One of my earliest exposures to Egypt was in the 1999 Hollywood classic, The Mummy. Even though I was taught about the civilization of ancient Egypt in religious school, it was nothing compared to The Mummy - it told the story of an expedition of treasure-seeking explorers in the Sahara Desert in 1925.
So, imagine my happiness, when I found myself in the enthralling city of Cairo following my nomination to attend the Cairo Centre for Conflict & peaceful resolution in Africa training program recently.
My flight took off from the Aminu Kano international Airport, Kano on a Sunday at 3: 00 p.m. Nigerian Time, but not without the normal delays.
Thankfully, after all the characteristic airport brouhaha, I was aboard Egypt Air. At exactly 8:45 p.m. I landed at the Egypt International Airport Cairo. The first thing that caught my attention on arrival was the magnificent size of the airport. I also learnt that the Egyptian government plans on building a number of new international airports across Egypt in line with the economic reform plan it's undertaking.
A lanky Arab man took my passport and I swiftly passed through the Egyptian Immigration checks. I boarded a private Taxi, which drove me straight to the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel at the heart of Cairo. It would be my home for the next few days.
Every day between 9: 00am and 5:00 pm, Professor Tarik Ahmed and Dr. Khadija Gambo took us on the training program. The workshop was always insightful and educative.
Egypt is a diverse country filled with a wide spectrum of sights and sounds for tourists to experience. So, every evening after my classes, I took a stroll down the busy roads of Cairo and admired the beautiful architecture on display. Egyptians are also very friendly and eager to show tourists around their country. Their hotels also offer a wide range of foods for visitors, but I tried some of the local dishes during my stay.
During the day, the streets of Cairo are near empty; however, at night, they come alive. Families and love birds often converge at the popular Tahir Square to catch fun by taking pictures, playing music or simply starring at the evening sky.
At night, the markets are buzzing with activities and I realised that most families throng the markets around this time to do some shopping.
A visit to Egypt would not be complete without a visit to the Cairo Museum. The civilisation of ancient Egypt left many monuments and temples that have become attractions for modern-day visitors to Egypt.
Tourism is one of the leading sources of income, crucial to Egypt's economy. I made sure to visit the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, iconic symbols of Egypt, which can be found on the outskirts of Cairo. Many tourists like myself attended a show, which held at the Pyramids of Giza. It was a delight to watch the beautiful history of Egypt retold with a twist using sound and light.
Cairo Museum is located at the heart of the city. Many tourists throng the museum to see the carved images of pharaohs, the queens of Egypt, the tombs of some of the kings and many other ancient artefacts of Egypt.
Home sweet home
The study tour was indeed quite remarkable. While I was enjoying my training, I did not forget to make new friends who turned out to be my countrymen. They include Dr. Musa of the University of Maiduguri, Imam Bello, AbdulAziz Muktar, Habib, Kyari, Hajia Zainab and Maryam.
In Cairo, I also connected with a wonderful group of like-minded Egyptian friends like Alaa, Passant and May whom I have kept touch with since my return to Nigeria.
I was indeed enjoying every bit of my stay in Egypt when the curtains drew to a close. I had to return to Nigeria. After all the excitement of a few days, I departed from Cairo on a happy note on an early morning flight at 10:05 a.m.
I arrived at the Kano International airport at 2:30 p.m. and headed straight to the arms of my family in Kaduna.