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  • Woojin Jung

Journal - Nigeria I

The following content is from the journal I kept during my work with World Bank. It documents my reflections during a field trip to Nigeria in 2004.


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Hospitality and Hostility

I feel like a Hollywood star. Everyone says hello to me and call me "Oyinbo (European, white)!" Children come around me to shake their hands. They get excited.

"Africans love strangers. They welcome strangers and want to take care of them. But when they go to the rest of the world, they don't get the same kind of hospitality. It's weird."



School Interview


"What did you eat this morning?"

"Nothing."

"When did you last get a new dress?"

"Two years ago."

A child's teacher added, "She only has one cloth. This one."


Her answer stunned me. But I continued to ask questions to fill out my questionnaire.

"When were you sick last?" The child didn't say anything.

Instead, her teacher said, "All the time."

Yes. She was sweating and hardly talked.




Survey

It is a 60-pupil class.

I am conducting a survey about textbooks.

"Who has a social studies book?"

4 students' hands went up.

"How many of you have math books?"

Only one child's hand went up.

"DO you have Elementary Science?"

Nobody's hand went up.

Students with books raised their texts proudly. Students without textbooks dropped their heads as if they had been shamed.

Is it their fault? I don't want children without books to fell shames, so I quit continuing and walked out of the class. I felt guilty.



Stunted Growth

I am fat compared to the children here.

They are so bony and tiny.






He came to the principal's office crawling through the field on a wet rainy day. He is disabled.














Science Teacher and His Laboratory


The teacher is on his way to his class, Primary 6. He is supposed to teach "the expansion of liquid."

His laboratory equipment was a dusty, rat-eaten polyethylene bag, a beaker, a few test tubes, and one candle in place of Bunsen burners.








Child Labor


"How many hours did you work in the market on Saturday?"

"10 hours."

"What did you do there?"

"I helped my mom selling Cassava flour and water."

Does this child really have time to do studies at home?


Wage


5.7 cents/hour: 68 cents/day


Workers aged 15-18 years work 14 hours a day and 7 days a week without vacation. After 14 hours of bone-breaking work, they can earn enough money to buy a Cherry Coke. Foreign laborers have been migrating from neighboring countries such as Congo or Republic of Benin, searching for a higher wage in Nigeria.


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