Bayelsa - Day 2
Yesterday was a whirlwind!
My first treat was at breakfast, where we were joined by Mr Gabriel Okara, who happened to be staying in the same hotel. And yes, he sat next to ME giving me the opportunity to chat to him about all his awards, poems and his rich, rich life. This gentle spoken and articulate 89 year old was someone I would have loved to be in a room with for a whole day, just to be able to absorb his stories. He explained the meaning behind his favourite poem 'The Voice' and we discussed past and present societal influence on change. It was food for the soul
After breakfast we left for the venue. The stars had started to arrive, and I was mildly amused to hear that Dudley O'Shaugnessey
Had been kept waiting at the airport for 2 hours upon arrival, and had threatened to get on the next flight back home. Now, if you have been through Port Harcourt recently I won't have to explain this, but for those who haven't, let me tell you how uncomfortable it presently is, while under refurbishment, there is nowhere to sit down. Its reminiscent of how Lagos International used to be 15 years back. We were waiting 5 hours after arrival. Sufferance. But we were happy enough just getting to know one another, so I guess poor Dudley couldn't amuse himself as easily. Also being a 6 Foot black man with blonde hair, not a blendable mix.
The day went smoothly, with my new friend Peter drafted in as MC and doing a great job, the first panel of wise old men including Elechi Amadi and Gabriel Okara, reading from Chinau Achebe's latest book 'There Was a Country' which chronicles a person history of Biafra. It was moving and rich in context. I was glued. Also writer and friend Sabine Jell-Bahlsen was invited to read a section.
Then followed some musical interludes withe performances from KC and SSV, while the rain thumped down outside the venue.
During lunch a funny two funny things happened. The panelists came in a little late and of course, as usual the 'youngsters' had rushed to get the best tables, only to be embarrassed upon the arrival of the troupe of stately gentlemen. Secondly, I was chastised for not 'finishing my meat'. I'm mean REALLY TOLD OFF. The last lash of the whip was 'Where Are You From?' I could have answered this in 3 ways. 1. England 2. Caribbean or 3. Lagos...I sensed only 'England' would satisfy, so that's what I gave her. She sniffed, looked down her nose, and left with my plate.
The afternoon plan didn't pan out, and we ended the evening poolside at my hotel. More new friends: Marjolein from France a beautiful blonde, Tobenna from Enugu, an intelligent, sharp and hilariously university student who, I found out, is the nephew of one of my oldest friends. His face went pale as he did the Math! 'So, you're nearly my mother's age? Hahaha! Not quite..but I'm certainly a lot older than YOU. I learned about the inner workings of 'Opus Dei' and how he stopped drinking completely after he became an alcoholic. We enjoyed the banter, the friendly insults flung back and forth between Onyeka and his friends...the last one was to Tobenna from Onyeka accusing his father (Tobenna's) of 'ugliness'. This prompted Tobenna to take me through the slide presentation of his parents 25th wedding anniversary montage. Indeed his father is. And always was an attractive man. Case closed.
Ok, now, having sorted out my water which is now running, I must jump in the shower and start my day. My sessions with Uti, Dudley and Chris and Denrele are today. Let's see who show up. I know I'll be there!