When you fall in love with a place, you try to incorporate one or two things about the new environment into your lifestyle. This is common with the “oyinbo” people when they find themselves in Africa. Recently, we came across a foreigner’s instagram page. She calls herself “atarodo” and the name made us fall in love with her page.
Clara Atarodo is a German lady currently living in Nigeria. She has been to Nigeria more than once and the love for the country has brought her back. She has been having wonderful stay in the country, especially in Lagos. Her experiences have been amazing and she shared her experiences with us.
Follow her amazing feed on instagram
WHY ATA RODO ARE YOU AS SPICY/HOT *WINKS*?
When I was looking for a name to use for my Instagram page, I asked my friend for the meaning of hot pepper in Yoruba and i was told it’s called “ata rodo”. I noticed that there were many “oyinbo Peppers” online already so I wanted to come up with something slightly different. I liked the way “atarodo” sounded so I decided to go for it.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND TAKE US THROUGH A DAY IN THE LIFE OF CLARA.
I’m a student doing my masters in Germany Intercultural personnel development and communication management (that’s quite a long and confusing title) but basically similar to intercultural HR. In my free time I love to go to new places, meet new people, try new foods and of course take pictures. Actually I’m addicted to taking pics so my friends gave me the nickname snapsnap. Lol! Also I like music, arts, architecture, fashion and everything creative.
A day in my life must definitely start with a good cup of coffee. I must confess I’m a big coffee addict. Then I’ll have breakfast, which is essential to keep me going in the morning. As I’m a foodie, some snacks, lunch, more snacks, dinner then post dinner snacks will follow throughout the day ;). Besides food, I like to talk and laugh a lot during my day, no matter what I actually end up doing, as I’m a kinda bubbly and talkative person. It just keeps me happy and motivated and I try to make people around me smile too. Here in Lagos I’m doing an Internship so I go to work during the week. On weekends I make sure I go out from Friday till Sunday and have great experiences with friends. That’s why I love Lagos so much. There is always something great to do every single day of the week, as the city never sleeps and has such a creative and inspiring vibe.
YOU’VE BEEN IN NIGERIA NOT ONCE, TWICE BUT THREE TIMES! WHAT IS IT ABOUT NIGERIA THAT KEEPS YOU COMING?
Yes, that is true. My first visit to Lagos I spent two months; August and September 2016. Then I came back for one month in March 2017 and finally, I’m here again, since October 2017. It’s just the spirit of Lagos that keeps calling me back. I traveled to many places before, I think up to 10 countries if I can remember (Austria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, Egypt, Nigeria, Russia, Switzerland, Tunisia). I was always on the search for a place where I will have that feeling of coming back home and finally I found this place. It is hard to describe but I really feel like I somehow belong here. Maybe it is because I have a black soul in a white skin as several people told me. What I mean by that is that I blend in well. In Germany for example some people sometimes told me I talk to much or too loud, or I laugh too much or too loud and stuffs like this. Germans are more of introverts and sometimes I don’t seem to fit in well. I can’t really tell why but I feel I can be myself here in Lagos. I just love people and their mindset here.
TELL US ABOUT AIESEC?
I’m doing a professional paid Internship with AIESEC in Lagos this year. Before, I did 2 voluntary projects with AIESEC Lagos. AIESEC is the biggest student organization worldwide with countries, for example Germany and Nigeria. AIESEC was founded in Europe after WW2 and focuses on empowering young people to make positive impacts in the society. In Nigeria AIESEC is in about 19 universities and it is a great opportunity for students under 30 years to become a global citizen and go abroad for voluntary works or professional paid internships. You also can join AIESEC as member on your campus and volunteer during the school year. This will help you gain experience in different fields like marketing, public speaking, event management etc. I’m a member at my university in Germany. To learn more check online for AIESEC or ISSUU or ask for members at your campus.
LETS TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN NIGERIA SO FAR, HOW HAS YOUR JOURNEY BEEN AND WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT NIGERIA?
My experience in Nigeria has really been amazing and I can say that I really love the country and people so much. What excites me most about Nigeria besides the weather, food, culture and landscapes is the Nigerian mindset. I have to say the people I met here I find them extraordinary, creative, very innovative, solution orientated and hard working. There’s a saying I heard and i quote “If you put a Nigerian in front of a wall he will break it with his head and continue walking”. For me this is a great description about the stamina I could observe, especially here in Lagos. Its hustle and bustle people keep smiling even though they are suffering.
THE FIRST TIME YOU STEPPED FOOT IN NIGERIA WHAT WAS RACING THROUGH YOUR MIND?
I can’t speak for the whole country as I mostly stayed here in Lagos. The first time I came here I was totally overwhelmed by everything. So many people in the streets, different smells, colors, sound… I was impressed by this vibrant, colourful city that never sleeps. Honestly I was quite scared and worried about the security situation due to the way the media represent Nigeria in Germany. Soon I learned from my own experience that daily life here in Lagos is quite safe when you use your common sense and of course don`t provoke any trouble. Also I guess it’s helpful to learn little phrases of local languages or Pidgin as ice breakers. When in very rare cases I come in some kind of hairy situation I just bravely shout ‘Kilode’? ‘Kilonshele’? ‘Wetin happen’?
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO ADAPT TO THE NIGERIAN SYSTEM?
I love to remind myself that I can learn so much from people I meet and situations I pass through. Travelling is a great way to do that and besides exploring and having a good time with new people in a new environment is a good chance for personal growth. I try to be open minded, to observe without judging immediately, not to generalize people or phenomena I observe, and to give myself time to adapt and give it a try. Force yourself to live out of your comfort zone and try new things and try to learn something positive from all your experiences; good and maybe not so good.
SPEAKING OF ADAPTATION, YOU SEEM IN TUNE WITH THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IN NIGERIA AND WE LOVE YOUR #DANFODIARIES SERIES. SEEING AN OYINBO PEPPER IN A DANFO ISNT A REGULAR OCCURRENCE, THE FIRST TIME YOU ENTERED A DANFO DID YOU GET ANY ODD STARES/STRANGE REMARKS FROM PASSENGERS?
Yah that’s true. I used public transport in Lagos since day one I arrived and quickly got used to the system. A friend of mine who runs the page @motoringnigeria sent me a Twitter link from @Lagostraffic where someone posted a pic of an Oyinbo expat in a Danfo saying it’s finally time for whites to enter buses in Lagos. My friend was like “Hey Clara! look at this, you did this since!, so I thought why not share that experience in my #DANFODIARIES on Instagram. Most times other passengers just give me a short skeptical side look. Sometimes when I shout the name of the bustop with correct pronunciation followed by ‘owa oo’ I get a shocked look by the driver ;). Besides that people are very friendly and helping. Though I observed that many seem to be more kind to Oyinbos than to fellow Nigerians which I find really sad and bad behavior. I feel it is postcolonial mindset. When I observe it I try to speak to people and explain to them that by putting up the whites they are lowering themselves. I think a lot of education and awareness is needed in this field. This was partly also my motive for my instagram profile to show that an oyinbo girl can life normal daily life here just like an average Lagosian would do.
#windowshopping #snacks #shopping #danfo #yellow #bus #ontheroad #gidi #lasgidi #eko #lagoslife #nigeria #9ja #naija #lasgidivibes #thisislagos #thisisafrica #instatravel #wanderlust #explore #happy #smile @theyellowoflagos @lasgidi_trends @ekomusicng @ekocityguide @naijanomads @lasgidileaks #danfodiaries @lagos_street @thestreetsoflagos
3 CHARACTERS YOU ARE LIKELY TO ENCOUNTER IN A DANFO?
- Iya Tunde who relentlessly shouted “Conductor!! My 50 Naira change oo!!!!” during the entire ride.
- Wannabe Lekki Boy aka Yaba Yahoo Boy who seems worried about his image suffering from using public transport.
- A market woman coming from mile 12 with 3 to 5 bags tomatoes or pepper, shouting at the conductor “Oga you wan spoil my market?!?! My bags, don’t press ham!!” At every bus stop she will kuku check if all bags are still complete and shout at everyone who dares to touch them.
FROM BADAGARY BEACH TO BALOGUN MARKET, YOUR LAGOS EXPLOITS HAS SURELY TAKEN YOU PLACES. WHATS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE LAGOS EXPERIENCE (TILL DATE).
Yeah thats true I can say that I nearly explored every corner of Lagos so far from Iyana-Ipaja to Oshodi, to Berger, Mile 12 and more, mostly on the mainland. I don’t really know the Island. So my most memorable experience so far I would say would be within the scope of a project for AIESEC Lagos called WeCAre working for more awareness for drug abuse at secondary schools. I went to UnilagFm and had the opportunity to visit the studio and go on air with them. Also we planned an awareness walk and during that all of the AIESECERs were dancing at Tejuosho roundabout and WAEC bus stop in broad daylight. That was kinda extreme but same time great experience. Since that day I felt nothing can embarrass me again in this city ;).
#beach #beachvibes #boat #beautyofnature #atlanticocean #ekomiami #thisisafrica #thisislagos #myafrica #mylagos #wanderlustofafrica #instatravel #sea #wearetravelgirls #darlingescapes #sheisnotlost #sheexplores #traveladdict #letsgoafrica #mynaija #nigeria #9ja #westafrica #africa #history #culture @badagryiansandslaying @palmtreemagazine @palmtreeexperiences @palmtreebeachess @palm_tree_mania @pulsenigeriatravel @jumiatravelng @travelspreeng @lagosviews @lagoslife @thelagosweekender @lookslikelagos @ekoonibaje @ekoatlantic @expats.ng
#balogun #balogunmarket #eko #ekomarket #market #lagos #lasgidi #gidi #lagoslife #nigeria #9ja #naija #westafrica #africa #mylagos #mylagos #mynigeria #germaninlagos #oyinbo #oyinbopepper #germaninnigeria #shopping #streetscene #colours #phonephotography #travelblogger @theyellowoflagos @lagoscultureblog @lagoslife @lasgidionline @lookslikelagos @ourlagosyourlagos @ekocityguide @ekoonibaje @ekolawanaija @unravellingnigeria
WHAT OTHER PARTS OF NIGERIA HAVE YOU EXPLORED?
I’ve been to Ibadan and Abeokuta and I did a road trip to Calabar. I liked Ibadan as it was the first place I’ve seen outside Lagos and it gave me a different perspective to daily life in Nigeria. Even though it’s a huge city, it seemed more local in a way and that was an interesting experience. Abeokuta was just amazing with its beautiful landscape and natural environment and of course Olumo Rock. It’s such a stunning place which I will always keep as great memory. My most outstanding experience was my bus trip to Calabar. I went to Calabar by road with ABC transports. Many warned me not to do it because it won’t be safe for an oyinbo to travel that far over land. In the end I was so glad and grateful I had the opportunity to experience this. It was just mind blowing to see the beautiful landscapes and nature along the roadside, for example crossing river Niger and seeing the border to Cameroon. Calabar was really a special and beautiful city for me. A lot of great places to visit, nice weather and climate, beautiful environment and of course Calabar food!!! Big thumbs up!! I added so much weight in one week as I ate too much of the amazing local dishes like white soup, afang soup, boli and fish, etc. And I tried bush meat there which really was extraordinarily delicious!! As much as i loved the city, in less than two weeks, Lagos was calling me back. I just love the Gidi vibe with its hustle and bustle.
YOU SURELY LOVE NIGERIAN STREET FOOD, WHICH OF THEM HAVE YOU TRIED AND WHAT STREET FOOD WILL YOU ADVICE ANYONE COMING TO NIGERIA FOR THE FIRST TIME TO TRY?
I’m a foodie and love all kinds of food, especially 9ja food of course. When It comes to street food I love Boli. There was a time I ate Boli and groundnut every single day. It was like an addiction and my friends started calling me Boli lover. When you’re new in Nigeria and you want to try street food I would advice to go for Boli and nuts or Boli and fish which unfortunately is less common in Lagos but more in Calabar or Port Harcourt. Another street food is Suya. I prefer chicken suya. Also Massa is really a nice snack. It’s rice pancakes from the Northerners (Hausas) sold at some Suya spots. Oh and If you can try to grab a cool bottle of Zobo it tastes amazing, it’s super refreshing on a hot day and I was told it’s quite healthy with its natural ingredients.
WE HAVE A COUPLE OF FUN QUESTIONS TO SHOW US HOW NIGERIAN YOU ARE.
Danfo or BRT?
Danfo! I love the vibe and character. It’s just fast, cheap and easy to get around from one end of the town to another. Besides, I love to watch people and you always can catch up some gra gra drama ;). You get in touch with locals and learn more about 9ja daily life.
#danfo #danfodiaries #busride #ankara #lagoslife #lasgidi #eko #nigeria #9ja #naija #travelling #traveller #happy #smile #travelblogger #nigeranblogger #lagosstyle #lasgidivibes #gidi #thisislagos #thisisafrica #travelafrica @danfo_ @lookslikelagos @motoringnigeria @nigeriacorpersconnect @aiesecnigeria
Jollof Rice or Fried Rice?
I’m a foodie so I would say both
#jollofrice #nigerianjollof #learning #cooking #nigeranfood #naijafood #9jafood #foodislife #foodlover #foodie #inthekitchen #homemade #havingagoodtime #friendsarelife #friends #grateful #calabar #nigeria #9ja #westafrica #africa #travelafrica #traveller #happy #smile #wanderlust #dodo #plantain #yum
Fancy Restaurant or Mama Put?
I love local foods and restaurants. For example Calabar kitchen at Emmanuel high in Ogudu serves amazing food for a great price. Chop belleful without chopping all your money 😉
Chicken Suya or Beef Suya?
Chicken suya! Its just juicer meat
Owambe or Beach Day?
Owambe shakiti bobo! Jollof and party is always fun!
One thing on a small chops plate that has to go and why?
Nothing ooo!!! As I said, I love 9ja foods so I’ll definitely eat it all and don’t let it waste oo!!!
At a police check point will you pay a bribe or show your vehicle papers?
I don’t have a car and due to this, I move around by public transports like “Danfo”, “Marwa” and Okada most of the times. Only if I’m going somewhere the first time and my friends can’t help to describe the way, then I take an Uber. So lucky enough I never came into a police check point so far.
FINALLY, THREE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT NIGERIA YOU FEEL THE WORLD SHOULD KNOW?
- Nigeria has many negative news headlines which are not true. I feel that Africa as a whole but in particular Nigeria is very badly portrayed in the media abroad. You might get the impression Nigeria looks like Makoko and is ruled by Boko Haram. I’m very sad, tired and angry about that because I feel that media report just one-side and don’t show the bigger picture. Due to this and poor education (more focusing on countries like e.g. UK, USA or China) we get in Germany about African countries only view people have realistic knowledge about Nigeria. The first time I came to Lagos my friends and family members at home panicked and were so afraid about me coming here. I wasn’t initially scared but later I became anxious by their worries. When I landed and sent them pictures of nice places like shopping malls, cinemas, the university, etc. they were so shocked such exist in ‘poor’ Africa. This shocked and irritated me and then it became my motivation to try as little as I can to change this picture people see about Nigeria. That’s what I’m trying to do on my Instagram.
- In Africa, Nigeria is the country with the highest population, a huge variety of different cultures, language, landscapes etc. Nigeria is very diverse and has many faces. It is rich in culture and such has so much to offer.
- Nigeria is not poor. It’s rich in natural resources. We can’t deny the struggle is real with issues like corruption and political leadership. But there are so many riches in Nigeria. In Lagos, I’ve seen as many luxury cars as never before in my life. In Germany I don’t know anyone who can afford several cars, drivers, house helps, big mansions, etc. I am aware that wealth is unequally allocated and I think this is the real issue Nigeria is facing. If all the wealthy people would decide to help their brothers and sisters in need the country could rise up on its own. What I’m basically trying to say is that the picture of whole Nigeria being a big Makoko where people live in huts is a misconception.
This are my personal point of views based on my experiences in Lagos and Nigeria so far. I don’t want to generalize or create any stereotypes. Everyone has to make his or her own experiences and should be open minded while doing that. Thanks so much for having me and keep up your great work Naija Nomads. More muscle to your hustle!
Are you a foreigner living in Nigeria? We’ll love you to share your experience in Nigeria with our Nomad family.