A few Sundays ago I was catching up with an old friend on Whatsapp, but he just stopped replying. I thought maybe he fell asleep or his phone ran out of battery but when he didn’t reach out during the week I became worried. He finally did, with a story.
‘I was attacked,’ he told me.
“What do you mean you were attacked?”
“I was robbed?”
I was so annoyed.
It’s a long story but I will give you guys a summary. He had car trouble on the road about 10pm. Some boys came out to ‘help’ him, when they saw he was alone, they attacked him, beat him up, stabbed him, took away his phones, wristwatch, wallet and even shoes and left him for dead.
Thankfully, he had called a friend and given him his location before the ‘helpers’ came.
The friend found him bleeding on the road by the side of his car, and took him to a hospital. He survived to tell the story.
The other day I was stuck in the routine traffic at Freedom Way in Lekki. As I waited for traffic to ease, I watched the children who begged along the road. Their tattered clothes, bare feet, sunken eyes as they went from car to car singing praises, washing windscreens or trying whatever new tactics they learnt to get people to give them money.
As I watched them I saw two little boys running towards another, whom I presume wsd their brother. Someone had given him a banana, not a bunch, just one finger of banana. I watched him as he saw his siblings coming towards him, he sighed, the kind of sigh from an elder brother who knows he must share his food. He peeled the one single banana and broke it into three parts, one small piece of soggy banana for everyone. When they were done (in a few seconds really) everyone went back to begging for money. All three of them couldn’t be more than 10 years old.
After Lagos was named one of the worse cities to live in, I cringed as an OAP ranted against the listing, that Lagos is not one of the worst cities to live in, because we have the best Jollof rice. Yes, Jollof rice.
The begging kids or women carrying malnourished babies to beg are now a regular feature on our roads that we no longer see. A whole generation of children are growing up ON THE ROAD and we can’t be bothered.
There are gay people to prosecute, journalists to put in jail, Senate blockbuster movies to shoot and many other important things. Under our very noses, the next set of would-be Boko-Haram recruits, petty thieves, robbers, kidnappers are growing up and we cannot be bothered.
We are only third on that list of worst cities to live in because the other two have been ravaged by war. We have normalised spending our lives in traffic, spending huge sums on drinking water, building tall fences, hiring personal security, MOPOLS and mai-guard to patrol our homes at night, choosing which pot hole to fall into or avoid, making budget for fuel and still paying exorbitant amounts for light.
Let us not forget the constant oppression of the poor by the state government and the air pollution.
Mega City that cannot properly dispose waste, is that one a Mega City.
Small rain and we’ll start floating.
I remember being mad at my friend, why was he out late? Why didn’t he leave the car immediately? Why did he even pass that route? But in the end I had to acknowledge that in Lagos, no matter how high your fence is, the number of security men by your gate or how much money you have, all it takes is for your car to go bad on the wrong side of town and you are dead.
This is Lagos. Stay safe out there people.