Now that I’m all booked for Lagos, I have to sort out a Nigerian visa. I want to weep.
When I was growing up and going back to Nigeria regularly I didn’t have to think about visas and other practicalities – every time I’d go back my dad would sort things out for us. As I don’t go back as frequently (the last time was 3 years ago) and my parents don’t live there now, I have to sort these things out myself.
I went back to Lagos in 2006 after a 9-year break. That time, a friend of mine hooked me up with someone at the High Commission and I got my visa in about half an hour. I didn’t even have to go to the main visa application area; he let me wait in the main reception area of the High Commission.
I went back a year later and the same friend sorted me out – I was ever so grateful.
In 2008, I thought it would be really cheeky of me to ask again so I decided to apply on my own…
I used to think that applying for a Nigerian visa was a pain in the ass (until I applied for an Indian visa last summer). You only (!) need the following documents:
- Passport – yes, you really do need your passport
- Two passport photos
- Completed application form
- A letter from your health insurance company stating coverage – I think this is new because I didn’t have to provide this 3 years ago
- Proof of an airline booking
- Current bank statement
- A letter of invitation from your friends/family
When I applied for my visa in 2008, I got to the High Commission before 10am, took a ticket from the machine and sat down. I looked around – the counters were clearly labelled: visa applications, passport applications, cashier. So far so good.
As soon as the counters opened at 10am, chaos broke out. People were crowding around each counter, regardless of whether it was a visa or passport application – and nobody gave a shit what number they had in their hands. Crap, I thought. This is going to be a nightmare.
And then a young(ish) Nigerian man climbed onto his chair and started shouting: ‘What are you people doing? You’re behaving like animals! No wonder people treat Nigerians like dirt!’ I was shocked. He was shouting at his fellow countrymen – and I think they were shocked too because they all calmed down and looked around sheepishly. They found seats and waited for their numbers to be called out. Did that happen every morning? What would have happened if that man hadn’t been there?
I submitted my application and went to pick up my passport a day later – no problems.
But now I have to go back in the next few days – and I just don’t know what to expect!
(Just one of the many sights I’m looking forward to seeing…)