Tuesday, July 03, 2007

“Hurry up now, we have got less than thirty minutes to make it in time” the voice of one of our facilitators rang into the hall, prompting us to rush into our rooms and dress for the occasion. The D-day was here, the blessed evening some of us have been looking forward to- a special dinner hosted by Sir David Green KCMG, Director-General of the British Council. It was our second day at Davenport House in Greenwich where we were attending the Greenwich 2007 Forum, sixty of us from about forty-eight countries with a common goal of working together and presenting our course to the world leaders during the world Economic Forum in Davos.
I couldn’t tell if I was excited about the thought of visiting Downing Street, but I soon felt the butterflies in my stomach when someone whispered that going to Downing Street was like going to White House or Aso Rock. The heavy traffic jam like the one you will find in Lagos threatened to spoil our fun that night so it was suggested that we make the rest of the journey on foot so we don’t miss the event.
The Addire (Skirt and Blouse) I wore did not make the walk easy and I am sure that I would have frozen up had one of the representatives from America not offered me his coat. The short walk was quite enjoyable; at least the street of London was really a beauty to behold at night. Everywhere was brightly lit up; there were no Danfo buses with screaming conductors, no Okadas competing with pedestrians or sights of smelling refuse dumps posing here and there. Everything was orderly and orderly worked well for this city.
At last! We got to the gate of Downing Street without much stress, but the security officers asked us to wait because Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of State was about leaving the building. Other vehicles and pedestrians were also stopped at both end of the road; respect must be given to one whom it is due. Meanwhile, there I was stretching my neck and trying hard to see if I could catch a glimpse of her but to my disappointment the windows of the car she was in were tinted!
After a few minutes of waiting, another set of security officers came out to ask us to show our passport and admittance card for screening. We were not allowed to take mobile phones or cameras into the building for security reasons. The rest of the evening was spent in the warm house no. 11 Downing Street, a really enjoyable dinner of talks and drinks (I had juice)! We knew Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great Britain, lived next door to the building we were in. “Does that mean he could hear us?” someone asked. “Well, that is if he is at home” one of the facilitators replied. “What if we knock on his door and run into hiding?” asked another cheeky but brave youth. Some funny thoughts that run around our heads sometimes!
This event took place about a month ago but the memory still lingers on. The reception gave me the opportunity to see how beautiful the future is for this generation if we stick together. There we stood, all dressed in different cultural attire to reflect the country we represented and proudly appreciating our cultural diversity because we all know how boring our world may look if we were all dressed in the same way. We openly robbed minds with the adult-guests (top personalities from different works of life) without fear of being ignored or our opinion underestimated.

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