Nigeria recently turned 56 and I couldn’t think of a nice way to spend the holidays, considering that the Presidential address did nothing to cheer me up. I ended up taking the kids to an indoor playground and spent the rest of the holidays taking a much needed rest.
As I mused through the holidays I remembered a trip I took to Tarkwa Bay some years ago and the memory brought ripples of laughter to my face. The year was 1st October 2010, I had this stubborn ‘toaster’ who wouldn’t let me rest. So after much persuasion, I agreed to go on a date with him on that particular Independence Day. He insisted he wanted to take me to a beach, since I had mentioned that going to the beach was one of my favourite hangout spots.
“Have you been to Tarkwa Bay before?” he asked me
“No I haven’t” I responded
“That is where we will go to on Independence Day” he said, however he conveniently forgot to mention that Tarkwa Bay is an island only accessible by boat. So on that day we set out in his car, drove to Victoria Island suddenly he stopped at a car park just after the small bridge linking Onikan to Bonny Camp.
“Let’s go” he said as he stepped out from the car
“Is this the beach?” I asked in confusion
“No, we are going to join the ferry” he responded and my crisis started. You see, I normally boast that I know how to swim; however, my swimming experience is limited to the small stream in my village, where we swim when we travel home every Christmas. I go into swimming pools, occasionally. So you can understand my fears when I realized we were going to be on water for some minutes, heading to an island I have never been to before.
I had a second mind to abandon the entire idea and go home, but what would be my excuse? Holding his outstretched hands, I allowed myself to be led onto the speed boat and put on my safety jacket. We were joined by four other girls who were in the company of two guys and we headed out to sea. While the other girls conversed in excitement, I was very quiet. I keenly watched the water bubble while remembering all the ‘mami wota’ stories I had heard and even watched in movies while growing up.
I peered into the water, wondering what was underneath; suddenly the boat jerked and coughed. Before we could ask what was happening, the boat gave a large spluttering noise and stopped. Right there! In the middle of the ocean, the boat stopped. I suddenly developed panic attacks and held the hand of my toaster as firmly as I could
“What is happening driver?”
One of the guys who was with the other female passengers asked, while the rest of us kept deadly quiet.
“The engine don stop” the driver of the jetty responded while his assistant shrugged nonchalantly as if what was happening was the most common thing in the world.
“Hey, I have entered today” I whispered, just as the boat swayed to the water current, we all held tightly to anything we could grab.
“So wetin go happen now?” my toaster asked the driver.
“We go wait make another empty boat come we go transfer una inside am” he responded. This wasn’t funny anymore. Transfer who? Through where? I quickly looked towards the nearest dry land and wondered how long I would have to swim to get there in case this boat capsized. I thought of all the fish that would probably eat me before I get there. I thought of getting exhausted and sinking deep into the water and to the waiting arms of ‘mami wota’ and her mermaids. All sorts of wild imaginations ran through my mind, while the driver and his companion did absolutely nothing. Typical me, I would have started shouting and demanding for my right, but that was not a normal situation and you never could tell what these thugs can do when provoked.
Suddenly the boat jerked again and one of the girls stood up in fear. Our boat started dancing haywire on the water as all the passengers including the driver screamed at the already frightened girl to sit down so the boat would not capsize. ‘Who send me oo’ I thought to myself as I vowed not to ever go to any Island in Lagos again. Miraculously, an empty boat appeared beside our boat and after haggling on the price with our driver, they transfered us into the boat. When that was done, we proceeded to Tarkwa Bay but the trip was already marred for me.
My companion took round the little village in the island and showed me some historic places, but I was no longer interested. All I thought about was how I was going to endure and survive the trip back to V.I. when it was time for us to go, I said a word of prayer with a firm promise to God to be a ‘good girl’ if He sees me through this journey. Our trip back was effortless, and the other passengers had all loosened up but not me. I literarily held my breath until we landed in VI.
Since then I haven’t been brave enough to venture on any Island trip. But now I am older, wiser, braver and stronger so maybe I will try it again soon. A trip to Inagbe Resorts beckons, maybe it’s time I answered it…
Makeup by Dave Sucre
Photography by Moussa Moussa