Uh-oh. Nigeria has started its quest to find me a girlfriend. Two blunders on my part have conspired against me: first, for some reason (misplaced honesty) I said I was single when questioned; second, I remarked that Nigerian girls were “very beautiful.” (Fact!) My singlehood has confounded many Nigerians; apparently such a thing just doesn’t exist here, as a person simply hops from one relationship to the next.
A Muslim man bragging to me about his two wives went a step further and asked if I was a virgin. “Well, yes; I’m not married, after all,” I responded. I learned this answer was not an appropriate one. There was a general uproar among the men I was seated with, and Bose, whose shop we were chatting in front of, had to intervene: “What Cole is trying to say is he doesn’t have a girlfriend back home. I’m sure he’s not a virgin.” Heaven forbid. (I thought this country was populated by devout Pentecostal Christians and sharia-abiding Muslims?) “What you need to do,” the Muslim man, Mufi, lectured, “is after you find yourself a Nigerian girl, drink a lot of palm wine. It will be the best sex you’ll ever have.” All the men nodded their heads vigorously. “Palm wine. A Nigerian treasure.”