It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and they were in The Millennium Park. Becket had decided that they would go there instead of to the lake as usual. Here they would have their second lesson and then, go somewhere else afterwards. It was a beautiful park and the largest one in Abuja. It was located near the former Presidential Palace.
On 4 December 2003, it was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II who along with Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria, and former UK prime Minister Tony Blair attended the opening ceremony. It was one of the most popular parks in Abuja. Although it was almost two decades old, it still looked and felt new, perhaps that was because it was constantly being renovated. It was one of the best maintained parks in the city. It was conceived and designed by the Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti.
Abebi always felt a sense of pride whenever she walked through the entrance to the park. She loved its green and peaceful ambience. There was a river which ran through its center. It started in the distant hills and was used by many of the birds in Abuja as a sort of passageway to get from one area to the other. She loved that she didn’t have to go outside of the city to find and enjoy nature. It was all there in the park.
This was Becket’s first visit to the park so she was glad to show it off to him. Its walkways were flanked by several fountains and manicured landscapes. There was even a waterfall. “People usually have picnics here,” she told him.
Becket was very impressed. “I love the sound the rushing water. It’s very very tranquil to the ears.” Unable to resist, he took pictures of the waterfall and fountains.
She showed him the Cotton Tree, a holy tree of Abuja situated on one side of the Millennium Park with the Aso Rock, the holy Rock of Abuja. “The Aso Rock is a place for worshipping deities. People pay homage to these deities to keep them healthy and prosperous. ‘Aso’ means victory. According to the villagers, the Asokoro people have never been defeated in war since the beginning of their history.”
“It looms there, big and silent,” Becket remarked as they strolled down the park’s impressive walkway. “It reminds me of Mount Vesuvius in Naples. From Sorrento, you could see it in the distance, looming, not knowing when it would erupt.”
They walked around the park for a while and then, found an empty bench where they sat. They sat there for several minutes, just taking in the scenery and the atmosphere. Then, Abebi took out her notebook. “Let’s review our first lesson,” she suggested. She quizzed him and he got everything right. Beaming at him, she remarked, “I hope when I become a teacher, most of my students will have a memory like yours.”
“I spent a couple hours going over the notes you came me. They were very helpful. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. For each lesson, I will give you a handout and homework as well.”
Becket smiled. “It has been a while since I’ve been given homework to do.”
“Today, we’ll go over expressions we use when making friends. Sunana means my name is. So, for example, I would say, Sunana Abebi. How would you introduce yourself to someone?”
“Good. Na yi farin cikin haɗuwa da kai. That means ‘I am pleased to meet you'”
“That’s a tricky one. Could you say it again?”
“Na yi farin cikin haɗuwa da kai.”
He tried saying the words in his head first before he attempted to verbalize them. “Na yi farin cikin haɗuwa da kai.”
“Yes. Let’s try introducing ourselves. Sunna Abebi.”
“Na yi farin cikin haɗuwa da kai, Becket.”
“Na yi farin cikin haɗuwa da kai, Abebi.”
“Good. Barka da rana. That means ‘good afternoon.'”
“Barka da rana. How do you say ‘goodbye?'”
“Sai wata rana.”
“Sai wata rana.”
“Said a safe means ‘goodnight’.”
“Said a safe.”
“Which greeting would you use now?”
“Barka da rana.”
“That’s correct. It’s now two o’clock in the afternoon. Now, if I wanted to introduce you as my friend, I would say, Wannan abokina ne. That means, ‘this is my friend.'”
“Wannan abokina ne.”
“For father, it would be mahaifi and for mother would be mahaifiya.”
“Mahaifi, father. Mahaifiya, mother.”
“Now, how would you introduce your parents to me and me to them?”
“Wannan abokina mahaifi. Wannan abokina mahaifiya. Wannan abokina ne.”
“That’s correct, but instead of saying this is… to introduce each parent, you can introduce both of them at the same time. You would say, ‘wadannan iyayena ne’ which means, these are my parents.”
“So, when I’m making the introductions, I will say to you, ‘wadannan iyayena ne’ and to them, I would say, Wannan abokina ne.”
“And both you and they will say, ‘Na yi farin cikin haɗuwa da kai.'”
Abebi beamed at him. “That’s right! Kana lafiya? That means ‘How are you?'”
“I will give you two answers. The first is Ina lafiya which means ‘I’m fine’ and the second is, ‘Ba ni da lafiya.'”
“Ina lafiya means ‘I’m fine’ and Ba ni da lafiya which means, ‘I’m sick.’ I’m sick is the same as saying, I’m not feeling well, isn’t it?”
“Actually, if you prefer to say ‘I’m not feeling well, it would be, Ba na jin dadi.”
“Ba na jin dadi.”
“Very good. If someone says something to you and you don’t understand, you say, ‘Ban fahimta ba'”.
“Ban fahimta ba.”
He was taken aback for a moment and then, he replied, “Ban fahimta ba.”
“What did you ask me?”
“I asked, How old are you?”
“How do you say thirty-two?”
“Talatin da biyu which literally means thirty and two.”
“Ina talatin da biyu.”
“Very good! There are other phrases which we haven’t gone over but they are on the handout for you to learn them. We will learn numbers now.”
“We’re just going to learn numbers one to ten today and the rest in our next lesson.”
They spent the rest of the time, learning numbers which Becket found very easy. When they were done, Abebi gave him the handout and they sat there on the bench for a while longer, just enjoying the peace and tranquility before they left the park. They went from there to Magic Land, one of the oldest amusement parks in Abuja. “This is fantastic,” Becket exclaimed, looking around him.
Abebi was excited to be there with him. “I’ve never been here before,” she admitted and he glanced at her in surprise.
“Hmm. Well, I’m glad we came then. I’ve heard so much about it, I decided it would be nice to check it out today.”
Abebi watched excited kids and their friends or parents heading for the different rides. And she wished she had come with her parents. There were so many things she wished she had done when she was a child. Come to think of it, she didn’t have much of a childhood. If she wasn’t helping her mother to keep the home, she was studying. Her parents used to stress the importance of a good education. It was more important than recreation.
“So, which ride would you like to try first?” Becket asked her.
She wasn’t sure. The rollercoaster filled her with trepidation. And she didn’t want to try the water splash because she didn’t want to get wet. “I’m not sure.”
“Let’s try the bumper cars first.”
They did that and Abebi laughed her head off every time they bumped into each other. Next, they tried super spin and the flying tower which had her closing her eyes. They went on a pirate ship and on many other rides including the cowboy mini wheel and bouncy castle. Becket encouraged her to go on the carousel while he stood by and watched.
When he suggested that they go on the rollercoaster, she hesitated. “I’m not sure about that,” she said.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be with you. You can hang onto me if you like. Come on.” He grabbed her hand.
As they headed to the rollercoaster, she thought how nice it felt holding hands. She noticed several women admiring him but he seemed oblivious. She nervously got on the rollercoaster and sat down. Her heart began to pound as it moved slowly at first as it climbed the first big hill. When she felt it drop, she screamed and closed her eyes. She was relieved when it was over although it was exhilarating.
They went to the Arcade center and played a few games before grabbing something to eat at Fulani Ranch. After they finished eating, they visited the Fountain Shop, Wonder Shop, Nina’s Candy and Zain Shop. Before taking her home, they spent about an hour or so, relaxing in the leisure gardens.
Sources: The Cultural Trip; Come to Nigeria; Wikipedia; All Around Africa; City Seeker; The Culture Trip; Destinali; ST Communications; The Dream Africa; Transcorp Hotels; Wonderopolis; Magic Land Facebook; Visiting Nigeria Now