You know how they say Lagosians are mad people? Well it’s kind of true, just not the way you might think.
I was born and raised in Lagos, so I am what I like to call “an honourary Lagosian. From all my time here, I can say that there isn’t anything that can’t or doesn’t happen in this Lagos. It baffles me however that I still don’t have the “Lagos spirit” and sometimes it’s funny. At other times, it is just really scary and I am worried I’m too soft to survive in this place. I remember the first time I went a long distance with public transportation. We spent hours in traffic and immediately I got home, I went straight to my bed and fell asleep like a dry log within seconds.
I can only imagine how some people actually do that every week day and some, even on weekends too. I don’t think I could survive that. Someone I know recently said that living in Lagos is an extreme sport and even though I have never engaged in one, I totally agree. Imagine me on a Sunday morning with my white choir shirt at Mushin, struggling to board a bus to Oshodi. It was a horrible experience, although it was better than a previous one journeying on the same route. I literally didn’t make it into the bus but thankfully, my friends did so someone had to “lap” me. I am always focused on trying to make sure not to lose my valuables in the process. Better to be late than to end up broke and stranded on these streets.
From waking up very early in the morning, to getting to your destination later than planned. From the terribly horrible roads to the bottle necks. From the unnecessary traffic jams, to ongoing road constructions without alternative routes. From the impatience of road users (which honestly is not their fault most times), to the amount of accidents that no one ever talks about. I could go on and on. Everything requires hustling in this Lagos, and I’m not referring to the work people do. I am talking about people deliberately cutting a queue with the excuse that survival is for the fittest. I am talking about you having to “know someone” or “drop something” to be able to get attended to in a place where you ordinarily should.
Imagine leaving your home at 6:00 a.m. and getting to work at 8:30 a.m. for a journey that should (if things were normal) take roughly an hour. You get a query and you cannot even explain how you couldn’t hustle in time to get into a bus, or that the bus driver decided to join a queue to buy fuel just after picking up passengers, or that the conductor refused to give you change and decided to “join you” with another person. These might seem like normal things that happen in this Lagos but it just made me realize that this place is probably not for me.
So I understand when it seems like these people are constantly in a hurry, because I happen to be one of them. However, I really do not want to end up as one of those miserably frustrated and always angry Lagosians who walk around waiting for the slightest provocation so that they have the opportunity to show that “lóòtọ̀, gbogbo wa ni were l’Eko yìí” (truly, all of us are mad in this Lagos).
Then again, just have plenty money so that everything falls into place and you don’t have to hustle or suffer (as I like to call it) like the average person before things happen for you.