Popular music artiste, Chinagorom Onuoha, aka African China, speaks with TOFARATI IGE about his memorable trip to Jamaica
Why did you travel to Jamaica?
I went there to perform at a concert and I had a lovely time. In fact, the memories of that trip still resonate with me years after.
What was the first thing that caught your attention in Jamaica?
Jamaicans have a lot in common with Nigerians and that’s the first thing that caught my attention. Nigerians are very welcoming people and Jamaicans are also like that. They welcome visitors wholeheartedly and they are also business-oriented.
What interesting spots did you visit in Jamaica?
I went to The Bob Marley Museum. There, I was told a lot about the life and times of the late singer who they really adore. I found it impressive that the late Bob Marley’s apartment and compound weren’t rented out or used for other purposes. Rather, everything has been preserved just the way he left it and it is a huge tourist attraction. I dare say that a trip to Jamaica is not complete without visiting Bob Marley’s residence. I also visited Kingston town which is a ghetto just like Ajegunle in Lagos. I also went to a central market where I did a lot of shopping and bought some Jamaican artefacts and souvenirs.
Considering that you sing conscious music and Jamaica is also known for that, what did you learn from your experience there?
I learnt to always be myself and not to fake anything about my life. It reinforced my belief to live like a true Rastafarian because they are very real and true. Here in Nigeria, many people live borrowed and fake lives, but it’s not so in Jamaica. They live normal lives even though they have money.
Despite their good sides, there must also be some bad characters that they exhibit?
Yes. Some of them try to swindle people once they notice you’re a foreigner. I also saw a lot of pickpockets and some people who pretended to be crippled in order to beg for alms. There is also a bit of gangsterism in their nightclubs as you could suddenly hear gunshots while partying.
How did you find the level of security in Jamaica?
I only spent three weeks there and I was lodged in a five-star hotel all through, so I really cannot say much about that. But I think the situation there is similar to Nigeria where we don’t have maximum security.
How would you rate the customer service in all the places you visited?
It was superb. Here in Nigeria, we like to pretend but it’s not so in Jamaica. You can only get into their clubs if you pay the required fees and no bouncer would harass you for money, like we witness in Nigerian clubs. Though in some places, they also try to swindle you by making you pay more when they get to know that you’re not a Jamaican.
Did you try any of their local delicacies?
Yes, I did and I always do that whenever I travel to any country. I like to explore with food but the only thing I don’t eat is pork.
Can you recall the names of the food you ate there?
I ate their rice and beans, as well as oxtail. When I went to Montego Bay, I also ate their roasted fish which is like the barbecue we have here in Nigeria. I also tried other delicacies but I cannot remember their names now but they have very nice dishes.
What can Nigeria learn from Jamaica in terms of maximising tourism?
We need to maintain our beaches and make them always look clean. It’s not so nice when one goes to the beach and there is so much dirt there. Things like that do not appeal to tourists. Unlike what obtains in Nigeria, Jamaican beaches are very neat. We also need to improve on our customer service and respect ourselves.
If you are to go on a dream vacation, where would you visit?
I really want to go to the Bahamas.
What travel advice can you give to anyone travelling outside Nigeria?
Watch the way you talk to people because it might not be accepted in that country. Some things we do not consider offensive might be termed so in some other countries and one could get into trouble because of that.
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