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This is our last full day at the University of Ibadan. We spend the morning in Prof. Igboanusi’s office and meet up with a Nigerian friend at the university’s own zoological garden at noon. Like the botanical garden, the small zoo, founded in 1974, serves the purpose of conservation of biodiversity, education and research. Moreover, it seems to be a popular recreational destination among students. However, the situation we encounter is rather shocking for us: most of the cages appear too small for the animals, as it seems like the birds cannot even fully spread their wings. Furthermore, the cages do not really have much to offer for the animals. We encounter numerous monkeys and predators who continuously run around their cages as if they have gone mad. Some of us abort the visit because we cannot bear the situation any longer. Of course, we support the concept of species conservation and educational programs, especially in a university like UI; however, we realize that our view differs when it comes to animal welfare and adequate housing. Similar to the Old Oyo National Park, we believe that this is mainly due to spatial as well as financial resources, which are simply not sufficient in this sector. Based on what we see, the overall knowledge is there: next to every cage, terrarium, and compound, the visitor can encounter information about the species, its status of endangerment, and habitat. Additionally, we read on the university’s website that the zoo is said to be reconstructed in alignment with international standards. Nevertheless, we leave the zoo with a bad taste in our mouths…
As per usual, we spend the evening in the restaurant of the Alumni Association and enjoy conversations with our Nigerian peers. Meanwhile, we address various topics such as religion, economy, and politics. As we are in an educated environment, we are lucky to witness a few intense and interesting debates between Nigerian students about their country’s situation and possible solution to its struggles. Hence, we would like to give you a small glimpse into what we have learned about Nigerian economy and politics: According to the UN’s Human Development Index, which indicates a country’s prosperity based on various factors such as gross domestic product, life expectancy and literacy, Nigeria belongs to the category of countries with low human development. The country ranks on position 152 out of 188; Germany in comparison on the fourth. Despite the low ranking, the Federal Republic of Nigeria shows a rapid economic growth that can also be linked to a fast urbanization process. Lagos, which is estimated to have a population as high as 17,5 million, is one of the three fastest growing urban areas worldwide. Accordingly, Nigeria with its 182 million inhabitants is the most populous country in Africa and one with a tremendous economic potential. However, Nigeria still faces struggles in many sectors. On the one hand, there are interethnic conflicts between members of the three main ethnicities Yorùbá, Igbo and Hausa. Like many former colonies, the country’s borders did not develop naturally but were negotiated by foreign countries over a century ago. On the other hand, our friends speak of struggles with infrastructure and electricity. Especially in big cities, traffic and water supply are a disaster. Many roads we have encountered are in bad conditions and traffic jams are part of the daily routine. This means that especially commuters have to endure long ways to work and school as even short distances take up twice as much time as they would under different conditions. Furthermore, power supply is a massive issue in many places. In the university context that we are currently in, we are more than impressed how efficiently students and teachers work and conduct their research despite the unpredictable power cuts.
What we perceive as the biggest problem for Nigeria, and what we believe to be the reason why people who are this intelligent and dedicated to their education are unable to bring on progress for their country, are corruption and organized crime. The Human Development Report estimates that Nigeria has lost 400 billion US-Dollar to corruption between its independency in 1960 and the year 1999. This does not mean that all Nigerians are corrupt, on the contrary. However, we have witnessed corruption, small scale as well as big scale, during the two-week period we have been here. Despite all of these aforementioned struggles, so many positive and intelligent people in this country are willing to work on the problems in order to ensure a better future for themselves, their families and country. Therefore, we are curious as to how Nigeria will develop in the years to come. We are convinced that we will hear of many achievements in the future. To conclude this small excurse, we would like to quote our friend Lekan, „change will happen with every one of us“.
Text: Sandra Hesse, Anna Korneva und Valerie Pobloth
Published online by: Alina Grünky
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