Jonah Berlin

New York
msg tools
badge
Yes, we are friends.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This appears to be the rightest place to post this, I apologize if I have miscategorized this. I will gladly move it elsewhere.

In particular, I am shipping boardgames to children in:
NIGERIA

Hello, I find myself writing the general community after trying all the major options (DHL, USPS, UPS, FedEx). I have used the power of Google and Duckduckgo to accumulate many different pseudo-options, some of them about as sketchy as you might expect.

My problem: I have acquainted myself with a fellow BGG user here who has organized 3 African Boardgame Conventions. To my knowledge, they are the only boardgame conventions outside of South Africa on the continent, though I may be wrong. KC, the organizer, resides in Abuja, Nigeria. He operates a small game design business where he produces Nigerian boardgames, for a Nigerian audience. Meeples are hand-carved by guys working for sweat equity. It’s kind of… incredible. At least to me.

Before I continue, let me address the common responses to my involvement in this that literally every person I have brought this up with, including my father, feels necessary to deliver:

1. “Uh, so he’s a Nigerian prince *snicker*?” Ha ha ha, didn’t see that coming! No, he is not a prince. There is no inheritance involved. No money is involved. No bank accounts are involved. I did not meet this person over an unsolicited spam e-mail. The recipient is a human being who works for a nonprofit (VSO, UK, Nigeria division). He is a contributor to BGG. There are extensive records of his business doings from interviews to photo galleries of Nigerians enjoying board games. He writes crossword puzzles for local newspapers, links to which also exist in Nigerian urban newspapers. If he is pulling a Spanish Prisoner con, it’s certainly an ingenious one. If you desire links to prove that every Nigerian is not a 419 scammer, I can accommodate this request.*

2. “You are going to be mugged.” Said a person very close to me, which kind of hurt. I certainly hope I’m not going to be mugged by sending board games to children in Nigeria. I might be mugged if I go to Nigeria, it is a dangerous place in many parts. I’ve lived in some bad places, very bad places. You might be mugged too. We all might be mugged. Kids still need to play board games.

3. “Why are you doing this?”
I don’t know. I really have no idea. I suppose I am obsessed.
KC told me there are only 7 boardgames in Nigeria.**
There is absolutely nowhere to acquire the kinds of boardgames we in the Amazon can acquire within days with a click of a button. Scrabble is the most popular game in Nigeria, followed by chess. The 2015 world champion Scrabble player was a Nigerian, in fact; a matter of great pride to the nation and its people. I guess when I heard about the limitations of gaming in Nigeria, a rising but highly volatile and extremely fragile petro-economy, my heart strings were pulled. I couldn’t imagine having to see all these thousands of board games and having no way to ever see any of them in real life. I tried to get him on Tabletop Simulator, offered to pay the $5 Steam fee and gift him the game itself, but this is hard when continual access to high-speed Internet is simply not a reality. KC contracted malaria, disappeared for a couple months, and now he’s back, somewhere.

The box of gateway games I have for VSO weighs less than 15 lbs. The slowest quotes range from $500-650 from the major shipping outfits. I can’t seem to get a lower quote unless I use “The Nigerian Post Office.” This is ill-advised, says the Internet, unless you want to ship “shirts and letters.” In my spoiled first world hubris, I thought that there MUST be a slow freight to Abuja option, considering it’s the capital of a major shipping destination in a country of 150,000,000 people.

My final step is to start calling all the tiny African bodegas in town who offer “shipping services” of dubious reliability.

I am wondering if anyone, perhaps seasoned publishers or kickstarters who know shipping like the back of their hands, might have a tip for me. Do I leave a bribe inside the boxes? Do I kickstart or prettypleasefundme this thing? I can’t afford $600 to ship a small box of boardgames. I was also kind of hoping that this wouldn’t be the first and only box I send to the African Boardgame Convention. I’m not going to give up though, I made a promise.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Please don’t “let me google that for you.” That would be mean. Parcelmonkey and the many other middle-men are unknown to me, hence this post.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this,

Jonah


* The 7 boardgames in Nigeria are: “Monopoly, scrabble, chess, drought, snake[s] and ladder[s], ludo [I think he meant cludo], and Mancala (we call it Ayo or Ncho)”

** Dicetower interviewed KC: http://www.dicetowernews.com/tag/kenechukwu-ogbuagu
I can provide many more links if you are curious.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Angel H.
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
I just bought a game about economics so that's my financial planning done.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I was really happy that this board game festival funded on IndieGoGo!

Unfortunately I don't have much in the way of helpful suggestions (maybe a call to the nearest consulate for any advice from them), but I wanted to give a thumbs up for your attempt to bring a wider variety of games to the attendees.

If you do find a solution that works out, I'd love to hear how you wound up managing the mail system! Best of luck
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris in Kansai
Japan
Otsu
Shiga
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ludo is most definitely a game - google it.

As for suggestions for shipping, you might try the church, and international charitable/aid organisations. As your package could count as a charitable donation they may be able to help you.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
We always have time for the things we put first.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A large flat rate Priority box (USPS) to Nigeria seems to be $93.95 retail (might be cheaper if printed online). Could you order one of the Large Flat Rate boardgame-boxes from usps.com (longer, to accommodate folded game boards), and just send the boards, and baggies of the bits, not the game boxes?

https://postcalc.usps.com/Calculator/MailServices?country=10...
2 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonah Berlin

New York
msg tools
badge
Yes, we are friends.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
indigopotter wrote:
A large flat rate Priority box (USPS) to Nigeria seems to be $93.95 retail (might be cheaper if printed online). Could you order one of the Large Flat Rate boardgame-boxes from usps.com (longer, to accommodate folded game boards), and just send the boards, and baggies of the bits, not the game boxes?

https://postcalc.usps.com/Calculator/MailServices?country=10...


Hi guys, thank you for your responses, I greatly appreciate it.
I apologize for the lateness of this response. I spent some downtime off the gamiverse for a little while, focusing on work, family, and creative projects. Tough month as always.


Quote:

I was really happy that this board game festival funded on IndieGoGo!

Unfortunately I don't have much in the way of helpful suggestions (maybe a call to the nearest consulate for any advice from them)...


Thank you, I will keep you updated if I have any revelations. Getting ambassadorial was one of my last ditch attempts. I will try this if all else fails.


Quote:

ludo is most definitely a game - google it.

As for suggestions for shipping, you might try the church, and international charitable/aid organisations. As your package could count as a charitable donation they may be able to help you.


Right you are re: ludo. I actually knew better, I've heard it of, it is a parchisi variant, but I can't recall a time where I've ever seen a copy. I have this book called Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations. that talks about it and other parchisi derivatives. I just didn't make the connection.There's also Luto, which is another Victorian game that was extremely popular and bore many dumber children including "Bingo and Keno," though far simplified for gambling reasons. Anyways, Cludo, Ludo, Luto. I apologize for the misattribution.

My mother was connected with the church and many charities around the world, and would know exactly what to do here. I don't really know how to get involved with these groups and have no church or similar organization. I wouldn't even know where to start. Another place to look if I intend to repeat this activity.

Quote:
A large flat rate Priority box (USPS) to Nigeria seems to be $93.95 retail (might be cheaper if printed online). Could you order one of the Large Flat Rate boardgame-boxes from usps.com (longer, to accommodate folded game boards), and just send the boards, and baggies of the bits, not the game boxes?


I am advised against using the Nigerian Post Office (it would go USPS to NPS); but you are on to something pretty damn brilliant.

I could send "worthless" empty boxes, sparing me the meaningless VAT tax Nigeria imposes on everything and making the packages unappealing to snatchers. With no declared values, maybe boxes are less likely to be screened for "offensive material" and ballpoint pens, highly contraband in Nigeria. I could then send baggies of various parts. Perhaps I do this in a few waves. and this might get me closer to $100 to ship 8-9 games. It's not as fun as receiving a nice box filled with stuff, but it's better than losing $650 and crying helplessly in a corner.


I appreciate your input, and if any of you are interested in sending some games to KC, let me know.

Jonah
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
Duns
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Why not call VSO (London HQ) and ask them? Almostly certainly they send things to their office in Nigeria (Abuja) regularly and can advise how best to send them. They might even be able to include your parcel to forward to the person concerned, if you can get it to them (depending on where you are).

I was a VSO volunteer (in Kenya) many years ago - a brilliant experience - and all things are possible!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Francisco Gutierrez
United States
Burbank
California
flag msg tools
badge
"A pilot's greatest virtue is to know when to run" -- "What's this, a joke?"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I know my response isn't helpful, but why would you get mugged by sending boardgames?

Is the person who told you that concerned about you taking "600 dollars of product" out of your house and to a post office?

I get nothing,but weird looks when I tell postal employees "yes, I did say that these games are that expensive"
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonah Berlin

New York
msg tools
badge
Yes, we are friends.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ed_the_Red wrote:
Why not call VSO (London HQ) and ask them? Almostly certainly they send things to their office in Nigeria (Abuja) regularly and can advise how best to send them. They might even be able to include your parcel to forward to the person concerned, if you can get it to them (depending on where you are).

I was a VSO volunteer (in Kenya) many years ago - a brilliant experience - and all things are possible!


That's another great idea. I did in fact write VSO-Abuja, Nigeria, but never received a response. There are several contacts there. You are right, I can double up on my efforts; but a certain part of me does not want to force myself into this man's life, if you know what I mean. I just want to send the guy some board games that he can use at the next convention and with his work with kids, and just, as a gamer to a gamer kind of thing. He has designed some interesting stuff, but it helps to have some games to study as well. I may be being a little too diffident here. If you hadn't guessed, I'm not the hardball agent type. Going up and down the ladder of VSO is also on my list of final options.

I do not live in the UK (West Coast USA); technically, this isn't "through VSO," because the African Boardgame Convention is not a VSO operation. KC and I briefly discussed the merits of acquiring nonprofit status, he's all for it, but that's not the easiest thing to get. It takes time, money, labor and trust. Like a lot of people in his position, rather like people in the military who are stationed overseas, their only option for a stable mailing residence is under the umbrella of a greater institution.

Quote:
I know my response isn't helpful, but why would you get mugged by sending boardgames?

Is the person who told you that concerned about you taking "600 dollars of product" out of your house and to a post office?

I get nothing,but weird looks when I tell postal employees "yes, I did say that these games are that expensive"


Haha, I did not mean I would be literally mugged. What I was trying to convey was the blanket of stereotypical replies, kneejerk replies I was getting simply by saying "Nigeria." You bring up an important part of this though; Nigeria has an insane customs system (big surprise). No ball point pens.* No offensive content (in a nation that is half conservative Muslim and half traditionalist Christian, where witchcraft is still considered a danger in parts, and gay people apparently "do not exist," and so on, what is offensive?). No fabrics (thats vague, no dice bags? no flannel backed components?). I could go on. On top of that, there's a 4-5% VAT tax. Basically, they're going to open your stuff and do whatever they want. My friend who does AIDS statistics work in South Africa and Ghana told me as much.

Right now, this idea of shipping some "worthless" bags of games broken into boxes, pieces, cards, etc. is looking quite nice. I might be able to trust the NPS with that... Or find an NGO willing to work with me there. I don't know.

Side note on what I'm sending and general giddiness:
While not the subject of this thread, I might push it elsewhere if this moves forward. I am sending him Ticket to Ride. They don't know about TTR there. I also dropped a pretty penny on "Ticket to Ride: Heart of Africa" for him, but I'm not sure if that's offensive or not. My compass is sometimes not well-tuned to these things. I am perhaps overly sensitive to sending content that underplays things like imperialism and slavery (like almost every 17xx game), but KC assures me all Nigerians care about is winning. Still... I want them to enjoy themselves. You can be the judge. One game that looks good is the Great Zimbabwe. I am encouraging KC to develop a "euro game" with a Nigerian twist, based on the Empire of Benin, which I think would make a fantastic game setting. Benin, the country, has nothing to do with the actual Benin. Google Imperial Benin's flag and thank me later.



*- Why no ball point pens permitted in Nigeria? It's one of the largest ports for drugs in the world. I don't think stuffed pens are the culprit, drugs enter freely, go up through Spain, which has abandoned the drug war as a big "Thank you" to the global economic system for what it did back in 06-07, and from there it goes across the continent. Can the springs be used in the manufacture of improvised weapons? Was there a deluge of bad street poetry? Really have no idea there.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
Duns
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
VSO is likely to be helpful, even if the boardgame convention isn't one of their projects; their aim is to help countries develop, and to support their volunteers. This can include all sorts of things outside the official remit of the projects. So I would definitely recommend making the effort - though I would also agree that at some point you will have to give up if you can't get anywhere. Maybe just try sending a much smaller package with a couple of card games and see how that goes?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonah Berlin

New York
msg tools
badge
Yes, we are friends.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

Another good point, and a suggestion I will follow along with some of the others here.
Thank you all for you help and input, and I will certainly report back with my findings. My hope is to perhaps expand a board game donation drive specifically for educational games to Nigeria. We'll see how things pan out.

Cheers,

Jonah
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.