“Go about this trip confidently and being friendly, but never betraying yourself as a first timer [to Nigeria],” my friend, Jwan Zhumbes, the Anglican Bishop of Bukuru, had warned me. “Do not ask questions that will sell you off as someone who has never been here before … And answer, if you must, only questions you consider necessary to answer. It shall be well with you.”
With that sober advice to guide me, I exited Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport into the African heat. I was startled at the rapidity with which the other people on my flight, many of whom were white businessmen or mining executives, disappeared into an array of armored cars and security details until I stood alone on the curb. Gradually, a Hank Williams song crept into my conscious being, until I realized that the music was emanating from a distant airport speaker, adding a surreal element to it all.