Posts Tagged Lagos

Black Stripes at Dusk – Gozie

Commercial 'danfo' bus

Gozie was jerked from sleep no thanks to the bump from the commercial bus he was in entering a pothole, while it took him and others from Ikeja towards Yaba at the dusk of a wet Thursday in Lagos.

“Make una no vex na!” implored the bus driver as passengers rained abuse on him for the discomfort of the pothole, with most insults coming from a woman sitting by the window on the row right behind the driver.

She had hit her head or shoulder hard when the bus met the pothole as it approached Town Planning bus stop at Anthony. Gozie was not sure where she was hurt exactly and he really couldn’t be bothered to know from the back of the bus, sitting by the window at the right side of the bus.

Gozie had sat there gratefully and watched a man grudgingly make his way past him to the dreaded place in a danfo bus at the extreme end of the bus, which in Lagos is the most undesired of all the sitting places in any danfo bus.

One only sat there when not in a hurry or would only alight from at the last bus stop. Otherwise, that seat was always avoided like a conductor would a bus stop tout or the police.

Having figured where the bus had reached by looking out the window, Gozie produced his wallet so he could be ready to hand the conductor his fare without trouble. He hated how they usually bickered when a passenger didn’t hand them their fare at the first time of asking.

“Town Planning?!” called the conductor, there was no response. “Iru eyan wo ni eleyi ntori Oloun?!” he lamented moments after. “Shey I no talk ‘no shange!’ before you enter?!” he continued at a man in the middle row who had produced a one thousand Naira note to pay his fare. The man didn’t say a word, but simply held out his thousand Naira hand till the conductor grudgingly took the money.

Gozie handed the conductor a two hundred Naira note at his turn to pay, ‘I’ll take a bike home when I drop at Onipanu’ Gozie thought as he contemplated how he would make his way home with the remaining one thousand Naira note he had.

“Onipanu na two hundred madam!” bellowed the conductor at the female passenger beside Gozie before twice calling out “Obanikoro?!” moments after passing Town Planning, getting no response either time.

Meanwhile the woman the conductor had bellowed at moments ago was insisting on paying fifty Naira less, but the conductor was having none.

“Close your door o!” yelled the passenger by the edge of the seat behind the two front passengers with the driver, “before dem bathe me finish”. But the conductor ignored that passenger as he continued collecting fare.

The woman beside Gozie hissed as she collected her three hundred Naira balance from the conductor. “I don’t know how Onipanu is two hundred from Ikeja o, thief!” she said loud enough for everyone to hear, but the conductor ignored her too.

“Your money!” he asked the penultimate passenger at the back while arranging the Naira notes in his hand, with the higher denomination notes inside the bundle and the lower denominations on the outside. ‘And he would say he has no money to those touts’ Gozie said in thought.

“Staff!” was the passenger’s reply and Gozie turned quick enough to catch the man put a police cap and a wry smile on. Gozie could not help the chuckle, and he was joined by the woman beside him whose smiled beamed.

The conductor’s countenance went from thoughtful to caged rage. “Una go just dey do like… ” but the conductor was interrupted by the man sitting by the door on the row behind the driver, “Close. This. Door! Na?!” after getting splashed again by a passing vehicle.

The conductor obliged him this time. “Humph!” came the irritated muffled sound from the woman in the middle row sitting on the makeshift seat by the door, right under the conductor’s oozing armpit.

“Your money!” he called to the last passenger who smiled before handing him a one thousand Naira note, much to the conductor’s dismay though he only grumbled.

“Palmgrove?!” he soon called while handing the last passenger a five hundred Naira note as part of his balance. No one answered. “Onipanu” he then called, “Palmgrove wa o!” answered a woman in the row behind the driver. “But I… ” but the conductor cut himself short and shook his head before confirming to his driver “Palmgrove wa.” adding “go front small before you stop.”

The driver did as his conductor instructed but no sooner had the conductor opened the door when a tout appeared asking for money. The disgusted conductor hissed before tactfully showing the small denomination notes in his hand to the tout. The latter was not convinced, “Ògbẹni fun mi l’owo jor!”

“Ehz!” started the off-duty policeman. Gozie was still not sure if he really was a policeman or just an impostor, but he was not going to trouble himself finding out. “Which yeye money you wan collect you dis tiff!” he shouted to the tout, probably ‘trying to justify his ‘staffness” Gozie thought.

“Who born dis one?!” retorted the tout. “Hin mama!” said the policeman, adding “Commot here jor!” only for the tout to hiss and retort “if I snap you for video now, ori youtoob lo ma de like your hundred Naira sister na! Ashiere!” before he alight from the bus which was now moving slowly away from Palmgrove bus stop.

The tout was referring to a now suspended policewoman who was the main character of a recent youtube video showing her demanding money from a conductor. The policeman here caught the subliminal and yelled “you dey crase!” at the tout before taking off his police cap, embarrassed. ”I loff youtoob!” the tout responded, mimicking popular rapper Olamide.

Gozie chuckled again and answered “O wa o!” when the conductor called his bus stop. The bus stopped at Onipanu, with another tout demanding money from the conductor.

Gozie alight from the bus, followed by the woman sitting beside him, who needlessly called the conductor “ole!” as she did. “Aṣẹwo, na your mama for Empire be ole” he retorted as he settled the Onipanu tout before jumping onto the bus like most conductors do.

The woman yelled insults at the departing bus as Gozie smiled while making his way to the pedestrian bridge. It started to drizzle just then. ‘Definitely taking a bike home’ Gozie decided in thought.

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Black Stripes at Dusk: Feyi

“… that the current poor state of power supply being experienced across the nation, was as a result of vandalised gas pipelines serving the Egbin and… ” the bus driver changed stations with a loud hiss. “Awon oloshi!” he cursed under his breath.

“… pastor had been accused by Miss Walters of having… ” the driver hissed again as he kept searching through stations. “Leave am for dere na! Wetin?!” bellowed a passenger sitted at the near end of the back row of wooden seat in the danfo bus waiting for a few more passengers to come aboard before taking off from its busstop at Obalende.

The driver searched through stations like no one had uttered anything to him. “Saaboh Yabaah!! Yabaah! Yabaah! Wole pelu shangi e o!” the bus conductor beckoned nearby. “Faif hondred! Wahn tauzon ma wole o! Yabaah!”

“Ogbeni! Na five hundred I get o, make you go find change!” retorted the front seat passenger. The conductor moved to the front door with a ‘do I know this person’ look before taking a few steps back and… “Be like say de winsh wey send yu errand dis eveneen no te’ yu say na dah bos yu supoze enta abi?!”

The passenger didn’t respond, to the conductor’s chargrin. “Whish kain tin be dis na?!” before transferring his angst to the driver, “An’ I bin te’ yu ma’e we no kom load for dis side! See fish brain wey yu wan kari naw?!”

“Call passenger for me jor!” responded the driver in a dismissive tone. He had settled for a radio station where the voice spoke in an indigeneous language, to the annoyance of a few passengers. The front seat passenger had made to retort but the conductor had moved some steps away beckoning on more passengers.

The sun was setting, its rays shining through a cloud hovering by and obstructing the sun from view momentarily. The atmosphere was windy and a rumpled newspaper page with dried oil on it was blown onto Feyi’s blue denim, hugging his right thigh as the wind blew on towards Feyi and the bus.

Feyi simply turned to face the wind and let the paper glide off his denim. “Eskiuz!” said a young woman wanting to board the bus. He stepped back for her to join the other three already sitted in the last row of seat, leaving the bus with two more passengers – one for the other two rows – to board it before it left for Yaba.

The conductor had seen the young woman boarding the bus and changed his call as a result. “Yabaah one! Yabaah one!” he called as he stopped a plantain chips hawker. “Gimme tu!” he said, at which moment two students boarded the bus. “Eizz!!” the conductor yelled at some voices from the bus angrily urging him to get to the bus so they could leave the busstop.

“No be shange I de find for pipu wey winsh send ni!” said the conductor as he approached the bus. “Be like say you wan sleep hospitu this nait?!” retorted the front seat passenger. And the conductor was going to throw a retort back when something else caught his attention.

“Oga… I wan siddon!” said the conductor to Feyi, who had settled on the makeshift seat he had pulled out from under the second row of seat. Feyi looked perplexed and “Or-ga… I say ma’e yu stand hop I wan sid-don!” before he could ask why.

“Driver please let’s go naw!” moaned a woman at the far end of the front row. “Kon-dor make we go na, abi wetin again?” shouted another passenger from the back row. The conductor began gesticulating as “I say ma’e yu commot na abi yu deaf??” he got angrier at Feyi.

Feyi gave the bus conductor condescending look before beheading the cover of his apple drink from the bottle and making to take a gulp. The conductor’s hand however shifted the direction of the bottle so that his nudge of it spilled quite an amount of apple drink on Feyi. Drama.

Feyi, who had left his workplace; he was ‘an assistant’ to a woman who ran a Non-Governmental Organisation from her post-independence era Ikoyi residence, in top of the world mood courtesy of a bonus received from Madam Johnson-Ayinla in the form of a cheque for N45,000, went blank with rage and pounced on the bus conductor.

The front seat passenger, seeing an opportunity to vent his grouse with the bus conductor, alighted from the bus and joined Feyi in pummelling the pleading-to-thin-deaf-air conductor who now was curled up, face covered by hands, on the floor in defeated resistance.

A loose arm landed hard on Feyi’s left shoulder, it was the front seat passenger’s in the motion after landing a blow on the conductor and getting set to land another. But that to Feyi was like speaking Latin to a Beijing native for he interpreted it as a blow.

The conductor’s hands released their grip of his face to allow him peek at just why he was not being pummelled anymore. To his delight, Feyi and the front seat passenger were going at each other; Feyi had just landed a blow on his new adversary’s stomach, making the man retreat two steps and crouch in pain.

“Oga mi de go de go!” shouted the conductor at the bus driver. “Call passe… ” began the driver before stopping himself. The other passengers, flustered by the quick turn of events, shouted at both the driver and conductor to get going and not call any more passengers.

The conductor had hissed at the driver’s suggestion anyway and hissed more at the passengers shouting at him. The driver began driving away with a sinister smile at the fighting men. “Wait! Wait! My wallet o! Wait!” screamed the passenger now fighting Feyi after spotting the danfo in motion.

The conductor looked at the driver, the driver raised his free hand to reveal a wallet. The conductor looked out to the chasing man and shouted “Ashiere!! Na dah winsh don do yu!” at him while laughing.

The bus went out of sight. The man looked back at Feyi, made a ‘this is not over’ hand gesture before walking away while searching his back pocket. Feyi ignored the man and made to button up, then realised the two buttons were gone.

He hissed and began walking away. Some way off Feyi stopped and searched himself like a man possessed. He had only then realised his hands were light. There was a folder on his lap when he was in the bus, a folder that had fell to the floor of the bus when he pounced on the conductor… his bonus waiting for the conductor to discover it.

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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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Random thoughts…live from Lagos city of God!

I didn’t watch it live as most people did (as evident on facebook that evening, annoyingly), I came around to doing so very early this morning and so here’s what I have to say.

When news of his death first came, I was watching Ocean’s Twelve and the initial shock of MJ dead was calmed by the thought of a man becoming free from the bonds of being “the greatest entertainer of all time” ala cost of living “the life”, child molestation, intrusive surgical procedures just to mention a few.

The fact that Mariah Carey along with Trey Lorenz sang my second favourite song by MJ (I’ll be There) in the first performance of the memorial increased my interest, Queen Latifah coming on stage sealed my attention to it and she was real when she spoke.

But the part I enjoyed most, wasn’t the time the Motown founder spoke and got a standing ovation or when this Pastor (keep forgetting his name, Al something) kept hammering on the mic, it was Magic Johnson’s “speech”.

No doubt, Kobe spoke well but wetin Kobe know for MJ…the guy just said what was proper for the occasion but Magic, with personal ties with MJ was the real’st person who came to the stage…the grilled chicken part of the story got me reeling!

After that, I don’t think I really had my interest on the memorial though Brooke Shields…well, she’s his friend either way so no crime crying/weeping/sobbing. MJ’s oldest child breaking down when it was her turn to speak sort of summed up the evening from the Jackson family view.

I won’t miss MJ…I never knew him. Plus I have the music from him I like and I wouldn’t wish anything for him, I have no right to. But one sure thing from me is, the respect I would always have for MJ, along with Quincy Jones; a combination incomparable, will always be…

Later in the morning; when dusk/morning dew had long made way for the scorching noon sun of Lagos, I came across a Kia Picanto (the tiniest vehicle from the South Korean carmaker) with a bit of load attached to it.

…please, whichever Agency that handles the Dana account must have felt quite accomplished or something when they thought of making a moving…hmmm, a mobile…mini billboard but that load attached to a Picanto??? I don’t want to imagine a Marcopolo breezing past the tinny lil Kia.

Don’t get me wrong o, it’s a noble idea. I just don’t like the idea of a “physically weak” car for the campaign which definitely made/left its impression on those that came across it…at least 8 out of 10 heads gazed in wonder/amazement/”impressive”/genuine interest and last time I checked, that’s what effect advertising should have; story for another day.

Finally but not shortly, I then went for “owambe” (yes ke) somewhere on the Island and on our way (our being my folks, my bro and I), we got arguing about; of all things, the size of two particular SUVs (some people just don’t learn…no names called!)

After further deliberations on SUV sizes and directions and near mis-direction on the Lagos highway, we got to the Church service before then proceeding to the koko of the whole thing aptly summed in a word and number, item 7!

But trust traffic on the Island; the cause, near non-existent…the effect, near cause for suicide among other things, we spent an hour and half just on the Marina stretch that on an abnormal day in Lagos should take 45 seconds to clear, give or take.

Annoying thing is we got over the Marina stretch and got to destination “7” about four minutes after, just in time for the second round of drinks, then some food, a bit of small chops, some witnessing of few fake laughs just so one feels among and on and on till “oh, will you look at the time!”

So with life celebrated; as we went for a friend’s birthday, the return journey home began with a conflict of directions, “‘ok, take right.’ ‘Right ke, go left jo’ yada yada yada. But halfway home, a question comes up in mid-conversation, “you see that, that one is medium size…”, we burst into laughter in the middle of traffic on the Mainland caused by almost nothing and effectively pissing every other road user except four filled bellies, now that’s life.

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