Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who Is He

From afar, when I noticed the crowd, and the open car booth, I shivered. Please not a human head.

My yesterday was eventful. I had to enter a part of Eko I have never heard of.

Igbosere road is behind the Lagos High Court that is on Tafa Balewa Square road. Something like that. My mission there was to meet a printer yesterday morning, then we had to proceed to his operator’s house.

I was busy looking around everywhere. I saw a sign that said that road is Cow Lane, saw another that is Rasak Okoya lane and I derided myself thinking maybe that is where Chief Rasak Okoya and his popular bride, Folasade reside. That was foolish thinking.

I did admit though that I was in the real Eko, not this extension of Opebi or Satellite Town that I shuttle between. Then I remembered Sefi Atta and I remembered her book Everything Good Will Come, and I imagined some of her portrayal of Eko in her book, might be what I saw, since I wasn’t born in the era she framed that award winning book.

That place I went to, is not very far from Obalende, and it actually occurred to me yesterday, that Lagos Island has more one way roads than anywhere else I know in Lagos.

And talking of Obalende, I hate the place. Oshodi I can stomach; it’s a lesser devil. There is a particular part of Obalende that is always flooded 365 days a year, and I’m sure it rains there at night and no one notices. Not the kind of rain we know about - a different kind whose water is black with wonderful scent that will shame Chanel No 5.

Anyway, back to my gist. There was a crowd at one point in Obalende. They were watching a drama unfolding between the men in black uniform and an unfortunate driver who probably didn’t have his particulars, and this is what I imagined must have happened, before the crowd that I met.

Police waves the car to a stop

Driver stops and wait.

Police: vehicle particulars

Driver: take (he produces them)

Police: (after flipping through, sees nothing wrong with them, but he wants something) wetin dey your booth?

Driver: nothing

Police: come open

Driver: it is empty. You have seen my papers.

Police: (looks at him critically and notices driver is nervous. On the back seat of the car are some clothes scattered. Maybe rags. Not sure. He beckons to his colleague and they whisper together. Soon, one policeman turns into four). Get down.

Driver: (he is out of the car) I’m in a hurry. (He tries to squeeze N500 into his hands).

Police: you want to bribe me. Corrupt citizen. (Then with the other cops, the driver is forced to open his booth).

From afar, when I noticed the crowd, and the open car booth, I shivered. Please not a human head.

I saw in the booth, that three legged stand used in the village to hold big pots on fire, while fire woods are arranged underneath. What is it called? I saw, cashew nuts tied the way hawkers do, all scattered around in the booth. I saw plenty and different sizes of Agege bread. I saw a tray. I saw akara, scattered all around in the booth. I saw a piece of clothe that must have balanced the tray on a head.

Everything registered in my memory in less than five seconds. I didn’t stop of cause. But I couldn’t stop thinking. Who is the driver, and how come he has those things in his booth? What I refused to think of definitely is who the real owner/s of those things, is/are and where she/they is/are.

If you come across this, what will you conclude? Who is the driver?

Friday, August 22, 2008


By the time Saturday August the 16th started, I was tired. Marriage is not easy o, the stress before the D-day is hell, then on the day, even with all the excitement, you just can’t wait for it to be finally over so that you can start a new life with your husband.

It began with the family morning devotion that was interrupted because the taxi that came to pick up the makeup artist to go home and change, kept blasting its horn as though announcing the second coming of Christ. The maid of honour had to take the first flight from Lagos and was early, but she forgot her second attire. Not the one for the first event though.

Then, everyone (the house was full of friends and relations who haven’t seen in a long time and who took wherever they found to lay their heads for the night, thankfully.) started working. Most of the women in the family – aunties and in-laws- were behind the house cooking, and I promised myself I will eat the Owo soup and Starch later – but that day and with everything, I forgot about food. My aunt had to carry a plate of rice and deposited it in my hand at a point.

The court marriage didn’t take time at all, from there we proceeded to a Photo world to take good pictures, by the time we returned home, the compound was transformed and looking set for the traditional marriage.

I was almost not recognised when I dressed so traditional for the first time in my life, but I got used to it after adjusting the wrapper for God knows how many times.

According to our culture, at the end of a marriage ceremony, the bride with her load, are escorted by some of her family members to her husband’s family, or the home of the most eldest member of the husband’s family in the vicinity, not the husband’s house. It is done that way to show that we have handed over our daughter to your family, and we recognise you as the eldest in the family.

Earlier in the day, my cousin had brought the very big box that will pack, if not all for the moment, most of the things that will go as load during the escort to the husband’s family.

By the end of the day, the compound was emptying, the rain was back and I was packed and ready to go.

And the journey back home to Gambia... hmm... I mean Lagos, was hassle free, compared to the journey from Lagos to the Niger Delta.

Happy Married Life to my sweet cousin Evi, and her sweetheart. I will get there someday.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My Gambia Experience

I had absolutely no interest whatsoever in The Gambia, until I had no choice, but to be interested because at the moment that is where my heart lies. No! Not with the country.
Having a new found interest in The Gambia, made me open my map of Africa, then focus on the West Africa country that is smaller than my beloveth Lagos. Before going, The Cave Man had tried to impress me about the place and how much I will fall in love with The Gambia and the peace and quiet. I didn’t believe it of course. Lagos and I are still enjoying our transgressions.

One friend told me that the place is a great tourist attraction and that the country makes a lot of revenue from tourism. I visited their website and saw that much. The website also made me understand that certain things couldn’t be purchased there, so you have to come prepared.

The Gambians are very dark in complexion compared to us, but they appear very peaceful and the place is peaceful. So peaceful to the extent that it’s kind of boring when it isn’t the tourists’ season which begins from October to April.

Their major mode of transportation is a yellow and green taxi. Another kind of taxi, a green coloured one, is used only by those who work in the tourist area, just like we have different taxis at the airport.

One very intriguing thing is how most white women seem to love Gambian men. In the street I stayed was a bungalow occupied by a Briton woman, 72, married to a younger Gambian man. My neighbour where I stayed had a white chick. Age wise they looked okay, and I learnt he just returned to the country. Apparently he was in obodo oyibo. I heard what I saw was small compared to how it is during the tourists’ season. And most of the guys who attract some of these white women are Ras Kimono’s cousins. Hair locked to eternity. When you see guys like these around town, know one thing, they are tour guides. Tour guides wear locked hair and majority are also the taxi drivers of the green cabs and their passengers are only tourists.

Their girls are beautiful sha, though I wasn’t impressed with their hairstyles. A Nigerian hairdresser should go and open shop there.
Majority of their girls have hips. Even the young teenage ones. The Cave Man told me when their girls are born, beads are worn on their waist so that when they are growing, the growth of their waist is limited, that way, they have big hips and very tiny waist.

Unless you are someone who loves to experiment with food, if you are going to Gambia, go prepared. Their dishes in their restaurants are something else; I enjoyed only one and that was because it was white rice and shrimps. Oh, and I enjoyed their kind of suya too. They don’t call it suya and it is lamb meat, barbecued when you order for it, and served with onion.

I went to Bakau market because I wanted to cook. I noticed fresh fish is so very cheap and I regretted why I didn’t travel with spices for peppersoup. I bought rice I cooked but couldn’t eat because it tasted strange and the grains were shorter. I was told Serrenkunda market had more Nigerian food there, but I didn’t have the opportunity to go there.
Fruits are expensive. Infact, fish and transportation are the cheapest, because by the time you are buying something in their currency; Dalasi, and multiply by six to get the price in Naira, who will frown. Yes, the value of their money is higher than ours; one Dalasi to six Naira.

Lots of beach spots to visit and the environment isn’t as rowdy as Bar Beach or Kuramo. You stroll freely without concern of being attacked. But surprisingly, The Cave Man’s friend, S, whose mother-in-law is in town from Nigeria, because S and wife, B were expecting their first kid (they had a boy the day I left), had a surprise.

The Cave Man and I and another visiting friend where leaving the beach at night, and met S and family coming. We were almost home when S called to say his mother-in-law’s bag was snatched at the beach.

I refused to believe. In Gambia? With all the boasting about peace and all, I have heard? Apparently, S was telling his mother-in-law if she could imagine strolling at Kuramo by that time of night freely, without a care, when the bag was snatched and the culprit ran away.

I give it to Gambia, they have a constant supply of clean water. I would have added and electricity, because that is part of what The Cave Man boasted about, but I was there and power outage kept recurring. Anyway, it isn’t as bad as ours, and it was because they had a sort of problem.

I enjoy the way they speak English, and I envy how collected the Gambians are. There is hardly that complex situated we notice around us. They see themselves as equal to anyother person, black or white, rich or poor, and are extremely contented with how they live and what they have. For example, you might employ a Gambian and pay him wonderful salary, he might drop in one day and resign for no reason. He just doesn’t want to work. Simple. Heard their women are more hardworking.

Long and short, I enjoyed my stay. Even discovered NewAfrican magazine over there, and it has an interesting magazine insert, NewAfrican Woman. Wonderful magazine. There is Nigerian price on the cover but I have never seen it here in Nigeria. I will keep my eyes open. (Those of you in the US and UK should watch for it). 'Nice' magazine is to them what Ovation magazine is to us. And the other, 'Ambience', made a nice read.

Hope I’ve bored you enough.