While walking through the Old City markets, myself and Miriam decided to play our own secret game of “who can guess which country we’re from?” with the shop owners. I’m of Ghanaian origin and Miriam is of Cape Verdean. We got a range of guesses from “Hey Jamaica welcome!” to someone approaching us speaking Amharic thinking we are Ethiopian. But the most common was “You’re from Nigeria?! Come look in my store!”
Like one African man I overheard say to a store owner “Not all black people are Nigerian!” I can only assume a store owner had guessed the wrong country! But, I have to admit, the majority of Africans on pilgrimage in Jerusalem probably are Nigerian!
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan visited the Holy Land in October this year with 8 of his governors. However Israel has long before been a popular pilgrimage site for the Christians of the West African nation. You don’t have to walk too far to see a large group of Nigerians sporting their colourful African attire along the cobbled streets of the Old City or up in the Mount of Olives.
Whenever I approached a group to ask where they were from, or more often than not, a member of a group asked me where I was from, I always got a pleasant handshake, hug or “oh Ghana, we’re neighbours!” I didn’t want to ruin the moment by only stating I’m from London. There is a solidarity Africans share with each other particularly in foreign countries and it was refreshing (and somewhat amusing) to get such a positive reaction from someone I didn’t know, simply because I was also African!
I even joked to myself a few times that I could join one of the groups on their tour for free since I would blend in (oh the temptation was there)!
Mallum told us he flies helicopters, and is in the Nigerian Navy… Me a Miriam are literally in fits of laughter while I right this. It just occurred to me… Do navy officers also fly helicopters?… Please let me know.