So, last week I promised to tell you about the night I met an Angel in Lagos.
An Angel in Lagos sounds like an oxymoron, abi, like a virgin in a labour room, that kind of thing but truth is no matter how much of a jungle Lagos is, no matter how carnivorous it can get at times, once in a while you will meet someone who hasn’t been jaded and ‘turned’ by the Lagos madness.
This story happened many years ago, a few weeks after I learnt to drive.
Sani Abacha was in power then. Obasanjo was in prison. Al Mustapha was god. And journalists and writers were an endangered specie.
Write a poem and you could be arrested.
Write an article, and DMI will knock on your door.
Go on a radio programme and SSS will escort you away
Those were crazy times. It was so crazy that the poet Ogaga Ifowodo and the novelist, Akin Adesokan, were arrested at the border because they had a picture they took with Wole Soyinka.
No, everyone is taking selfies with Wole Soyinka and posting on Instagram. Things have changed.
So, how did writers and journalists survive in those days? By hiding and running and cramming their poems so that if they searched you they wouldn’t find anything. Writing this thing now, it seems surreal like I am talking about Idi Amin’s Uganda but it really happened in this Lagos and Nigeria
Dat Abacha, e no go better for am o.
Anyway, back then we drank a lot. I mean, for those journalists who were ‘marked’, especially those who worked for Tell, The News, Tempo, Newswatch and other ‘trouble making’ papers, waking up every morning in your bed and not in a cell was cause for celebration.
I was not marked o, ehen before someone will say see Toni Kan claiming activist. Me, I was just a small Romance writer working for Hints magazine. But you see, I had a car and in an era when many journalists didn’t own cars having a car meant giving people lifts and imagine being caught with Ogaga Ifowodo in your car?
So, every lift given without being stopped and arrested at a check point was cause for drinking beer.
So, that night we had gone from Surulere where we had the ANA meeting to Ikeja and then ended up at Valentine Otiono’s house in Ogba and it was at his house that I learnt that there are 4 stages of drunkenness.
You want to know the 4 stages of drunkenness? Oya make a date next week.
Anyway, around 11pm, I got up with Ralph Bruce and my girlfriend and decided it was time to head home to Akute, where Ralph’s mum had a huge house.
Now, drinking and driving are bad for you, right? That’s what the FRSC always says but what they don’t talk about is drinking and not-knowing-how-to-drive-well.
So, already past the 2nd stage of drunkenness, Ralph and I and the unlucky lady set off for home. We made it from Ogba to Ojodu where we dropped off someone I can’t remember now then from there we headed towards Iyakoyo.
We crossed the old Iyakoyo bridge but as we headed up the incline the car began to drag and by this time there was an acrid smell of burnt rubber. (I would learn later that because I had forgotten to remove the hand brake! The clutch was gone.)
Na so the car stop.
We got down. There was no need to poke anywhere because three of us combined were CAR ENGINE illiterates.
We just pushed the car to the nearest house. I think it was the house next to Mike Okri’s house then. We knocked and begged the meigadi to let us park the car there for the night and then we started waiting for a vehicle to take us to Akute.
We waited o until it was 1pm.
Why didn’t we call uber? See your mouth. This was 1998, bro.
Anyway, a little past 1pm, we saw a pick up coming. We waved. The pick-up stopped. Inside were 3 policemen. Two sergeants and a DSP. His name, he said, was Adigun.
We explained and he said okay, we should get in. Imagine 2 tipsy young men and a pretty girl in mini skirt. Not a very good sight for Nigerian police, abi.
Anyway, the policemen drove us all the way to Akute and to a hotel where we had decided to spend the night since Ralph’s house was farther away.
We thanked them, got down, found a room and crashed.
We woke up the next day, found a mechanic fixed the car and then I bought a bottle of Schnapps as thank you for Mr. Adigun.
Brethren, I searched for over 6 months for that man and no one knew any Adigun who was a DSP. Walahi talahi. I went to every police station between ojodu and Akute and no one knew him or even the pick-up we talked about.
I told my friend this story and he said I should stop searching because I would never find the man.
“Why?” I asked and he had laughed and said “because he was an angel God sent to save you guys.”
Have you ever had such an experience in this Lagos, please share.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
It’s really cool that Nigeria managed to survive such times.
I enjoy your posts Toni Kan.