Surprise is the word for Lagos.
My brother, Isidore, left our House of Hunger in Ikate, Surulere, Lagos one mid-morning in search of a job. He returned to the house almost immediately, clutching two copies of the same newspaper.
He had actually used the only money he had on him to buy two copies of the same edition of the newspaper known as Lagos Weekend!
He bought one copy for me and the other copy for himself. For him, the newspaper was too dear to be shared!
The newspaper had this bold headline in Igbo: “Innocent Igbuolam o!”
Isidore could not believe that a Lagos newspaper could cast its headline completely in Igbo.
Well, I had to read the story myself to understand it all.
It was the story of a divorce case in a Lagos customary court. The wife had reeled out all the charges against the husband: wife-beating, lack of maintenance, alcoholism etc.
Then the husband whose name was Innocent made his defence by claiming that his wife first infested him with gonorrhea before finally nailing him with syphilis…
It was at that point that the astonished wife screamed: “Innocent igbuolam o!”
The editor of Lagos Weekend took the headline straight from the wife’s mouth, and it translates in simple English to: “Innocent, you have killed me o!”
The editor’s uncommon choice was duly rewarded when my job-seeking brother used his very only coins to buy two copies of the same paper!
The Daily Times of old had many titles in its fold but Lagos Weekend was without any shadow of doubt the hippest of the lot.
The unique selling column of Lagos Weekend was “Wakabout” written entirely in Pidgin English. No weekend was complete in Lagos without reading the happy-go-lucky Wakabout.
Wakabout had more romps than all the bachelors and playboys of Lagos put together. His was not just kiss-and-tell. It’s actually do-and-tell!
Let’s just reveal a title of one of Wakabout’s many columns. Let me settle for this column that readily comes to mind now:
“I chop Funmi yam, I drink water.”
In Wakabout-speak, one must understand that the “yam” of Funmi was not any ordinary yam you could buy in Jankara Market.
The poetic dimension of drinking water after “chopping” Funmi’s special yam made Wakabout the toast of Lagos.
The high jinks of Lagos Weekend and Wakabout stood Lagos in good stead in the roaring 1970s and 80s.
Post civil-war Lagos boasted of characters that were truly larger-than-life-and-death. For instance, there was the indomitable armed robber Ishola Oyenusi who was immortalized in the film The Rise and Fall of Oyenusi by Eddy Ugbomah.
The other dogged robber was Mighty Joe. There was also the unapologetic robber who was caught while robbing Bulous Enterprises. When the trial judge asked him if he could handle a rifle, the robber warned the judge to stop underrating him!
“I can fire a Heavy Machine Gun, alias HMG!” the robber told the judge.
The robber was duly executed at the Barbeach Show.
You could trust good old Lagos Weekend to serve all the reports with the gory details.
Talking of Barbeach Show, one should not mistake it for the live television show of the same title served up by the master impresario Art Alade of blessed memory.
The Barbeach Show here refers to the execution of armed robbers and coup plotters at Barbeach.
My late friend, the ace photographer Godwin Usidamen, was in the NTA studios when Dimka and his co-coup-plotters were brought to the Barbeach for execution.
That was how Godwin was commandeered by the firing squad to take exclusive photographs of Dimka and the coup plotters of the “dawn-to-dusk curfew” coup infamy!
Lagos can surprise you every coup morning, especially when State House was still at Dodan Barracks, Ikoyi.
It was the Lagos of the inimitable Fela Anikulapo-Kuti who was told “ I no be gentleman” in a conversation with his buddy, the photojournalist-cum-filmmaker Tam Fiofori, and a monster hit was born!
In recalling the bustling Lagos of Lagos Weekend and Wakabout, how can one forget the incomparable comedian and nightclub owner John Chukwu?
John Chukwu was funnier than all the millionaire comedians of today put together.
I remember one night when a handful of us, journalists and our girlfriends, attended a John Chukwu show. After the man popularly called JC or John God had cracked all our ribs with jokes and laughter, our girlfriends refused to follow us home but would rather follow John Chukwu to his hotel room to hear his jokes until dawn!
If you want to hear the end of this story, then get me back the copies of my dear old Lagos Weekend gutted by fire that burnt my house a while back!