Friend Or Foe

A former work-mate Jay was giving me the low-down about something that happened to him recently.

A while back, he had attended an awesome Halloween party, and had decided to go as a traditional masquerade. Ingenious right? The last costume party I attended, I had gone dressed as a Navy Captain. I came away with a few girls’ numbers at the end of the night. Maybe, some mistook me for a rich former Chief of Naval Staff. My uniform did come stacked with my rank and many badges of honor. Ok, too ‘many’ information….

Jay brought the mask back home after the party, and hung it as a decoration on his room wall. It was a really grotesque mask – just imagine the alien’s face in the movie Predator. I chided him for hanging up the mask in his room, as it stuck out like a sore thumb, spoiling the overall décor of the place.

Fast forward, a few months later, he pulled this really hot chick when he met at a wedding in Ikoyi. They spoke on the phone for days, and then she promised to come visit him one Saturday.

Jay got the place ready for the lass’s visit. He tried to make the pad ‘condusive’.

He took out the sofa from the room, so that the girl would have to sit on the bed.

He turned down the thermostat on his split unit AC so that the place was very chilly, in case his female visitor required ‘warming’.

He ‘arranged’ rubbers at every nook and cranny of his pad, to be ready whenever or wherever it went down. He put one on the bedroom dresser, put another under one of the pillows, one on the window seal, another in his pocket, two behind the television unit.

He warned the gateman not to leave his post, to prevent a mix-up.

He did some push-up, pull-ups and bicep curls with really heavy weights. Then he showered, dressed up and sprayed a healthy dose of Pleasures for Men by Estee Lauder.

The girl finally came around 2pm (African time), wearing a really smart tank top, some skin-fitting jeans and some really nice shoes. Jay was like wow! Jay said that she had a figure like a palm-wine keg. 

They chatted a bit, dug into some take-away that Jay had sent his house-boy for, and even watched a bit of the rom-com “Notting Hill”. By the time the part of the movie where Hugh Grant and Julia Robert’s characters climbed a wall into a garden came, Jay and his date had started snogging.

They were making out just fine, almost heading for a technical knock-out, when the girl looked up and noticed the mask.

Jay said that the way this girl flew out of his arms and bed was like a scene from Matrix where Keanu Reeves did a limbo type movement to dodge a bullet in slow motion.

Her voice trembling, she shreiked ‘What is that? Is that ojuju?”

Jay tried to explain calmly “Nah, love. It is just a simple Halloween mask.”

The girl was not convinced. She moved towards the door “What is a grotesque mask doing on your wall? What is it? There must be something wrong with you”

Jay tried to explain to this chick and allay her fears. She nor gree o. The die was cast – she even refused to finish the movie. After a while, she received a ‘phantom’ call from her bestie, and said she had to meet her cousin in Ogudu. She bounced out of the crib like she was running from something.

Jay was left with a bruised ego and the damn mask on the wall. He took it down from the wall, and hung it in his living room instead. Let it bother uninvited guests now instead. Like the landlord and his agents.

In Nigeria, people dey fear. And most tragedies are usually blamed on one’s perceived enemies. If a politician got caught in EFCC’s net for misappropriating public funds; he would usually blame it on perceived enemies who are ‘intimidated by his profile.’

A neighbor’s son got caught with stolen car parts. His ma threw herself on the floor, rolling as she cried ‘My enemies have finally gotten me. Mo ti ku o…”

And at that point, I felt like defending her so-called enemies. I could swear I never saw anyone else with her son, when he living it up, blowing money fast. Even his friends would have been weak.

There was a program on TV sometime recently where a guy said he had just recovered from an ailment. According to him, he had ‘stepped’ on poison which had been an entrapment by his ‘enemies’, and had fallen ill. And I am like, wait a Nigerian minute (which is long by the way if you add African time), which one is ‘step on poison’ again? I never knew people could actually ‘step’ on poison? I thought they just put it in your food or beer, when you stepped away briefly to the loo. Or is there Wi-fi or Bluetooth poison now? But it made me realize how Nigerians feared their enemies.

Sometimes in some quarters, if a person bought a new/used (or tokunboh or Belgium) automobile in Nigeria, family members would gather and make professions, pouring libations on the tires to ward off enemies.

May you trample over your foes with these big-ass 17 inch rims.

May you never ride shot-gun while your enemies are handling the steering wheel. If it is my Bentley, I don’t mind actually.

May you see your enemies in your rear-view and never with your head-lights.

May your enemies be forever in your boot, but never in your bonnet? Don’t say amen here o. Some Ferraris and Lambos have their engines in the trunk instead.

Someone even prayed: May you never go backwards as you drive this car. All well and good, but you still need to reverse out of this tight-ass parking lot after these prayers end.

At church you could see members of the congregation tapping away on their blackberry or catching 40 winks or scoping flesh lustfully, but as soon as the pastor starts prayers binding ad destroying enemies, everyone springs to attention with the chorus of a resounding amen. And why not; you enemies may park behind you on the church car park, and be no-where to be found after service ends to start with.

If every person has enemies, then that means everyone is somehow an enemy to someone right? Then who are the good people then? Am I someone’s enemy even though I wish no man any evil? Haba, na wetin? My take is that everyone who has a village must have enemies.

Think well. Your enemies checked your SSCE, NECO and JAMB results before you did. They are the ones you hid information from when you got a visa for Jand (even the 3 month one).Your enemies were the last to know when you were interviewing for that choice job, but were the first to know when you landed that lucrative contract. If there is a way to trace your facebook page visitors (like Hi-5 used to have, and Linked-In does), you would see that your enemies check on you 24/7.

If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, should I really be hating and cursing him too?

All these postulations and theories are giving me malaria, abeg. As I go to cool off with some tender cow-leg pepper soup (okay this too is hot), let me pray for each and every one of my dear readers as you begin the 2nd half of the year:

May your pain be champagne.

If you are Fanta Chapman just out of the fridge, your enemies would be Limca in a 23cl ‘solo’ bottle straight from the crate.

If you are a Mercedes ML 500 from a V.I. dealership, your enemies would be a Daewoo Racer old model (without AC) with a “For Sale” jerry-can on it.

If you are a Hollywood blockbuster starring Johnny Depp, your foes would be a Yoruba movie with wrong English subtitles and gold tooth alatikas.

If you are a Celebrity poker game on ESPN, your enemies would be a local game of Ludo with 2 of the red and green seeds missing and the glass broken.

If you are a packet of Chivita juice, your enemies would be an agbalumon seed spat on the ground.

If you are a Transformers (movie), your enemies would be NEPA transformers with the mercury missing.

* Just joking, but I wish you all well. God bless.

Nomination For A Nigerian Blog Award!

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Your blog Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life has been nominated under the “Most Unique Voice In a Blog” category at the Nigerian Blog Awards! I am totally feeling like the proverbial red neck agama lizard that leaped from a high wall, landed without breaking anything, and then congratulated itself by nodding its head repeatedly. I have been nodding all day today. And night.

To be nominated for Most Unique Voice is also both awesome and worrisome at the same time – folks who know me would attest to the fact that I have the worst singing voice this part of the world. I have cracked a few bathroom tiles and even caused hot water to freeze solid, singing in the shower. Although I must confess, if I dare say so myself, my telephone voice is said to be much better. I fool myself and others sometimes by answering my cellphone with the conceited greeting “Esco’s residence, who is this?” There is nothing unique about my spoken voice.

If this were a music award ceremony, once they announce the nominees, I would storm the stage with my hangers-on, all of us causing a ruckus even if I did not become the eventual winner. This is that massive for me. Let me give my acceptance speech for the nomination now, so that if I do not eventually win, I would have said my bit “Other blogs are good, but Literati is for the children”

I am very humbled by your support, positive (and olofofo) feed-back and criticisms so far.  Please proceed to the Nigerian Blog Awards page here to cast your vote. There are some truly incredible blogs on there as well, and I have also voted for a couple (not saying who); please do so if you can. The process is simple enough –   you are required fill in the name and email sections, then make your selection (the Unique Voice category is listed at the bottom of the page, and my blog is listed as “Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life”). Once you choose and confirm your choice, you are sent a confirmation email. Kindly confirm your vote by opening the link in the confirmation e-mail. It is as easy as A-B-Chi. It is easier than 1 times table. Please spread the news as well so we can garner as many votes as possible. By the way, people under the ages of 18 can vote too, thankfully (all they need is a valid email addy).

I also want to thank those who have voted already. I am three times as grateful. Ha ha.

What does this mean for Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life, going forward? You have no idea -   more refreshing articles, an increment of  from-the -heart- posts, stories to help get you out of bed for work, break-time banter, urban legends to help relax your mind after a stressful day and naija tales to put you to bed, more Esco, less b.s., more sarcasm, less filler, more original Nigerian content, less knock-offs.  It’s.about.to.go.down.

Pardon me, because recently I have displayed the tendency to force my music tastes or the lyrics of songs which I really fancy on others. As I love but leave you now, please have a listen to one of my best tunes ever by arguably the greatest band of all – “Walk On” by U2.

May the following lines, lyrics from this great song, inspire you, as they have me, and be proof of our concord:

You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been /

A place that has to be believed to be seen /

You could have flown away /

A singing bird in an open cage /

Who will only fly, only fly for freedom/

Walk on, walk on /

What you’ve got they can’t deny it /

Can’t sell it, or buy it /

Walk on, walk on

Stay safe tonight/

Forever,

Esco

Enter-scare-ment (by A.D. of “Memoirs of a Good Naija Gurl”)


Let me start by saying I’m a very patriotic Nigerian, as patriotic as ‘patriotic’ can be (except I don’t watch NFL); in fact green and white runs through my veins.

With that said, I think I can begin.

I do not understand what the standard for entertainment is in Naija anymore, especially in music and movies. The other day I was listening to a radio station (the only radio station that would never play foreign tracks) and all of a sudden, I heard a song………..no a number……….no a rendition.

 

It sha had beats and someone was singing, it sounded very familiar. Oh My God, it was…….Oleku in……wait for it……Hausa! Chei, I couldn’t help the weird expression on my face. Like…….seriously, the dude translated the whooole thing, like we translate English worship songs to our dialect, the only difference was where he spoke in English, sorry sang in perfect English ‘tell me something that I cannot do’, I  guess the Yaro must have thought he did something different, I mean he sang in English but Ice Prince sang in pidgin!

 

Come on, where’s the ingenuity? I thought the copy-copy act was only for foreign songs, now we have to hear different dialect translations for songs that already sound mass produced and baseless, or completely copy the few good ones, I won’t be surprised if soon we hear Naeto C’s Ten over Ten in Efik or M.I’s African rapper in Idoma………..hey don’t even think about doing what I just said, it’s so not a good idea.

 

Another troubling duo is Peter and Paul – please don’t crucify me yet, I’m not criticizing their style or anything oh, It just bothers me that in all their lyrics, they have to die for their love interest, I mean, if I were to count, P-square has outlived a cat! If dem die for the babe, how dem go no say the babe don gree?

To digress a little, I remember when Bruno Mars released the hit ‘Grenade’. I’m not into the secular industry, but I listened to the lyrics till the end and I just had to laugh. How will you jump in front of a train for me and take bullet for me and even catch grenade for humble moi and still ask me if I’ll do the same for you………..dude, how now, you are already dead!

 

I remember Christina Aguilera muddling up the words to the American anthem during Super Bowl 2011 ceremonies; all I could think of was imagine if Terry G was asked to sing the Nigerian national anthem before a national engagement with the president in attendance. He would start with ‘Arise O Corpation…’ and replace Nigeria with ‘Naija”. Former Information Minister Dora ‘the explorer’ Akinluyi boss would have been swallowing hard wherever she was.

 

Now to the movie industry…………hmmmn, Nollywood I hail oh, I must commend your good works and efforts, but sometimes una no just dey try, una dey fall my hand. I remember watching a movie, I wish I can remember the name so you can see it for yourself.  In the movie, Kenneth Okoronkwo was Ngozi Ezeonu’s son. I swear I’m not kidding and the funny thing was that no make-up was even done to at least make Andy look younger. That one I might even pardon small-small oh, but the one that vexes me so much it makes me laugh is when we can still see a member of the crew or any equipment while watching (speaker or camera track or cameraman) or audibly hear the director giving instructions, all this we still find on a supposedly edited and final copy.

 

I remember a movie where Mikey (Micheal Ezuronye) was being chased and he had to scale a fence and he did, but after the jump, the next thing we heard was, ‘heee, e wound, Mike you wound’, Ehen, e no wound, flesh just comot him body small. There’s always an issue with sound, it’s either the background music is just overshadowing the actors voices or there’s no music at all and I can still hear the director barking at his crew.

 

I know the young shall grow, but Nollywood should be a teenager by now, abi don’t you think so.

 

 

Yours………..forever Nigerian

A.D

 

That All-Nigerian Girl


Some nights ago I was conversing online with a female friend about the birds and the bees and we got talking about relationships, attractions and physical preferences.

She asked me the million dollar question: “what do you look for in a lass; what features are important to you?”

I thought about it for a brief second “Crazy, sexy, cool.”

Don’t worry, I am not obsessed with TLC‘s magnum opus of the same name or anything – I will explain it to you:

Crazy: A girl who is spontaneous/unpredictable (but nor be girl wey head dey touch o).  Crazy not one that has caught craze.

Sexy: A girl who is easy to look at, with sassiness and confidence which are always sexy traits.

Cool: easy going lass with effortless charm and girl-next-door qualities. (Girl next door depends on where I am living at the time. Lekki, yes; Mushin, not so much)

But my friend was not letting me off that easily ‘Your answer is a bit vague. Who is attractive to you? Name a famous person for example’

I wanted to reply sarcastically – I really have no clue. I think most men would be content with any girl who would piss on them, if they were on fire.

Truth be told, I have gone through different phases of what I consider as hot and attractive.  As a hot-blooded adolescent in junior secondary school, I once really fancied Phylicia Rashad (Bill Cosby’s wife in The Cosby Show). Then there was a time I thought Kim Basinger was the hottest woman on earth, and then she went and married Alec Baldwin. And most of the lads in my class in secondary school fancied a bit of Sharon Stone, after the interrogation scene in the movie Basic Instinct, during which she flashed her crotch as she crossed her leg.

On the Nigerian scene, sex symbols were few and far between. Mainly because most beauties when I was growing up, were mainly beauty pageant queens, and due to the prevalent conservatism at the time, it was hard to pin point outstanding hotties in the public eye. In those days, women who entered entertainment were deemed as saying goodbye to their chances of future marriage. Regina Askia’s eyes look interesting though. And that faired-skinned cutie in the 80s Joy Soap advert (a.k.a “Joy Girl”) was really hot, though she had guys falling over themselves on the street while she smiled at them and shook her head as if to say ‘nice try, but nothing for una.”

Recently, some of my choices of examples of beauties have been a bit iffy and some a bit weird. It helps if the girl has peculiar features, or an interesting/different look as most people nowadays seem to look, smell and dress the same. I think Scarlet Johansson and Moon Bloodgood look nice by the way. If it is a black chick, I fancy a brown skinned beauty – something about cocoa skin reminds me of chocolate (or amala).

I remembered the 80s hit movie Weird Science where 2 n.e.r.d’s used a super computer to create their ideal chick. I recently saw a video for Le Petit Marche where they were promoting a “Buy Nigerian” initiative, even though their fashion market had the “Frenchest”and most “un-Nigerian” of names. They should have used Igbo instead if they were that pro-Nigerian, and called it Afia Ntakiri.

I still had my friend on the phone waiting for me to answer her question, and I didn’t want to sound like an asshole using only oyibo examples for women I considered attractive or as my ideal choice. I knew a few hot black women examples, but they were not people in the public eye so I couldn’t use them as examples.

Thinking about that Weird Science movie, I imagined that if I had a machine which could construct the perfect Nigerian woman, what features would I take and from whom?

Hmmmm……

  • Waje’s boobs (no, not the real human Waje, but the Waje cartoon character in the new M.I video for ‘Action Film’)
  • Kel’s lips (I like ponmo lips; get your Angelina Jolie on)
  • Omowunmi Akinfesi’s fore-head (it is smooth like a pumice stone). If I can’t have Omowunmi’s, I will settle for Adaure Achumba’s own minus the accent though)
  • Ebube Nwagbo’s booty (I once saw her in a movie where she sported white jeans)
  • Eku Edewor’s complexion (So that I don’t have to buy her any Brazilian weaves. Plus when we go out on dates, people will call her ‘oyibo madam’, give us freebies because of that, and allow her jump queues and get passes because she is ‘half-caste’)
  • Nse Ikpe Etim’s diction. Enough said. She’s one of the only lasses that I have heard speak pidgin that I was not put off by.
  • Sasha’s cheeks – so I can pull them as a sign of endearment (Her cheeks look like she has two big udara seeds in her mouth). I also liked the hit song “Adara.”
  • ChiDynma’s gap-teeth – In my village, gap-teeth are a sign of beauty, and so I would be able to take her back home and show her off in the village square. I also have some jigida belly beads for her to model for me. Also so that she could explain to me why she has a capital “D” in the middle of her name.
  • Tiwa Savage’s legs.  Actually I could use a lot of features from Tiwa – her fingers, her toes, her elbows etc. I know a guy who thinks Tiwa is proper fine; so much that he swore that if he ever married her, he would take her surname, have all day lie-ins with her, and change his name to Randy Savage. Na wa o.
  • Mo Cheddar’s swagger. Did you see her ‘drop it low’ dance in the music video ‘The Finest’ by Knighthouse? Awon beri.
  • Nicole Chukwueke’s nose. I can know if my perfect girl is telling me porkies (ala Pinocchio). Our favorite song would be Mario Winan’s “You should really know/ if you’re playing games, keep it on the low.” Nicole is hot by the way – shorty is a 10 over 10, 10 over 10, 10 over 10. Shikena. Ok, I really should quit now.
  • Munachi Abi’s singing/rapping talent. I like listening to my love interest singing in the shower. Especially on those mornings where NEPA has taken the power, and I can’t listen to my favorite radio station when getting ready for work.
  • Mo Abudu’s smile – she will need it for all those dodgy in-laws, home-breakers from my village, fake friends and jealous well-wishers. She would just show her crocodile smile like “Thank you oh for your compliments. Na God oh” before her smile returns back to a scowl.
  • Goldie’s err…..locks?
  • ‘Toolz’  Curves – Just imagine Wana’s voluptuous assets in that ThisDay Newspaper dress. Wow! That’s going to take a whole lot of newspapers.
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s brilliance – Marilyn Monroe got hitched to the playwright Arthur Miller because she wanted to be taken a lot more seriously by marrying a member of the intelligentsia. Okay, bad example. But by incorporating Ms Chimamanda, there is a little dose of academic intellect to round off the perfect Nigerian lass. Besides she is economic power personified – she could ghost-write my blogs and turn my un- intelligible musings into a world class best-sellers. Imagine being able to buy The Chronicles of Esco at an airport bookshop (Heathrow, JFK,  Schiphol and Owerri Airports to name a few)

 

So there you have it – the makings of The All-Nigerian Girl.

And after it is all said and done, I would still have to ‘toast’ my creation because all Nigerian girls require you to win them over. And what better way to convince a lass of my intentions than to dedicate one of my favourite songs of all time to her.

‘Get to me’ by the band Train.

Humble Beginnings (by A.D.) (Memoirs Of a Good Naija Gurl)

Let us talk about the good ol’ days……You know, I’m not that old, but the world today is so advanced, so complex you just miss the good old days, sometimes I kinda……pity….yea pity the upcoming generation….

I mean, where’s the joy of using a multi-tasking touch screen phone with 3G without having used a blue and black screened phone with torch(light) and an FM radio as luxury…..

Show me the joy in sitting in your smooth A.C tight ride without having had to leave a huge amount of change for the conductor who was even rude to you by the way……

Ladies what is the joy in using Marc, Iman, Jordana or even Sleek without having patronized that mallam’s wonderful ‘brawn powder’ that was just 1 shade and will leave you looking more ridiculous than that woman on the Geisha tin.

I mean, how would you even really appreciate HDMI or HDTV if you never had to guess the color of the ranger on a television or had to hit the back of your TV to make it clear – ah the good ol’ days.

You can keep your Wi-Fi and fancy DSTV and HiTV connections, I am riding with using a metal hanger as an antenna.

How will they really understand and appreciate the silent engine sound of the Hondas and Toyotas, they never met a 244 GL Volvo!

My younger cousins will never understand why I smile when I press a button and the car window winds down; they never met good ol’ WINDER (detachable or fixed). The ones on the Peugeot 504 and 505 definitely became detachable after a while, until you were using one winder for all 4 windows.

They won’t appreciate the simplicity of the car mp3 player, they never had to stay awake the night before Christmas journey to the village rolling and re-rolling all the cassette players. (Yeah, you know them the Panam Percy Paul and Acapellas and Nkwa praise). Boney M too!

I really hope they will still understand the genre system of music when artistes of today are confused on the kind of music they want to sing; you hear stuff like “I sing ‘Afrofuji-rock-hiphop-jazz’…………hmmm, like say na Timberland get fuji. By the way, Eedris Abdulkareem’s babble is a genre of its own. Who has also heard that Shan George jam?

You would never appreciate the ingenuity cup holders in your car if you never had to put your Fanta Chapman between your legs and secure its content by using your hand when the driver is on a bumpy road.

In this era of dual citizenship of Nigerian-Peruvian or Nigerian-Brazilian females, I hope the culture of counting ‘rich poor beggar thief’ on our braided hair doesn’t die!

In this ‘microwave generation’ I hope it doesn’t turn out to be cloudy with a chance of meatballs, Like no-one should blame wives of tomorrow who can’t cook jack when they didn’t play mummy and daddy and prepare pretend soup with leaves and eba with clay. Or even settle pretend fights with the pretend husband.

I don’t think we should complain about adding weight when little ways of daily exercise like the stairs are being replaced by elevators and escalators (even in 3 or 4 storey buildings) .

It all seems like funny stuff but, how would we appreciate this good life that we all crave when we don’t take the time to ‘enjoy’ the humble beginnings.

Yours….…from the past

A.D

The Pounded Yam And Pure Water Awards (6)

E sweet o

CORRECT!!

  • By now I am sure you know that I am a huge ‘longer-throat’.  One of my favourite things is good mood food. I have phases where I start having cravings for a particular thing and at that point, I buy and eat it to death then leave it alone totally forever. There was a time I used to stop by Mr. Biggs at Mobil Filling Station Lekki (3rd Round-about) for sausage roll, remove and toss away the cheap pastry and eat the meat filling.

Then I really liked the Chicken Kebab from TFC, so I would cop that, chew the meat and pick my teeth with the skewer stick.  Recycling at its best – nothing is wasted, you see. I also really liked UTC Marble Cake, which I have made many hawkers run marathons in go-slow for. Only for them to catch up, and sigh ‘Oga, change no dey o’ as I offered them a crisp 1000 naira bill as payment for 2 cakes. Now I can’t stand these cakes.

Now, my new thing is Jack In The Box’s “Grilled Breakfast Sandwich” which is number 23 on their breakfast menu (only available in the US, sorry). Two syllables for how it tastes – Correct! I even boost it further by garnishing the inside with a healthy dose of Heinz ketch-up. Some amebos would ask what does this have to do with a blog on Nigerian life, which should promote Nigerian food only? Well we also have bread, eggs, ham and cheese in Nigeria – please stop acting like say na only suffer-head dey our country. You could ask me for the recipe or you could take a trip to Pride of Eden…Heavenly Foods at Ikota Shopping Complex. Tell them there that Esco sent you for a hook up. First ten people to get there, get a free fortune cookie. With a message inside.

  • All the fathers in the house. Happy belated Father’s Day. You do not have to be an actual biological father to earn my congrats. If you are responsible for someone, are a big uncle, school father, political godfather or an area father, this greeting goes out to you as well. 3 gbosas for you all. I owe you pizza from Papa John’s.

How fatherhood has changed from the days of my youth. Back then, children were divided into different categories – those who called their fathers ‘Daddy’, those who called their fathers ‘Papa’ and those who called them ‘Sir’. Fathers who demanded to be called ‘sir’ were the ones who had a special sofa or couch called ‘senior chair’ in the living room where the kids, wives and visitors were prohibited from sitting in. These kinds of fathers did not sit around and joke with their children or wives, and were the first to be served breakfast or any meal. They were also perpetually decked out in a white singlet, and a ‘wrapper’ with the hugest knot.

The ‘Papas’ were almost in their 60s when their children were born. As a result the kids usually lied to outsiders that Papa was actually their grandfather. Then there are the ‘daddies’ and ‘popsies’ and ‘dads’

Whether you are a Papa, Daddy or Sir, happy father’s day to you all.

  • Finally, a thought for the disasters (man-made and natural) that occurred recently in Abuja and Lagos. GEJ, different parts of Naija have been ravaged by fire (Abuja) and water (Lagos) in the space of one week. What is going on?

 My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the recent Abuja bomb blast. May God give you strength and courage during this difficult time, and to the deceased – Rest in Peace. I will speak on this again sometime soon.

Water nor get enemy...or friend

My sympathy also goes to those affected by the recent major floods in Victoria Island and parts of Lekki. The rich also cry. Unless you live under Olumo Rock, you must have heard or read about the popular story about the couple who smooched on a road while there were serious riots going on in Vancouver, Canada. Well, Naija has bested that by a country mile (no pun intended). The resilience of  Nigerians was evidenced by the above picture which was circulated via Blackberry messenger of a chap surfing on a piece of wood/door on large pool of water. Get your Cameron Diaz on, bro.

 

Up Yours

YIMU YIMU

  • People who say ‘sturves’ or ‘stuffs’. I really can’t stand that word, and by the way it is a huge grammatical shell. Or people who use the term ‘working class’ to describe professional workers in Nigeria (but that is a story for another day)
  • Naija traders who charge in dollars for mediocre goods or services. I know this lass who used to stop by offices in the Victoria Island and Ikoyi area to sell formal clothes and accessories to bankers and other professionals, from the trunk of her Toyota. Her business card read stylist/clothier/ make-over professional. Okay fair enough. She used to pop into my office during lunch time to call out some of my work colleagues who were usual customers of hers, but I never really paid her any mind.

Then one day, I was walking back to the office after lunch, and passed her by her open car boot, trying to sell some articles to a work-mate of mine. She intercepted me, and insisted that I take a look at stuff she had for sale. I decided to take a look just to be polite.

I really shouldn’t have: Marks and Spencer’s pants (underwear not trousers o!) for $100?! A polyester trouser suit for $300? I thought M&S was a British store chain – why the conversion to dollars from pounds? Well, Ghana-Must-Go bags are charged in naira, here. Ok bad joke.

And some gullible people get carried away once they see a dollar price; they believe that the goods must be premium or genuine or are really imported from Jand/Yankee. Take this yimu yimu.

  • Those Nigerian doctors who never tell you what the problem/ailment is. It seems that their own version of the Hippocratic Oath extends to the patients themselves. They always use one coded medical term to bamboozle you into thinking you are done for. Instead of saying you have malaria, the doctor informs you that you have an acute attack of plasmodic protozoa, or says something like “this is a concentrated case of chronic dermatitis”. Chei, doctor, biko nu, I have not built a house yet o!

And one patient was like “Doctor Nwubiko, seriously, what is wrong with me? Am I going to die?”

The doctor just smiled sheepishly as he gave a light-hearted dismissive explanation: “You will be alright though; it is just that…..”

The patient wasn’t finding this funny. He started remembering all the symptoms he had been having from the past few days and even since the day he was born and started imagining the worst: “Just that what?”

“Just that…” the doctor’s voice trailed off as his eyes and concentration were distracted by Nurse Ngozi’s massive gluteus maximus (bakassi).

 Ignoring the patient, Doctor Death said “Nurse Ngozi, I hope you know that you are on night duty today…”

And he was grinning mischievously like he had just sniffed helium laughing gas from a dentist’s chair. Maybe he had…

Even when they are prescribing drugs for you, some of them hardly look  at your face or even act like you are there. They press the buzzer or use the intercom to summon Nurse Ngozi, who they give instructions “Administer 50 milligrams of iodine sulphate via his gluteus Maximus stat!”  In case you didn’t know, it means that the nurse should chook your nyash with iodine – immediately. I prefer injections though.

Heaven forbid that you are assigned to Matron Temperance rather than cute curvy Nurse Ngozi. Some older nurses do not give a damn if you are sick. They more or less ‘stab’ you with the syringe when giving you injections, and pump in the medicine. Oh, and if you vomit, you will clean it up by yourself, even if you have a terminal disease.

Why do some Naija docs like playing 419 with people’s health? Whatever happened to plain-speak? Some of them look at you through their thick frame glasses, like they are turning up their nose at you, since they are great paragons of knowledge while you barely managed to graduate with a major in Yoruba Education at your state university.

I have a mind to start acting like they do in those Nollywood movies where a character receives bad news from the doctor that the patient (a loved one) didn’t make it. The character would usually feign some kind of mock horror, look to the skies in disbelief and then start beating on the doc like ‘Doctor, it is a lie. Don’t tell me that Wazobia has died. Do something doctor – Wazobia cannot die. Ah doctor, you must be telling lies, please yarn another story, Wazobia cannot be dead’ All this while grabbing the dokinta’s lab coat hysterically and almost strangling him with his stethoscope. I usually cheer on at this point.

By the way, why are the doctors in Nollywood movies so cold, unsympathetic and unapologetic? They blurt out bad news like the obituary section of a newspaper, without even considering the mental state of the recipient. In one Nollywood movie, the doctor announced to the waiting relatives ‘Both your only son and husband have kicked the bucket…by the way the bursar says you are still owing the dispensary”

Nigerian doctors you know I love you. A doctor’s reward is in heaven. At least our government seems to think so..

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I Am In Your Area (2)

Stand and deliver

The Area Boys Sagas continue. No matter your wealth or status, unless you use a flying saucer or a winch’s broom to navigate Lagos roads, you have to deal with the area boy phenomenon one way or the order.

  • One particular case comes to mind. Anybody familiar with the Victoria Island – Oniru – Lekki axis would remember the short-cut which used to exist between Oniru and Lekki until it was bricked up and sealed off. The short-cut enabled motorists bypass some of the beginning part of Lekki-Epe road by passing huge sandy plots and bursting out on the road just before 2nd Roundabout and around where Amazon Energy and DFS are located. It was a popular route with people on the school run, professionals trying to get to work early, danfo drivers who wanted to drop and pick passengers faster to increase their profit threshold and those moneyed vain types who wanted to test their new German SUVs.

It was a fantastic, life-saving shortcut while it lasted, but it had only one snag: the sandy lots were a car sinker. Only navigate if your car is an SUV or a 4 wheel drive. That wasn’t the only hazard – alayes (nomenclature for ‘area boys) used to patrol the sandy lot looking for cars who got stuck in the sand. They charged a king’s ransom, sometimes up to N10,000 to help push or dig a stranded vehicle. Sometimes the drivers did not have a choice – they were in a hurry or feared about living the car there overnight.

The curious thing is that during the rainy season, the sandy lot would get wet any day it rained, making it easier to navigate for most cars, as water made the sand more sturdy. However for some even more curious reason, the next day, there seemed to be a huge top layer of dry sand in the lots again. It was obvious that the area boys were heaping fresh sand every night to make sure cars got stuck the next day!

Some even chased after cars as they passed if the car looked like it was struggling in the sand. There was a day I wanted to use the shortcut, and the area boys were there. A few cars had gotten stuck because the sand dunes were huge. I drove a small SUV, so I revved the engine to gather momentum, and then jetted off onto the sand plains. At a point, my car tires looked to be stuck, and some of the area boys gathered by my car as it reduced speed, and started pressing down on the bonnet and sides with their body weight to trap the car further in the sand!  Ehn?

However, the alayes did not factor in the power of 4WD. My car’s four wheel drive kicks in automatically if the front wheels are not engaging a surface properly despite the driver hitting the throttle. As a result, the back tires started spinning, and I was able to push forward and finish the short-cut. Looking at my rear-view mirror, I could see the disappointment on the faces of some of the area boys. One shook his fists at me as he watched me escape. I gave him the finger, as I cranked up the volume on my car stereo. I had that Puff Daddy and Mase jam on my Bose sound system ‘Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down’: Can’t nobody take my pride, can’t nobody hold me down/ Oh no, I have got to keep on moving.

Other cars were not so lucky when using that shortcut. If you got stuck there, the area boys would try to intimidate you. Some would first push the car, then demand an outrageous sum and threaten to hold your car or one of its parts in lien if you don’t pay up. Sometimes you would see a Lagos big boy or an oga stuck there. He would remain in his car with the AC on and windows up, while his driver alighted to negotiate with irate area boys under the hot sun.

As an aside, some of the commuters who used to try to use this short-cut used to make me laugh. Why would any driver in his right mind think that a Kia Picanto could pass a sandy dune? Lagosians can be vain – sometimes you would see Range Rover and Mercedes ML drivers snicker proudly and shake their heads in amusements as they drove past other struggling motorists – usually some Rav 4 drivers. Na for that sand-sand, you go know say jeep no be jeep. (or SUV)

So it is clear to see that area boys affect both the rich and the poor. There was a time that some fellas used to see as a mark of macho strength and hardness if they could boast that they entered a beach or parked in a public place without having to pay area boys. Let’s not lie to ourselves, most of us at one time or the other have had to ‘settle’ this rising particles of brute force. I remember going to Lagbaja’s Motherland some years back for a late night show. Area boys were hanging around on the streets parking people and asking for cash. I parked, got down, and paid one-off plus some extra, as I told him to keep a special eye on my car. Another man had packed next to me, and ignored the area boy’s request for cash, as he walked away with his voluptuous date.

When the show ended in the early hours of the morning, I strolled to my car and saw a crowd gathered near. Apparently the man, who had packed next to me, had his car steering wheel stolen! Sometimes a N200 or N500 tip pays for itself.

  • Circa 2008, my aunt came down from Abuja to Lagos because she wanted to buy a used car. I and my dad decided to take her to Berger in Apapa, to guide her in making the right choice and to get a bargain. We decided to use a car hire, and then drive the new car back to the house

 

We got to Berger, and were astounded. Cars of every size, shape and model lined for blocks. My aunt became as overwhelmed as a cow in a field. The traders there, some of the most tenacious salesmen in the world, did not make her task of making a choice easier. To me, it is easy – when in doubt, choose a Honda, if you cannot afford a Mercedes. I love Hondas…

There was also the matter of price – Japanese cars are overpriced in Naija, and my aunt wanted one. She was also on a budget, and had her husband and kids calling her phone every other minute for a progress report. Her teen son wanted an SUV, so he could paint Abuja red and pick up as many ‘drive-bys’ as possible. Her husband wanted the new Passat – he should have gone to steal.

My aunt had to settle for a 2005 Toyota Camry XLE (popularly known as ‘Big –for-nothing). It was bogus model with leather seats, a sun-roof, alloy wheels, and AC that could turn pure water into condensed ice cream in an instant. I hated it though. That particular model, not because of bad bele. Thank you.

 We paid for it and looked at our watches – it was well past 6pm. We had to drive to Lekki, and it was around the after-work rush hour. There goes my Champions League match. We told the driver of the car hire to drive in front of us, while I would drive the brand new car. The traders there advised us to put the hazard lights on, and drive with speed like we were escorting a CBN bullion van. Why do the drivers of brand new cars without license plates drive like crazed banshees with their hazard lights blinking furiously and horns blaring. Armed robbers could still rob you regardless. By the way, don’t the hazard lights and loud horns draw attention to you instead?

Trust the car salesmen at Berger – the tank of the car was on empty. By the time we navigated through Apapa traffic, the car was on reserve. We could have stopped at a couple of filling stations, but we decided to soldier on because it was getting late, and traffic was moving very slow. We also wanted to get to the Island first, because the car was unlicensed and anything could pop off anytime. By the way, why is it that people who live on the Island, believe that once they get to anywhere on the Island, all will be fine. If they are stranded, they believe that all they have to do is find a way to cross 3rd Mainland or Eko Bridges and that all will be well after then.

 

We were cruising just fine; in fact I was beginning to tune into the local radio stations to test the sound system, when the car suddenly lost thrust power. Oh shucks! I looked at the fuel gauge and saw that the needle had dropped to way below empty. Gas had finished, and worse than that, we were at the end of Marina, just before Falomo bridge.

My dad woke up from his slumber; my aunt started shedding tears. I managed to navigate the car so that we could go as far as possible and use the momentum to park well on the side of the road.

 

It was now past 8pm and we were a few meters short of Army Officer’s Mess (a popular wedding reception venue in Lagos). I told my aunt and my dad to get down from the car and stand on curb, and I plucked a plant and pulled out the car spare tire from the boot and placed them some meters behind the car to warn on-coming traffic. My dad placed a call to the car-hire driver who had gone way before us, and told him that we had run out of gas. He was also instructed to go to Mobil Station on Ahmadu Bello Way, and buy us a gallon of fuel, and use an okada to bring it to us asap.

 

I looked up across the road, and saw about 5 red lights glowing from under Falomo Bridge. They looked like infra-red dots. I looked closely and noticed that 4 of the red lights were 2 pairs of eyes, and the last light was…..I could smell it – Indo spliff. Two area boys were smoking weed under the bridge, and one of them had spotted us, and was pointing us out to the other one. I then watched, as the other one ran off to call ‘back-up’ while the pointer readied himself to come across. Ah, the bad Samaritans again.

 

It was not looking good. If a posse of area boys came to jam a lad, an elderly man and a middle aged woman in a poorly lit road by a major bridge, by a stranded unlicensed car, that was a recipe for disaster.

 

I decided to think fast. Feeling like a Hollywood (or sorry, Nollywood) movie hero, I barked orders to my dad and aunt: ‘Follow me, if you want to live.’ We jogged and half ran to the Army Officer’s Mess. I went to the front room where I saw a lieutenant eating roasted corn, and introduced myself. I told him about our present situation, and asked for ‘logistic support’ until the gallon of fuel came.

 

The army man screamed ‘What!? No problem sir, let me call my colleague’. He fetched his colleague, a smartly dressed officer, and they both cocked their automatic rifles and walked with us to the car.

 

I looked across the bridge and saw the area boys there sitting on the bench – about 5 of them. If only looks could kill. They looked like lions which had just had their prey collected from them. I stuck out my tongue triumphantly at the one who had done the pointer. What, I got army guns.

 

The car-hire driver arrived with the gallon of fuel shortly, and we refilled the car, and it started. We thanked the army chappies, and I drove off quickly. You see, area boys don’t always win.

 

  • A long while back, I and 4 of my pals – Emeka, Tola, Jide and Elvis went for a beach party at Alpha Beach. This was one Alpha beach was one of only decent beaches in Lagos – before the Elegushi and Oniru beach eras.

 

The beach party was just there – a few girls and plenty of Gordon Sparks (which had just come out then).

 

We decided to leave just before the end. We got to the parking lot, and were about to drive off when an area boy blocked the car and demanded ‘parking’ money.

 

Boys being boys , we refused, explaining that we had spent all we had at the beach on suya, beer and sea-shells. The area boy got very irate and called some of his people. One of them then placed a gigantic boulder (big like the ones on Bar Beach to check the tide) behind the car, to block us from reversing. It was about to be on, now.

 

What happened next and each of my friend’s reactions are a prime example of every type of reaction people give to threats from area boys. The confrontations started with a lot of shouting, pushing and shoving.

 

Tola – the slacker. He was a passive ‘club boy’ type of fella. He was more concerned with remaining cool, and checking that no-one coming to the beach saw him arguing or fighting with area boys as this was social suicide. He was of the opinion hat we should pay the area boys whatever amount they wanted, and leave before his reputation took a knock. He was the only one remained in the car, and didn’t get down to confront the area boys. He also tried to convince me to chill inside too, while the others handled ‘this mess.’

 

Emeka – the kind of guy who has a temper but is not much of a fighter. He makes up for it by having a slick tongue. Ogboju pass power. One of the area boys shoved at Emeka, and Emeka said ‘Alaye, shebi you don touch me now? The one way I go touch you now, you no go stand up again. Just try am again.’

 

The area boy raised an eyebrow, then touched Emeka again by poking him lightly on the chest with his finger. Emeka did nothing. He had gotten his point across though. Even the area boy looked at him with a new found respect.

 

Jide – a reluctant fighter and a joker, but one who you would like to have in the trenches with you when all chips are down. He still had a bottle of Dark Sailor liquor in his hands and nobody knew whether he would take another swig from it, or smash it across one of the area boy’s heads. He was talking to the leader of the area boys quietly and kept laughing dismissively at his monetary demands. A real stand up fella.

 

Elvis – a ‘anyhow’ ‘anytime’ type of brawler. He was so up for a fight. It is no surprise that his favourite jam of all time is Nas ‘Got Yourself a Gun.’ He and the most rugged looking of the area boys were having a heated exchange:

Area boy: “ Make you pay us our money o. Or una no go comot from here. Make you look our eye o. We no be UNILAG o.”

 

Elvis: “Pay wetin? None of us here be UNILAG.”

 

Elvis had attended Edo State University for a couple of years. Go figure

 

Area Boy: “Una dey find trouble o. None of us wey dey here get head wey correct. Make you no try us o’

 

Elvis: ‘My friends no get correct head too. Na madness dey do all of us too.”

 

The area boy was weak.

 

Me – I won’t lie. I hate getting into fights unless absolutely necessary, but I was concerned about rocks and objects flying about and smashing my sleek Honda. It was my car that had a big boulder behind it, and I had the most to lose.

 

Finally, we were able to get it settled, and Jide handed one of the area boys his half empty bottle of Rum. We did not pay a dime, and we drove off laughing, as the area boys went in search of other victims. Mugus, them.

 

You ain’t got hood stripes/
Looters come through catch you fronting/
And its good night/

Nas (Quiet N—-s, 1999)

Hey Esco

 

Question 1:

Hey Esco,

My girlfriend cut her long hair into a shot bob and dyed it red, trying to mimic Kelly Rowland and Rihanna at the same time. The only problem is that her ogo now resembles ‘tortoise wey wear cap’. It has reached the point where I am now ashamed to go anywhere with her, as her new look dey fall my hand seriously. Help!

(Sleepless in Sabo, Lagos)

Answer: Bros, you be serious armpit o! How can you be in a relationship and cower from telling your girlfriend how you feel. This is the only time in your relationship that you can give your girl your whole-hearted opinion, which she would expect seeing that you lot are dating. Once you get married, your mere opinion is not enough, as you are expected to pay for any changes you want. In marriage, if you say you dislike your wife’s lipstick, better have cash ready to fork out for Revlon and Estee Lauder. If you tell her to chill a bit on her intake of pounded yam, be ready to pay for that gym membership, as well as sleep on the couch for days.

Your own even better sef. One of my exes ended up doing gorimakpa with a Papa Ajasco type mullet from trying to copy an Eve hairdo. My friend’s wife messed up on the peroxide coloring when she was trying to dye her hair pink like Pink, and ended up looking like someone had poured iodine on her hair.

As I said earlier, your girlfriend would expect you to be frank and upfront with her. The trick is that balance is key. Make your point with subtlety so that you do not hurt her ego. You may ask that she change something while complimenting her on another thing. For example, you may say ‘I don’t like this your hairstyle which looks like Yellow Fever. Please could you re-touch your lovely hair. My best features on you are your ample Cossy Orjiakor type boobs though. They are a real milk factory.’

By the way, why do some girls like copying foreign stars’ hairdos? How come no-one ever does an Onyeka Onwenu fade, or a Weird MC crew cut? #Just de ask o!

Bros, good luck o.

Forever,

Esco

QUESTION 2:

Hey Esco,

I have a friend whose suffers from acute mouth odour.  Oh my days, this boy’s dragon breath is worse than Mushin dump. And the guy no dey help himself – he always likes to whisper things to people when he can just talk from afar. This guy’s breath is so bad that when he speaks into a microphone at an event, people still smell him. He is my closest friend, and we have known each other since primary school. I am about to get married in August and he is my best man. Wetin I go do?  Should I tell him?

(Gbenga, Dolphin Estate Ikoyi)

Answer: Yeah I would have a word, if I were you. But if the guy strong pass you, make you get ready for maximum beating.

Nah seriously, this issue is one of the greatest questions of life. To tell or not to tell? Back in Uni, I had a mate called Wale with this same problem. Wale was clueless about his mouth odour, and was oblivious even when someone called him ‘sewer mouth’ when they once had an argument.

And it was affecting his social life too. He really fancied this girl but she refused to date or get intimate with him. He ‘toasted’ her for 4 straight semesters, but she never gave him a reason for  not going out with him. In the end, she started dating a guy with really big white gnashers.

In the end, I and two mutual friends Femi and Segun agreed that we would have to tell him. We tried to nominate one of us, but no one elected to do the dirty deed. We decided to draw lots by pulling three broomsticks and breaking them to different lengths. The broomsticks were then held by another chap, and everyone pulled a stick. Segun came up with the shortest stick and had to tell Wale before the end of the day.

Segun cowered from telling Wale as he didn’t know how to put it. So the next evening, we were at a joint eating, when Femi just blurted out: ‘Wale, I am sorry, but your breath stinks..’

You could hear a pin drop.

Wale carried on eating his meal of amala and vegetable like he hadn’t heard a thing.

We all let it slide for the moment, so that he won’t feel humiliated.

Later that night, I and Femi put an arm around his shoulder, as we went for a walk and chat. We explained that he had chronic halitosis. From now on, changes had to be made and we would do everything in our power to help and support him, one mate to another.

We also gave him some rules: He had to upgrade to Colgate or Macleans and leave all those mild sugary toothpastes alone. He had to brush his teeth and gaggle at least 3 times daily with Listerine mouthwash.

He took our advice without fight, and his make-over was smooth. He even bagged him a girlfriend some months later – a petit cutie who had won an award for Miss Cutest Smile. A match made in heaven, I say.

They are now married, and Wale earns a good living as a life coach giving business and personal development speeches around Nigeria. No one has walked out of any of his sessions yet.

Bruv, in addition to the above, advise your mate to keep away from spicy and smelly foods like suya, beans, fufu, lafun, egg yolk and garlic. He may also want to cut down on the alcohol intake too. Don’t drink palmi, akpeteshi, ogogoro, push-me-I-push-you, Sapele water, paraga etc. Alcoholic and acidic drinks escalate mouth odors.

He should also use a very good toothbrush with sturdy bristles, and stop buying ‘made in Singapore’ cheap ones. I would recommend ‘Jordan Classic Double Action Toothbrush’ made by Rokana Industries PLC, a Nigerian firm. He would be supporting ‘Made in Nigeria’ while keeping his gnashers people-friendly. For a toothpaste, allow me point him to ‘Darbur Herbal Toothpaste.’ It expresses a green colored paste and tastes like ugwu, but pain is beauty, bro. You practically see all the particles, grains of sand and mud when you spit out into the sink.

Finally, tell him while you both are alone. Dangle an incentive for him to get his oral game in order – you would ask your girl to hook him up with one of the bridesmaids after the wedding. Or he would not have to wear the dodgy aso-ebi outfit with ridiculous colors at the engagement.

Let me know how it goes.

Peace.

Forever

Esco

 

Audience, please chip in with any additional advice or parting words for them as well.

I Am In Your Area

A naira for your thoughts; in fact I would take 500


‘Settle us, we are loyal!’

These are the five worst words any commuter on the unforgiving dirt-roads of Lagos would want to hear when stuck in traffic or alighting from their vehicle. Ok, that and the immortal five words from the gentlemen of Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA): ‘Oya, stop and park here.’

Area boys in Lagos introduced a new plethora of street vocabulary when the menace was at its highest in the pre-Tinubu years. The word ‘settle’ means you should pacify or appease them or get what is coming to you. You decide.

You cannot visit any market or major streets without being accosted by rough-looking thugs who have invented a way of asking politely for cash favors in the most menacing manner. I have spoken previously about how Nigeria is the only place where someone can use ‘please’ and still insult you: Abeg, abeg or abegi!

Area boys are street urchins who try to make a quick buck by obtaining innocent road users. Think about Debo the bully from the Ice Cube movie ‘Friday’ who rode a 2-wheeler bicycle around the neighbourhood beating cash demands out of his victims. Like Chris Tucker said at the end of the movie when Debo was finally checked: ‘You got knocked the f—k out!’

Nigerian area boys mask their demands in a polite tone but still threaten you indirectly: ’Oga/Madam, na we dey your side. Settle us, we are loyal. We dey pray for your safety progress, abeg make you provide for us a little. Settle us, we dey watch you, make nobody interrupt you.’

And the area boy saying the above, may be clutching a hidden knife, as he butts his face through your car window and makes his plea. Sometimes, they even lean their face against your car window, if you have it up, so you feel the menace none the less.

There are also the chaps who do community road-works. They construct mini-barricades which make motorists have to slow down when they get to the work area. As the driver is navigating past, the group of workers, with their shovels, pick-axes, and cudgels in hand, gather round the car and start demanding payment for the community work they have put in.  When you the driver explain that you do not have any change to spare, they insist that you give them whatever you have. If you resist, they slap the boot or doors of your car with a loud thump, as they usher you on, with hot curses:’ Make you dey go jare; you dey drive big car, but you no get money’

If you live in Lagos, you are bound to run into area boys one way or the other. You see them on Ahmadu Bello Way just opposite Bar Beach trying to flag cars down to come to the beach, so that they can collect payment for giving you a parking space. They are also situated in front of Silverbird Cinema and at Oniru beach as well, where they demand payment from beach-goers for parking spaces or entry into the beach.

The following are a few stories regarding area boy activity:

  1. A good few years back, my ma once went to Akpongbon market in Lagos Island to buy a few supplies. She parked her car under one of those parking spots under the bridge. A park-warden who was there stepped forward with a ticket which had to be paid for before anyone could park in that car park. My mum paid for the ticket and went into the market.

When she came back an hour later, the car refused to start. She tried everything but the car wouldn’t start. It was late in the afternoon, and that area was a hotbed of area boy activity. If the car was left there over-night, area boys would strip it off all its parts or break into it and steal it. So she decided to hail a cab home. When she got home, she called the mechanic and gave them the keys of the car to go check it and fix it, and bring it home.

The mechanic got to Akpongbon around 6.30, and noticed that area boys had already gathered around the car, and were moping inside as they smoked their hemp. They stood around while he tried to fix the car, even helping him by passing him tools. Unfortunately the car refused to start as the problem was more complicated. That is when the area boys’ kindness ended.

They started demanding payment for ‘services rendered’ i.e. passing the tools, and ‘watching’ the car while it was unattended after my mum took a cab. The mechanic was like, who the hell asked you? But that one didn’t hold weight with these thugs.

The mechanic knew that it would be a bad idea to leave the car there overnight because these chaps were eying the insides of the car. The chrome, vehicle logo, battery, engine and steering wheels of a car fetch a pretty penny in the tokunboh market, you see.

The problem was that the area boys said that they would not allow the mechanic tow the car away either without payment. One of them said he even doubted that the mechanic had been sent by my ma, after-all they did not see him when my ma had come with the car. Fair point.

 

Do you know what the compromise was? Some of the area boys – about 4 of them – ended up pushing this car (a Mercedes) all the way from Akpongbon to Surulere where we lived so that they could be ‘settled’. Yes, they pushed this car up Eko Bridge, all the way down, past Iganmu, Eric Moore, Bode Thomas, Babs Animashaun, Adelabu – a journey of over 10 miles. The mechanic had sat inside the car to stir the wheel, so 4 people had pushed a car with a passenger in it! The Guinness Book of World Records should eat their hearts out.

By the time, they got to our house around almost 10pm, they were dripping of sweat from every pore in their body. When we in the house heard the story, we were upset at first, but when we considered the distance and their motivation, it made for a funny story and sighs about how Nigeria had failed its citizens. My ma arranged for food to be made and given to them, and she gave them some cash as well. At least we saved on towing fees, huh?

 

They left our house, arguing amongst themselves about how the fractions of the money were to be divided, and whether ‘Chairman’ who was waiting back at Akpongbon, deserved a share.

 2.  When I was a teen, I and the driver went somewhere off Marina Road on an errand. As we were driving out of the side street, a guy who was driving in, swerved in with reckless speed and scratched our side. We all got down from our cars, and started doing the blame game thing customary to Lagos. Whoever talks the loudest and angriest wins the argument. A crowd started gathering, including some area boys and it became like the video of that Jah Bless song ‘Jor O!’

It turned out that the other driver was a local champion who had a shop around the area, so the crowd around there were supporting him, saying that he did nothing wrong, as he had ‘trafficated.’ The crowd started getting restive with everyone chipping in. The area boys there started asking how we wanted to settle our little accident.

Then one really elderly man dressed in an old school suit and a portfolio stepped in and started blowing serious grammar. He looked like those old school village headmasters and spoke like one: “What is all the pandemonium about? This vagabond’s vehicular transgressions nearly up-ended this two fellows with tragic consequences. It is an anomaly that questionable nit-wits are permitted to pilot the cockpits of fast motor cars in our society. This lynch mob is clearly being partial by turning a blind retina to the reckless driver’s antics. Please release these two gentlemen forthwith.’ Basically he said that everyone in the crowd was lying because they knew the reckless driver personally, and that we had been in the right, the crowd should chill.

For all his grammar, the elderly man had been buying roasted corn around the corner and saw all that had happened. His grammar seemed to bamboozle the crowd, so it started ‘changing their mouths’ and dispersing. The other driver apologized, and since it was a scratch and a bump which could be remedied by a good rub with engine oil.

As I and the driver, entered and started the car to drive off, we heard a thud coming from behind the car. In horror, we turned, and saw one of the area boys running to catch up with the car as we gathered speed, then grab the door handle of the door behind, open it and jumped inside.

Una wan drive off like that without paying anything?!!’ he growled dispersing saliva all over our velour seats.

The driver slowed down the car, but kept on moving, while I turned around to face the intruder.

Pay wetin?Shebi we and the driver don settle our issue finish’ I asked furiously.

‘But una never give us money. Na me help una for there sef. Make you turn back, make we go back to that place go see that driver.’ he insisted.

At this point, I had lost my ‘temperature’: ‘Would you get the f—k down from this car now!’

 

He looked at me for a brief minute without saying anything, then opened the car door and jumped out, with the car still moving at like 25 kilometers per hour. He landed feet first, and quickly ran across the road to hassle another set of drivers who had  just had a head on collision.

I wondered how come he thought he could obtain money for doing nothing but hassling people. Maybe he is a consultant?

 3. My friend Wole was driving on 3rd Mainland Bridge in the afternoon, when one of his tires burst. He got it under control, and parked on a ramp, so that he could do a quick tire change as he had an appointment to make. No sooner had he cut the engine, than was he approached by 3 rugged looking touts. He didn’t know where they emerged from as the road was a long empty stretch of cars speeding past. In fact he could have sworn that those guys came out of the lagoon under the bridge.

They gathered around and watched him remove the spare tire, jacks, caution sign and wrench from the car boot. They offered to help change the tire. He replied courteously ‘Don’t worry, I have got this.’

They did not answer him. One of them made to grab the wrench to start loosening the bolts on the wheel. Wole, who didn’t want any help, tried to grab the wrench back.

One of them now said ‘We dey try to be good Samaritan now o. Don’t make us turn into bad Samaritan.’

I am not aware that someone could be a bad Samaritan? How can you force help on others?

They proceeded to ‘help’ him change the tire.

Then they demanded ‘payment’ for work done. Wole was wary at this point, as he had a wad of cash amounting to about 50 grand in his inner blazer pocket. One of area boys seemed to have Superman’s X-ray vision, as his eyes kept on zeroing on that area of Wole’s blazer.

Another one started trying to pat Wole’s pocket to extract any cash. Acting quickly, Wole dipped his hand in his pocket and pulled out some notes from the wad. Unfortunately a huge batch came out – about 3k.

One of the area boys quickly grabbed the money, ran across the culvert on the bridge, barely avoiding onrushing traffic, and cross to the other side, and kept running. Another of them quickly ran after him in hot pursuit.

The last area boy still remained behind. He was the ‘bad Samaritan one’ and he sighed as he watched his two accomplices bolt away. He still had the spanner in his hands.

He said ‘Make you settle me na.

Wole was perplexed ‘No be una I just give money now now’

Bad Samaritan winced ‘No be me you na. I nor sabi that other man before. Since you done give am him own money, he and him brother done go. Where my own money?’

Unbelievable! These chaps were getting along like bosoms buddies some seconds ago. It was obviously a scam.

Wole had to ‘re-settle’ the lone area boy. It was either that or be thrown into the lagoon. And the cash would be removed from his dead body anyway.

Part 2 of this article is coming soon. Please share your experiences with area-boys and street urchins.

When it’s time to eat a meal I rob and steal

Notorious B.I.G (Gimme The Loot, 1994)