No lie, sometimes when I am by my lonesome, I like to observe the environment around me, and try to come up to answers to the whats and whys. I have seen a fair bit in my short existence on this earth, and there are times I have thought that I have a life one could write a book on. But who doesn’t?
I have seen my family robbed by AK-47 toting armed robbers on Sagamu-Ore express way, making a trip during the Xmas holidays – they took cash, jewelry, boxes of gear but spared our lives and my trusty Sony CD-changer. We still stopped over at Iyayi Station Benin City for refreshment and treats.
I have been in parts of Nigeria where poverty and despair were complete, etched on the faces of the children, the elderly and the old at heart. I have been on a road in an Abuja municipality, and seen a drunken bus driver lose control of his vehicle on a wet rainy surface, skid, and fall into a ditch, the bus on its roof, and tires still spinning upwards. I and my friend who had been driving behind pulled up, and rushed to help. The conductor was sitting dazed by the side of the ditch, while the driver was still attempting to push the bus upright without a care for his injuries. We had to insist that he sit still, because he was still in shock, and was more worried about what he would tell the owner of the bus. And the bus ironically had an inscription on it “The downfall of a man is not the end of his life.”
I have seen my best friend Paul start with marijuana and then get hooked on more dangerous substances until he became a complete druggie, now a permanent guest at Yaba, and an uncomfortable subject for his father when quizzed by amebo friends:
“Paul my son? Oh, he is his 3rd year at Medilag studying medicine.”
“That’s strange, my daughter is also in year 3 at Medilag and says she has never seen him.”
“That is because he is doing the part-time program”
“I never knew medicine programs in Nigeria had part-time”
“Well, they do now. Let’s head out for a beer, jare”
I have seen cancer ravage a loved one, until he was pissing blood, and passed on in a dingy hospital with NEPA issues. He died in the dark.
This is the only country on God’s green earth where someone would ask you for a favour or a tip, with scant disregard for your own comfort or considerations. They want what they want NOW. I have told you the story of how a toilet attendant at a loo in the Silverbird Galleria was close-marking me for a tip when I was taking a leak at the urinal. And I was like “Dude, give me a break or get bathed with a jet of my finest golden premium brine”
The attendant was undeterred nonetheless ‘Bros, anything for me?” Water nor get enemy.
On the other side, I have seen the wonderful parts of Nigerian life. Like the Lekki breeze on my face, as I drive with the windows down on traffic-less weekend evenings. The opportunity cost of driving with the windows down are wicked anopheles mosquitoes and bugs flying in and chewing my limbs, hawkers pushing their wares in my face and the odd pick-pocket/chain snatcher, but in this state I am happy. I would also have stuck out my arm, to cup the air as I speed on, but for dare-devil okada riders.
Seeing the inherent good-natured part of some ordinary Nigerians is a sweet sight for sour eyes. By-standers are always ready to offer you directions if you ask for help, although they usually get ‘left’ and ‘right’ mixed up. “You go take right for the next junction, come fire go straight then turn left, then dey go. You go see another right turn, but no take am oh or you go lost. Take left instead” And the guy giving the directions was pointing right as he said left.
So I asked, ‘Oh you mean left, and not right, right?” The bystander looked at me like I was mad or something “Oga, abi you no sabi road? So you nor know ya left from ya right, na wa for you o.” And I scratched my head, as he started all over again. At least I am not paying for Sat Nav.
It is still amusing though, how you can plant a seed or an idea in this country, and if it is watered the right way, you can build or grow something tougher than leather. You go, Nigeria!
All that I have seen and heard have meant something. Different aspects of human behavior amuse me to no end; but no species of humans on this earth can compare to Nigerians. That is why this blog was conceived in the first place – we may never have walked on the moon, but see how gracefully Nigerians prance the earth. I wanted to talk about the beautiful and weird things Nigerians were doing when the critical cameras of the world were switched off on us. Things that made others go ‘Woah! That is epic”
Amidst all the complications of Nigerian life, it is the little things that amuse us. What amuses you?
Some questions go unanswered, that’s what I’m afraid of/
Sometimes I can’t show, but I know what I’m made of/
DMX (Coming From, 1998)