Sitting The Coronavirus Out In South Africa: Aanu’s Abroad Life

April 24, 2020

The Nigerian experience is physical, emotional and sometimes international. No one knows it better than our features on #TheAbroadLife, a series where we detail and explore Nigerian experiences while living abroad.

Imagine starting a new chapter of your life away from all the friends and family you know and grew up with. Now imagine four months into that, a deadly pandemic hits, with largely yourself to rely on to weather it out. 

On Abroad Life, Aanu talks about school life in South Africa and weathering the coronavirus out, one pot of jollof rice at a time.

Because I’m overly dramatic, let’s swap war stories. When was the last time you went out during the lockdown and how differently was it from  the usual scenario you’re used to?

That was I think … three Fridays ago? So April 3rd. I went grocery shopping. Now, before the virus hit, Saturdays, weekends were grocery days, especially where there are free bus services from hostels to Rosebank Mall, this popular mall in South Africa. You can imagine how busy it usually gets.

The last time though, there were shoppers in masks, the security guards only permitted five people at a time to enter the mall, there was social distancing. You had to sanitise your hands before entering, you had to sanitise the trolley handlebars too. It was a lot.

I see. Mine was three weeks ago as well. I may have cracked the side of my curtain open three weeks ago to get a peek outside. It’s not me Corona will catch with its side-eyes. 

Anyway, how come you’re living in South Africa and not getting room temperature amala delivered to your doorstep like the rest of us in Nigeria?

Well, I came here in January 2020 for school. I’m getting my Masters in Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Witswatersand, South Africa.

Also, amala is unnecessary. I’d ban it.

Sacrilege!

Anyway, I’m dying to talk about anything but the coronavirus. So please tell us the fascinating process involved in getting into journalism school in South Africa.

The process started in, I want to say June last year. I was still freelancing for CNN….

Ayyy. Okay Mr. Big Shot Journalist

Ugh. Ignoring you. So someone sent a scholarship opportunity to me and told me my name was pretty much written on it. The scholarship was courtesy the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation. I decided to apply in the first week of July. After the scholarship interview, I had to apply to the school proper. Hm. That was where problem started.

Uh-oh

So if you’re coming to South Africa with a foreign degree, a body called the South African Qualifications Authority has to grade your degree to determine where it falls in the South African grading system.

Wait wait. A body grades your final university grade before you can study in South Africa. Can somebody please @ASUU in this chat?

Exactly! And you have to be very patient with these people, if you’re from  Nigerian University, good luck. So SAQA sent an email to my alma-matter, OAU, asking for confirmation that I actually went there. 

It took OAU two days to reply, only to say that I needed to pay money to get the confirmation that I schooled there. I paid that money within like ten minutes of getting the email. Tell me why it took OAU one month to finally send the result, and why it was a wrong result they finally sent after all the stress?

Wow. There’s drama, suspense, some university betrayal. I love this story!

Anyway, the whole process was completed in December. Let’s just pretend it didn’t take almost three months to get it over and done with.

Hmm. E be tins. So, I know you’ve only been there 4 months, but what were your first impressions of South Africa?

Funny you should ask, because my first impressions of South Africa were formed within my first few hours after landing.

Spill!

So I landed in South Africa at 1:25 AM because ASKY, the airline my travel agent advised me to take, had a stop over at Douala, Cameroun. We were on the tarmac for like 45 minutes. Anyway, all that didn’t matter because when I did land at South Africa, someone was waiting for me with a big sign that had my name on it! It was my travel agent’s husband. No one ever comes to pick me at the airport, I liked it you know!

Aww. A little South African rom-com

Haha. So it was morning, I had just gotten off a long flight. All I wanted to do was get to my student accommodation and sleep. Only thing is, the security guard at the hostel wasn’t having it. According to him, the person that held the keys to my room was asleep and I’d have to stay over at the common room until 8 the next day when he’d be awake. This guy refused to budge!

No way!

Yes oh. Thankfully, my travel agent’s husband has a big heart. He let me into his home to spend the night and I was on my way the next day. So my first impression was, here is an asshole in front of me, making things hard when they really don’t need to be and then there’s this stranger. Kind to me when he didn’t have to. 

I knew South Africa was going to be a mix of things.

Hmm. Got it, glad that turned out okay.

But now you’ve lived there for a bit, what are some of the things you’ve loved about life in South Africa? 

You know, I have to say the school life.

*Speak like your mom’s listening*

No really! Anyone that schooled in Nigeria needs to study abroad so you’ll know they’re teaching dust here. Now I might be speaking from a place of privilege, because my school is a top 200 school globally. But it just goes to show, what counts as an elite school in Nigeria? Covenant?

*Hands on head emoji*

When you get here, there are no pedestals for lecturers. A lot of my professors are over 60. People that have done journalism longer than I’ve been alive. There’s a woman in her 70s, she’s been active for like 50 years and we call her by her first name. There is no ‘lecturer is coming, let me scramble to carry their books’. Zero eye-service nonsense. Most of our classes are informal, we just discuss. There is a lot of back and forth and less dictating. There’s order as well. You get emailed your class schedule.

I’m listening to this and it’s so basic, but so unattainable over here 

Like! It’s basic, but we don’t have it. And no shade to SA, But like, if SA can get it right, why can’t we?

Big talk!

Oh, I forgot another first impression I got here. They smoke like crazy. Lunch breaks, no lunch breaks, they are puffing. It was a little jarring to me as a non-smoker

Again *speak like your mom’s watching*

So before the coronavirus came and ruined things, how did you see the South African night life?

See, this corona fucked me over! I spent my first few weeks here laying low. By the third week in February, I had a list of places I wanted to go to. I linked up with my friend who had been here five years, joined the lists and started knocking them off one by one. I had like 12 spots to go to. And those were just bars and restaurants, not even counting the museums or other places to sightsee. I hit like three spots, and that was it. Corona really got me. But from the little I’ve seen, the South African night life is dope!

Got it, since we’re already on coronavirus. When Covid-19 first started making rounds, did you think it would get this serious?

So there are two parts to this answer. I started following updates earlier than most people because my whole life is news apps notifications. By January, I was closely following it, but I’ll be honest I thought it was someone else’s problem. When they locked down Wuhan, I was thinking why would they lock people inside? This could never work in New York.

Hardy har har

When it started affecting Nigeria with oil prices in February, I was in South Africa, I knew it was serious. By the first week in March, I had stopped all unnecessary contact. I still went for a date sha. 

See your love-life on the streets!

Dey there. By mid-March, South Africa already had its first case. One minute you’re chilling, the next, your school is sending emails that it is going on an early recess and everyone has to go home, except the international students.

We only resumed classes online this week.

Crazy. And how has the government reacted so far?

I don’t know about every other aspect of his governance, but President Cyril has been so effective in handling the coronavirus. He communicates clearly, his office communicates clearly. This guy isn’t hiding behind any twitter threads. 

He has held maybe 5,6 live addresses. You also know when he will speak to you. The last address, they told us days before, and this is the order things take. You always know what to expect.

*SSAs to the Nigerian government have left the chat*

Yeah, he just announced that we’ll be leaving lockdown in 5 stages and the processes for each are so clearly outlined, it’s ridiculous!

God whenst and under whomst?

That said, how’s lockdown treating you?

Hmm. Well obviously, I’m lonely and worried about my friends and family in Nigeria. I toyed with the idea of returning to Nigeria when the virus hit, but then I thought about my health in the hands of the Nigerian or the South African care system and decided to take my chances.

These shots you are firing today sha…

Only facts. One thing about this lockdown though, I’ve learnt that I can actually cook. Before,  I couldn’t take onions. Now, I can’t even eat noodles without green peppers, and onions. I’ve gone from spending like ten minutes cooking noodles, to one hour.

I cooked my first jollof rice. My friend in Lagos was teaching me over the phone, I’m now a jollof rice guru. I’ve also been watching a lot of Sisi Yemmie. So it isn’t all bad.

Yay to silver linings. At least food is keeping you occupied

Well, there’s that and my job. As part of my scholarship, I’ve been working with this paper called Mail and Guardian. I have a one-month contract to be a staff writer, so I have been busy as hell if I’m being honest.

Got it! So what’s the plan after the lockdown is lifted and your Masters is done and dusted? 

You know, if you had asked me this when I first landed South Africa, I’d have told you how I plan to return to Nigeria. That answer doesn’t apply anymore! Nigeria is in my rearview mirror, good day, good bye!

Wow, wow. What a betrayed!

Yeah, now I’m looking for opportunities for a post-brexit UK or something in Australia. But Nigeria? No, God forbid. (His literal words)

Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 12 PM (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.

Boyin Plumptre

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

February 6, 2019

The 2019 general elections are a little over a week away. On the 16th of February, some 84 million registered voters, will defy the pull of Saturday morning television, to make their way to polling units scattered country-wide. They will make a choice as to who gets to most likely, but hopefully not — screw […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

March 1, 2021

Do you know what one of the most awkward things in the world is? Your friend comes up to you, handing you their phone to listen to their music while smiling hard, their eyes filled with hope and love so you listen but realize, it just isn’t good. Then they ask you, what do you […]

March 1, 2021

February went by very fast, but Twitter NG users had a lot to laugh about. From tweets about Valentine’s day to an entire generational war, here are some of the most hilarious Nigerian Tweets from February 2021. 1. You had to be there to understand this one. 2. This sage advice. 3. Violence? Yes, please. […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 27, 2019

Do you have a face that could make angels jealous, or should you really be walking around with a nylon bag over your head so you don’t scare children? Well, this quiz is here to answer that by telling you exactly how good-looking you are. Take and find out: 11 Quizzes For People Who Aren’t […]

November 14, 2019

The fourth season of Big Brother Naija came to an end over a month ago, but the conversation surrounding the housemates is far from over. So, in a bid to keep the fire burning, we decided to create a quiz that tells you which famous member of the ‘Pepper Dem’ gang is your soulmate. Take […]

November 11, 2019

Everyone has something to say about what kind of person they are. But how well do we truthfully evaluate these things? Not that much, I can assure you. The average person is always lying to themselves to make sure they look good. But you know what and who doesn’t lie? Zikoko quizzes that’s what. Take […]

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

More from Citizen

February 19, 2021

This Abroad Life will leave you speechless. Today’s subject woke up one day and had to suddenly move to the USA. She talks about surviving on almost nothing, avoiding an arranged marriage, becoming a citizen and family drama. Let’s start from the beginning. When did you move to the USA? I moved here in 2009 […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X