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‘Why Nigeria Is Different From What I Imagined’

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Joy Butts is a real estate agent on a visit from Atlanta Georgia to Nigeria. In this interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend, the professional speaks on the wrong impression people have of Nigeria where she is coming from and how her personal experience has changed all that.

Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m from Guyana, the only English speaking country in South America. But I’ve lived in the United States for about 40 years. I have three boys and five grandchildren. I also have a twin sister based in Maryland.

What brought you to Nigeria and what were you told about the country before you came?
I came for the National Day prayer with my pastor, Chuzzy Udenwa, of the Glory House Church, Georgia Atlanta. I was advised against coming to Nigeria because of the bad stories we hear about the country. The first thing my twin sister told me when I was to come was that I shouldn’t get married to any Nigerian when I get here.
What was your reaction to an invitation to come to Nigeria?
When I heard about the crusade, I wanted to come and see what the country looks like. But I was also skeptical about it because of the stories I have heard about the country. Some of my friends also told me to be careful so I don’t get kidnapped. But as soon as I got here, I noticed the story wasn’t true. Nigerians are warm and fun to be with.

What do you appreciate most about Nigerians?
One thing I appreciate about Nigerians is their national dress, they look so pretty in them. I would like to have one to wear too. Everybody speaks English fluently, plus, they are friendly and vocal. Though I haven’t met many people but the little I have encountered changed the impression I had about the country. They are so beautiful and amazing. I would like to return to the country to invest. There’s this spirit of hopefulness that shows in the market, the hustle in the people. They live as if tomorrow will be better and never truly give up. It is a coping mechanism in a country that has so much potential.

How would you rate the country generally?
I see Nigeria like any other country. I haven’t experienced any of the things people say about Nigeria. Most people out there think it’s a poor country. Surprisingly when I came, I was amazed to see beautiful buildings like the blossoming skyscrapers from land-filled areas. The high rising buildings I saw are very nice architecture work. I didn’t expect to see those kind of buildings though before I came, I knew the country isn’t poor. I have not had any negative experience. I will take the story of what I have seen to my people. When I get to church, I will also testify about the country. There are so many opportunities in the country one can invest in.

Have you been in any Church since you arrived?
Yes. I attended a women prayer ministry here called When Women pray. I was told it has 27 branches all over Nigeria. The experience was wonderful, it took my mind back to when I got to Pastor Chuzzy’s Church for the first time. I didn’t know how to pray so I watched carefully and I asked myself, ‘is this how people pray?’ I love the experience. The country is as safe as any other country in the world. I see it as a religious country which is tolerant of every religion.

Have you tasted any Nigerian dish since you got here? What can you say about it?
I ate semovita and ogbono soup and it was good. I enjoyed the meal, though it took me a while to finish it. I would love to know how to prepare it someday to promote tourism. Nigerian food is a true representation of its people with an unlimited variety of options and a rich medley of flavour.

What is your perception of Nigerian women?
I see them as the most beautiful women on earth. They dominate the lists of the most beautiful women in Africa for good reasons. The little I have stayed, I noticed most women are educated, they also occupy positions in the professional fields and to some extent, in politics. This refined form of education added to their good looks makes them the most beautiful in Africa.

What was the most surprising thing you encountered since being here?
That you should always judge a country yourself. But what surprises me most is the warm nature of Nigerians, they are so accommodating. Many travellers don’t like Nigeria, but my short stay in the country has made me realise that one should not always judge by what people say. My experience especially when I arrived at the airport was wonderful. I couldn’t believe how nice it was. I will like to visit again and recommend the country to my family and friends.

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