.

Let’s just take a look at some scooter fools in Kafanchan:

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