Friday, August 4, 2017
It’s a few minutes past noon, and this is when shit starts to get real. We’re in an office with a bench for a seat. – four of us are seated on it – Jesuloba, Chris, Mansur and me. To our left and right are two wooden windows – when they swing, the hinges cry gently.
A man is seated behind a table facing us, and I can’t tell if he’s smiling or his face just looks like that. Let’s call him Mr Smiley.
There are two people behind us.
“That’s why I brought them here,” one of them says. He has just explained everything that’s happened in the thirty minutes leading up to this moment. Mr Smiley thanks him and dismisses him. He shuts the door behind us.
The other man behind me is quiet, uncomfortably – Mr Quiet.
“Who’s the leader of this group?” Mr Quiet asks.
“I am,” I say.
On New Year’s Eve of 2016, I told my Editor-in-Chief at Pulse about my strongest itch. “I want to travel around Nigeria in one stretch, every state.” He thought I was mad, but he was just as mad, so he told me to come up with a plan. Two weeks later, I presented him with an itinerary outlining everything I’d be doing on the road for three months.
“Fantastic,” he said, “we’re doing it.”
I worked at Pulse, a newsroom in a media company with a little less than 200 people. For the next few months, I tried to get every unit to buy into the project by selling them their benefits. Sales could get sponsors. Editorial could get content. The first day I was supposed to travel was in March – it got cancelled. While I was dealing with not travelling, I wandered into an exhibition on one of my night gallivants. Fati Abubakar, a photographer from Borno State, was exhibiting photos from everything she’d seen back home.
It’s while I was telling her about the road trip I wanted to go on that someone overheard me and went, “I want to come! Abeg.” He was wearing a scally cap and had a camera in hand.
He talked about a trip he’d just finished with photographers, where they travelled across some parts of Nigeria by train, taking photos everywhere they went. I told him I’d be travelling for work, but he promised he’d never get in the way of any decisions I was making Read More
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