The phone call:
It was a really hot evening as has been the case for a while in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria and suddenly, my phone rang. I picked it up and in my characteristic warm and friendly manner, had a fantastic chat with Olushola Olaniyan who currently provides leadership direction for the Wikimedia User Group Nigeria. He calls me every now and then to find out how I am faring and to know if there is any support that he can offer to the recently created Hub of the User Group in Abuja, Nigeria.
L-R: Olaniyan Olushola (Director, Wikimedia Community User Group Nigeria), Katherine Maher (Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation) and Blossom Ozurumba (Curator, Abuja Hub of the Wikimedia Community User Group Nigeria)
This particular call was somewhat different as he went straight to the point and asked if I had a Schengen visa. That took me by surprise as I had just applied for a two year Schengen visa which coincidentally was the very first time I had bothered to apply for such. As I was certain that I will get the visa, I enthused that I had one and that was when he gave me the truly exciting news. There was an opening for a Nigerian delegate for the 2017 Wikimedia conference holding in Berlin and because of the rather short notice, there was a need for the delegate to already have a travel visa. That was a welcome news and that was how I started the rather hurried preparation to join 350+ Wikimedia Contributors from 80+ countries for the truly remarkable meeting that will also help shape the future of the movement till year 2030 and beyond.
Abuja-Kaduna-Addis Ababa- Rome- Berlin:
On the morning of Wednesday 30th March, I made the trip from Abuja to the Kaduna International Airport for the flight to Addis Ababa. It was a generally cool journey and by the time I got into Addis Ababa, I was ready to gush my excitement on social media but that was not to be as internet connection did not allow me to be great. When I got to my departure gate to move to Rome, Italy, there was a bit of delay as being my first time travelling with a Schengen visa, it had to be scanned. I waited patiently albeit a little bit discomforted and finally a fine but rather lanky but well-spoken gentleman came and used his mobile phone to scan the visa page. Getting into Italy went without incident and no sooner had I moved out of border control and claimed my baggage, I went to the departure gate for the final leg of my journey into Berlin.
As I got into Berlin, I decided not to embrace the quite uncomfortable task of dragging my luggage around and trying to find out the bus/train routes. I simply took a cab from the Airport and headed straight to my hotel with the sole intention to soak up in a warm bath. Sadly, on arrival at the hotel, I was informed that check-in starts at 3pm and I had arrived at 12noon. Not to be fazed, I took a comfortable seat and was contemplating what next to do when in sauntered Stephan who I got to know had also arrived for the conference from Switzerland. We got talking and decided to store our luggage with the hotel and then go to the conference venue for some pre-event registration, networking and hot lunch. That was a life saver for me as that afforded me the opportunity to find out the train route and that helped me in the entire course of the conference.
What happened next?
You can find out next week on my Wikimedia Journey but first, I met Amir Aharoni who works as the Product Manager, Language, Wikimedia Foundation. You can read all about it here and find out how he got me sorted out with the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba keyboard for my Mac Book.