My trip from Lagos had been long and tiring. I left Lagos very early in the morning and got to Abuja about 3pm. looking back now that seems a little bit ridiculous; leave Lagos in the morning and get to Abuja by 3pm? And I say it was a long trip? 2019 I did the same trip and arrived Abuja by 8pm! 1990 when our story began was still a good year to travel by road in Nigeria. The roads were good and safe; no fear of kidnappers and craters on the roads.
Anyway, back to our story.
My friend said we needed to shop and though I was tired I wanted to see more of this city. I was feeling euphoric at all the beautiful places I had seen and wanted more.
We did not go very far before she turned aside to a row of long buildings that looked from behind like a set of classrooms? I did not know what it was but I soon realized it was a market of some sort.
This was Area 2 Shopping Centre.
It was a row of long buildings, single-storied with several shops selling all sorts of groceries, toiletries and basic essentials. There was a restaurant in another building that ran alongside the other two and my friend stopped to say hello to a few people.
I noticed a hair salon, a barber shop and a wine shop. My head kept swinging from side to side as everything looked so neat and organized to my Lagos eyes. I cast my mind back to the Mami market in Ojo barracks where I was living at the time; I hated going to the Mami market because it was crowded and rowdy and usually tried to avoid it but it was inevitable, so I would usually make sure I shopped only when necessary.
When my friend told me we had to shop for soup ingredients, the picture of Mami market had come to my mind but I pushed it aside; I was prepared to endure any discomfort for the sake of this jewel I had just discovered. But this was no Mami market, this was what shopping looked like, for this kind of place I would happily shop everyday all day if you asked me to.
After moving around saying hello to a few more people my friend stopped in front of a shop selling soup ingredients and we bought everything from the shop including Egusi and smoked fish.
That was my introduction to Abuja’s shopping centres. I was soon to learn there was actually a market somewhere in town but people hardly went there. It was ‘far’ and most things were sold in the neighbourhood centres anyway.
Area 2 Shopping Centre was loaded with almost everything one needed for food and basic living, and there was also Area 1 neighbourhood centre serving the same purpose for residents in Area 1 and immediate environs. Truly, Abuja was an organized city.