Posted by Elizabeth Edozie on May 13, 2024
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the District 9110 Conference in the scenic city of Abeokuta. As a Rotarian from a conservative district with fresh memories of our just concluded superlative conference, I was full of expectation.  I had heard of the glitz and glamour that accompany activities around Lagos, I just had not experienced it. My feelings were mixed knowing the immense craze that abound in Lagos. 
The first thing that caught my attention was the pockets of ‘asoebi’ scattered all over the venue. Asoebi is the name Nigerians call a set of uniform worn during ceremonies. The sight was splendid. I was enthralled at how different Rotary clubs took the time to appear in their chosen outfits. Much more was the fact that all through the event, different uniforms were constantly worn by most of the clubs. They were nicely made to fit, a sign of intentionality. 
We were treated to a nicely percussive performance by traditional dancers. The rhythmic beats of the drums and the graceful movements of the dancers had me captivated from start to finish.
The house of friendship was nothing like I had experienced in my less than a decade of doing Rotary. The buzz, the music, the freebies, the smiles, the varieties were just like at international conventions safe for the traditional touch. Perhaps it was the fine spirit and the palm wine I took that caused an uproar in my tummy. I got free reading glasses, health check, breast screening, eye check, snacks, drinks, hugs, how I love hugs! There are still free things in Nigeria, wow! 
As the District Governor gave her stewardship report, I saw glamour in its full splendor. Every picture on the screen spoke a million words, each ending with alluring. I loved listening to her. She stole my heart again. Her packaging was consistent. All through the conference, with the number of outfits she wore, she was impeccable. I joined her to exclaim wow!
It was endearing that the exclamation ‘wow’ was the way of life in Abeokuta. Even on the screen, it was written woooooooooooow! “Why this exclamation?” I asked, “That’s what she always says” I was told. 
The parties were not left out. In one night, I attended 5 different parties. Had I not been tired, we would have done more. Each party bore a different flavor. Some were exquisite like the Rotary club of Ikoyi Metro. The posh servers, the big screen, the variety of drink, finger foods and again the asoebi! We were invited to party With the Pride of Rotary. I found out that the club prided itself as the Pride of Rotary. I am still jealous.  I saw creativity in the rest, converting our yams, akara, plantain to finger foods was alien though interesting. I will copy this shamelessly. Yet again, my throat could not resist the assorted drinks I was served. Wow! 
The fanfare that accompanied the unveiling of the District Governors to-be was incredible, wow! Who makes asoebi and hires drummers for this sort of thing? Wow! 
I must visit again. I will need to explore the city of Abeokuta and its surroundings. The experience that DG Ifeyinwa Ejezie and her team gave me was irresistible, I did not want to miss any of the content packed event hence I missed visiting the Olumo Rock, a stunning natural formation that has served as a refuge for the Egba people for centuries, so I was told. 
As I reflect on my time in Abeokuta, I am struck by the warmth and hospitality of the Rotarians of District 9110. There was no moment I felt odd. The level of organization and attention to detail was truly impressive. It was indubitably an unforgettable experience, wow!
I left Abeokuta feeling inspired, energized, and proud to be a Rotarian. 
*Amara C. Ezediniru* 
*President, Rotary Club of Apo*