“I have never seen anything like it my whole life, never,” plenty laughter followed this statement by an Oyibo man who was visiting Lagos for the first time. I met him at Freedom Park, and he kept going on and on about the traffic in Lagos.
He wasn’t in it for more than two hours yet see how puzzled he was. I was very amused. I wanted to pick his brains about what he thought of Lagos since it was his first visit. I remember being a visitor, I still feel like a visitor on most days but I guess my views being Nigerian and his must be parallel. Anyway, we didn’t get the chance to talk about Lagos that day.
A few days later I was in a cab and soon began to gist with the driver. He told me of another Oyibo who was visiting Lagos for a business meeting. So the man, let us call him Johnny flew all the way from London to Lagos for a meeting in Apapa, yes, you saw that right, Apapa.
According to the driver, when Johnny told him he was going to Apapa he asked him three times, are you sure, sir? You are really going to Apapa? Johnny said yes. Driver promptly told him nobody goes to Apapa except trailers, the traffic is insane, call the people you have a meeting with and reschedule.
But Johnny refused, I guess he thought “how bad can it get? One or two hours we will be there.” Driver tried to explain to him, but Johnny who had only lived in the Ikoyi/Lekki/Victoria Island axis of Lagos refused. Driver started the trip, they set out by 9am, five hours later Johnny was beyond frustrated and was cursing every reasoning that made him not listen to the cab driver. He didn’t get to his meeting, he turned around and returned to his hotel.
After the taxi driver dropped me off I imagined the conversation Johnny would have had with his friends when he got home to London. He would try to put his Lagos experience into words but somebody would chuckle and say, ahhh it can’t be that bad, c’mon Johnny you are exaggerating and Johnny will be lost for words to explain Lagos.
One of my friends recently travelled to “the abroad” for a short visit. Broda is back, and he cannot stop whining about Lagos and Nigeria generally. He often adds that white folks are smarter than us Africans and I tell him to sharrrap. Whatever his arguments, I stand on my sharrrap, and refuse to listen to that line of reasoning. But when I go out the next day, from my seat in the danfo I observe Lagos and have only one question, okay, two; who cursed us in this country? How do you explain the bizarre things that have become the norm for us?
Are the roads bad? Let us pour tar on top until the next rainy season.
Are the roads too narrow, should we expand it? LOL where are Lagosians rushing too? Let them remain in traffic
Water almost covered Lagos last rainy season, shouldn’t we fix the drainage system? See, it’s only God that can save people from flood. Pray.
All our commercial buses must be rickety death traps, after all only poor people use them.
What of our hospitals? Doctors are running abroad? LOL, those unpatriotic thieves asking for jumbo pay? God is our healer jare.
What of government schools? Those children do not deserve desks, books and every other thing they need to get a good education. Is it not their mates that are enrolled in posh schools in Lekki? What are they doing in Mushin?
What of refuse disposal? Heap them in a junction by the roadside.
Electricity nko? Import generators. We can afford it, we are the giant of Africa.
Our police force was ranked the worst in the world, shouldn’t we look inwards to see what is wrong? Nope. It is the work of our political detractors. The police is your friend, Nigerians are just not friendly.
And the latest one- women are doing well in the army? One day a woman might rise to become the leader of the Nigerian army? LOL. Nip that shit in the bud. Stop recruiting women into the NDA.
And the latest one, EFCC said if they pay a whistleblower the money they PROMISED, it will make him go mad.
Should I go on? No? You are tired? Yes, me too. I am tired of Nigeria.
So when foreigners come around looking puzzled and wondering how we cope, puzzle, and wonder with them too.
Oyibo does not have a monopoly over WONDERING!