Nothing captures the condition of a Lagosian or anyone who has experienced the #LagosTraffic than in these words by Okiri Christopher; “Peel the surface of a Lagosian, you will find a tough survivor. Lagos traffic, besides other vagaries of Lagos life, toughens the people…”
It is very fluid as to how you can become a Lagosian. Only experience the #LagosTraffic for once and you are one, a real Lagosian.
The series continues here, catch up on the previous here. Remember, nothing is personal. Your #LagosTraffic experience is not. Someone too has the same story. This is Lagos.
The fact that you earn your living as a writer might not come as a shock to many. But that you do so in Lagos would, especially to those who know about the sort of concrete jungle that Lagos is.
Being a writer, and consequently being one of those who are foresworn to earn below the comfort zone, you can only afford to live in the outskirts of the city, where distance still keeps the price at a level that you can at least afford. While living far away from the city centre may have its advantage in lower house rents, the commute to and fro work is another matter entirely.
So, when you leave home every day by 6am, it is usually still dark. You run through the dark empty street of your still-sleeping neighbourhood, praying you reach the junction before the man that lives two houses away from you. The man works in the Island and seems to have forgotten he was the one that enthusiastically asked you wait for him at this same spot every week morning. So you brave his cold good morning, thrown at you as he flips open the passenger side door without looking at you. You eagerly return his good morning, asking about the kids and madam. He grunts his reply, maintaining his coldness. You understand. You would be cold too, to anyone who instead of keeping you company in the dreary bumper-to-bumper traffic that stretches for miles, falls asleep once the cool AC hits him. You understand, but you know it is not your fault. The distance to your office is far, he would help you get half way there, save you vital money needed for the liftless journey back, needed for the snacks you would need to eat, for the traffic will only let you see your house again by 11:30 PM.
You understand, even though you would rather tell the man to FUCKOFF with his car and big-man airs. You understand; Lagos traffic forces you to.
Let me tell you the day I saw hell on Lagos roads.
First, you should know Olumide Oyedeji. He's a basketballer, a renowned one at that. When his money started spilling over, or I should say, when he began constipating over his American dollars in NBA, he remembered his roots.
He thought organising a summer basketball camp for his homely folks will broaden their hopes. I liked Olumide Oyedeji. He was smart. With his yearly summer camp, he speedily became our hero. We adored him. I admired him too until that night in 2005 when I began hating him, that night when I had to spend 9hrs journeying between Surulere and Ikorodu.
That very night was the last day of the camp that year. I was short in height, the rim was feets taller than my jumping height, but Olumide recognised my skill. I could throw a brilliant free-throw than a Yao Min would do. He honoured me. On the last day of the camp, I took photo Ops with him. I was celebrated. I had competed nicely with camp mates for the best free-throw shot. I turned out the best.
Fame is good. However, mine turned salty. I stayed longer at the camp late into the night. I hate jumping buses in Lagos at night. At that time of the day, you only join others in that mad traffic races. I spent 9hrs between National Stadium, Surelere and Itupate in Ikorodu. It was just so typical of the Lagos traffic that night. Nobody knew what caused it really. We had stories as excuses instead. It was either a tanker fell on the road or some polices were on a roja-spree. I spent 9hrs on Lagos roads in 2005. Olumide was to be blamed and not Lagos and its typical roads. Olumide delayed me because he wanted to honour his best free-throw shooter for that year.
I spent 9 hells on the roads. I spent 9 miseries on Lagos roads.9 fucking hours! Ko'shi!
Mazi Chiagozie F Nwonwu is a magazine editor and a freelance writer. He has been published in various literary magazines. He blogs at www.fredrnwonwu.blogspot.com
Joseph Omotayo is TrueTalk.
Please, share your #LagosTraffic experience in the comment box.