Sunday, 16 December 2018

A Night at the Atican Beach Resort Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria

When thinking about where to spend the first few days after our wedding, a few factors came into play. My King and I were going to be back in Nigeria after a while away. We wanted to enjoy it's warmth as much as we could. More so, my flight back to UK was scheduled for November 16, meaning that I had only five honeymoon days before travelling. Furthermore, there were other relevant activities to accomplish, especially my legal change of surname. So we agreed to stay in Lagos. 

The day after the wedding, we searched the Internet for resorts to stay in and the Atican Beach Resort caught our fancy. The pictures we saw online were very attractive. When we called to book a room, we were informed that from 12 to 6pm, there might be no power as the generator only came on from 6pm till 12 noon the following day. We were disappointed but figured we could deal with that, so we went ahead to make our reservation.

We checked into our room at 5:45pm with a torch to light the darkness. Expecting power to come on in 15 minutes as said, we went to the restaurant to have dinner while waiting. However, it took 30 minutes for the generator to come on. All that while, we sat in darkness. The food came even later. They said the chicken was frozen, hence they couldn't warm it until power came. As we were famished from our long journey to Lekki we asked to be served the Eba and soup first and for the chicken to come later. Yet they waited till after power came on to prepare our food. I had Eba and Edikainkong. It was okay, but not fantastic as I would describe my lunch experience the next day at The Place, Lekki. The TV in the restaurant wasn't working. The tap in the sink wasn't running.

On getting back to the room after dinner, the air conditioner stopped after about five minutes. We were perspiring. Opening the door of the room did not help as it just blew in warm air from outside. On getting them to check the problem, they said it had to do with the generator. They were running helter-skelter trying to fix the problem for 10 to15 minutes until they thought to move us to another room with a better working AC. After moving our things, I got into the bathroom for a shower. I was still sponging my body, when the shower stopped running. I asked my husband to send for a bucket of warm water. By the time the water arrived, I was already out of the bathroom with the soap dried to my skin as I could wait no longer. 

I was sad. Not about the poor service we received that night but about the mediocrity we have gotten so used to in Nigeria. The attitude of "manage it like that", our lack of quality control. This adds to what keeps us poor as a country. God help us. We could not believe that a hotel with a tourist attraction could be so laid back about its services. As if they expected us to "understand" that the generator could not carry all ACs or pump water. There was no attempt by a management personnel or supervisor to apologize. There was no compensation. 

Unfortunately, that night's experience is also visible in usual working relationship with artisans or vendors - a tailor who takes your measurements ahead of time but delays delivery or still has major adjustments to make, a mechanic paid to fix a problem in your car but you're forced to return to him the following weekend with the same problem or a vendor paid to render a service who does not pay attention to detail etc. There are many other examples to relate to. In some cases they insist on full payment before service but after the flop, the best you get from them is 'sorry madam' and worst of all, 'abeg manage am like that'. It's pathetic.

Nevertheless, there were some commendable sides to the hotel. The breakfast was on point - toast and fried egg with NescafĂ© 3 in 1. Egg salad and Mayo sandwich or fried yam and eggs. The building was modern and had very nice surroundings. The beach was a good place to get away. After that first night, there was no power problem except for the expected 6-hour 'no gen' period which we spent on the beach or out in town shopping, lunching or in the cinema. 

If I had spent only the first night in Atican, I would rate it 1/5 (Would have been 0, but let's give it 1 for good looks and nice breakfast). If I had not experienced the Day 1 brouhaha, I would have rated it 3.5/5. So combining the experiences from Day 1 to 4, I would rate it 2.5/5. My husband rates it 1.5/5. He says first impression is key. Unfortunately, we don't look forward to going back.

Have you experienced poor service in Nigerian hotels or with your vendor/artisan? Or perhaps you've been to the Atican Beach Hotel, Lekki. Please tell us your experience in the comments section below. Cheers.

Radiant ~ December 2018

Monday, 3 December 2018

RadiantKing: Preparing for Marriage. Planning a Wedding

Preparing for Marriage
An engagement signifies an intention to get married. Our first project as an engaged couple was to come to an agreement on the date of the wedding. Some of the factors we put into consideration when determining the date of our wedding were:

1. Career stability. We were both in transition at the time of the proposal. My King had just begun his Masters programme, while I had just gotten a licence to work in UK as a doctor and was then job hunting. He didn't want us getting into this major milestone of a life event in our transition phases. At least one of us had to be stable career-wise before we got married.

2. Counselling. My King was very particular about us receiving proper counselling before venturing into the institution of marriage. We couldn't go in unprepared. Hence, we attended an informal and a formal marriage counselling. We got informal but structured counselling from our mentors viz. his former boss and his wife. We had several sessions with them both physically and via video calls. The formal one was organized by our local church in Nigeria and was done through 6 sessions of video conference calls. We were among the first set of diaspora couples for counselling. During these sessions, we learnt about communication, roles and responsibilities, great expectations of marriage, managing in-laws, being united, finances, sex, and so on. Our formal counselling required us to read at least 2 books on marriage. 

Other pre-marital conversations included where we would live after marriage, when we would prefer to have children and how many, our career goals and how they would fit into the family and long-term plans, expectations of each other in the marriage, etc. All these we have committed into God's hands. By His grace, we will face it all together.

Planning a Wedding
Planning the wedding did not stress us much. It feels a bit weird saying this as I have seen people under so much pressure during wedding preps. King maintained a calm demeanor even in the midst of his Masters courseworks, exams and thesis. To him, planning a wedding is not much different from organising one of his community development projects @GenLeaders. Many people get stressed during the planning process when they try to over-impress or go beyond their capability. Not to deny the fact that planning from outside Nigeria helped ease off some physical stress as we engaged a wedding planner. Moreover, we had friends and family who helped do our leg work. I had some concerns about things not going as planned, but we just had to trust God and the people to whom we had committed the work to.

The first thing we did after securing a date was to agree on our budget. I was happy to have a man very good in numbers and Excel sheets. We made a list of everything we thought would be needed or have observed at weddings we had witnessed. After that, we eliminated what we considered unnecessary and then split our budget across all remaining items; we had done a prior investigation on what each item should cost on average. This became our guide in negotiations with vendors and our event planner, most of which were done via Whatsapp. We only met most of our vendors on the wedding day, save for those who were already in our network.

We decided on the number of guests to entertain based on our budget and the quality of wedding we desired. We allotted numbers to both families and ourselves and tried to emphasize strict adherence to the numbers allotted when our families began to send out invites. Since we were not in Nigeria to give all our guests IV cards, we also made e-invites.

Thankfully, our wedding ceremonies were largely hitch-free. Pictures at Instagram #radiantking or visit our wedding website - RadiantKing

The following are some of the vendors we engaged and their Instagram handles and they all did a fantastic job.

Hall decoration - @patakievents
MC - @omootalks
DJ - @emjoelove
Cake - @kairostreats
Make up for white wedding - @lipsnlids
Make up for traditional wedding - @triadasbeautylounge
Photography & Cinematography - @josephentekumefilm

Radiant ~ December 2018
This is the final of the RadiantKing series. Thank you for following our love story. We hope you enjoyed it. Please continue to put us in your prayers. Cheers to a happy & fulfilling married life.
Click here for all episodes of the RadiantKing series and please leave comments. 

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Be Led by the Spirit

Today’s sermon at The King’s Glory Church, King's Lynn was on being led by the Spirit. Here are some take home lessons. Be blessed.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this. 

There is a constant struggle between the spirit, soul and body.

Being led by the soul
The soul consists of intellect, emotions and will.
When people are led by the intellect, everything has to make sense. The things of God do not always make sense. In fact, the wisdom of God is foolish to the world. When people are led by emotions, they go by whatever feels right. Passion is not enough. Many would love to obey God, but lack the will. People with a strong will are very determined. However, the will is not strong enough. An addicted person may have a will to quit, but has no power to achieve it. 

What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?

Romans 8:5
For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.

To obey God's voice despite contrary evidence.
Refuse anything not in keeping with God's Word no matter how good it feels

How to keep our soul healthy

1. In ward check by God's Word and the spirit of man.
The Word of God convicts us. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord searching the innermost part of the body.

If sinful thoughts aren't dealt with, one day they will manifest as sinful acts. James 1:13-15

2. Stop living a frenzied lifestyle. Create time to feed on God's Word. The parable of the sower tells us the Word of God can be choked by the cares of this world.

Please share in the comment section your understanding of being led by the spirit. Thanks

Radiant ~ November 2018

Saturday, 10 November 2018

RadiantKing: The Proposal

King and I had been in a relationship for a little over one and half years, most of which was LDR. Although we had been talking about marriage and were sure we would like to be with each other for the rest of our lives, I really wanted us to make it official. I longed for him to make the move as soon as possible. I knew he does things at his own pace and cannot be coerced so there was no need to daydream. If he didn't feel ready, he wouldn't do it. So I was not expecting such surprise on my graduation day - the day he chose to pop the question. Funnily, he had his first term exams on same week and was almost going to miss the ceremony but got there somehow. I'll spare the details.

After my graduation ceremony on December 15, 2017, I hosted my guests at Cosmo World Buffet. We were dining, laughing, taking pictures and having fun. When our time was almost up, we were then taking a final round of pictures but I noticed my King was no where to be found. I wanted him to be in the pictures, so I scoured for him with my eyes but I couldn't reach him. I thought he might have stepped out to the loo so I stayed put hoping he'd come back before the picture sessions were over. Next thing, I saw him with some of my male friends. One was carrying a laptop and set it in front of me. I was still asking Kingston where he had been all the while but he asked me to pay attention to the slide show and music playing. 
He had prepared a slideshow of pictures of us together from when we were in Lagos till then and the inscriptions showed our journey, the separation and how we got back to being close together with Ed Sheran's Perfect playing in the background. The penultimate slide read, "Now that we're back together, it's time to take things a step further". Meanwhile all others had gathered to watch the slide show with me. Some were as unsuspecting as I was initially. While the ones he had discussed with had set their phone cameras to record the event. Fortunately, we had a professional camera person amongst us. He had come to film another colleague who was celebrating at the same venue. King had smartly cornered him to take pictures. The last slide on the slideshow read, "So Chidiogo...will you marry me?"

People around were screaming as they brought out their phones for pictures. At this point I was all tears. I was red. He had knelt down beside me and brought out the ring. I was still crying. He asked again while a voice in the background echoed, "We are waiting for an answer". I then said "yes of course", gave my left hand, hugged him and I was engaged.

Radiant ~ November 2018
Please leave comments. By the way, today is my wedding day. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

RadiantKing: Long Distance Relationship

When I was leaving for UK, Kingston had said he would visit me in the summer when he would write the next stage of his professional exam. He could write that in Ghana but since I was going to the UK, it was enough incentive to register for the exam there. The hope of seeing him again sustained me. We talked every day, via Whatsapp, Imo, Skype and regular phone calls. Once I complained that the cold was killing me. A few days after, I received a fluffy warm nightdress sent by him. Another time he sent me a jumper. On Val's day, he sent me a customized card. He read through my course works, he was my alarm clock. I kept him company on his way back from work through Lagos traffic. Sometimes we just kept ourselves company, saying nothing but listening to our breaths or watching me sleep. 

I had been advised by some well-meaning friends to keep my options open before I left for the UK. They thought I would meet a man that would sweep me off my feet and make me forget about Kingston but I was resolute on my decision about him. He was the one I wanted to marry. He had not proposed yet, though we often made remarks about marriage. A few people also queried my relationship status during my time as a student, but I made it clear I had a boyfriend in Nigeria who I was dedicated to. They respected that. 

June 2017 came and passed but my King did not come. He had begun to apply for a Masters programme in UK and needed to manage finances. So he moved his exams to Ghana. He was in his 6th career year and had started getting bored. He longed for something different, either a higher degree or a change of job so he took his shot. He would have pursued a degree in the US or Canada like most young men in Nigeria prefer, but I was a very good attraction to come to the UK. It made sense to deny ourselves the pleasure of seeing briefly that summer for a more fulfilling opportunity of being together in the same country for a longer period. If it failed, then he would visit afterwards. 

My getting a scholarship must have boosted his faith in getting one too. So like me, he spent time searching for scholarships and bursaries. By God's grace, he got awards that covered about 50% of his tuition. This went a very long way. He now had to make up the rest of the tuition and cater to living expenses. Through his savings and generous support from friends, he was able to make up the balance and voila! my King would join me in the UK. I had another date to look up to. When I missed him, I'd remind myself that I'd see my King again. I had so longed for him to apply to the same school I went to, but he knew what he wanted. He went for a school with a better repute for his course. Besides, there was no guarantee I would remain in Nottingham after my programme. I could get a job anywhere.

So in October 2017, King felt the autumn breeze of the UK welcome him along with a smiling familiar face called Radiant. It had been 1 year of waiting, learning of each other, building friendship and a test of our relationship.

Radiant ~ November 2018
Click here to read the previous episode of the RadiantKing series. Please leave a comment.