The “Big, Black Boat”


When we returned from Carnivale in Brazil in February, we noticed for the first time a new dock with a boat on Victoria Island near the embassies.  The boat was a gorgeous, new ~110’ Sunseeker Predator, whose hull is made of gleaming black fiberglass. 


Rumors abounded throughout the Expat community about whose it was and what it was doing here in Lagos.  And thus it continued until recently when, while at the beach house, we struck up a conversation with a passing couple who just happened to be associated with the big, black boat.  It turns out that the boat is the recent purchase of the owner of a local Nigerian Oil Company, who has brought it here to his offices and home, along with a small operational crew.  Currently, the boat is limited to the area of the waterway in front of our apartments, since tides and shifting sands have now trapped it there until a new channel can be dredged.  After crossing paths with these people a couple of other times around Lagos, they invited us to take a tour of the vessel – And so we did!  We were blocked at the entrance to the docks by security guards with automatic weapons, until we were met by our new friends, who escorted us aboard.  It is a high-performance yacht described by the Sunseeker as “hedonistic”.  The boat is outfitted with a hot tub on deck, multiple bars, a huge salon living room and dining room with ~50” electronic concealed TVs, and surround sound.  It is powered by three 3000hp diesel motors that will drive the vehicle at up to 46 knots, slurping up its 11,000 liter fuel capacity in a matter of hours, (~$4000 per fill-up).  It sleeps 8 guests in 4 huge staterooms, and sleeps another 4 in its crew’s quarters.  Everything is electronically operated, from the window shades, to the security cameras, to the dual bow and stern side-thrusters.  Sadly, the owner seldom has the chance to use it, as he has other demands on his time, and this is only his latest “toy”.  It truly was a beautiful vessel, and Julie and I would gladly take one as a gift, if anyone is so inclined!


Julie at the bridge…


Julie trying the Captain’s seat….


The salon….


The Cultural Significance of Head Ties

Betty O spoke to American Women’s Club about the cultural significance of head ties as a fashion accessory and fashion statement.  Nigerian fashions, as fashion around the world, take their cue to change and evolve by national events and effects. Betty has lived in Nigeria for 45 years and is married to a Nigerian man.  In Nigeria there are 3 distinct cultural areas of the country.  The ‘Hausa” are from the north, the “Ibos” from the east and the “Yoruba” from the west. The Ibos head ties are noted for their flying saucer like shape.  The Yoruba are the ladies of high fashion.  If one reviews African history and pictures there were no head ties on the women until the 1850’s.  It is accepted that the influence of Christianity caused women to cover their hair.  Head ties have evolved with the times.  A head tie is a piece of fabric 2 foot by 2 yards twisted, knotted and pinned into shape.  In the 1950’s a British company “Hayes” made most of the Yoruba high fashion head ties.  In the 1970’s those head ties incorporated N  and $ (Naira or money) symbols into the woven fabric and other high society associated symbols including the Mercedes Benz symbol.   In the 1970’s the more popular head ties came from Switzerland.  Today they come from China.  Head ties are fashion statements and you never wear the same head tie to an important event.  People here have excellent memories and remember what you wore.  It is acceptable to wear a dress more than once but only if with a new head tie each time.  Nigerians are extremely fashion conscious and will starve to have a new head tie.  A head tie is also symbol that one is married.  A responsible married woman wears a head tie that is wind around the head at least twice and with an “Ashoke” which is a shawl around the waist or over the shoulder.    There was a time when head ties were made of silk.  But when a head ties is old or of floppy material one has to stuff it with a plastic bag or paper for it to hold its shape.  Damask was used by the wealthy ladies as head ties because it was heady.  However, it was also difficult to tie.  If you are high fashion Nigerian then once a year you will clean out your head ties and distribute them to relatives who do not have as much as them. It is also quite fashionable to take old head ties turn them into quilts. 


Fashioning a head tie:









Betty O wearing a buba (dress) and holding a “Naira” head tie.


Head ties:



Dressing up on Saturday Night


A few weeks back we had dinner with a friend who was turning 50.  The occasion was one of dress up, that is, if you could come up with a costume that began with “F” or “G”.  It was all great fun as everyone got into the spirit.


dscn0405 A Gypsy & Rugby Player


dscn0407 A General & a Pilot


dscn0408 A French Boy, Gypsy & a Floozie


dscn0399 The famous pirate Guy


dscn0400 A Floozie

USS Nashville in Lagos

This week and next the American Club known as the GQ (Guest Quarters) welcomes the men and women of the USS Nashville, 400 strong to Lagos.  They were accompanied by the Navy Band (the Europe branch from Naples).  They are here as part of African Partnership Station 2009 (APS), the biggest maritime partnership program ever in Africa.  They have already visited Liberia, Senegal, Ghana and now Nigeria and will head to Cameroon next week.  The APS mission is seminars, workshops and hands-on training conducted with Nigerian sailors, including sessions on port security planning, small boat maintenance, medical training, search and rescue training and oceanographic methods.  APS is an international initiative under the auspices of Naval Forces Africa which aims to work cooperatively with U.S., European and African partners to enhance maritime safety and security on the African continent. APS provides a unique venue to align maritime engagements by utilizing an international team of expert trainers in a variety of military capacities and civilian fields such as fisheries management, port security and meteorology.  Here in Nigeria their travel has been somewhat restricted so the GQ opened the facility for them; swimming, a bazaar for shopping and American BBQ.  Rocky and I went to the GQ both on Saturday and Sunday, did a little shopping, listened to the Navy Jazz quintett


and conversed with the Navy men and women and ate American cheeseburgers.  Some sailors spent the day trying to access the internet (always an unknown), others were in the pool or getting a massage, some worked out in the gym and several were shopping at the bazaar


and learning what they could about Lagos and the culture here.  The crew has navy men/women enlisted less than a year to several that have been there 20+ years. The crew also do charity work while here. They donated school supplies and medical supplies to 2 of the American Womens Club charities. The USS Nashville navy crew and the marines stationed at the embassy participated in the Race for a Cure run, visited local schools, and allowed the scouts and other children groups to tour the vessel. The bar at the GQ was packed with sailors.  There were 40 vendors on the tennis courts and everyone appeared to be enjoying the sunny weather and the frozen margaritas!   


Passionately Pink in Lagos

Saturday was the 3.5 mile run for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  It was held at the American Independent School Lagos.  The goal was to have 250 runners/walkers to raise funds to purchase a mammogram machine.  It was wildly successful!  The school was decorated in white and pink ribbons.  There were teams and individuals participating.  The Shell Women’s Network had all Shell employees in polo shirts with a large pink ribbon on the front.  The USS Nashville was here in Lagos as part of the African Partnership Station 2009 with 400 Navy men & women.  Their Commodore, Ms. Cynthia Thebaud, is a breast cancer survivor.  Forty-seven of the crew participated in the run; one of them winning it.  The US Ambassador to Nigeria Robin Renee Sanders participated.  The local South African grocer “ShopRite” entered a team and one of their employees came in second.  Rocky and several of our neighbors participated.  It was a mix of Africans and expatriates, navy and marines, teachers and pupils running for a great cause that made a successful and fun race.

dscn0438 School courtyard awash in pink & white ribbons

dscn0441 Rocky and Friends

dscn0453 Ambassador Sandoers motivating the runners.

dscn0466 Warming up


dscn0483 The Winner -a navy man!

dscn0518  The ShopRite man took second place.

dscn0491 Here comes Rocky!

dscn0506 Navy and Marine participants