When I first used to go to Lagos, I used to go like a regular Nigerian citizen. I say regular because Lagosians are not regular Nigerian citizens, trust me. I always went with the same sweetness with which you go to Calabar or Akure or Osogbo. But very recently, I have noticed, that a certain type of fear usually engulfs me each time I enter into Lagos. Whether I am entering from the very famous Berger or through Muritala Mohammed Airport, its usually a bit of a hard time. I wouldn’t call it paranoia, because I doubt it is. Ok maybe it is. I stay looking out the wound up window, suspecting every beggar or every car, including the cars that have giant Jesus Saves stickers on them. In Lagos, you never know.
Whats interesting though is that except for gist that has been passed down to me from residents of Lagos, or non but wanna be residents who just give you gist that their parents passed down to them from the 1980’s, I have no particular reason to be paranoid. Thankfully, I have never experienced any of those snatch bag, snatch jewellery, snatch phone in traffic scenarios. Having lived in Ibadan and Abuja, arguably two of the “calmest” cities in Nigeria, instinctively learning to clutch my handbag in my armpit certainly didn’t come easy. I’ll leave my bag on the counter at a restaurant while making orders, or leave my phone on the table there to go and use the ladies. I doubt many people even lock their cars in Abuja, especially if you are at an open view restaurant like Chicken Republic. So you see, this was the aje butter kind of life that I brought to Lagos.
So on this day, on a trip to Lagos, I arrived in broad day light, like before 12 in the afternoon. I was rolling my suitcase out with the imagined swagger of a Miss Bond, the very familiar blazing sun was killing me. By the way, sometimes, I think the sun in Lagos is on steroids. The heat was crazy, I just wanted to get into a car that had air conditioning. So in my bid to find an air conditioned cab, this guy walks up to me, asks where I am headed, tells me; my car get AC, gives me a fairly good price, and tells me his car is parked down there. I assume down there to be just down there. I mean what else can down there mean? Any way down there takes another few minutes walk to some mechanic workshop looking place where I sight a peugeot 504 that I havn’t seen since forever. By this time, the man already has my suitcase. As we entered into the mechanic workshop looking place, I got furious and started to say in a very tush Abuja way; oga where is your car now? I hadn’t even finished the words when two men hurriedly got up from behind the peugeot. And instinctively, I clutched my handbag…
…To be continued.