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Sunday, February 10, 2013

#LagosTraffic: Many Voices, One Memory (1)

There is creativity in unifying our pains; our memories. I have always found collective reminiscences quite interesting. It is in them you realize that there is nothing as the monopoly of experiences; nothing is personal. Our experiences are all unified as humanity is. We only need to share them and hear others’ stories to know that.

In this first series of a multi-guest post, enjoy the humourous encounters of the #LagosTraffic. However, the humour in this multi-written post does not smudge the realities in them. Read them and you would see your stories being told. Remember, nothing is personal. Your story is not. This is Lagos.

©Adeola Opeyemi, Olisakwe Ukamaka Evelyn and Myne Whitman

“Abeg, go return the car to your Sugar Daddy if you no fit drive am joor!” a driver called out.
“Oloshi! O de lo ku s’ile father e” a bus conductor shouted at a biker who was trying to wiggle his way out of the endless ocean of cars, lorries, tricycles, motorcycles and busses that was the norm on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

 It was 7:30 pm and I couldn’t help but notice that I had wasted four useful hours in the stand-still traffic. Sandwiched between a woman who couldn’t weigh anything less than a hundred and thirty kilograms and a confused man who had spent the first two hours preaching ‘End time’ and the remaining hours staring at my cleavage.

“Lord!” I closed my eyes with a sigh and I must have slept off when it happened. I heard the crashing sounds as a bus hit my bus from behind and caused my bus to hit the small Nissan in front of it.

Murmuring and hissing, the passengers started filing out of the bus and that was when I noticed.  My purse, my wristwatch, my sister’s ring; the one I had borrowed from her room without her permission. It was pure gold, and I had worn it to impress my date. Everything was gone, vanished into thin air.

“My purse!” I screamed but my voice was drowned by the numerous voices throwing curses and abusive words at one another as heads popped out of car windows and people gathered around the accident scene.

One fine morning in December 2012, Lagos paid back in her coin.

I was on my way to Debonair Bookstore at Yaba. At Dopemu Roundabout, I stood under the bridge, waiting for a bus, after I had failed to beat a good price with the taxis. Buses that rolled by were either filled up or I wasn’t fast enough to get into one. I was shoved and pushed, as we fought to get in. once, I was almost successful but was jostled by the waist of a faster woman. And when the next bus came by, even before it rolled to where I stood on edge like a sprinter, I raced to it, jumped on, but met a tragedy: my handbag was stuck somewhere in between the frenzied bodies.
Someone screamed “mumu, commot for road!” and before I could catch my breath, I was pulled by a force that left me wobbling. My dress ripped, something bit into my side. I was falling, but was caught by the deft hands of a man who said “pele” profusely.

My face burned. I patted down my dress, thanked him. The strap of my dress was torn and my bra-strap stood out on my right shoulder. I thought of cancelling the trip as another bus appeared, but someone said “Sister, enter.” There was no rush. I climbed in, thanked them. My eyes burned. A lady behind me said “let me hold that strap for you.” She got out one of those safety pins.

Though the heat rose in seconds as we sat like fishes in a can, I tried to understand this new Lagos. I would sit in that bus for the next two hours, sweating and wiping with my handkerchief, as Whizkid yelled “I love my baby” from the radio.

My latest experience of traffic in Lagos was during my last visit in July/August 2012. I was staying at the family house in Festac, and I had to meet some people for my book business in VI. Now I know about the traffic situation, especially seeing that the expressway between Festac and most parts of the city was under construction.

But before this time, I had always made it to where I was going within 2 hours, no matter how horrible. On this day, it was different. The car I was using was sandwiched between a rock and a hard place, and I mean that almost literarily. We had a truck in front of us, dishing out dirty grey and sometimes black fumes. Behind us was a Hummer Jeep, it had a steel grill guarding its front. On both sides of us were long lines of other cars, trailing forwards and backwards as far as the eye could see. The driver debated routes, ones he should’ve taken, and others he shouldn’t have.

But those were like crying over spilt milk. We were well and truly stuck. I wish I could tell you we were beamed away like the Captain in the Star Trek Movie Franchises, or that the car suddenly developed invisible wings and took off, like in Ayodele Arigbabu’s sci-fi tale, but those would be lies. We managed to crawl slower than a snail in that jam for about 3 hours before we took the first exit we saw and made a bolt for it. The only thing I can say is, “Thank God for mobile phones”. I called the people who were expecting me and cancelled so they weren’t stuck waiting for me, like I was in the traffic.


Adeola Opeyemi hopes to publish a book someday. But for now, she will read and write everything she can.

Olisakwe Ukamaka Evelyn is the author of the book: “Eyes of a Goddess”

Myne Whitman is the author of two books: “A Heart to Mend” and “A Love Rekindled”

The series continues. Do you have any #LagosTraffic experience you would like sharing with us? Please, do so in the comment box. Let’s know your LagosTraffic pattern. *winks*


  1. Nice post Tayo. Just yesterday, I couldn't help concluding a write-up (on my experience in Lagos after a long time) with the summation that Lagos traffic is 'yamayama'. One's private car is not an escape route. Nah!
    Looking forward to other posts in this series. Welldone man.

  2. @Ayodele. Thank you, bro. All thanks to the guest-writers who make the post excellent. You might just be one of the featured guest-contributors in the next series, especially now that your experience of the #LagosTraffic is so recent. And you are also right, even one's private car does not escape the 'yamayama' o. Thank you, bro. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. A

  3. @Toinlicious. Yeah, it is the one and only Lagos. Thanks for reading and commenting, fellow-blogger.

  4. Kai. E no easy o. I really pity Adeola, losing everything like dat.

  5. @ilola. Imagine. Me sef pity her no be small. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. I feel bad for adeola losing her stuff like that. If it were me, I would hold no restrictions in letting the waterbanks loose. I was born in lagos but i can't recall much of the city coz i left there when I was a lil' kid and haven't been back since then. This Lagos traffic, hmmm, must be quite a experience considering all that I have read on this post. Nice blog.

  7. @OddNaijaChic. I feel bad for her too. It must really have been such a painful experience for her. I really feel for her. Please, do come to Lagos soon, so many things have so changed since you left as a kid. Come visit the city soon and she will welcome you with her traffic. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. I like your blog too, it's beautiful and the way you write, captivating.

    Thank you for reading and commenting.

  8. Lagos traffic wahala, sigh* lovely write up. My recent experience was on a weekday when I was grateful I closed early from work, as d bus moved, the woman to my left started picking her teeth with her fingers and making funny noises with her teeth and tongue, as if that wasn't enough, her body odour was killing, unfortunately, the man to my right wasn't any better as he was sweaty and wet; I was sandwiched btw both of them, hoping I would get home early or one of them would drop along d way,well, my prayers were never answered as we got stuck in traffic and the sweaty man even sneezed on my hand. I was almost throwing up, after an hour, I finally got home but it felt like a lifetime.

  9. @Ayomiku. Thanks for reading and commenting! And most importantly, thanks for relating your experience on the blog. It seems we all have a common suffering at the hands of this #LagosTraffic after all. I should contact you soon. Your experience of the #LagosTraffic should be featured in one of the series. Thank you so much, Ayomiku.


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