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The Village Pot Presents…Alejo Project!: “Dating in Lagos Has Been Hard” – Brice Nkengsa

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img_1281The Village Pot team sent us this exciting idea they had called The Alejo Project and we are very pleased to present the fourth story.

So what is The Alejo Project? Alejo means ‘guest in Yoruba. In Alejo Project (#alejoproject), we tell the undiluted stories of foreigners who have moved to Nigeria. This project tells first-hand stories of their own Nigeria and is curated by The Village Pot; an online platform for uncovering food, culture and travel stories across Africa.  You can click the links for the first, secondthird and fourth editions of the series. 

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Brice’s encounter with Nigeria began when he was 9 or 10 years old, while growing up in his home country of Cameroon. His dad had been working in Lagos for a few months when his family came to visit him for the entire summer holiday. “All I remember was the large estate with beautiful homes and a pool” he says about the holiday. He would spend the entire holiday riding bicycles with his siblings, swimming and playing new Play Station games. After that experience, he learned of Nigeria from their frequent football face-offs with Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations’ and from his Nigerian friends at school in Canada. Fast forward to 2014, he would visit the Andela offices in Nigeria twice before moving to live here in March of 2015.

“I had a mix of feelings when I landed at the airport in Lagos”, Brice confesses. There was a sense of belonging being back in the motherland but a sudden realisation that living in Nigeria was not going to be easy. He recalls – “it was hot, the air was dusty and everything felt broken or messy from the chairs to the A/C units and the queues at customs.” The Cameroonian born had been living in Canada for almost a decade, going to high school and then university. With only his short stint in Nigeria as a child and the typical imagery to go on – violence, corruption, Nigerian princes who send poorly written e-mails, a strong soccer team, poorly produced movies and amazing music – Brice’s first impressions of Nigeria were tangled.

rooftop trupprWhy Lagos?
As a founding member of Andela, along with his university classmates and friends – Iyinoluwa (E) and Nadayar (Nad), Brice moved from Canada to Nigeria to be closer to the action as Andela attempts to transform the education and technology landscape in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. “It made sense” he says, “because the nature of my work requires me to be here.” He describes Lagos as the hub of activity on the African continent, something affirmed by Mark Zuckerberg’s recent visit to Lagos including the Andela office. “Mark’s visit echoed what we already know – that there is talent bubbling in Nigeria and Africa.”

Lagos Living
“My experience in Lagos has been in a bubble,” Brice admits. He spends 99% of his time with his coworkers and since he walks from home to his office in Yaba, he does not have to commute in traffic. Even the power outages that plague Lagosians have largely eluded him. “But I have had a lot of fun,” he continues. “I work a lot but when I am not working; I enjoy beaches, Terra Kulture plays and other events in town like the Eat Drink Festival, Lagos.” He is not active in social circles but enjoys his church – David’s Christian Center. He has also ventured outside of Lagos for his colleague’s sister’s wedding in Bayelsa, a talk in Abuja and a visit to Port Harcourt. Apart from Mark Zuckerberg’s visit, which he credits as one of his favorite memories in Lagos, he cites Afropolitan Vibes, winning a Truppr soccer competition and a heartfelt play in Terra Kulture as his favorite memories. On the play, he says “it was great to see people openly discuss what feels like a taboo subject in Nigeria.” And there are more favorites – “Egusi soup is my favorite meal. Nigerian cuisine is not too different from Cameroonian food so there were not many surprises.”

Dating in Lagos
Dating has been hard for Brice. “So far”, he says, “I am not too sure where to meet people. It is partly my fault because I don’t go outside of my bubble. The girls I have met were not a good match for me because many of them have this mentality that the man in the relationship has to do everything.” He continues – “I don’t necessarily like to be the one engaging or driving the relationship all the time. To me, it is 50/50 and I tend to only meet the girls who sit, look pretty and feel that’s enough.”

img_1929Lagos’ Habits
Lagos is a city with undeniable character. Brice lists the three words that most describe Lagos as ‘hustle’, ‘survival’ and ‘busy’. He says “it is a good thing how vibrant people are here and how they remain undeterred despite the chaos.” He continues to extol how polite people are – “they say good morning and good evening and are quite proper in their greeting.” It is not all fun and games however. “There is no attention to detail,” he says. “Things in construction sites are not properly aligned and even after fixing the door hinge several times, it still breaks.” It shows, he explains, in the way people drive and build things. “The quality of life can be so much better than this.”

But has Lagos rubbed off on him? He says, “I am inspired everyday by people who despite the barriers, continue to strive for success.  Nigeria is filled with them – hustlers.” There’s more. “I have also picked up a few words,” he describes, “like abi, omo, sabi and oshey! Everyone at works seems to always be saying oshey!”

img_1604So Close to Home but So Far Away
Nigeria sometimes feels like home to Brice, but not quite. He says “I feel a sense of belonging as an African living in Nigeria and most people assume I am Nigerian when they see me until they hear me speak. However, it doesn’t quite feel like home because my family and close friends aren’t here, and dating has not been easy.” He could spend another year here, he predicts, before moving back to Canada. “But I would love to visit – I have made so many friends here.”

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Alejo means ‘guest in Yoruba. In Alejo Project, we tell the undiluted stories of foreigners who have moved to Nigeria. This project tells first-hand stories of their own Nigeria. Would you like to recommend someone to be featured in Alejo Project? Send us a message on our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages or leave a comment below. Don’t forget to hashtag #thevillagepot and #alejoproject.

The Village Pot shares stories that celebrate food, culture and travel adventures across Nigeria and Africa. The site is a collection of original adventures of people tasting Africa and Africans tasting the world.

12 Comments

  1. shaday

    December 8, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Errr…well hellooo Brice *bats eyelashes and ‘un-sits’ pretty*

  2. TeeS

    December 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    E la o wo le sha! ?????
    Okay women we just can’t sit pretty.
    We gotta sit pretty, have intelligent conversations, batt your eye lashes, bring more to the table. check up on him, text first, invite him out as well. …..am I getting it ?

    • Weezy

      December 8, 2016 at 10:22 pm

      I hope he doesn’t want a hottt (i.e. packaged) girl who is also very intelligent and egalitarian.

      He needs to step outside of his bubble and lower his expectations for physical beauty. The kind of woman who likes 50/50 relationships does not look spend her time perfecting the weave.

  3. lorelai

    December 8, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    I knew dating wld be difficult.. some of our women assume the man must fund then completely.. I agree wth Brice.. It its 50/50

    How will ladies see this fine man and want to let him slip by.. choii this is my type of guy tho. young, intelligent, innovative, etc etc.. Wow.. I’m single Oga Brice. lool.. when i come to Nigeria this holiday biko let’s talk.. loool

    • Anonymous

      December 8, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      Maybe the women that have dated him beg to differ. If a woman wrote this everybody will say she’s somehow and rude but a man says it and we automatically believe the problem isn’t from him and we blame the woman as usual. Many women don’t mind splitting the bill and form up woman of virtue but that has never stopped a man from misbehaving has it?

    • Anonymous

      December 8, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      Also, on this thing about women and money, I know a lot of Nigerian women aspire to be trophy wives and funded girlfriends, but there are surely much more Nigerian women that work hard and make honest livings as teachers, doctors, lawyers, bakers, accountants etc. But yeah Nigerian women are all lazy goldiggers

    • Californiabawlar

      December 8, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      Hmmn! I read that part and my eyes rolled all the way to the back of my head. Really? No intellectually stimulating babes in Lagos? Pshhhh…
      My dear anonymous, you forget one key thing about nerds…they are the ones that seek after these types. They want to score the hottest shinniest babe but can’t deal with the probability that she’s likely to have personality issues.

  4. Engoz

    December 8, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    “There is no attention to detail,” he says. “Things in construction sites are not properly aligned and even after fixing the door hinge several times, it still breaks.” It shows, he explains, in the way people drive and build things. “The quality of life can be so much better than this.”

    It’s because there are no regulatory bodies to actually check these workers. Some of these people aren’t even well trained to do the job or have the necessary qualifications to do them. They hustled their way into the profession by hook or crook. So what you get are lackadaisical workers. And for some reason Nigerians are always looking for shortcuts, the easier way to get things done. For those who make the effort of getting the work done well, don’t be surprised that their colleagues will hate them for doing ‘too much’, or tag them disrespectful if the colleague happens to be older and you dare question him for doing a shoddy job.

  5. PIPi

    December 8, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Hey Brice… U and my sister would be a match made in Heaven… Who knows u guys might just might up in Canada and love happens ?

  6. Californiabawlar

    December 8, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Interesting! Okay now, very good interview and excellent critique. We’ll make sure to take note and proceed to make adjustments.

    Now that I’ve fulfilled all ‘intellectual’ obligations…oya now come and be going ?
    Jk… nahh really! Dude seems annoyed by everything…even the way he said everyone says ‘oshey’ came across as salty ? Well I’d be salty too if after all the hustle and bustle of Lagos I can’t find a proper beau to use and cool my temper…
    Bros please don’t let Nigeria and Nigerians make you bitter…adopt our spirit and ‘free yasef’ or just take my initial advise.

  7. Maya

    December 8, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    There are many things when it comes to using chat lines for dating that everyone should be aware of and knowing this once you get started will help you find that special someone. Everyone has some kind of expectation or high hope that when they start using the best dating sites that love will happen instantly and that is not always the case. Knowing that it might take some time to find that significant other will help you adjust in meeting new people without being disappointed. Finally I’ve found my favorite one – baltimore.partyline.com the perks of this amazing phone chat is you get to speak to them directly and hear the enthusiasm in their voice which makes the experience so much sweeter.

  8. Abi

    December 9, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Toh! Welcome o Brice. Not sure where your bubble rolls you to. But the Nigerian women that I know… Ahhhhhh! HotLikeFire. SharpAsRazor. It’s probably the way you come across though. You get what you give. Meet them half way and you won’t know what hit you. But one advice : widen your circle or change your friends!

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