Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Educated Elite of Ibadan

Three times in the last couple of months I have flown between Ibadan and Abuja.  Ibadan, is famous for its university, the University of Ibadan, the oldest university in West Africa and locally known as UI, which I must say is a much better name than UNIBAD!  Most Nigerian universities are known as UNI...., it took me a while to realise that UNILAG was not a universal pipe lagging material, and UNIMAID, I thought must be something to do with milk!  Actually they are University of Lagos and University of Maiduguri.
Anyway back to my story, Ibadan is a big city, an endless sprawl, I’ve no idea of the population, but I have read of 2 million and of 5 million.  Many people daily must travel between Ibadan and Abuja, but only a few go my air.
There are two flights on weekdays, one on Saturday and none on Sunday, some planes carry 30 and some 50, its advisable to book in advance and the single fair is 18,000 for Overland, and 21,000 for Associated (about £80), I am told that both these airlines have a poor safety record, but I’m sure it is many times safer than going by road.  (90% of Nigerians live on less than $2, approx 300, so to fly would be 60 days of income, even for me as a VSO volunteer it would be two weeks of income, I only fly when somebody else is paying!)
So both flights leave Ibadan at around 8am, and as I sit in the airport waiting, the atmosphere is a bit like a university common room, or a school reunion, except Nigerians respect hierarchy and titles and you hear people greeting each other, “Good Morning Prof, Good Morning Doc etc”.
Waiting at Abuja airport, with passengers flying all over the country, it is less easy to identify the educated elite of Ibadan, although traditional Yoruba dress of lace, embroidery and funny hats,  is always a clue.   When flying in this direction it is only as I board the plane that I hear the academic greetings. 

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