“I realize that sooner or later, these experiences will become the norm for me, as it has, for so many people walking the streets of Lagos daily.”
These may not be the thoughts of every Lagos resident, but if you are a JJC (Johnny Just Come ) like me, these same things may be running through your mind daily.
I recently got back to Lagos about a month ago only to realize that as much as things have changed, a lot still hasn’t. In Nigeria, JJC is a term for someone who is new to a place or an area. On the face of it, I wouldn’t exactly say I am a JJC since my family has lived in Lagos for more than a decade now, but technically, I am. I have never spent more than one month straight in Lagos, but right now I have to deal with the reality of spending a whole year in a big city where I only know one place – my home.
Learning to find my way around Lagos, is basically a lot of asking the bus drivers, where I can find the bus going to my destination. For me this is the simplest part of adjusting to the Lagos environment. Like I said earlier a lot has change (mostly just the new look the city’s wearing), but still a lot still hasn’t changed (I’m referring to the attitude of Lagosians in general). I simply cannot stand the impatience I see everyday; bus drivers breaking all the traffic rules, keke napep tricycles competing with pedestrians, young children running about with no shoes, hoping to sell Indomie at the rate of two packs for fifty Naira to the next eager buyer… But as days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months, I realize that sooner or later, these experiences will become the norm for me, as it has, for so many people walking the streets of Lagos daily.
One of my biggest peeves about Lagos is, no one ever seems to have change (smaller denominations of money)? Not the conductors, super markets, or even the ATM’s! Once, I tried my luck to see if the ATM will dispense smaller denominations just to avoid a face-off with the overly angered conductors, but even the machine requested that I type the amount I wanted, in one thousand Naira denominations; na wa o!
Two things I have learned this one month: (1) Change or no change, better enter the bus you see otherwise, the bus-stop becomes your home. With this in mind though, you must be ready to counter-attack the violent words of the conductors with certified pidgin. (2) The initial cost of a good or service, priced at 5000 Naira, can eventually be priced down to as low as 700 Naira. And I certainly learned that the hard way after buying Shea butter worth a hundred Naira for a thousand!
To survive in Lagos you either need to be smart or be able to play smart. Even the roaches in Lagos are “OCCUPYING.” I can almost swear that there was this one big roach two weeks ago running after me when I tried to flick it off the kitchen counter. Ants I can deal with, but cockroaches are where I draw the line.
Lagos signboards are another matter, some of them are so cheesy, you stand a risk of having your jaw permanently dislocated, just for staring too hard. Why on earth is Funke Akindele holding a live fish? Obviously it was a photo-shopped image of her but is that supposed to make me want to come and buy fish in your store? Then there’s the other matter of you expecting me to bring my phone or computer to your repair store, when you have spelled troubleshooting as “DOUBLE SHOOTING?” I don’t mind your sense of humor, but I’ll pass, thank you.
The things I see daily amaze me but they also tend to put a smile on my face and so far, I can say my stay has been worthwhile. As I begin to adjust fully to life in Lagos (though this might take a while), I look forward to experiencing more of the jaw dropping moments that make Lagos life unique. Eko oni baje o! (Lagos won’t spoil).
Adeniyan Adekemi Kikelomo is a Dentist who recently moved back to Nigeria, and likes to write in her spare time. You can visit her blog www.dekkygurl.blogspot.com. She also tweets from @Dentdocdekky
30 Days, 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians from across the world to share their stories and experiences – creating a meeting point where our common humanity is explored.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija