Thursday, September 29, 2011

Random Observations: AUN and Nigeria


Working at AUN is a little like being newlywed Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life. Every day I come "home" to work and AUN plays the part of Donna Reed, asking me if I can guess what surprise she prepared for me today. Here are just a few of things that have happened in only the last two weeks:
  • Yes, I saw you working on the drainage system in the parking lot yesterday. Is that done already? Wow.
  • Oh my, is that hallway open to the public again? How nice.
  • That bathroom has someone regularly checking to make sure it has toilet paper. I really appreciate that.
  • The new logo looks wonderful over our building. Now it has a name everyone can see. Thank you.
  • I like the paint job.
  • New flowers? How lovely.
  • Oh dear, I can tell you got that coffee machine working. Now the whole floor smells of coffee. Ah well, the Dean will be happy.
Every day is a surprise. Yes, it's still the old Buster House, or whatever its name was, but it's less and less like it every day.

I fully expected that the music in Nigeria would be heavily influenced by hip hop and electronica/techno/dance/pop. It is. I had not expected quite so much reggae.

I can also add that Nigerian pop relies much more heavily on Autotune than US pop and has a few other distinctly Nigerian stylings I have not been able to pinpoint.

The four TV shows I see regularly on the cafeteria monitors when I bother to glance up from my food and the work I brought with me:
  1. Football. (No, the other one. The one Nigerians call football. As long as I'm out here, it gets the title.) Gooooooooaaaaaaaal!
  2. Music videos. They look just like ours, more's the pity.
  3. Reality TV shows, particularly of the Nigeria's Next Supermodel variety.
  4. Moralizing Drama? Imagine Saturday morning specials rated M -- blood, gore, violence, bad language, and the potential for nudity, then at the end of the program they have a notice on the screen that "Many people in the real world actually have to deal with HIV/AIDS" or "sexual violence" or whatever the topic is today. "If someone you know ... call this hotline ..." It is a very curious phenomenon that I am doing my best to not find out more about.
Anything I was warned about before I came here has come true. Anything I was told not to worry about hasn't. It's been nice to have expectations largely met.

Nigerian fashion is wonderful. The students wandering around campus are far more tastefully and fashionably dressed by large margins than students at Cornell. (That doesn't mean all are modestly dressed by my standards either, but there is no desire to look grungy.) Though most people around town clearly cannot afford the same scale of tailoring, a surprising percentage are very well dressed given what I know the poverty statistics to be.

I have had very little trouble identifying the Mosques, which you can find all over the town along the main roads scattered at semi-regular intervals. Churches seemed far fewer until this week when I found five congregated next to each other on one side road - Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, and a couple more. I would wager this has something to do with frequency of use and the availability of transportation, but I don't have enough data yet to speculate on the exact relationships.