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Visa training, Nigeria style

As a German resident, I needed to apply for my Nigerian visa in Berlin. In Germany in January, I didn’t have enough time and was subsequently informed that there was no way I’d get a visa anywhere en route as Nigerian visas are only issued in your country of residency. It looked very much like I wasn’t going to be able to get into Nigeria.

The Nigerian embassy in OuagadougouThe Nigerian embassy in Ouagadougou

The way the trip has turned out, I will be solely responsible for carrying The Ball from Ivory Coast to Cameroon, including Nigeria. What happens if I can’t get a visa? Would I be stuck in Benin? Would The Ball have to go on without me‚Äč? Most likely The Ball would not vist Nigeria. That would be a real pity as SO Nigeria have been planning events for The Ball in and around Lagos.

From a personal point of view, I’ve been very worried about the political situation in Nigeria where there have been kidnappings of foreigners, killings across different ethic groups and where the general situation appears to be dangerous and deteriorating. I’ve been starting to think that it might not be a bad thing if I don’t get my Nigerian visa.

Special Olympics Nigeria are on the case, however: Folashade Bolumole, SO Nigeria Director, has been in touch with the Nigerian goverment in the capital Abuja. Special Olympics have taken control of the situation, and as we arrive in Burkina Faso there is news — The Nigerian Embassy in Ouagadougou wants me to come by for an interview.

I turn up there with a representatives from the Burkina Faso Ministry of Sport and DHL and a letter of support from SO Nigeria. The Nigerian embassy staff are very keen to accommodate us and, to my surprise and delight, the visa will be ready within an hour.

The Ball gets its Nigerian visaThe Ball gets its Nigerian visa

I have a question about the political situation in Nigeria. “Is it too dangerous to travel there?” I ask. “The trouble is just in one region. That is the Niger Delta. The rest of the country is safe. Nigeria is a wonderful country. You’ll have a great time in Lagos,” comes the reply.

Staff at the Nigerian embassy with The BallStaff at the Nigerian embassy with The Ball

In my mind, I start reflecting on perceptions of Africa… we who live outside Africa hear so much about the problems of the continent. We sit in our living rooms and see pictures on the TV of war, famine, disease, ethnic cleansing and we hear about corruption and mismanagement. Yes, of course, some of these things are happening and are only too real — but the Africa I am getting to know is vastly different.

We are constantly meeting friendly people with smiles on their faces and a generosity that often goes beyond their means. A lot of these people may not have the level of material wealth that so many people in Europe have, but, to my eyes, they are often much happier. What is it that we have lost but that they have not?

Suddenly, I’m excited to be heading to Nigeria: With the positive energy of The Ball at my feet and the support of partners on the ground the prospect of Lagos’ chaos is enticing. Let The Ball roll.

Written by on Thursday, April 1st, 2010

1 comment on this post

  1. From any population of 150M, much bad news will emanate. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about the country of Nigeria, or the cities of Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, London, Lagos and Leningrad, combined. Imagine if we called all those cities ‘one place’ and based our opinions of them solely on the bad news emanating from them! ‘It’ would be the most dangerous place on earth! We’d never go near ‘it.’ We know the truth to be much different.

    The Ball will guide you to the good news. The Ball IS good news. Thank you for continuing to share the good news with the world, Andrew, Phil and Chris!

    Roll on!

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The Ball 2018 left England on 25th March 2018 and travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

The Ball 2014 kicked off from England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.