I am a firm believer in the City of Lagos.
I mean, it is not beans to be born and bred in the big city of Eko, the heart of Nigeria, if I do say so myself; as passionate as I am about Lagos, I even taught my ‘posh’ children at school the ‘Eko oni baje’ slang and you can see me beaming from ear to ear when they scream ‘O ba je ti’ in their fake Yoruba accents.
Lol. I hope their parents don’t murder me when they find out I am inculcating in their children a keen patriotism of the Lagosian spirit when all they want is for them to carry either the Blue, Red, or Orange passports respectively.
Fast forward to the end of a day’s job and I am busy chatting with my colleagues in the car – our discussions swiftly shift to the real MVPs of Lagos: the street hawkers.
The street hawkers in Lagos are a beauty to watch, especially those guys on 3MB (Third Mainland Bridge) and their unwavering commitment to their wares and the small, meager amounts they make from those sales. We all laugh at how fit they are in comparison to our self-acclaimed athletes and how they run for miles in pursuit of their money against a car in motion – I mean anyone who can compete with the speed of a car in motion is good to go in my books, noting the way the Danfos drive by the way.
You can literally see the sweat running in rivulets down their faces whilst they pant like buffalos who just finished a race against the cheetah and won the battle for their lives.
It really is an extension of a Cheetah/Buffalo relationship – The Buffalos (Hawkers) looking for food in the wild and the Cheetahs (Danfo drivers/Car owners) making it damn well impossible as they allow the boys to compete against them in the race for time and money – making them risk their lives all in the process of doing what they know to do.
These boys wake up as the early as the first car hits the bridge and leave as late as the last car, and somehow they are more fit than people who end up exercising twice a day – in the midst of stress, the body has adjusted to that programming .
You can tell their frustrations at times as some take it out on you by cussing you out and an outright disregard of the money they will make – while keeping their self-respect intact.
One of the many joys of being an educator is the fact that everything around you serves as a lesson either to the children or personally. Something to imbibe or inculcate – I have a hard time figuring how the little keepsake from each sale is a motivation to wake up the next day to perform the same routine.
I am not even satisfied with my place at the moment, I want more and most times I consider just sending in that letter just to get rid of the monotony of waking up at a much dreaded time to risk my life at a much dreaded hour – I have a reason for my commitment, the young minds, but I was left to wonder what motivated them?
After my brief thoughtful recess in the midst of friends, I join back in the conversation, caught the last laugh on some more jokes about that and make a resolution to help in any way I can to move this country forward.