Wednesday, 14 August 2013


"Balende CMS! Balende CMS!" The conductor rants. Calls on passers-by to join his bus as they ignore him and carry on with their "passing". He yells the more to those cros

sing the road on to his side: "Balende CMS!" Convincing them to take this trip with him yelling at the top of his voice till the bus is filled with people and luggage.

He wakes up early so he could be selected by a bus driver to conduct the bus for the day... or for the number of trips the driver is willing to have him work.  Depending on when he wakes up, bathing is an option not an obligation.

He suits up in his regular: a sagging denim jeans and what seem to have been a "white" arm-less underwear. Away from his shelter he walks into the bus park, speaks to a few drivers and finally gets one in need of his services. After a few hits and knocks on the motor battery with a spanner or a plier  with the ignition light on, he pushes the bus from the rear while the driver controls the steering wheel, shifting the gear and stepping on the gas pedal in the right sequence until the roar of a dying engine is heard.

A few sachets of dry gin and some "bitters" kick starts his working session.

The fate of having his meals is dependent on his ability to get the bus filled in quick time, spending less on settling the police, the traffic officials, and road union workers.

The #ogogoro sellers have been up even before activities begin in this bus settlement. With a variety on display to suite every and any kind of early morning drinker.
Her kids all around her, very much as active as she is. Awakened by the same body clock as of their mum. They learn her trade everyday before they are off to school for formal education.

The noise slowly but steadily gets louder by the passing minutes that sets the sun at the edge of the sky glowing in cool heat and announcing the start of the day for the not-so-early risers. The symphony of destination calls fill the area as people can be seen hurrying around and onto buses headed their way.

Garage touts and officers in their full regalia: a white shinny buttoned shirt on green pants rolled up to the knee, and in their various ranks are very much as obvious as the buses. Collecting taxes from bus drivers and reporting half the proceeds to their superiors.

The snack hawker can not thrive unless he is within the perimeters of the  area, clinging to windows and begging for an exchange of your money for his commodity.

By sunset destination calls are switched and the rush begins again. Dusts raised, rants pitched, engines roars, hawkers everywhere, ...and so it continues.

Again slowly and steadily emptiness fill the area as only the croak of the frog can be heard in murky waters, calling for mates.

Then silence.

"Balende CMS, Balende CMS".... The signal for waking up tells me its morning again as I rush to have my bathe and... 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Gidi: Behind The Scenes

Forget all those fancy pictures and documentaries you see on holiday flyers and on cable TV. Lagos isn't that life-friendly.

The noise around the city cranks me up daily. The only quiet time I get during the nights are broken almost every 45 minutes between each flight that leaves Lagos and those that come in.

The public buses aren't commuter friendly. They are not concerned about your "discomfort" just their income. Getting on-board one during rainy seasons can be synonymous to voluntarily going for a swim in the lagoon. Did I forget to tell you that your wallets are at risk in there as well? And your life expectancy drops a great deal coz I discovered that the lower the IQ of the driver, the faster he rides. 

The weather? Are you kidding me? Please don't ask. The sun shows off heat like it's in competition with some other sun. It practically dries us up and by the time it is done with us, we glow at nights. That's how un-nice it is here. Then when it rains, it vomits all over the place. Land looses its identity. My friends at Victoria Island can relate to this because I was sent a picture of a float-car actually floating. 

When it rains in Lagos, it is safer to wear both a life jacket and a helmet. Umbrellas, raincoats and boots can't help you.

The "uniform" men are in their categories. Sometimes their duties overlap. The L.G task forces carry out the same duties as the LASTMA, the VIO and the FRSC are cousins with one father. KAI and CBD are just another nuisance to the hard sought after peace that does not exist in Lagos. Even the BRT drivers and the defunct "molue" bus drivers are twins but of separate mothers. 

I have lived here my entire life but each day comes up never the same. You just can't ever get familiar with Lagos.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Lets Get Crazy?... Seriously?

Of all the days in the life of a Lagosian, Thursdays seems to be the best (well, for those on the mainland working on the island). It is the only day among the weekdays that one gets to the island without encountering so much traffic. It is also the only day I can break a rule and ride on the BRT lane and not get caught... Yeah I said it, what? Sometimes i need to get to work early na.

This Thursday however, I decided to go to work by public transport. No, not the BRT... the regular black striped yellow buses. Yes, the danfo bus.

I am the kind that usually read adverts on billboards, bumper stickers and any large poster available with nice humor, font and colors to pull my attention to it. Since i wasn't driving, I took the liberty to read and ride today. when we got on the #EkoBridge, I was eager to read that large TELEVISION in all its brightness then it so happened that the Coca-cola slot came on with these words "Why not smile and wave at a traffic warden". I was still processing the words even as it sounded weird and could not conform to my person when I heard a voice behind me saying "why?... when I'm not gay".

Some of us who understood laughed at this "joke
" but the dude didn't see it that way. apparently, he must have had serious issues with coca-cola's adverts and messages because right there in the bus he began to say all the weird stuffs he read on the big TV.
He couldn't just understand why coke will tell him to go crazy for a stranger, change a Tyre for a stranger, buy some dude a bottle of coke... for free!, share an umbrella with someone you do not know. FOR DIS LAGOS WEY WE DEY SO? You must be kidding me.

Life in this western state is already strange and crazy as it is. Talk less of going crazy for strange folks in addition to the stress level we all encounter day after day.

Come to think of it, what is really wrong with smiling and waving at a traffic warden as u drive by? Abeg, leave that matter jare.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

I am...

I am the unheard, the one who doesn’t make laws.
The one trampled by the 'lords'.
The unknown who never shows up on election posters.
The one they call 'the masses'.
The most hit of all crisis.

The onlooker, staring yet with hope.  
The center of all jokes.
The patient, who waits still for the rain.
Even when water is wasted down the drain.
The worker, who tills at all weather, even at summer.

The victim, the one shot by the stray bullet.
The one caught up by accident.
The prosecuted, sentenced for the crime of the free criminals.

The undermined, thought less of, yet represented at the assembly. 

The 'infidel', publicly bombed before the security forces.
Yet called a pro-democratic martyr, for undefined causes.

The minimum wage earner, hoping for my 18k.
While lawmakers await their 18mill.

I am the un-tarred road that carries little hope.
The path un-threaded, left for weeds and shrubs.

I am the aborted child, forsaken yet happy I wasn’t born to suffer.

I am the thumbprint cast on the ballot paper for a just cause.
For a man… and not the party.
For the truth…not for anarchy. 

I am the country divided by religious flames.
The victims with no names.

I am the account with N10billion short… for the pocket that never gets enough.

I am the vision 20-20-20,
Propelled with a tank so empty.

I am the seed, I am the hope.
I am Nigeria, I am me.

Monday, 27 June 2011

My Life, My Lagos.

The rush kicks off at 4:30 am in a hurry to outrun traffic.
Driving out in the dark morning seems awkward, but very much a common event in the lives of the residents of this western town.

Vehicles all headed in one direction as though the whistle has been blown.
Struggle for slots in the traffic: a much attributable fact for the #danfo drivers as the LASTMA looks out for the scape-goat among the herd of Black-striped-yellow goats as the blue horses joyfully gallop along the corridor separated by the casting or the yellow lines.

The conventional cars look up to the government owned buses in disgust as they swiftly race through traffic, while they angrily see the red lights on the behind of the cars in front of them, crawling as fast as the snail.
We have been told to learn how to be as organized as the soldier ants... I didn't think they meant traffic wise.

Gala hawkers and recharge card sellers already stationed by the road with faith that you'd get tired and hungry and would have to call your boss to let him know you'd be late.

Angry commuters at BRT bus stops looking at filled buses even as standers aligned like "sardines" are looking back and hoping the "pilot" doesn't pick anymore.
Ladies having their “make-up” session as they ride on, sleepers; who must have woken up before the day began, are being compensated for lost hours of rest. Motor fumes from exhaust pipes suffocate your perfume.

Okada riders racing like it was the MotoGP season. Meandering through any space whatsoever. Between an articulated vehicle and the BRT.
Between the luxury buses and the oil tankers.
Between the keke and the truck pushers.
Even between the pedestrians and the onlookers.

Conductors’ voices overshadow one another as calls for destinations sound louder than the roars of the engines.

Sirens heard from the behind of the line forcing its way through to the front, distorting the flow of the "hard-labored" formation. Even as “bloody-civilian” opportunists and danfo drivers join in the hot pursuit of time-saving.

We rush out of our houses as though we are being chased off to get to work and then couple of hours later, we rush off the work place like we just realized it was the enemy and not the former. Only to go through the same process but this time, we are facing the other way.

God help us!