When I Hosted Foreign Guests at The African Shrine

Since our dearly beloved president has been away, someone has to take up the duty of hosting foreign guests. I took it upon myself to host 2 Kenyans and an Italian because, really, ask not what your president can do, in his absence, ask what you can do for your president, in his absence.

One of our foreign guests has been a friend for some time and I had looked forward to her visit. Being quite wanderlust and bohemia, she asked to see the Nigerian default destination for mavericks, free-spirits, arty-party heads - The African Shrine. (And she kinda looks like a cross of Erica Badu with Janelle Monáe).

Femi Kuti will be performing. She knows some Femi's songs. I don't know many of his songs. (Just play me some sax or guitar solos and Beng Beng Beng and with some grade-A-mama-Africa-twerking, and I'm fine). Of the conversations that lend to subtle comparing of Nigeria and Kenya - including electricity outages and traffic and call girls, none was about how a Kenyan knows more Femi songs than a Nigerian. But we joked about the Kenyan that won the Lagos marathon. She yelled, "Who invites a Kenyan to a race?", in which I figured the State's governor needs to get his priorities right instead of throwing dollars at foreigners at the expense of a tourists-hosting Lagosian who is on a marathon against brokenness.

We took some obligatory photos at the entrance and made way into the hall. Femi had started performing. As drinks were ordered, I prepared to see curious gazes thrown my way as I mention that I don't drink alcohol. It's a well-known fact that teetotalers are passively persecuted in social settings. I’m used to the awkwardness. Star Lager beer for the foreign guys. Orijin for the curious foreign girl. Give me malt.

It's not the typical African Shrine crowd, of revelers jumping everywhere and with whiffs from weed colluding with belches from peppersoup and smoked croaker fish. Most people here are seated around chairs and their orders. Only a few - I think I saw Yeni Kuti too, are on the dance floor. We soon joined them. I seem touristy too with dance steps named after nothing.

Femi soon launched into a monologue about the Nigerian condition. He made remarks about the protests in the country and stressed that the type of protest Nigeria deserves is the type that grounds a nation to its knees, one that mutes social activities, not merely brandishing posters and posing for photo-ops. Femi, I believe, like his dad, nurtures revolutionary fantasies.

Two cages at the sides of the stage distracted me. Two ladies are in them. I wondered what artistic decision brought about caged girls, dancing and doing Afrobeat twerking. It disgusts me like the sight of caged birds.

More dances. More ethanol. Dale, who looks like Ziggy Marley, enjoys himself. Pierandrea, full of energy, soaks in everything Naija like a sponge. Anita, I believe, is a Nigerian at heart.

Femi leaves the stage.

After more pictures and souvenir purchases, we left too.

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