Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sail Around the World 2011

"Sail Around the World" is an annual event put on by the Lagos Yacht Club.  
Many countries participate, including the "Republic of Texas!"  
(Rep. of Tejas) 

Arthur, Adrian, Chris, Charles and Coleman sponsored the BBQ for a real (yum) Texas meal.  
Chris and Valerie smoked brisket, prepared beans and served it with pita bread.      
We think it was the best meal offered!!!
Can you see the backdrop of the Alamo?  

About 20 countries participated in giving out their national food and drink.
We had haggis from Scotland and the best chocolate balls from Israel.
Lebanon had wonderful lamb souvaki with hummus.  

Some countries were even created for the event.
The Hobie Nation is a group of Hobie Cat Sailors and they had the BEST booth,
decorated like a sailboat.  They even brought in the sand.  

The Mexico booth was sponsored by Bottles Mexican Restaurant.  
Love the guy in the sombrero dancing while he serves!  

Maersk sponsored the Danish booth.
They had authentic Danish hotdogs 
along with the typical condiments.    

I liked the grass weaving on the Mauritius Island booth.   

And the many colors of the Mauritius flag were so pretty in the wind.  

This was the Nigerian booth, with jollof rice and chicken along with yams and beans.

Ni-ke' let me help pound the yams!  :)  This is MUCH harder than it looks! 

The Ibero-American booth represented all the countries which speak Spanish and Portugese.  
Mainly the IA consists of countries in South and Central America, the Caribbean and Europe, but Equitorial Guinea in Africa is also represented as a Portugese speaking nation.

The United States booth served mini hamburgers - which were great! 

Over 1,000 people attended, mostly expats.  
The event was held where we normally park the sailboats, right by the launching area.  
When the tide is high, water splashes up the ramp into the lot, so as the evening progressed, 
the water added an interesting dimension.

 These ladies came to represent Jack Daniels!  
As the hour became later, 'other' ladies were able to 'dash' the guards and join the party too!
(AKA - night fighters, mosquitos, hoochie mamas, etc..)  
I have learned SO much!

It was a beautiful evening - just perfect for outside dining.  

The band was fabulous with a great night view of the harbor.  
We left about 11:30.....but the party continued MUCH later!  

Overall, it was a fun time with friends, 
enjoying the wonderful fall weather outdoors in Lagos!   

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Birthday U.S. Marine Corps!

Last night, we attended the 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball held in Lagos, Nigeria.  

Living in a foreign land, it is even more meaningful to celebrate our great nation
 and those who protect us.  What an honor to attend!  

The evening began with a cocktail reception, then a ceremony by the Marine Corps.  
The color guard presented the colors, and honored the U.S. Ambassador, who flew in
 from Abuja, the capitol of Nigeria.  This year due to security concerns, 
the Marine Corps Ball was cancelled in Abuja for the first time.  

The cake was presented and in military tradition, the first slice was cut with a sword.  

The first piece was presented to the honored guest, which was the U.S. Ambassador.  
The second piece was given to the oldest marine in attendance who took a bite, 
and passed it to the youngest Marine at the event.  This symbolizes the transfer of 
knowledge to the next generation.  The evening was especially memorable since it was
also the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  

There were video speeches from the Commandant and the Sargent Major, as well as an address read from the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, amidst lots of "hoo-rah" from the Marines.  The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria spoke, as well as the Consulate General who lives in Lagos.   
The Marines presented the speakers with beautifully beaded African Masks.  
My guess is that they probably have a collection of them!!  

However, the part of the ceremony which touched us most was the lighting of the candle in honor of past and fallen Marines.  As the candle burned next to a solitary cap, the men did a slow motion 
salute as taps was solemnly played.  It made us think of Charles' Dad who served
 in the Marine Corps and we saw many in the audience wiping away tears.   

But most of all, we enjoyed celebrating the Marine Corps Birthday with friends.  
We almost didn't get to go, so we were especially grateful!!   
We ordered our tickets a month ago,  just as soon as they went on sale - 
understanding that were set for the Ball!  However, about a week ago, we learned
 that we didn't really have tickets, but were on the waiting list - our entire group of 14!! 

It turns out that an error had been made and the American Women's Club had not 
received any tickets at all!  We had been asked to purchase the cake and have had priority 
in the past, but this year, we were totally out of luck!!  

Thankfully, the Marines along with the CG's wife, Kathleen (and Mary Walker from AWC) came 
through and we were able to secure SOME tickets.  We decided that Charley and I would take 
the last two tickets since we were the ones arranging the group.  Daily, the count changed.....
we had two tickets, then four, then six and finally all 14!!  We ran to pick them up - 
only to find that we were still TWO short!!  

Charles and I agreed that we would go out to a nice dinner instead and delivered all the tickets available to our friends - with no worries.  However, on Friday afternoon, I received a call that the Governor of Lagos state MIGHT not attend, so the plan was that we show up as the
Governor and his wife!!    Only in Lagos!!  

While our names were on the security/entrance list, we knew that the governor and his wife 
were assigned to the front VIP table and we were taking their seats.   If they had arrived, we'd 
be looking for chairs!  If they didn't arrive, our names would be exchanged at the head table.  
Thankfully, they called before the event, so we didn't have any trouble at all!!  
And, we had one of the best seats in the house!!  
It just required a bit of flexibility and gave us one more grand adventure in Nigeria!  

Lisa (right in the middle) was a Marine, so it was fun to honor her too!  

The women from our group - 
Sandra, Lisa, Robbin, Marilyn, Gail, Janet, Marla and Joanne. 

Everyone had such beautiful dresses and looked so nice!  

We can't forget the shoes!!   

The Ambassador seemed to enjoy the party and danced all evening!  He is pictured dancing with Lisa.  We  also thought it was a bit odd that the live band played LOUDLY all during dinner.    
However, as soon as dinner was over, the band finished and a DJ arrived to play music for dancing.  
Typically, you would think it would be the other way around!  :)   

We are pictured above with Kathleen and Joseph Stafford, the U.S. Consulate General
 and wife assigned to Lagos.  Kathleen has been such a great addition to our community 
and works tirelessly on the American Women's Club events AND is a very talented artist.  
I am grateful that she has also become a friend! 

The Marine Corps Ball was a fun event and we stayed until the very end!!  
I am so grateful that the Governor and wife had other plans!!  

Oh - and I have to comment on Charles' cumberbund and bow tie made of red and blue 
African fabric.  Since he forgot to bring his to Lagos (and we were afraid that the one that 
Chad mailed wouldn't arrive in time), we contacted a tailor and voila - 
new pieces just perfect for the Marine Corps Ball!!   
I think he looks handsome too!!   
Another great souvenir and memory from our time in Lagos!!  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

While Nigeria doesn't celebrate Halloween, the expats are always looking for an excuse 
to get together and have a  party!  
We were invited to a much anticipated Halloween celebration!

I made caramel and chocolate apples with pretzel, nuts, m&m and sprinkle toppings.  

Food is always plentiful and I love the unique dishes that the expats bring!  
My favorite item was a lemon rice dish with peanuts and jalapenos- YUM!!  
And another very TASTY appetiser was a an apple dip made of canned pumpkin, 
cinnamon, cream cheese and vanilla.  What a great FALL treat!  
I had multiple helpings!  :) 

This dish was the most creative -  Stuffed eyes (eggs)!  
 The food was wonderful and the company was even better!  

Costumes were required, so we went to the party dressed as BLACK EYED PEAS.   :) 
Our driver laughed out loud when he saw us.  
He has Just another story about those 'crazy white people' going around!    
(Just in case you need additional explanation......
We each have a BLACK EYE and have lots of P's on our clothing!)  

The staff in the kitchen dressed up too!!  
They were so proud of their costumes, so we had to have a picture!!    
Even the security guard participated and wore a Bandana and cowboy hat!  

Ozzie and Sharon Osborne were our hosts all the way from London!  

And a pregnant Peggy as a Louisiana 'gal'.  (So funny Peggy!)

Charles, Adrian, Cletus and John 

 I wish I had taken more pictures of the clever costumes.  
A mail order bride attended along with a 'geeky' engineer (Ralph did that one well!).  
The Flintstones, Wilma and Fred arrived along with nomads from Morocco.  
There was a guy dressed as an indonesian dancer, a witch, a golfer, a prison inmate, 
a tourist and a guy returning from a safari!    
One I especially thought was creative was the Buckaneer......
He taped a dollar bill to each ear and had a "buck an ear!".  
When you don't have much to work with, creativity takes over!  

  Happy Halloween Ya'll!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Elephant Stew

Yesterday I purchased a new cookbook entitled "Passport to Food'.  The book is written by the ladies of the American Women's Club of Lagos, Nigeria.  I love the expat cookbooks, since they contain unique recipes from all over the world.  I thought you might enjoy my two favorite recipes from the book.   I haven't tried them, but I am SURE they are wonderful!!  Let me know what you think!  

Elephant Stew 
1 Elephant 
salt and pepper 
Brown gravy 
2 rabbits, optional 

Cut elephant into bite-sized pieces.    Cover with lots of brown gravy.    Cook over low heat for about 4 weeks.  This will serve 4200 people.   If more are expected, the 2 rabbits may be added, but do this only if necessary as most people do not like to find hare in their stew.  

Honeymoon Salad 
Lettuce Alone!  


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chiefs and Kings

To be addressed as a Mr., Mrs. or Ms. in Nigerian social circles
 means you are a nobody. 
To be a mover or shaker you need to be a chief
 - or to at least hold a doctorate.

"To be a traditional chief is like being a small god - 
it is seen as the peak of one's achievement in life."

"A chief should be someone who is well-to-do financially and intellectually - 
and has contributed substantially to the development of the community."  

 "It's a recognition by your people," says Luke Ogadagbe, who became a chief in one of the Delta States in the 1990s.    He is known as Erhuvwu of Udu kingdom - "Goodness of the Udu kingdom" - and has found that his traditional title puts him in a "special class".  "You don't operate as an ordinary man anymore. As a matter of fact you are supposed to be in the upper bracket of society and that lifts you from the commoner," he explains.  

In Nigeria, titles are very important.  Many titles are inherited; others are awarded for doing good works within the community.  Some titles are earned professionally and other titles are bestowed as favors.   It is not uncommon to have titles which connect people with royalty or  those which are honorary chieftaincy titles. Sometimes the titles are also 'purchased'.    When we don't know the title of the individual (or in my case, when I can't pronounce the names) we use Her/His Excellency which covers all errors.   In general, we know that the Chief is either the head of an African village/community OR an honorary title given by an official.   The Otunba is a title given to signify a form of royalty in the chiefdom.  The Ayore is also a royal title which is given as a huge honor.  The king of a state or large community is the Oba.  The Oba is highly respected, but doesn't have political authority.

We had our first real exposure to this system when we were invited to a birthday party recently.  
It was the 75th birthday for "Her Highness, The Otunba Ayore,  Dr. (Mrs.) Bole Kuferege - Olube O.O.N." and we were thrilled to be invited.  She is a board member where Charles works and a very impressive lady.    

The Otunba is a beautiful woman and does not look 75 years old.  She is gracious, well-spoken, intelligent and has earned all the titles bestowed upon her.   There is a wonderful article about the Otumba here which is worth reading.  She is a high-profile woman in Nigeria, a former CEO of the United Bank of Africa and the former minister of commerce.  This excerpt from the article mentioned above tells about one of her titles. 

"...An Otunba is not the kind of title for which they send a letter and ask you to come and be an Otunba. It is a proper traditional title. 
“I went to do what they call ‘Ipebi’ for eight days, where I sat down and I was humbled by different people, old and young, who came to prostrate and greet me ‘Kabiyesi’. I stayed there for eight days, not going home or even to ease myself. To me, it was an eye opener as to the rich tradition that the Yoruba have. 
“On my father’s side, I come from the Jibodu Sokalu family. My paternal grandmother was Jibodu Sokalu on her father’s side, while on the mother’s side, she was from Ilupomi Soleka. So, I am from royalty in the two sides, as you can see.”    ...."So my basic responsibility to the Oba is to pay homage and, as much as I can, give support to the projects that are taking place within Ijebu-Ode and its environ."  

The Otunba's birthday party was held at the Medici Restaurant on Victoria Island in Lagos.  It was a well-attended event with various dignitaries and important personalities.   
We had a seated dinner with excellent food along with many, many, many speeches in traditional Nigerian style.   We were one of a very few oyibos (white ones) so we stood out a bit.  However, we had wonderful dinner partners and we enjoyed meeting many new people.  
However, to me, the most unique part of the evening was the Oba who attended from Ogun state.   After all the guests were seated, the Otunba walked in with the other dignitaries who filled the head table.  Then a trumpet sounded and everyone stood for the entrance of the Oba.  His trumpeter led the procession while blowing (loudly) and the Oba paraded in under a cloth jeweled umbrella.  He carried a beaded walking stick and a fly whisk made of horse hair fastened to a gold handle.  This is an important part of the Oba's regalia along with his special beads.  After he was seated, the Oba's court went to the table right behind us.  Suddenly, his attendant started shouting"Oba N' kio" for all to hear - over and over.  
All through the evening, this same man would SCREAM "Oba N kio" anytime that the Oba was addressed OR just at random, so we didn't forget that he was in the room.  All during dinner and all during the speeches - even mid-sentence, we heard the shout of "Oba N' kio" -which means either "Hail to the King" OR "The monarch recognizes your presence and welcomes you" depending on when it is shouted.  It was crazy!!  The Oba does not speak (I figured it was beneath him) in public, so his attendant responded from across the room - over FIFTY times!  You can find more information about the Oba (also very impressive) here.  It was just intriguing to us.  

The evening ended with a wonderful band and dancing.  

As we left, we were given a gift as a thank you for attending the event.  
The women received pink packages and the men were given blue, which was a nice touch.  

Charles received a small accessory bag as his momento.  

And I am pictured at 1:30 a.m. with my new bright red coffee thermos. 

What an interesting evening!  

And....I have decided on a new title which was inherited 
and handed down from my family line
 and is also a very HIGH condition of birth 
AND listed as an approved title from Nigeria.
Just call me "Princess Akobi", which means FIRST BORN.  
I think I earned that one!  :)