Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria
"You're welcome," said
the armed guard escort, as he closed the door of the van at the Lagos airport
late at night last November 9.
Embarrassed that I
had not said, "Thank you," and thinking that he must have been calling this
discourtesy to my attention, I proceeded to say "thank you" at every comment,
turn, gesture and move.
He responded with "you're
welcome" every time.
However, for the next
four days, everyone in Nigeria greeted me with "you're welcome," and I then
realized the guard had only been greeting me in the typical Nigerian fashion!
(And never, ever would
a Nigerian be so discourteous as to point out a social blunder -- even if
I had made one!)
Nigeria, a country
of 100 million people, has a thriving geoscience community. Attending the
recent Nigerian Association of Petroleum Geologist's annual meeting in Abuja,
the capital, was an exceptional experience for me. The enthusiasm of NAPE/AAPG
members will exhilarate visitors, and I cannot wait to go back.
There were well over
1,000 geoscientists attending the conference from all over west Africa,
and I was especially excited about visiting with over 100 students one evening
-- all eager to participate in AAPG and working hard in a student chapter
or working hard to develop one.
NAPE is very active
in setting up AAPG student chapters, in helping students with currency problems
in paying dues, in mentoring and in trying to acquire books and professional
journals for the schools.
Textbook and reference
book shortages are acute here, even with Chevron's contribution of the full
AAPG library to several schools. One professor who teaches well logging
analysis said he has no textbooks or books of his own -- he teaches from
photocopies that he made of Schlumberger manuals from an oil company office!
His students, of course,
have no books at all on the subject.
Six (of about 40 universities)
have now started student chapters, and Edie Bishop, wife of former AAPG
president Dick Bishop, is sponsoring the chapter at the University of Ibadan
as part of the "First Ladies Initiative." During my visit, four other sponsors
stepped up to sponsor other schools.
The students provided
a lively discussion and were eager to know more about AAPG activities.
Chevron's staff, led
by Bayo Akinpelu and Nahum Schneidermann, hosted me throughout the stay
and contributed enormously to this being a very pleasant trip. Thanks to
the persistence of Kunle Adesida of Shell Nigeria, I was already a card-carrying
member of NAPE and had my own kaftan (or boubou, as some call it) that Kunle
and his wife, Sola, had presented me with a few years ago!
Africa is the fastest
growing region for AAPG, with a growth rate of about 100 percent last year.
Nigerian enthusiasm is a significant part of this growth.
My early departure
from Nigeria was a result of needing to attend an organizational meeting
in Cairo for our next AAPG international meeting, which will be held in
October 2002. This will be an historic event for AAPG in that we are doing
the conference jointly with the SEG. The meeting will focus on all of Africa
and the Middle East.
While in Cairo I was
invited to several planning meetings set up by Pinar Yilmaz, chair of our
International Liaison Committee, and Tim Marchant, AAPG's vice-chair of
The Egyptian Petroleum
Exploration Society (EPEX) and the Egyptian Geophysical Society (EGS) will
be our co-hosts for the meeting. Samir Abel Moaty has been instrumental
in conducting two highly successful previous SEG meetings in Cairo -- and
as SEG's technical chair, will be a key to the success of this meeting.
Experience really counts.
and brainstorming dominated all of our meetings -- and it is apparent that
this will be a very strong technical meeting based on the ideas suggested
regarding session possibilities for the "call for papers."
John Dolson, AAPG's
Egyptian team leader, and others are already developing some field trips
that I thought might provide us with tremendous dilemmas trying to choose
which to attend!
Upon leaving Egypt
(and the marvelous hospitality of BP), I am convinced Cairo 2002 could break
some records for our international meeting attendance -- but then, the way
AAPG is growing, breaking records is to be expected!