After a hectic one month shuttling Lagos and Abuja and trying to put together what has been described as the most exciting stage play in recent times, I decided to take my other children for a quick 4 day vacation.
They hardly see me and ‘what’s app’ have become alternate papa. So since there is no time for an abroad trip because one was still doing NECO and I had already started the process of berthing Sardauna which is expected to dwarf Emir Sanusi, I decided to go to Whispering Palms.
Whispering Palms for me comes with a lot of memories. It was the very first place I took Erelu to after chasing her all over Lagos and selling my Okada
After one year, she said, ‘ take me to Whispering Palms and I will agree. Whispering Palms was our own Marriot that time.
You watched it on Newsline and dreamt of going there. I quickly agreed and ran to the James Robertson Surulere booking office.
They said it was N20k a night. Wahala, I was earning N16,000 a month at Habib Trustees. But it’s not today determination used to do me.
I say, I am coming . Rushed back to the office and did personal loan. I borrowed 80k to pay back over one year just for one weekend at Whispering Palms.
It was heaven on earth. The swishing palm trees, the smooth Lagoon, the food, fresh coconuts served with its sweet juice and the beautiful chalets.
When you wake up in the morning, you will see the wonderful Prof Pearse wondering around the huge compound making sure things were working.
He would engage you in discussions about life and often share palmwine with you.
It was bliss and after that first trip, I made sure I did it at least three times a year.
As my financial circumstances grew, I could easily afford it and became one of the first to use the Spanish villas that came up much later.
Anyways, I decided to go there for four days. I told Alvin, ‘you will see the room me and your mum stay when we come’
I will show you were the masquerade chased her into the forest and she was shouting , ‘ Blood of Jesus’ and he smiled.
He recognized the phrase cos Mena was scared of everything- Rat, Cockraoch, lightening and masquerades. Any time they came at her, she will respond with the only weapon she had – Blood of Jesus.
So this morning, Alvin woke me up with a call – where are you he asked. I was happy. He wasn’t excited by many things these days. So I was happy.
As we left, I asked myself, I hope the place is still averagely ok. Cos I knew that Badagry expressway had killed everything in that axis.
Even the huge industrial complex that was Agbara had all but died.
Then I thought about covid. Covid would have also done its worse but at N45,000 per night for the most expensive Villa and a total bill in excess of N200,000, I thought things can’t be that bad.
The road was Hell. I used to hear about it but witnessing it was another thing entirely. It was as if someone dropped bombs meant for Ukraine at certain points.
It’s a Federal Road but I think the Lagos State Government had taken it over. Anyways it was a symbol of the decadence that we face as Nigerians.
We finally got there and my heart sank. The place was a dump. It had been desecrated.
Dilapidated and brown. Smelly toilets and plants that cried as you walked past them.
Prof Pearce would be turning in his grave. Even the water of the Lagoon was sorrowful brown. The villa looked like those ‘short time’ hotels in Bariga and the restaurant looked like a refugee camp just outside Sambiza forest.
Alvin asked, ‘where did you and mum stay? I was ashamed cos I felt he would not respect me that I brought his mum here.
I pointed to the place. It looked like what in the military we used to call Batcha.
I still remember the room. We went there and a lizard greeted us. I swear it must have been same sheets since 10 years now.
The beautiful paddle pool had gone. The Lagoon Bar was now looking like where you go to urinate into the Lagoon and the whole place was just dour and black.
I knew I could not stay. I called my friend Bayo who had just dropped a magnificent hotel the Bon Safron to keep his best room for 4 nights that I was coming back to Lagos.
At a Duke of Shomolu warranted pricing of N65,000 per night, Bayos Bon Safron was a far better deal. At least I will have clean towels and sleep under Versace designed duvet. I work too hard to manage in this Lagos.
The one old staff came in. He recognized me and I recognized me and he looked at me sadly attempting to feebly beg me not to stay.
As he was talking, I think Alvin had suspected that I might change my mind, came and said’, ‘ Dad Google map says it’s 3 hours from here to Bon Safron’.
That killed it. I gave the old man N50,000 and asked them if they didn’t have a refund policy they should not bother but if they had they should talk to Emem.
I am on my way back to Lagos and my mind is wondering philosophically.
Prof Pearce gave his life to this. I knew him and used to spend hours with him discussing life, sex and politics. Today his pride is a bomb site so what are we working for.
Then NIGERIA. Nigeria is a bastard who kills and eats his own children. Just like many dreams, Whispering Palms have been killed and eaten up by his own father.
Mbok, I can’t wait for the soothing showers and warm soapy liquids that will adorn my tired skin at the Bon Safron.
I can’t come and die.
Duke of Shomolu