Right now, Nigerians – illegal and legal immigrants but nowhere near being British/American/Anything Else; Nigerians who are now British/American/Anything Else but never been anywhere near Nigeria in eons… or Nigerians “in the diaspora” for short, are rejoicing.
You’re asking why we’re as ecstatic as the first day we looked at our passports and saw we had visa stamps that would allow us leave Nigeria and return to visit with a different accent each time? Well, I’ll only answer this question because I am aware Mr President has only just recently introduced you lot to Facebook and it is unfair to ask him for Internet access immediately after, so let me explain.
We’re happy because of that viral Arik Air video. Yes, the one where some sweaty Nigerians were raving and cursing because the Arik crew refused to switch on the air-conditioning on a Lagos to New York flight! Oh yes, we ‘diasporans’ are.
I don’t know about the Nigerian communities in Georgia, Texas and Baltimore but I can speak for the UK, thank you very much.
Ever since the news broke out, we’ve been emerging from our mortgage-laden dingy houses outside London and our cubicles called flat-shares or studio flats inside London, hitting the Afro-Caribbean shops to stock up on Nigerian Guinness stout, frozen kpomo and live snail with which to paint this UK green-white-green!
You won’t understand until I tell you, so, this is how it usually goes down. The moment your fellow Nigerians hear you are travelling home, after saying ‘wow that’s nice!’ the next thing is to ask what airport you are passing through, as though they are officials of the UK Border Agency. If you are too vague, they will ask what airline, as though they are supposed to be the ones picking you up.
So here goes (words thought but unspoken are in italics):
Ese: I am travelling home to Naija next week o, so I won’t be around!” Make I wind you up, I kuku no be bastard wey dey forget home like you.
Linda: “Wow! Halleluyah, God is good…you must have missed your parents innit? When last did you go home sef?” See this osanle, because oyinbo don give you passport you don get mind to finally go home. If no be God wen save you e for be deportation tins. Abeg make we hear word.
Ese: “Ah” You know how it is now, it’s not easy my sister o. I have been trying to make sure the kids are settled.” Shebi my own na just 10 years, you wey no smell house since 15 years! Next tin she go wan know whether I buy beta ticket or if I still dey use all those airport outside London. Haters.
Linda: “Na so. So where will you be flying from, babes? Glasgow ba?” Na mumu airline dis one go kuku use, even if she don collect paper wey go give am mind to begin dey pass immigration for Heathrow.
Ese: I talk am! Winch. “I’m using the evening flight, from Heathrow.”
Linda: “Correct! I’m sure you’re rolling with BA for Terminal 5, my babe!” See dis benefits claimant. I sure say na Heathrow Terminal 3 and 4 dem. Who dash you Terminal 5.
Ese: “You know we just sent money home, so I have to manage with Terminal 3. Let me make some tea, I’ll be right back.” At least na Virgin dem dey for Terminal 3. Make the whole London no hear say I fly Terminal 4 with Arik go Lagos. Ewu.
Linda: “Alrighty babes.” E no pass Arik na im dis one money reach. If person follow am go airport she go kuku comot train enter Terminal 4.
You get the drift?
Since all Heathrow’s terminals are a tube stop and an escalator ride from each other, many of us here feel the need to let the nosy assume we are flying with Kenya Airways, Malaysia, Ethiopian…any other airline but Arik!
There are tales of potential suitors getting discarded after they were seen heading to check-in at Arik queues (after claiming they only fly Virgin). Others have saved face by citing Arik’s generous baggage allowance, new planes and cheaper excess baggage allowance, when faced with jeers about flying on the cheap.
In fact, as a whole, Nigerians have a unique condition. We would rather fly ten hours longer on Asian airlines just so we can go Business Class, rather than pay the same money to fly economy on British Airways and get home in half the time.
So as you can see, it is asking a lot to expect anyone to admit they fly Arik Air, just like that!
And this is where Arik Air has pulled off the advertising coup of the century.
Even if we never get ushered to the upper deck, or get a chance to fly “in the nose” for the rest of our lives…even if we will always be in Economy class and will never get priority boarding until we either win the Euro-millions lottery, or until we use our reproductive organs to birth children (those creatures that guarantee automatic preferential treatment in the aviation industry)…we at least have one less headache – feeling shame over our use of Arik.
And that is all thanks to the image of Banky W in that video. During Arik’s impromptu but compulsory pre-flight Bikram yoga class, the megastar was seen keeping his cool, even though his shiny dome was sweating it out with other passengers.
Banky W even proudly put up pictures of his tickets on Instagram before the sweaty flight departed Lagos, and made sure we had a view of his premium seat with leg rests before his return flight from New York took off!
Arik Air, this guy just did your business a great service so be sure to return the favour. Make sure you endorse him and change his name to Bankable W!
As for the rest of us here, this is how the conversation will now go.
“Egbon, what flight are you using?”
“Arik o….you know that one that Banky W flies with. I even heard D’Banj regularly uses them.”
“Really? Wow! Maybe you will sit next to him sef!”
“Abi ooo! I just said let me sha try their service…plus they have good baggage allowance too and…”
Excuse me while I find my crowbar, folks – I need to extricate my tongue from my cheek.
See you next week.
holler at ruona – firstname.lastname@example.org