Nigerians never cease to amuse me wherever I go…and airports are where I think they entertain me the most. I was checking in at Murtala Mohammed International airport last Friday and noticed the inevitably long queue of passengers itching to get out of the scorching heat of Lagos and into freezing cold of London. By the time the airport officials finished inspecting my luggage (shoes, boxers, copies of The Crazy Nigerian…the usual kinda stuff) I couldn’t help but notice the pungent odour which was reminiscent of rotten fish.
Now, I knew I dressed up in a hurry and threw on a shirt that was last seen in the laundry basket so I took a quick sniff of myself – like Shaggy, ‘it wasn’t me (thank God!). But I couldn’t understand why the airport officials weren’t reacting to this offensive stench just as much as I was. Could their noses have been blocked? Was I the only one with an acute sense of smell? Someone was obviously bent on making a daring contribution to British cuisine.
Speaking of food, I enjoyed the diced chicken and Chinese noodles served on the plane when I eventually boarded. I noticed how passengers sat still whenever the food trolley made its way down the aisle. Why then do Nigerians feel it absolutely necessary to unfasten their seatbelts the moment the plane is landing? I’m yet to witness Nigerians obeying the pilot’s instruction to remain seated until the seatbelt sign/light is off. Don’t they know that if the doors open and the mobile boarding stairs are not ready then they’ll all fall off? Do they think they know better? Beats me!
The snake-like queues at the immigration points in London Heathrow probably explains why a lot of Nigerians try to rush off the plane. But an equally plausible reason would be to rush to the baggage conveyor belt to pick up your stinky contraband of fish. Not even six hours of cool temperatures in the luggage storage could mask the horrendous fumes doing a merry-go-round on the conveyor belt. I finally saw the reactions of nearby passengers going, ‘Can you smell that?’, ‘Jesus!’, ‘Hmmph!’, etc. Fortunately even the British police had their nostrils tested and molested as I saw two of them inspecting each bag – no sniffer dog required (it was that bad).
They suddenly picked up a suspicious looking soft travel bag aka ‘Ghana-must-go’ bag (no offence to Ghanaians…that’s what these particular bags are called). Oh what I’d pay to see the look on that passenger’s face when he goes to the Lost Luggage section to enquire about his/her fish – it will be there alright…and so will the police!
By the way, I think it’s important to be able to identify one’s luggage by buying those that are uniquely designed/coloured. One old lady kept picking up one piece of luggage from the conveyor belt and returning it after doubting if it was hers. Suffice to say by the time she checked a fifth time, my luggage had arrived and I left the airport. She’ll probably use the process of elimination to decide once all other passengers pick up their luggage…or maybe, just maybe, there’s a certain aroma she’s expecting 😉