I had a terrible stutter when I first came to Lagos.
The kind that was so bad I couldn’t call out bus stops. You know, a bus would stop and ask and you wouldn’t be able to voice out your destination.
“Egbe, ni bo lo nlo?” the conductor would ask
In Lagos, everything begins with an insult. You don’t believe me, abi? Have you seen two young men greeting themselves at a Lagos bar.
“Oloshi, you dey here?”
“Omo we re, come take one big stout.”
Pleased to meet you too.
So, I had a stutter and I remember that at Unijos I couldn’t hail taxis. I would stand there in front of the gate on Bauchi road and listen to other students hailing cabs until I heard someone call out my destination. Then, I would “chewinGum” the person.
“Are you together?” the driver would ask sometimes.
“No,” the student would say.
“So, where you dey go?” Driver would ask.
“Same place,” I would sputter.
Sometimes the devil would send drivers without sense and those ones are the ones who would look at you and say “Same place. Same place no get name.”
At a point I took to writing out my destination and flashing it at Drivers. It didn’t WERK because aint no taxi driver got time for that shit.
My broda, Stuttering or stammering is no joke that is why Stutter Jokes are not funny.
Naija comedians, Stop eet!
So, that’s how I came to Lagos with my speech impediment and where Jos and Kano were easier because drivers were saner, Lagos drivers whether danfo, taxi or molue were MAD.
They wouldn’t even stop long enough at the bus stop to hear you sputter out your destination. The only good thing was that Lagos conductors are actually human loud speakers. You hear them before you see them.
But you see, once on the bus you had to speak and anxiety made my stammer worse. You had to say where you were going, you had to ask for change, you had to negotiate your very existence in that piece of metal and wood called a danfo.
So, the stutter was still a problem.
Then I began to write and win awards and rise at work and I realized that a stutter was not just an impediment, it was also a destiny blocker. Omo, do you know how many fine girls I missed because I couldn’t sputter out a simple “Hello.”
Anyway, one day I went to church, I knelt down and I said Jehovah God, epp your son. I can see Mayor of Lagos in my destiny but this stutter won’t let me be great. Epp your son.
And God answered my prayers. That was my first miracle in Lagos even though there have been many others. But the fact that I stopped stuttering is big on my list of miracles. I know, it comes up once in a while especially when I am upset but on a good day, I can navigate through the hours without as much as a repeated phrase.
Shout Halleluyah somebody.
Make a date next Monday and I will tell you how Yaba Second Hand market saved my life.