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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Our fuel finished mid-air -Nigerian japa shares near-fatal flight to Canada

X platform user, Jake Okechukwu Effoduh, has taken to his X [formerly known as Twitter] handle @effodu to narrate how his near-fatal Canada-bound flight ended in Bufallo, United States, before they finally made it to their destination.

According to his X handle, Effoduh is PhD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Toronto, Canada, researching the effects of Applied AI on human rights praxis in Africa.

He narrates:

Tonight, my flight into Toronto couldn’t land because of the bad weather. The pilot kept trying to land at Pearson Airport several times but kept failing as the plane was in turbulence because of the storm. Passengers were panicking, some crying, others telling their kids they loved them.

At this point, I opened up the chocolate and organic caramel cookies I bought from duty-free for my friends and started to delight in them, just in case. We kept going round and round until the fuel finished and then the pilot said we have to head to the US for an emergency landing. The sound from the engines of the plane began to sound cranky and loud and the plane started to jerk back and forth. Luckily we landed in Buffalo in the US with passengers singing in gratitude. It was a hard touchdown but luckily nothing happened.

Applause all over. Sounds of temporary relief. Now, the pilot announced that no one should leave their seat and that if anyone had cannabis, they should find a way to do away with it because whilst it’s legal to have cannabis in Canada, it’s criminal where we just landed at.

The cabin was now really quiet and then I asked one of the cabin crew: “Could you explain what the pilot meant by ‘do away with it?’” Not like the information applied to me or anything, I was just curious as to how one could do ‘do away with it’ in this situation that we are in.

the pilot announced that no one should leave their seat and that if anyone had cannabis, they should find a way to do away with it because whilst it’s legal to have cannabis in Canada, it’s criminal where we just landed at

At this point, I noticed people started looking at me funny. Passengers by my side and those ahead of me began to turn around, staring at me with their eyes revealing some suspicion. I quickly added “i am just asking for clarity, not that I have any oh, abeg” and before I could finish my sentence, the lady by my side tapped me: “It’s okay. You don’t need to explain”.

It was also at this time that I stumbled upon the realization that I was the only black person on this flight, so I quietly collapsed back into my seat and maintained my calm before I perpetuate any stereotypes.

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One boy quickly rushed to the restroom, maybe to release himself of the tension from his bladder or to ‘do away with it’, who knows? Lol. But he stayed there for quite a long time. Long enough that a female cabin crew member had to bang on the lavatory door “Come out now or else, I’ll radio ground security!”

The boy refused to come out until some man in full uniform from the cockpit, walked down the aisle, opened the door, and dragged him out, sending him back to his seat. Boy explains aloud that he had motion sickness from the turbulence and needed to throw up.

Back in our seats, the pilot announced that US customs refused the request for us to disembark but luckily, the plane will get refuelled so let’s all be calm. One hour later, the pilot announced that the temperature in the plane had gone above the required mark and so we must all close our windows and try to calm down to maintain the cool of the cabin, else we’ll be asked to get off the plane and “you all would not want that, trust me”.

People quickly shut the blinds and a few folks began to complain now, raising some tension. One graceful senior woman started to sing “swing low, swing chariot…” but another thanked her and asked her to stop as it was causing her to panic.

An hour later, the pilot announced again that there was no definite time for how long we’ll be here and apologized, saying it was nobody’s fault.

More complaints arose, and people are now talking loudly about missing their connecting flights; needing to talk to their family, etc. Someone mentioned “being held hostage”, and some girls behind me kept repeating that they were “literally starving”.

The cabin crew decided to share cups of water across the cabin apologizing that snacks and juice had finished. My neighbour brought out a ziplock bag filled with almonds and started to share across the rows in front of her. I also brought out my own air-tight bags of cashew nuts, chin-chin, plantain chips, and frosted coconut shavings, passing them around (don’t ask me why I always have bags of snacks in my carry-on).

My neighbour brought out a ziplock bag of almonds and started to share. I also brought out air-tight bags of cashew nuts, chin-chin, plantain chips, and frosted coconut shavings, passing them around

Several people appreciated the gesture and the bags got emptied in no time. Some people didn’t even know where the treats came from but they dug in with joy. Almost half of the plane is now chewing something and sipping airplane water.

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My neighbour took an interest in knowing what chin-chin was, how it was made, how I got it, and why it tasted so good. I quickly became a descriptive pastry artisan telling people
how chin-chin was founded in 19th century Northern Nigeria and the eight main ways chin-chin can be made, including my idea of a gluten-free version.

At this point, I now have an excited audience and it seems like we had forgotten our predicament; then my neighbour cracked a joke: “I hope there isn’t cannabis inside this chin-chin”, poking my ribs gently. A few of us are now laughing and then she finished the remaining cubes of the treat in her hand.

The pilot announced that the weather is better and we are heading back to Canada to try and land. We all got strapped in, and the cabin crew reminded us of safety procedures again. We took off and I’m holding hands with my neighbour now as if we are best friends or a couple.

We flew for 40 mins and landed at Pearson, safely! Applause. Celebration. Ululation. Sighs of relief.

We all hurriedly disembarked and now I am here at the baggage claim section of the airport, receiving hugs from my fellow passengers and exchanging numbers, agreeing to have dinner sometime.

I am waiting for my luggage while typing this, feeling grateful for this experience.

As my dad used to say; shared suffering is always less suffering and shared joy is always a double joy. I am just happy to be back on land and alive.

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