Dear law enforcing officers of Nigeria, I know nobody likes you. That is a terrible thing to live with. I know you are underpaid and bullied by your seniors. But taking it out on the rest of us Lagosians is not the answer.
Dear police, LASTMA, Road Security and VIO officer (and any other uniformed law enforcement agent I have forgotten),
Forgive me. For owning a car. For being white. And for driving myself through the potholed streets of Lagos.
When you single me out and stop me over every time you see me and my car Wilma passing by, please understand that not all oyinbos are rich. That not every expat earns a salary so humongous that he can pay you off with a bribe without even thinking about it twice. And that I am trying to stick to my principles and not to corrupt this new country of mine any further than it already has been by routinely greasing your palms.
Abeg, accept that I do not get out of my car anymore to show you my C-caution and Fire extinguisher. They are there, in Wilma’s boot, on display in a nice little baby blue basket. All you have to do is take a peek through the rear window to witness their presence. There is no need for me to leave my vehicle.
Do realise jerking frantically at my car door handles in order to try and open one of the doors is of no use. I had the central locks removed the day after one of your colleagues got into my car uninvitedly. As I entered my parked car, the sympathetic gentleman in yellow shirt and burgundy pants yanked the door on the passenger’s side open and sat himself down next to me. ‘I wan chop’, was his only explanation, making the universal feeding gesture to his mouth. I had to threaten him with my non existing big Nigerian husband to get him out of my vehicle. Please also understand why I do not roll down my windows more than one inch if you want to speak to me. Not after one of you groped through the open window to try and open Wilma’s door from the inside.
I am very sorry, but I am not answering your smiles anymore. Your smiles are like Judas’ kisses. You smile at me, and the next moment you are yelling. Even Wilma, normally an incorrigible flirt, has stopped responding your mock friendliness.
To that officer who means well and is genuinely trying to serve the public in a friendly manner, I apologise. I fear your colleagues have spoilt it for you. Two months on the Lagos roads have transformed my mild dislike of anything uniformed into a genuine hatred.
Dear law enforcing officers of Nigeria, I know nobody likes you. That is a terrible thing to live with. I know you are underpaid and bullied by your seniors. But taking it out on the rest of us Lagosians is not the answer. Suppose you would change your act and start serving the public instead of harassing it: the friendliness you would meet from civilians would be a reward in itself. And I would personally join your demonstrations for better pay and better treatment by your bosses.
With the above in mind, I am humbly asking you to kindly accept the fact that the two weeks my mother comes to visit Lagos, I am hiring a driver. I would not want her to see the way you treat her daughter as she drives through her home town she speaks so highly of.
I would be ashamed of this new beloved country of mine.
Thank you for your understanding,
Femke / Funke
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