When Punctuality Becomes Punishment
After the events of Going West To Go East , I finally arrived at the airport with Pastor David. The airport was undergoing some renovation and expansion. We were told to wait outside until it was time for us to board. Check-in time was 10 a.m. to 12 a.m., and we had arrived just a few minutes to, or after, 10 a.m. David and I had to wait till 1.30 p.m. before we were allowed to check in. I was feeling sick, tired, and hungry, but I was used to hardship, so it was naturally easy for me to bear it. Moreover, I had a mission ahead of me, and the church had spent so much to buy my tickets just to deliver a series of lectures that I was willing to spend my money in the time past to deliver in other nations.
I usually don’t go late to places and events, especially airports. Punctuality is a habit I have cultivated right from Government College Ughelli and with my then senior pastor, now Bishop B. C. Edohasim, at the Church of God Mission International, Aba. But today, punctuality seemed like punishment to me.
I had told a Nigerian going to Libreville, Gabon, on the same flight, that Vilfredo Pareto’s 80/20 principle would come to play in our situation, because we were just a few passengers in the first hour of waiting. Eventually, 80% or more of the passengers in the flight eventually came towards the last 45 minutes of waiting. The stuffy nose, sore throat, and aching feet made this stage of the journey very terrible. Eventually, we were called to check in. What a relief. There were several counters to cross and the language barrier became a challenge. Your smartness and intelligence is drastically reduced when you can’t communicate with people (in a language they understand).
There is this feeling of helplessness, vulnerability, and confinement in the several checks, finger printing, pictures taken of you and documents being searched.
Terrorism has made travel very cumbersome. I eventually got through to the departure lounge. Another long wait started. Now hunger was so terrible and I had very little funds left by this time. I did not know if I would have to pay for entry visa in Cameroon; I dared not buy anything. Because of my running nose, I had to go to the restroom to clear my nose several times.
The wait in the departure hall, even though stressful on me, had hope in view. I was looking forward to boarding, a hot meal on board, a drink, and maybe a good sleep.
Some people are angels, and Pastor David is one of them. He was with me throughout the wait at the airport. I told him several times to go home, but he refused. He insisted on staying till I checked in. He helped me carry my luggage throughout. I was happy when he was relieved at last to go home. I always encouraged myself with his presence. If he could wait with me, then who am I not to wait further.
Excess Luggage? Extra Problems
My luggage was less in weight than my allowed 52kg. Someone approached David and asked if I would sell my excess luggage allowance to another passenger. I bluntly refused because you never can tell the consequences of such transactions. What is in that luggage and what are the legal consequences?
There are some things you don’t consider when travelling, especially in airports. Don’t even accept to help an old man or nursing mother to carry her luggage; you might end up in prison or death row. Be extremely careful to help extended family members and friends to take parcels overseas, you can end up carrying drugs for someone. They will deny you flatly, if caught.
That Guy I Wasn’t Sure Of
I had not been able to communicate with my family and friends immediately we crossed the border into Cotonou. I was so excited to be able to get free Wi-Fi at the airport. I was able to make some internet calls, but could not get through to my wife because I forgot that I needed to add the Nigerian code of +234 before calling. I took me some days in Cameroon before I remembered the same challenge I faced in Madagascar.
In my excitement of getting to use the internet, I forgot a simple precautionary measure I had put in place. I avoided anyone I wasn’t sure of the health condition or who showed signs of illness. I turned to look at the runway to see if RwandAir, our carrier, was on the tarmac; lo and behold, a man who I wasn’t too sure of was sitting directly behind me. I quickly moved away from him. The fear of Coronavirus is the beginning of being safe.
Rwanda is a nation that suffered genocide not too long ago. They do not have as much resources like we (Nigerians) do. They do not a large population like us, but they have a functional Airline. Nigeria, as a nation, has no national carrier, l had to go through all these inconveniences to fly RwandAir.
What’s really wrong with us as a nation?
So many thoughts were running through my mind, and then the announcement “All passengers travelling with RwandAir, flight is ready, proceed to the aircraft for boarding”.
To be continued.