Cool breeze. No sun. No rain.
Me in Abuja on a Sunday morning? A rare occurrence. A very rare occurrence.
Good time to take a long walk.
I explored Asokoro on foot. I did more than 16,000 steps in the highbrow labyrinth. One can’t be sitting in front of the computer, pressing smartphone or reading books all the time.
I have been living in this part of Asokoro since the ending of 2015; first at Musa Traore, now at Nelson Mandela. Before 2015, I lived at 50 Haile Selassie Street for about a year between 2012 and 2013. But many of the streets remain unknown to me and it is difficult for me to find my way around beyond Nelson Mandela.
I hardly ever spend my weekends in Abuja and my weekdays are long. No time for an early morning walk.
The streets beyond Nelson Mandela are not on the way to anywhere so I hardly ever need to pass through except on the occasions that I had to drop Patrick off at Hassan Musa Katsina. And it was usually after sunset.
Roads in this my unexplored backyard don’t run East to West or North to South. They perversely curve, bend and loop. Disorienting. A mystifying maze of streets, roads, closes and crescents. But Google map was my friend. I pardon her for leading me to a dead end twice.
The sinuous Justice Mamman Nasir intersects twice with TY Danjuma almost forming an ampersand. Like Ahmadu Bello intersecting both Ademola Adetokumbo and Aminu Kano twice in Wuse 2: a skewer through two doughnuts. TY Danjuma is lined by embassies and state government lodges. Justice Sowemimo. Hassan Musa Katsina (who is that?). Linda Chalker a complete circle. Who is she? A street and a close named after Yusuf Bala Usman: would he have approved? Muhammad Isma (Rabi Isma’s dad?).
Mediterranean Hotel? Didn’t know it existed. Is it a good hotel? Probably not.
Stately homes. Palatial residences. Extravagant edifices. Mansions. Quite a few real beauties. A number of poorly done pretend neo-classical columns. Ugly fences mar many a beauty. Some heavily barb-wired fences. What do they have in there? Gaudy colours: one house is covered with ochre-red tiles. Out-of-place, over-sized elaborately wrought gates. Ghastly façades and fence pillars covered with tiles better suited to nightclubs or kitchens. Many uncompleted buildings. Unsightly architectural carcasses. A long-abandoned white SUV sits on the pavement in front of an abandoned house since occupied by squatters. Who is the owner. Dead? Abroad? In prison? No children?
Sidewalks thoughtlessly interrupted with heaps of debris or some other structure. A family has colonised a rectangular concrete structure (water board or electricity?) with a make-shift lean-to toilet.
I trek uphill along Linda Chalker to Ray Power – no thoroughfare. Misled by Google map. I traced HM Katsina to its very end where it runs into a slum giving the lie to Google map that indicates a thoroughfare. This is the terminus of those kekenapeps that don’t obey traffic lights. The other terminus is AYA roundabout. I am tempted to take one back home. I resist.
I head homeward.
These man holes that rise a few centimeters above the street level, why? Seems the last layer of macadam has not been applied. Engineering mistake? Corruption? One of them even spewing sewage right in the middle of the road just by one of the prettiest homes in the neighbourhood. In Asokoro. The doyen of the districts.
Burundi embassy. Chai. Well, not too bad considering the country’s wrecked economy. I was in Bujumbura July. I should write about the visit. No time.
Togo embassy: no comment. Go and see it yourself.
Houses bedecked with royal palms, bougainvillea, flamboyant, varieties of cacti, conifers, cycads, frangipani and English lavender (?). I see a few familiar ornamental trees, climbers and shrubs whose names I don’t know. Shame.
I come across three guys chatting in front of a house. One of them smiles and waves at me. I am wearing a Manchester United 2017/28 home jersey. He must be a Man U fan. I shout Great Great Man United. He shouts back. His companions are not amused. They must be Arsenal or Man City fans. I don’t blame them. They’ve never tasted UEFA Champions League victory.
I am back at the junction of Mamman Nasir and TY Danjuma. My calves are aching. I rest for 10 minutes on a concrete block by the roadside. Churchgoers in fine and not-so-fine cars pass by. Many kekenapeps pass by. I resist the temptation. I trek the rest of the short distance back home.