Thursday, 22 January 2009
Swallows circling around the hotel roofs - more smog - very polluted. Call to prayer was early this morning about 5 am and then TVs and general noise started up as it was getting light! Got up at 6.30 to meet Amarachi at 7 am!
Quite a frustrating morning negotiating with the hotel over a cheaper deal and visiting a mission hostel which involved packing and unpacking, inspecting rooms, taxi journeys, a bit of assertiveness on both sides and then ended up where l started....so wasted the morning however in the end got a more reasonable deal. I was beginning to find out that Nigeria was not a cheap place to be!
Met Paul Kalu today, an art collector and friend of Kaye Whiteman who is writing a history of Lagos, and who l met through SOAS. He knew of Innocent Nwoga who was Head of the Council of Elders and Head of Mbari in Owerri, being a man of influence in politics and the Owerri district in general. Much like my previous research in Kenya it was important to visit and gain permission from the local chiefs before being able to interview people - a sort of 'field' etiquette to smooth the way.
Also went the National Gallery of Art again to continue the arrangements for my talk about my artwork leading on to our project. The talk entltled 'Shared Perspectives' was going to be held at the Cyprian Ekwenki Arts and Culture Centre in Abuja. Both institutions contributed to the event which included refreshments - always good to draw a crowd!! We met the various directors at the Arts and Culture Centre in each department as we had done at the National Gallery....not quite sure who was the biggest boss in either place!!! All very friendly and supportive at both places. We eventually got the poster done for the talk with the kind assistance of Ify in the IT department at NGA - a young man in his late twenties, whose favourite song was 'Adelvise' and liked the crooning of Frank Sinatra!!! Farida became another good friend who was a very glamourous PR assistant to the NGA - basically saved the day on the refreshment front!
Went to the money changer to get good exchange rate. Amazing how quickly they flick through the notes! Also saw a man take out wodges of £50 notes which he stuffed up under his long traditional shirt in a very matter of fact way - I wondered whether he did this often! or maybe l should have said "Do you come here often?" !!!! I saw an African Grey parrot and two caged green parakeets near here but otherwise did not really see any wild life during the whole six weeks in any of the places l stayed - must have been eaten! Nigerian food is another story.......