Random Yarns – Men with Eiffel Ambitions

Being driven through the streets of downtown Mainland in Lagos on a Sunday afternoon, passively taking in the view of… well, of four year olds getting bathed by the roadside and of the driver; of a bus I presumed was travelling to Abuja, ordering another shot of what certainly isn’t the content of your everyday bottle of Sprite.

*sigh*… ‘journey mercies’ quipped my mind as the car made a turn while I hoped the unassuming passengers of the bus weren’t sent to face the most High on account of one human’s urge to be in touch with another high.

I got startled from my random thoughts, though by my brother’s change of radio stations, as my attention was grasped – and his as well having stopped changing stations – by the voice that we now heard off the speakers, a voice I’d not heard in about a year.

Larry Izamoje’s door to true prominence opened when on October 1, 2002, his Brila FM officially began broadcasting from the top of the Eleganza Plaza at Victoria Island as the first ever sports radio station in Africa; a very laudable feat from a man barely off the 5-foot mark as regards his height.

Before founding Brila (a merge of his and his wife’s names; Bridget and Larry), Mr. Izamoje made use of quarter of an hour time-slots on existing radio stations to propel his pretty unique style of delivering his sportcasts to the listening audience. And when he earned the freedom to make use of his unique way of presentation at Brila, it wasn’t long before some others that joined the sports radio took to the style and hence, Brila’s in-house style of presenting was born.

On this fateful Sunday, the second occupant in the car that conveyed three; with me assuming position of the third occupant, questioned mine and my brother’s certainty that it was him (Izamoje) talking on the radio. We let it known to her (women!) that while others may have ‘expertised’; copied very well, his style of presenting, there was no mistaking the voice of Larry at that moment.

Later that Sunday, my brother and I went to the barber shop and while he didn’t necessarily need a haircut, I was overdue for one having then only had two haircuts in the year. Getting there, ‘Austino’ had become ‘Tino’s Cuts’ and boy, things sure had changed since I last was there.

Dude now had a 32-inch flat screen television showing the Mtv Base music channel off a DStv decoder in a more spacious set-up for his trade. Last time I was there, dude had a 14-inch television showing the Mtv Base channel off the Stv channel in a partition adjacent the entrance to the building the shop inhabited.

Certainly, uncle Austino, who stood at 5-feet and 7-inches or thereabout, had come a long way in his barbershop business and his sidekick; with whom I prefer to leave my hair at his blades’ mercy, hasn’t disappointed over the years.

My brother’s much used to the place, being a loyal Sunday Sunday customer but I only just got to appreciate the growth of uncle Austino’s business in the decade years it has been running.

Goes to show, at length, that one can excel on a path that is unoften treaded and not advised to be treaded in this country in order to be successful. Izamoje on his part has seen himself go to various locations in parts of Africa and Europe being the sports enthusiast he is.

Uncle Austino, well I wouldn’t know about his travel arrangements but he looks a man content with how life has gone for him so far; from the humble beginnings of fifty naira haircuts to four hundred naira per head. And after getting home, haircut and all, I truly hoped those passengers would get to their destination safe.


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