I woke up the next morning with a sense of relief that in a few hours’ time, I would be leaving the city. I was also a bit worried about the next destination, Nairobi. The previous day, I had arrived Chad, the Capital City N’Djamena to discover the high cost of living, the high internet tariffs and the blockage of social media by the government. A few other misfortunes I had that previous day coupled with the above mentioned made me want to leave as soon as I could, and behold, that day has come.
For some reasons, I was also worried about Nairobi, It was so unfortunate during my ever first visit to Kenya. I was detained by some corrupt immigration officers who claimed that I was coming in to their country for a different business and not tourism. They insisted I bribe them or I would deported. I called them a bluff. They detained and deported me the following day. I was presently worried if same fate might befall me again, even though I made sure I had a good documentation for my visit this time.
Waking up that morning, my mind went through a list of assumptions I always had about Chad and the realities on ground. First, I had expected that most of the population of the country would be Muslims since it was close to northern Nigeria where majority were mostly Muslims but that was not the case. In fact, almost all the Chadians I met and became friends with were Christians. Surprisingly, it was only a few hours to my departure that I encountered and made some Muslim friends. Some Christians in Chad believe that Chad has 45% Christians, 50% Muslims and then a smaller 5% who practiced other traditional African religion. Some others are of the opinion that Christians in Chad are only 38% to 40% of the population while Muslims constitute 55% and then others.
The second assumption I made about this city was that since it was one of the most expensive cities in Africa, it should have modern facilities and infrastructure for citizens and visitors but this was not the case. Several of the infrastructures were in shambles. The road networks were not very impressive and the people lacked several basic amenities. There was the problem of electricity here like there is back home in Nigeria. The hotel I used was powered by a generator till I slept. I woke up later and found out it has been put out and yet there was no electricity. Food however is very cheap here, especially street food. The quantity of rice I was given for 500 CFA ($1) was so much that I could not even finish half of it.
During my visit also, I learnt that most government offices are closed or not very functional due to the fact salaries have not been paid to staff. A couple of weeks later, I heard in the news that the government of the country was able to secure loans from France to offset these debts – sounds very bad but that was the situation of things.
Tourist attractions like the Lake Chad, Zakouma National Park and the National Museum were very popular here. Zakouma was quite some distance and remains one of the best reserves in Central Africa. This and Lake Chad I was warned are very dangerous to visit due to insurgencies happening several places around Chad especially Boko Haram. To add to all these, these places were far from the capital hence I could not visit them.
There was no tap water that morning in the hotel. I needed the water to bath and also to do some laundry since most of my cloths had not been washed since I left Nigeria. I was ready to leave the hotel around 8am but to return around midday to checkout before proceeding to the airport for my 8:pm flight to Nairobi. I took a casual stroll from my hotel to see some of the town that morning. I went very close to the Chari River. I was left wondering why Chad choose to locate the presidential palace at almost the border of their country, on the banks of a river. I was able to get a photo after taking permission from the guy who lived around this place.
Leaving the River, I headed to Place de la nation de N’djamena. On arrivals, I was instructed by two security officials that I need a written permission to take photos. They however permitted me to go ahead and take the photos, but requested I would ‘appreciate’ them before leaving. Fortunately, there was a gardener trimming the flowers there that morning. The gardener there was also a professional photographer. He had a professional camera man standby for tourists or local who may visit the square. I paid him 500 CFA for a few shots with my camera before I left.
I visited the Grand Marche – the big market. The market was filled with varieties of fruits and fresh vegetables. There were other edibles like cassava and cocoyam, varieties of peppers and spices and lots of other things. That was one of those moments I wished I found an Airbnb apartment so that I could cook and verify my culinary ability in a foreign land.
While at the market, I made a new friend called Oumar. He was a very cheerful guy and took me on a tour of the whole market. He even took me around the town to show me a few other places. The General Hospital in Ndjamena, the Central Bank and several other places of interest in the town. He finally took me to a business center to print my invitation to the event I was meant to be a resource person at in Nairobi. Let me spend some time to talk about this. A few Nigerians get involved in lots of illegal activities in Nairobi and their government has labelled most Nigerians to be bad. In the light of this, their immigration officers do consider Nigerians who claim they are coming for tourism to be visiting for other dubious reasons. I was once deported from there because I said I was coming for tourism and I was not willing to pay them bribe.
To avoid being embarrassed as a Nigerian or any other nationality, it is advisable to find an event happening in Nairobi, register for it and present the invitation or registration for the event to the immigration officers at the airport. This way, by passing immigration hurdles will be much easier.
So, once I had my invitation to the event printed, it was time to return to the 5 sur 5 Hotel to pick up my bag pack and get ready for my evening flight to Nairobi.
Oumar’s company that afternoon was very helpful. He took me around several other places in town. We went to a UN Reserved area where we spent almost the whole afternoon till it was time to go to the airport.
The airport at Ndjamena was a very small one, but they had a reasonable number of security officers on ground. Arriving the airport around 4;pm for an 8;pm flight, we were instructed to wait till 6:pm or 2 hours to the departure time before we could enter the airport. That evening funny enough, only eight passengers were travelling and we were told that two out the eight of us changed their mind not to travel again.
One of the passengers I had earlier met outside approached me to help me check-in some baggage with my name. This is something I do not like doing on international flights but I decided to do it since after speaking with the airline officer at the counter, the baggage will be checked-in on my account but on the passengers’ name.
The Royal Air Maroc plane landed a bit late. We started push back at around 9:pm. I briefly reflected on my stay in the country, the issues with the immigration at the border, the high cost of living and several other things. I was tempted to write a post on the social media calling for the overthrow of their president but changed my mind since anything is still possible. I was so happy to be leaving Chadians and their Chad.
We arrived Nairobi around 4:am that morning. Immigration experience was less than 2 minutes when I presented the invitation for the event I was going for. I went out to meet my friend Val, who was waiting to pick me.