Lying low in Lagos

Quite some time has passed since my last entry and in many ways life has transformed in such a way, that it was a stranger who was last here as the author. In the time-lapse, I have been back to England to undergo a full knee reconstruction, which turned out to be of a much greater extent than anticipated once I was under the knife. Quite frankly, the interior of my knee was a shambles, and it needed a huge tidy up and rebuild.

I was heavily reliant on support and thanks be to the Gods, (or the higher powers that be), for the fact that I am deeply blessed to have angels in my life that stepped right up to this, aiding me in more ways than I had possibly imagined ever needing. Not least of all with mobility, but also with feeding me when I was unable to stand for long, supporting me to wash and also to help me stave off the demons that the pain kept drawing in.

My return to Lagos was a bumpy one in numerous ways and it was a challenge for me to still be so reliant on others, whilst I know the people here so little. That said, I needn’t have worried. My driver, Ojo, almost burst into tears when he met me at the airport; shocked as he was, at the sight of me coming out of the gates in a wheelchair, and in a full leg brace. He has been a real crutch (haha, fun with a pun) since then and it has been nice to have this caring aspect in my daily life. Likewise, the expats I share a building with, have been so hugely open-hearted towards me, providing me with many meals, keeping an eye on me and offering help with food shopping and general pick-me-ups.

I have now been back for just less than two months, with the roller-coaster of recovery being ongoing and transformative. It is quite something not to be able to just get up and walk around, whether it be to make a quick drink of water, to pop out for some fresh  air, (hmm, I use that phrase loosely given the awful quality here) , or to move from one side of the room to other when I am teaching. The longer I am stationary, the higher the pain level, and with the Lagos traffic as it is, this is one of my current life challenges.
Continue reading “Lying low in Lagos”

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TIA (This is Africa) and It’s Alright…

Each day that passes brings new experience, as is the way of life. But with this also comes the creepings in of adjustment and a deepening of a place called home. I am utterly blessed to feel deep in my core that I have two very strongholds of home right now, though neither of them are where I am currently situated. That said, it also feels like my normality is growing rapidly and I see myself at ease with the development of new languages and my enjoyment of playfulness is returning with this creativity also.

There are times when I notice my breath is out of sync with purpose, that I feel a stranger here amongst the people, not yet fully knowing who my kindred souls are. It has been fascinating however to observe this, as I opted into the state of being T-total for now. This has been with loving kindness to my healing body as it continues to manage the pains and ruptures within my leg, and for preparation of improved health before my pending surgery. Yet with this sobriety comes an adjustment to socializing where the energy can quickly change through alcohol consumption. Thus, whilst I have been once more familiar to this sensation, I have gradually returned to my yoga practice as best I can. (It has been a long journey between the breakages last October and I have greatly felt the loss of this; my body is taut and I have such limited flexion, as my muscles work throughout the hours to keep my leg moving in the ways that I need. Often my back goes into spasm after I have done my physio and it can be a real catch 22 to weigh up the balance). I have sorely missed movement in my life and I have felt very stagnant at times and not as creative as I enjoy to be.

Continue reading “TIA (This is Africa) and It’s Alright…”

What the mind does not want, the eye will never see.

There I was, looking back in the mirror at a reflection I barely recognised. Not through significant outward appearance, but through lack of time spent looking in: through a rapid pace of life rushing past me, rapid adaptations being required, and many commitments to meet. Moving to my new country, aligning myself with my new job, meeting new colleagues and familiars, greeting my mother to my beloved Africa, adapting to my new physio regime, tasting new spices and foods, and so on. It was all happening at a rate of knots so fast that I felt like I was barely remembering to sleep let alone meditate, sit in stillness, reflect, appreciate, calm, ease, or most of all, breathe.

It came as somewhat of a surprise to find myself therefore, looking back at this forgotten woman in the mirror, as she showed a startled look to her face. My mother had just landed back in the UK and had sent a cautionary message.  She advised that I check my Nigerian Visa requirements, in order to be sure that I could travel to my other beloved homelands the following week, as per original plan. The ‘she’ in this, being I, lost all colour to her face.

There I had been, feeling quite calm about my mum’s departure, due to an assertion that I would be seeing others that I loved within the week.Admitedly finances have not been flowing easily but where there is a will there is always a way and I knew that I would arrive to exactly where I needed to be the following week regardless. Therefore I did not think much of the message at all. A whisper in the back of my mind popped up however… so a day or two later I did hunt out my passport, just to double check, before I devised some way of securing an airline ticket.

Lo and behold she was right.

Through having a short-term work permit rather than my permanent one (another story to be told another time undoubtedly), I discovered I am here on a single entry only. Thus, whilst my ex-pat colleagues all around me were telling tales of their travels to come, I found myself there, ashen-faced, looking back at a bewildered face, feeling like the walls had begun to rapidly cave in on me.

Continue reading “What the mind does not want, the eye will never see.”

Making the best of a mishap, Milege calling…

With my knee being so vulnerable and unpredictable, it has been a little troublesome to move around and enjoy the spirit of Uganda in ways that I have been doing previously. However, the approach of the Milege festival, hosted at the beautiful Botanical Gardens, Entebbe, has been a goal for me over this episode. Come rain, shine or fall (hehe excuse the pun), I was determined to get there providing it didn’t feel like it would be a setback for my physical health. As I knew that the set-up that it would bring to my mental health would be fruitious and rewarding. One of my closest Ugandan friends was part of the crew, and although sadly another one was unable to attend (due to performing in another amazing festival in Rwanda; talented young man that he is), it was important to my heart to get there, even if it meant me sitting on a chair for the whole time.

I had visited the Botanical gardens on my very first day in Uganda, so I already knew about the magic I felt in that place. And I so wanted to absorb more arts, culture and music from the Ugandan people. Continue reading “Making the best of a mishap, Milege calling…”

Seizing the day, Sipi-style

Uganda is an incredibly diverse country.  There is some massive wealth here in Kampala, and from those in  the west, (from what I hear; this is the president’s land).  The rainy season has barely touched us here in Kampala, and there are some 50 districts across the country that have people dying from famine due to the arid lands caused by this lack of water.  Meanwhile Ugandan friends in the west send me reports of torrid rainfalls, putting a stop to all best laid plans and causing damage to property and lands.

It fascinates and intrigues me how there can be such diversity in a land-locked country, that in comparison to others, is not that huge in size. In my time here, I have actively sought time and space to explore its different corners as best I can. Sickness put a stop to it for a few weeks, and although I have developed a wonderful community of friends (better named as part of my family in all honesty), I was itching at the bit to get back on the road. Continue reading “Seizing the day, Sipi-style”

A saunter down South…seeing more of the homeland, soaking up more art.

Almost a month ago now, I was blessed to spend time in another part of the continent by visiting some more treasures of this earth in South Africa. I had been invited as part of a birthday celebration and for the opportunity to get to know some wonderful people in person, rather than simply through the form of cyber-space.

Admittedly, the journey began with trepidation on my part, as I had been very ill for the time leading up to it. The flights however were already booked, my health was gradually improving and not only that, when feeling a bit forlorn, what better way to feel significantly better than to go on a holiday and be around loved ones. Continue reading “A saunter down South…seeing more of the homeland, soaking up more art.”

Quirks of Kampala

Having now been here in Uganda for what feels like longer than I can remember (apparently it has only been just under three months, which doesn’t seem at all comprehendable to me), I thought it may be time to step back and reflect on what it looks like to “live” here.

It is far removed from any life that I’ve known before, yet as I also follow a Monday-Friday (sometimes Saturdays too) work schedule, in some ways one can also forget that there is any difference at all … Continue reading “Quirks of Kampala”

A city of artists

Festivals, as I mentioned in a previous blog, are close to my heart: through the fact that they allow a meeting of like-minded souls and trusting open connections; an expansion of enjoying life itself; through celebration of all that is on offer, which is generally a plethora of magic, music and jollities.

I adore them and so you can imagine my delight that all of a sudden I seem to be swept up in a series of different festival events occurring over on this side of the globe.

A lovely Ugandan friend of mine, (that I met at Nyege Nyege), had told me of the upcoming Bayimba festival as we headed back to Kampala after dancing the weekend away. It was to be hosted at Kampala’s National Theatre, and he insisted that not only would I love it but that I must be there! And of course that was true. Continue reading “A city of artists”

Nyege nyege – the feeling of a sudden uncontrollable urge to move, shake or dance

One of the main things that has excited me about a new home in Africa, has been the opprtunity to see/hear the amazing music firsthand. Over the past few years I have been going to more and more African music events, and I have repeatedly felt the rhythms and sounds stir within my blood. I do not, as yet, have the freedom and fluidity of many African dancing styles, but I am a dancer all the same. One of my singing teachers used to frequently refer to an African phrase – “If you can walk, you dance.  If you can talk, you can sing.” And this resonates with me deeply. Continue reading “Nyege nyege – the feeling of a sudden uncontrollable urge to move, shake or dance”

Remembering how to be a philocalist (part two)

It was so refreshing for me to have left the concrete suburbia within which I presently live, to once again return to the sensation of being in Africa. I had lost sight of it very quickly and I knew that I needed to act on this before I became further swept up into a confusion of neither being here nor there. Continue reading “Remembering how to be a philocalist (part two)”