If you don’t have time to read all of this post, scroll down to the bottom to see photos of the four Kings.
My recent trip to Africa was off the beaten path . . . at least my beaten path.
Which was probably a good thing for a Type A person like me.
Was I flexible? Not enough.
While I was in Africa, I can’t tell you how many times I thought of a quote I’d read on my friend Shelly’s blog: “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.” – G.K. Chesterton
My husband and I traveled to Africa with a small group of Christian publishers. Each publisher was there to represent their particular company at conferences in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya – the event was called Marketsquare Africa, and it was sponsored by Christian Trade Association. Jim and I represented Tyndale House Publishers, and it was our goal to further the publishing of Bibles and Christian books in Africa.
We were supposed to have been in Africa for two weeks, after which we had plane tickets to travel to the London Book Fair. But alas . . . the Volcanic ash from Iceland erupted, and we ended up staying in Africa longer than we thought and totally missing the London Book Fair. We eventually got a flight out – that’s a story for another blog post.
Missing the London Book Fair was a big disappointment. The journey to the London Book Fair is familiar to us. It’s a well-worn path. We know most of the clients we see there, and we look forward to meeting them each spring in April. We hit the floor running on the opening day of the Book Fair, meeting clients at our booth for 30 or 60 minute back-to-back pre-scheduled meetings from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm each day of the Fair. Meetings continue in the evenings over dinner. It’s demanding work – especially as we listen to and decipher the varied accents of people from all over the world – but we absolutely love it. We relish the challenge of trying to help our publishing partners find just the right books for their lines and their purposes. We enjoy catching up with them about their families and their companies. And we enjoy giving them chocolates or home-baked cookies that we bring for them. This year, though, we missed all that.
One thing that helped my perspective on those events was part of April 26th’s One-Year Bible reading, a few days after the volcanic eruption. “For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains.” Psalm 95:4
Hmmmm . . . . I thought. Great reminder of who’s in control here – even in the depths of the earth. And God is never surprised about anything.
Our trip to Africa – a location that up until now has been off my beaten path, left me with plenty of new stories to tell.
Today I’ll write about one of them.
After we finished our second publishing conference in Nigeria, we left Lagos’ airport for Kenya. While we were waiting to board the flight, I noticed that there were a few important looking people sitting off to the side – people with long, flowing robes and official looking hats, etc. Early in the flight, when the stewards came around to ask us what we wanted to drink, I asked one of the stewards, “Who are those important people up in first class?”
“They’re Kings from Nigeria,” he replied.
I smiled and said, “Now, this request is a little unusual, but if I gave you my camera later in the flight, would it be possible for you to snap a photo of the four Kings? Could you tell them that a lady from Chicago would like their picture?”
The steward smiled and said that he would get back to me.
I settled down to read for the rest of the flight, thinking that nothing more would come of my out-of-the-box request. But an hour later, the steward stopped in the aisle by our seats and said, “Madame, the four Kings are waiting for you up in First Class!”
Oops . . . that wasn’t what I had expected. I had envisioned myself handing the camera to the steward and having him take the picture of the four Kings. But now I had to get up, walk up to first class, and take the photos myself.
I might have chickened out . . . but I thought of how nice it would be to have those photos!
So I took a deep breath, walked up to first class, pulled back the curtain and looked for the first King. He and his wife – who later identified herself as the Queen Mother – were friendly and gracious. I shook hands with both of them and introduced myself. The first thing they asked me was where I was from. When I told them I was from Wheaton, IL – a little west of Chicago – the King asked me if I knew where Bensenville was.
“Bensenville?” I said. “Oh my, yes! That’s very close to where I live!”
“Well,” he said, “my sister lives in Bensenville.”
Whoa! Now if that didn’t make it seem like a small world . . . . . the second King said that he has a sister who lives in Chicago, too!
What I thought was going to be just a few photos turned into almost a half-hour-long conversation with four Kings and one Queen Mother.
Here are the photos I took, as well as some of the information they gave me about themselves:
King of Okpella Kingdom, Edo State, Nigeria. His Royal Majesty Alhaji (Dr) Andrew Yesufu Eshioramhe Dirisu, JP, Okuokpellagbe of Okpella. (This is the King whose sister lives in Bensenville, IL. ) His wife, seated to his left, is the Queen Mother of Okpella.
This is the King of Ikare-Akoko N.E., and he also has a sister who lives in Chicago!
HRH Ehizogie Eluojerior, JP, Onogie of Igueben.
His Royal Majesty, Igwe (Dr) Elias U. Nneli, Traditional Ruler of Umueje Town, Anambra State, Nigeria.
After I took the photos, business cards were exchanged, greetings were given, and I walked back to my seat in Economy Class Row 10 – all excited to tell my husband about the Royalty I’d just met.
Flying with Four Kings and a Queen Mother was definitely an off-the-beaten path experience!