After seven hectic hours on a flawless road, you could imagine how tired I was when I checked into Holiday Inn at 99 Leyds Street,by Oliver Thambo Drive.
Formalities started with production of my International Passport when the receptionist, a white lady, looked and asked; “Are you a Nigerian?”.
Proud that she could be one of those who are crazy over Nigerians, I said yes. She turned her face and continued to fill in my details in her register. “You’ve got a terrible name in this country”. It was like a thunderbolt. Apparently aware of my fury, she changed gear and tried to make it lighter. “Anyway, we all have terrible names”.
Trust me. I would not allow her walk away easily by insulting me in the market place and coming to apologize in private. She stretched her hand for her money when I asked why she said that Nigerians have bad reputation? “No, you guys are known for the wrong reasons.
That is the truth. If the police arrest people for various offences, Nigerians surely must be there. It’s a bad thing down here”, she said as a matter of facts and stuffed my money in her wallet and took me to my room.
She had deflated my ego and I was pained and all my showmanship was gone. I had dressed simple and thought I was good after re-examining myself on the mirror from Nelspruit. The women of Mbombela were in tears when I waived goodbye. They love Nigerians for their energy and their money.
One said that all Nigerians are millionaires. That was better than one undressing me with unkind words in another region. I checked into the room and did a quick check and discovered that there was no air-conditioner in my room but electric heater. “You do not need that now because it would be terribly cold later”, the receptionist offered. Not for me.
“Have you been to Nigeria before?”, I asked. Luckily, she shook her head. “I’m a Nigerian and I am used to the cold. I need the A/c with this searing heat.
In my country, even the smallest of Guest houses have heaters and A/c in all the rooms at an affordable cost. I cant pay through my nose and not have one in my room”. “Is Nigeria beautiful?”, she asked falling into my trap.
“OMG! You need to get to Nigeria to know that you have been living in hell. Why do you think that we are the most populated black nation in the World? Do you know that Nigeria is the heartbeat of all black race?
Do you know that we are among the world’s largest oil-producing countries? I shook my hand revealing my black pearl wrist watch that Onochie Anibeze bought for me in one of his trips round the world. It worked.
“That’s a good wrist watch you are wearing”, she remarked. I grew taller and adjusted my trouser tucking my shirt inside the trouser. She excused me and dashed off to bring another key to another room. It was better. A beautifully decorated bed stared me in the face.
She powered the a/c and showed me a giant refrigerator that could accommodate me if I decide to step inside. It was a king-size room with all the splendor in it. “I’m happy you love it.
You need to give me $50 more. It is $150 a night”, she said. I’ve talked myself into trouble”, I said to myself. I cant pretend to be what I am not. My Editor approved a $50 per night accommodation for me. My phone rang and brought relief to me.
After about two minutes on the phone, I told her that it was our chef de mission. He said that nobody should stay alone in the room. They had made reservation for me elsewhere.
She winked and called a porter to help me out with my luggage. I breathed heavily once out and thanked God for saving me.