Monday, 11 October 2010


London has greeted my return with three days of beautiful Autumn weather and I confess that the wrench from Kagoro and Kafanchan has not been as painful as I might have expected. That being said temperatures of close to 20 degrees and not having to get up to go to work every morning probably helps, however I really do find myself settling in quite well: not over-dosing on cheese, or in fact anything (apart from, strangely, Walkers prawn cocktail flavoured crisps)... driving on the right (in terms of ‘correct’) side of the road and not being at all fazed by rush hour on the tube.

Difficult to believe but this is the 10th of October in London. Just look at that sky!

Probably a part of the settling-in has been helped by the wonderful send-off that I received in Nigeria. The presents, wishes and greetings were truly wonderful and I feel so very privileged in my Nigerian friends.

Kicking off with a tradition Fantsuam Send Forth with all the staff during which I was presented with a lovely outfit (thanks everyone and in particular, Edi) which I wore for a final dinner at Auntie Pam’s down the road, the best egussi soup in Kagoro (IMHO).

Group photo in the Fantsuam compound; Martha and me, last time wearing the wonderful Wellingtons as we make our way down a very muddy Waterboard Road to Pam's for a lovely final dinner!

However the ‘main event’ was “A Very British Send-Forth” on Friday 1st October. This was my attempt not just to have a leaving party but to get Nigerians to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Independence Day. Ever since arriving in Nigeria and realising the significance of 01/10/10 I have been looking forward to the celebrations. However as the time approached I realised that most people in Nigeria have better things to do with their time and money. However I wanted to have a party – and have a party we did!

The new generation of Pink House Ladies arrive for the event, and start dancing.. and dancing...

... and it was so wonderful to see so many guests from afar including Femi and Obeya with their friend Prince from the Special Education Department of the University of Jos (left), my friend Zachariah Gwanyo who travelled from the northern part of Kaduna State (centre) and my tailor Seth, previously located a stone's throw from Fantsuam in Bayan Loco, but who had made the journey all the way from Abuja where he's been for the last six months, to sew shirts for my father and attend the party (right).

and near... and whilst it seemed that most of Uzah Kpak (our area of Kagoro) was there including our neighbours, Thank God and Martha (left) and our friend Vera (right) who entertained us so wonderfully on our first Kagoro Day,

I was delighted at the very high turn-out (or should I say turn-up?) from Fantsuam and Kafanchan including my good friend Pele who runs the Fantswam Resort.. more of that later! And Gayl with FF Field Officers - Grace and Little Sarah.

Music came from several quarters. The Vincent Kawai Memorial Foundation Youth Band (left) and Steve Bako (right) provided the main music for the event

With singing from the Kpak CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) Women's fellowship choir

....and my favourite Jarawa dancers from Kagoro, with a special appearance from my friend Ezra who had come to the party as a guest but couldn't resist the beat to take up his usual position as the group's drummer, although he doesn't usually wear a suit.....

And then there were also the speeches: some on-programme......

My MC Victor Akut introducing all the speakers with all protocols observed including my Chairman (and host) Justice Aka'ahs, HRH Cecilia Bonet, wife of the Chief of Kagoro, and HRH Dominic Yashim Hakimi Kpak (also our neighbour to the Pink House)

and some off programme....

The University of Jos gang recited a poem for me written by Femi Oridupa, whilst Victoria Bala, who has been helping to keep the house and clothes of Pink House inhabitants clean for - oh - almost three years now - composed a special song for me which she performed with her Women's Fellowship group and then gave an emotional (but unfortunately in Hausa) vote of thanks... Well I was told it was thanks.....!

and of course not forgetting the cake and the special Cake Lady speech by my room-mate and very good friend Teleri who did a fantastic job.

Then there was the food and drink, wonderfully organised by Mrs Aka'ahs and her team of local women...

And the presents....

But I received one of the favourite gifts on Sunday....

I had told my friend Pele that I would pop round to the Fantsuam Resort on Sunday evening. But when Sunday morning arrived - after a very 'big' Saturday evening bopping at the Centre for Transfiguration in Madakiya, and consuming the odd Star- I really couldn't face any distractions to the packing process which had by then barely commenced despite the prospect of an early Monday morning pick-up.

I texted Pele to let him know that I wouldn't be coming. However try as my headache might, I could not ignore his distraught text in return, pleading with me to come along so I, with moral support from Teleri and Gayl, made the journey to the Resort.

Boy - am I glad I did... to participate in the grand opening ..... of the Cicely Brown Pavilion, with a beautiful view over the aptly named River Wonderful Waterfalls!

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by the presentation of gifts including a wrapper dedicated to the Chief of Fantswam to rival that of the Oegwam Oegworok (Chief of Kagoro) which I wore at the Send Forth.


Special thanks to my camera ladies: VSO Ariel Bleth, Teleri Jardine and Gayl Kennedy. This would have been a very boring blog without your help!