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Live in Lomé, Togo (1) Featured

By Reporter's Diary / Wednesday, 14 March 2018 15:42

It is mid-day in Lome, and the temperature must be around 40 degrees Celsius; so hot my mind went to Dubai and Bamako. I've not been to places hotter than these two. By noon, many businesses would close shop in Dubai to reopen by 4pm. It made sense, as very few people can brave the scorching sun to surf from shop to shop. However, Indian labourers on construction sites brave it under the slave labor of fellow Indians. And a significant number of them drop dead on the sites, succumbing to sun-stroke.

Before I witnessed Dubai, Bamako, the capital of Mali was the closest place to hell that I knew, in terms of temperature. 
It was in January 1992 that I was traveling to Dakar, Senegal with my boss then Alhaji Abdulaziz Ude in his private jet. We made a stopover at Bamako to refuel. The aircraft door opened and I made to step out. But the gush of hot air that I met literally knocked me back. I looked out on the tarmac and saw heat waves shimmering in an almost tangible optical illusion. I didn't go down again. That was all I bothered experiencing of this city by the River Niger.

Back to Lome. For reasons I don't know, this city which is virtually on the same latitude with my home city, Lagos, has a different climate. While Lagos belongs to the rain forest belt, Lome is Sahel Savannah. In December 2015 that I was here, it rained. And my friend, Vin noted it was one of the changes that Lome was witnessing, that until recently, it rained only about three times a year in Lome, and certainly not in December. The increased rainfall was probably as a result of global warming phenomenon. But the locals had their own take on it. They attributed it to the invasion of the city by Nigerian Pentecostal churches which was upsetting the land.

Whatever it was, Lome has been in its true elements since I arrived Monday - blazing hot!
My appointments are in the evening today, just as they were yesterday.
And I went to my favorite haunt, the beach at Marina, Lome. 

I had 'discovered' this beach in 1989, in the company of my soulmate, Steve Osuji. Of all the places we had been to in our work as journalists, this Lome beach still remains nostalgic to us.
There we were just before noon in Lome, away from the hustle and bustle of Lagos. The city alarms wailed at noon, signifying break time. Young people, especially couples thronged the beach, sat on wrappers and unpacked their lunches, eating joyfully as the sea breeze caressed them. 'Oj, a guy could live here to 150 years',Steve exclaimed. 'Absolutely! And a guy who survives to be 60 in Lagos would easily make 120 here, given their unhurried pace of life', I concurred. 
It was to this very beach that I returned yesterday and today.

 (Continues tomorrow)

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Ojukwu-Enendu Okwudili

Ojukwu-Enendu Okwudili

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