Singer, Sound Sultan, shares his experience in Russia with KORE OGIDAN
What makes you travel as much as you do?
It’s mostly because of work; I seldom rest or take vacations. When I’m meant to take vacations, I’m usually occupied with other things.
How often do you travel?
I’m not too much of a traveller. I always choose my journeys very carefully but I travel at least four times in a year.
What was your most recent travel experience?
I went to Russia in June 2018 for the World Cup and it was my first time of visiting that country. The trip was organised by my brother and me because we went to document the behind-the-scene moments of the competition. It was sponsored and facilitated by a few friends and brands. It was indeed a wonderful experience and investment. We had enough content and the opportunity of seeing Russia in all its beauty.
What was your experience going to Russia?
There is a stereotype about Russia not being a friendly country but we quickly realised most of it wasn’t true when we got to experience the country first-hand. I don’t know if it’s because they were hosting the world cup at the time but they were more hospitable than we expected. We saw that it was just a bad press against the country.
When I got there, I noticed that everything around was written in their language. Nothing at all was written in English. It almost seemed deliberate. Added to that, they have a different set of alphabets, so one needed an app on one’s phone to translate everything written.
The Russian environment is very conservative and they are very proud of their heritage and history. I could see many buildings that have stood for very many years and were still properly maintained and managed. There were also many statues all around the city. It was beautiful and a great sight to behold.
How long did you spend there and what was your living condition?
I spent about two and a half weeks there. We stayed in apartments which were arranged to give more comfort to tourists. The apartments had everything we needed; all we had to do was buy the food and cook to our taste. We had friends staying with us in the apartment; so, it was fun. We moved through a few cities while in the country.
Did you try their food?
I wasn’t brave enough to attempt that. I really don’t like trying foreign food when I travel anywhere, especially if it looks like something I’ve never seen before. It has to, at least, have something recognisable in it for me to try it. Because the trip was sponsored by a noodles brand, I ate a lot of the noodles while there. I just got quite creative with the noodles at all times.
Did you miss Nigeria?
I always miss Nigeria when I’m away. That trip was one of the longest I’ve stayed outside Nigeria. I always feel homesick whenever I stay outside Nigeria for over a week. I love being home.
Was there a language barrier?
Music and sports are languages on their own; so, it was easy for all to relate with one another. Opposing teams hung out with each other on the nights before their matches. We also hung out at the sports village where we bought souvenirs and exchanged jerseys. The Nigerian jersey was the most beautiful there; everyone wanted to swap jerseys with us. Russians rarely see black people. So, when they saw us, they came around, stared and wanted to take pictures.
Do Russians know about Nigeria?
If you mentioned Nigeria, they’d say, ‘Musa’, referring to the footballer (Super Eagles stand-in captain), Ahmed Musa, because he played in Russia for a long time.
Russians have a strong maintenance culture which Nigeria lacks. They have a lot of medieval and old buildings that look shiny and almost new. It would be great for us to learn maintenance from them. Russia also has many parts of their culture developed.
What country do you plan on visiting next?
I will like to visit Canada next. I’ve never been there. I reckon it will be a great experience.