Market shopping in Lagos will teach you two important life lessons.
First is that you attract bees with honey and not vinegar. The gist is that you have to drop your 50-50 shoulder pad at home; then become a better performer than Basket Mouth if you want to attract favour from market traders.
You have to learn to beg, no, grovel and cajole all the many traders you will meet; especially if you want to get a fair bargain or a generous ‘fisi’ at least. You must learn who to call Mummy and who to pat on the shoulder like a long-lost friend.
Also, you must understand that the inability to speak Yoruba can be an advantage because you automatically win the “ehyah!” card. Don’t ask me why but unlike with some tribes, murdering the Yoruba Language earns you instant friendship from traders. I think they take your attempt to learn the language mean that you are good vibes; you don’t take life too seriously and an extra piece of kpomo will suit you.
The second lesson is that you cannot chew bitter leaf with a smile. In other words, nobody goes to the market in Lagos these days and after hearing the new cost of smoked fish will have the power to laugh with anybody. The market is not friendly! There is no joy anywhere there!
If you see anybody laughing inside any Lagos market, go and ask them. They will tell you Jesus is their comforter and joy. Besides, we are Lagosians, we have been conditioned to endure – to complain and to endure.
It is this complaining I planned to do today again o. But I think I am tired. I want to take a break from complaining. I might resume next week but for today, I won’t complain.
That’s why I went to the market with plenty of joy in my heart. The joy that I had borrowed from the powerful ministrations of Mercy Chinwo and Nathaniel Bassey. I was prepared to win hardened hearts over with my charm and good nature.
It didn’t even last ten minutes. There was a man that shoved me rudely into a pile of Ugu, pumpkin leaves, and refused to stop walking. I thought, “not today, Devil.” Then there was the young girl that told me without joy that one small dry fish is N700. I had budgeted N500 for this fish. So, I left without the fish because the fish is not that important.
I went to the butcher’s and spent about five minutes gisting with the man. At the end of my labour, I ended up with ten mini-amoebic pieces of beef; with only one biscuit bone as my ‘fisi’.
See, I gave up!
So, let me give you an extra piece of advice. Your budget proposes and Sanwo-Olu disposes. Next time you go shopping at a Lagos market, keep your wits about you. Pray for good weather and stay hydrated.
You will talk a lot.