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Dami Ajayi. Photo credit: Bwette Photography.

On 9 July, on a British Airways flight from London to Lagos, the Nigerian poet Dami Ajayi‘s laptop was stolen. He had used it until an hour before the plane landed, written a 3,000-word essay, read some articles, packed it in its bag, and then he had gotten up twice or thrice from his seat, and after he got down at the airport, he couldn’t find it. The Saraba co-founder filed an official complaint with British Airways and shared the ordeal on Facebook.

The post in full:

A terrible thing happened to me yesterday. On the flight from Heathrow to Lagos, I sat in a window seat and my only company was sitting at the aisle seat. I put my laptop bag in the middle seat and once we were cruising, I brought out my laptop and bashed out an essay of about 3000 words. One hour to the end of the flight, I packed up my laptop and read a few articles saved in Pocket. I must have stood up at least three times, once to stretch my legs and two or thrice to use the gents. The flight arrived in Lagos and went about my merry way until I opened my laptop bag and my Asus Zenbook Laptop was gone. I have been in contact with British Airways and they said the people who cleaned the aircraft didn’t find my laptop around my seat area. Please if you know anyone who may have seen my laptop help me beg them to give it back. All my writings are inside it. Please forward this until it reaches the bespectacled lady with braces sitting beside me.

Following more complaints and mentions on Twitter, British Airways responded, referring Ajayi to the Nigerian police. But the airline was asked to do more, including sharing the security footage with the police.

Ajayi requested that British Airways properly attend to his initial query, questioning the airline’s customer policy. He suggested the treatment was racial discrimination and indicated his willingness to sue on grounds of consequent illness.

The development has provoked a response from Nigerian Twitter. People are calling out British Airways’ condescension and lack of professional empathy, asking the airline to work with the Nigerian police to recover the laptop.

This clearly needs a hashtag.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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