By Chris Duncan
As one worry goes away another rears its head. The xenophobic attacks back in South Africa have certainly created a vocal backlash here in Nigeria. The local press has had pages of reports, photographs and opinions of what action should be taken against South Africa. Calls for boycotting MTN, DSTV and other retail shoppers abound. Others are made for South Africans to be sent home. The recalling of the Nigerian ambassador sounds ominous as the verbal war hots up.Time to lie low for a while as this passes but it will never be forgotten I am sure. Next time work permits or visas need renewing lengthy delays can be expected. Some of the guys travelling home last week wondered if they would be messed as around as they departed through the airport but all reports indicate none so far.I raised my concerns with the security manager who said not to worry, just don’t talk about your nationality. You really have to hang your head in shame with these attacks. Mind you, South Africa and Nigeria have had a rocky relationship the past few years.
I wonder how long before that name is changed?
On meeting a new South African he introduced us to a new lunch venue – Cheers Bar. On entering it was reminiscent of an English Pub – well sort off. Dark wood, horse brasses, framed pictures, flags and of course an abundance of TV sets. No draught beer however. Waitresses in some kind of uniform displaying some social skills, reasonably prompt service with no gum chewing and a menu offering a selection of food, all reasonably priced. With the overall appearance of a well run establishment I am sure to be back to what appears to be a haven for locals and expats alike.
However, after dark it becomes like all the other local bars – the haunt of the night fighter.
Lunch was a pizza, one of the better that I have had here even though the listed anchovies remain as elusive as ever. I noticed an all day breakfast including black pudding and yes, I do enjoy a fried slice or two- particularly with a good dollop of HP sauce. This raised my eyebrows somewhat, black pudding here in Port Harcourt. Maybe I will give it a try but who makes it is more of interest. A simple sense of self preservation is all important before dabbling in what could be a science project resulting in what could be a dehydrating experience.
I learnt the other evening over at JC’s place there is a butchers shop called the English Butcher whom I suspect may be the producer. It is my intention to visit that butchery and see what is on offer. He says the meat looks good.
You may wonder why meat appears frequently in this blog. Here in PH the locals eat cow which is boiled to death so no worrying about which cut it is from. The discerning palate will demand better or if you are like me it no longer appears on your menu. The cuts on offer at the local Spar are trimmed of fat, have no marbling and to the untrained eye could be passed as any cut by the equally ignorant counter hand. To me I see it being useful for make a good boeuf bourguignon with lots of red wine and bacon lardons to soften and flavour it.
Stay with chicken, most of Africa does.
Back at the hotel there is a noticeable upswing in business. The occupancy is improving and traffic through the restaurant increasing; however the budgeted numbers are slipping away for the month.
In our weekly forecast meeting I learnt of yet another election to contend with, this one being the local government one which is scheduled for after the swearing in date. Once these have been decided, business allegiances will be determined with money changing hands will the way forward for the next while be determined.
A proverbial minefield it is here but somehow sanity prevails – maybe not a minefield, just the desire of the people to make money and enrich their lives, some more so at the expense of others.