So I needed to braid my hair again.
I am very impatient when it comes to making my hair (no, I won’t cut it). I can hear my life ticking away like a clock as I sit for two to three hours braiding my hair. Anyway, the hair had to be braided so I carried myself to Yaba market to get braiders that would be real fast. My thinking was, with two to three women on my hair, we should be done in less than two hours.
When it comes to hair braiding, Yaba is the only place I know where you can get one million braids done in less than three hours! The ladies will descend on your hair like bees and before you start feeling tired, Voila! They are done.
It was a Sunday morning, I expected the market to be quiet and serene, but what did I meet when I got there? A huge fight. A crowd had gathered, a group of boys were fighting, from where I stood I could see blood everywhere, yet nobody tried to come between the wrestlers. Someone brought out a green tailoring scissors and stabbed another. His scream pierced the heavens like the cry Abel made when Cain killed him- please don’t ask me how I heard this. Soon enough some soldiers came and dispersed the crowd and the fighting parties. While the fighting was going on, people were going about their business, it was as if they were cooking party jollof rice, look, hmm, shake head, clap hand, pass.
I found a smiling chubby woman to braid my hair. When I removed my scarf she scrunched up her nose and said ‘Why e dey nashural? Why you no put relasa?’’
I rolled my inner eyes but calmly told her my hair was soft. (I had sprinkled it with water/coconut oil and put the hair in small twists before leaving the house)
She loosened one twist and detangled it with her fingers “Ah e soft o, no vex my friend, e get one hair I do last week, my finger almost break.” I rolled my inner eyes again. Afro hair is strong, you are a hairstylist, deal with it.
Well, we started braiding. They were other ladies braiding in the shed, too; then a white Benz rolled to a stop opposite the shed. A man and a young girl came out. The braiders started murmuring.
“Small girl, see the old man she dey follow,”
“Ehn if na you, you no go follow?”
“Hahaha I go follow o, man wey go take care of me? I no mind I go follow.’’
The man was carrying the girl’s bag.
“Chai, see as he dey carry the girl bag, Eh, make I see better man like this o”
I was amused because I thought it was a father-daughter thing. There was a manner the man held the girl, especially when they wanted to cross the road, I sensed it was a father-daughter relationship.
It turned out the girl wanted to braid her hair, too. They crossed the road and walked towards us. I was right the girl was a spitting image of the man. After bargaining, she said “bye daddy.”
I imagined the look on the faces of the amebos. (I couldn’t turn around to see them)
Where many women are gathered braiding hair, gossip is there present.
Under fat arms, beneath badly glued lashes, mouth smashing gum together in perfect rhythm, gossip is prevalent.
These women talked about who got married but organised a cheap wedding, who had an abortion, who is foolish because the husband is beating her. I couldn’t really follow the gossip because they gossiped in Yoruba and pidgin. But it wasn’t malicious gossip, it was done in a fun way. I liked how they played with each other, they helped each other as they braided, someone who was free helped another to braid. It felt good. I could tell these were women who have known each other for a while.
The gossip that was most interesting was one when they all teamed up to advice a new bride who from the story came from a village and had just got married to someone in Lagos. She was braiding hair with them.
“Go open another account now wey love still dey catch your husband, e dey give you money, open account, no let am know. Dey keep money there before im eye go clear.”
The new bride chuckled, “my oga no be like that.” The way they all laughed at her. Chubby woman braiding my hair laughed some extra seconds longer, clapped her hands and said “time shall tell!”
The sun came out and out came the masquerades. Yoruba people, please don’t be angry. Who/what are these masquerades that move around, especially at Yaba market during the day with cane, harassing people for money? Is it a part of your culture?
Where I am from, masquerades don’t go out except on special festive days (they still beg for money sha) but this one is every other day. Two roamed the market that Sunday, harassing people for money, especially women. More than once they threatened to whip someone with their canes.
Finally, my hair was done and I carried my tired sweaty self out of the shop as the women tried to fleece me.
“Fine sister, add something now, see as your hair fine.”
Nothing for you in this Buhari’s economy.
Bye bye. Till next time when I visit the kingdom of Yaba market.