A gospel singer, Laolu Gbenjo, tells MOTUNRAYO AKINRUN about his experience in the United Kingdom, and United States of America
Do you enjoy travelling?
Yes, I love travelling. It is good to travel out of the country, meet new people, mingle with one’s fans out there, learn one or two things. It is also good for fresh air, and to get fresh ideas.
How often do you travel to other countries?
It depends on my bookings. If someone has an event and they need my service, I would have to travel. On the average, I travel once in three months.
In which country have you had the most memorable experience?
I had a lovely time in the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
While in the UK, I was in London; and I visited Maryland in the US. During my first concert in the UK about two years ago, people had to travel from nearby countries to attend.
In the US, people travelled for as much as eight hours to attend my shows.
What part of their cultures caught your attention?
In the US, I was fascinated by their love for entertainment, and the spirit of excellence in whatever they do, especially the black communities. I was opportune to attend the BET Awards, and enjoy the live concerts. I love the passion Americans have for music, and entertainment in general.
What was the strangest food you ate while there?
I really cannot remember a particular one, but they had some funny foods that did not go down well with me. Of course, one cannot compare their food to our food in this part of the world. I can’t remember the names of their foods. But one thing I know for sure is that nothing can beat Nigerian foods.
Were you stereotyped based on where you came from?
No, I was not.
Did you make any friends during your stay there?
Yes, I made a lot of friends. Some of my colleagues over there are doing what I do here, so it was good connecting with them. Also, some of our fans have become like family members.
What tourist attractions did you visit while there?
The funny thing is that most times that I travel, I go for work purposes. I don’t always have time to go out. Perhaps, I will make out time to travel for relaxation, so that I can visit fun places.
What are your go-to travel items?
I usually travel with my ear pod, phone, charger, toiletries, and the outfits I would wear for my events. As for any other things I need, I can always get them abroad.
What advice do you have for people who intend to travel out of the country?
My advice for everybody who wants to travel out of the country is that they should make sure they have enough money. What one can achieve with N200,000 in Nigeria, one would need about $1,000 to achieve the same thing in western countries. And, one would not still get value for one’s money. As far as I am concerned, Nigeria is the best place where one can spend little and enjoy big.
If you were offered the citizenship of any country, which would you take?
Perhaps, that of the United Kingdom, because it is close to Nigeria. I can always go there from here. I could sleep at night in the plane, and wake up in London. The US is much farther from Nigeria. Also, I have a lot of family members in London.
What were some of the things you saw in the UK or US that you would like to see replicated in Nigeria?
In the US, the environment is very conducive for doing business. One would have access to loans to buy houses, and practically everything one needs. One would not have to ‘kill oneself’ to achieve anything, unlike what obtains here in Nigeria. I recall that before I built my studio, I practically starved myself for years. But, over there, so far one is credit worthy, one can buy whatever one wants to buy. Also, one can achieve anything one sets one’s mind on if one is determined.
They also have good infrastructure.
Whenever you travel out of the country, what do you miss the most about Nigeria?
I miss everything; from our lifestyle to the food, environment, events, and even the noise.
What other countries are on your bucket list?
They include Canada, Germany, and some European countries.