Actor Stev Eboh was one of the travelers held up in London while the volcanic ash eruption lasted.
Recalling his unpleasant experience during the period he alongside other travelers were held "hostage" in London by the volcanic eruption, Stev who spoke in an exclusive interview with Weekend Circuit a day after he returned to Nigeria, declared: "I know that the God I worship is the God that answereth prayer and I think he allowed the volcanic ash eruption to subside particularly because of me; God knew that if I had been in England longer than the day I was there, perhaps something else would have happened."
Asked what would have happened, the actor, who said he had starred in over 100 Nollywood films, jokingly returned, "Then I would have gone to Queen Elizabeth’s palace and protested. I would have gone there to harass them but God answered my prayer and the eruption reduced. It was not a very good situation."
When reminded that neither Queen Elizabeth nor the British government caused the volcanic eruption, which disrupted flight operations all over the world, the actor who produced an adaptation of Elechi Amadi’s novel, The Concubine into a film, retorted: "It was not that the Queen caused it but when certain things happen, you may not be mentally balanced to judge. Volcanic ash eruption? I mean, I’ve never heard of that and I am not a good geography student … And the fact that your neighbours don’t even know about it, compounded the problem (confusion) further. So what do you do? And truly, in the whole of England, no plane flew in, no plane flew out."
Stev had gone to London in respect of a project he said he is currently handling on sickle cell anaemia. The actor had completed his business on April 14 and scheduled to travel back to Nigeria the following day, April 15 but that was not to be. The volcanic eruption occurred on April 15, 2010 and Stev’s predicament, he said, was unimaginable since he never made extra budget for such eventuality.
"I actually was trapped by the volcanic eruption. I travelled to London for a project on sickle cell. I finished my business and was supposed to come back on April 15 and the so-called volcanic ash started on April 15. So you can imagine my predicament," he said.
He recalled that on getting to Heathrow airport, the airport officials told him there was problem that made it impossible for flights to go to Nigeria or any other place on that fateful day.
"But how do I get the extra finance to spend for the unbudgeted problem? And there were few things I wanted to do in Nigeria within that period," he said. Adding: "So it was a terrible moment, a terrible situation. It was, should I say, one of the longest thinking hours of my life. And when you asked people there, they would tell you, we don’t know anything about volcanic ash eruption; it happened so many years ago and it lasted for 18 months."
The fear of staying 18 months in London assuming, the effect of the eruption would last that long even added to Stev’s mental confusion.
"I screamed oh! My God. Me staying in England or London for18 months? God forbid. So actually, it was not a very good experience and it’s not something any one would wish to experience, being in a foreign land. And my visa was to expire on April 18. So I needed to get out of London before April 18 but the eruption occurred on April 15," he said pitiably.
He further explained: "Now, there is no plane, no train, no bus, and no okada to take you to Nigeria. You are held up in an unconducive environment; unconducive because you are not comfortable. That’s just the problem."
In his terrible state, Stev said he rushed to the Home Office in London where he explained his situation to the officials, who he said, "appreciated my sincerity and therefore "assisted me a lot."
According to him, "some Nigerians there, really had to come together to make me happy because they discovered that this guy must be down, but they said, no, you got to be on. Some people actually vowed to make me happy throughout that period and I won’t forget them."
Besides, Stev confessed that his being stranded in London brought him a sudden feeling of nostalgia such that he missed Nigeria the way, he said, he had never felt before.
"I just discovered that Nigeria is a very sweet place. This is a country I missed so much when I went to London and the volcanic ash covered everywhere and affected aviation industry… In fact, I missed Nigeria so much and I was homesick. I then discovered how much I love this country and how much I could miss Nigeria," he recalled