MEMOIRS OF AN AFRICAN CITY
CITY FOCUS: LAGOS
I am a *thoroughbred of Lagos. I’ve lived in Lagos all my life. And when I say all my life, I mean exactly that- the whole of my life. So, I grew up to the bell rings of newspaper vendors in the morning, bread sellers’ ‘buy butter bread’ chants during the day, yellow ‘molue’ and ‘danfo’buses, bangs of loud music coming from pepper soup joints in the evening and voices of virtuous women during vigils, coming from the churches nearby.
I grew up seeing mother waking up before everyone in the morning to prepare some breakfast and some lunch for us-the kids to take to school. Father went to work while mother dropped us off at school and off she went to her shop as well.
Fast forward years later… I now board a bus and go home myself. I no longer need *‘maale’ like I sometimes call her to bath me in the mornings. Mum had a very great sense of *discernment, and that’s the why I wish she was here with me…
I was on my way back from work. Mum had travelled to see her sister in the United States, so I decided to go to the shop to stay with my siblings and wait for dad to come take us home. Let me enjoy being a child today *jare. I was standing in front of Ikeja City Mall, my usual bus stop whenever I needed a bus to Palmgrove, where maale’s shop is.
After waiting just about five minutes, a danfo bus stopped nearby, looking old, unkempt and jittery, of course- the normal look of danfo and molue cars. I usually wondered how bad these buses would lament if they had a chance to express themselves. With the conductor’s sweaty and forest-looking armpits pus his tea-coloured singlet, I could have sworn he hadn’t had a shave or a bath in a while.
I boarded the bus almost immediately after sighting it and made a mistake I won’t be forgetting in a long while; I decided to sit beside the window at the second row of seats after the driver’s instead of the last row beside the door which I normally sat. Not big of a deal, you might be wondering! I’ll tell you why it was a mistake.
The driver hadn’t driven up to five minutes forward when I saw the *conductor running towards the bus with a tattered *Ghana-must-go. He placed it on the floor of the row in front of me, obviously expecting the owner of the bag to sit there. Just then, I started hearing ‘hmmmm, hmmmm, hmmm’. Series of grunts coming from a woman, holding one pair of her cut slipper, whom I understood later, was the owner of the bag. She was sooo fat! Oh my! I know fat is offensive but I must admit, she was quite large. She came into the bus and I bowed my head in greeting and pity at the same time, for her. As if her grunts weren’t enough, she decided not to sit where the conductor placed her bag but opted to sit BESIDE ME! Did you see that in capital letters? Why me?
Oh heaven pardon me but she smelt like crayfish and I just kept poking my nose out of the window just to get some crayfish-free air. A few minutes later, the fat woman beside me decided to pray for the safety of the bus.
Just when i was beginning to get used to the smell of crayfish and sweat in the air… ‘sister, ppleaes can you help me to Yaba’. I thought she meant helping her with her load, only for her to make hand gestures to me meaning that she needed transport fare to Yaba. This fat woman though! And then, my phone rang. Oh! My saviour. Before the end of my call, someone else had volunteered to pay for her fare.
Everything seemed to be going on fine…till… ‘yeee! Owo mi o! My money! Who thief my money in this bus ehnnn, oloribu maa ni won léko yii o’, a woman who had just arrived Lagos from her village shouted.
Stolen money? In this bus?, I thought to myself
‘Charly boy’, the conductor chanted. I had gotten to my stop. I alighted the bus and bade the passengers farewell, wondering who might have stolen the poor woman’s money.
Vocabulary Shelf (pidgin language, English, Yoruba)
Thoroughbred: brought up to be well-mannered and refined
Molue, danfo: common names for public transport buses in Lagos (usually yellow in colour)
Maale: pidgin word for mum
Ghana must go: a large bag for storing clothes, shoes, etc, usually used when travelling long distances.
What experiences have you had in Lagos danfo buses? please share in the comment section below.
Till my next post,
Always reflect God’s Perfection.