May 14, 2011 at 18:14 PM EDT
You Think Hollywood Is Rough? Welcome to the Chaos, Excitement and Danger of Nollywood
It was when they pulled out the machetes that I started to worry. I'd seen men with machetes in Africa before, but they were rusty, practical tools used for clearing away brush by the side of the highway. These were long, shiny and housed in decorative sheaths, pulled out ostensibly so the men could sit down more comfortably, but done with a clear, understated flair. They were more like sultan swords than jungle tools. The kicking in my six-month pregnant belly had gone eerily silent since we entered the vigilante court at Alaba. I reassured myself that I'd been through things like this before. The time I went to visit Brazilian entrepreneur Marco Gomes' hometown in the crime-ridden slums of central Brazil, comforted only by his reassurance that "No foreigner has ever died in my hometown, because no foreigner has ever been to my hometown." And the time I was driving along the boarder between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and armed Rwandan guards stopped our car, wordlessly got in the backseat and hitched a ride for several miles. And then there was the time we were charged by a baboon . Looking at those beady baboon eyes rushing towards me, I was instantly convinced I was losing an arm. Now, in this Nigerian "courtroom," my husband was looking at the machetes having the same thought.
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