Lagos has its own language; something might mean one thing everywhere else in Nigeria; you come to Lagos and it is a whole different meaning. And by language I’m talking of both the things people say and do that have become a part of the city.
Let me share some of the ones I have learnt over time.
- When you are not sure of your destination and you ask someone for directions, it will go something like this:
You: Good afternoon ma, please where is xyz place
Woman: Oh it’s not far, just take this bridge (pointing), walk straight down you will see the place, it’s not far at all
You: Should I enter okada or marwa?
Woman: No, no no, don’t waste money. Walk, it’s not far
As sensible person that you are, you do as you are told. Brethren, 45 minutes later you are still trekking.
Next time, let your sense guide you, after 5 minutes please call okada.
- That’s how someone will walk up to you and just break into Yoruba. When you tell them you do not understand they will ask you, ‘are you omo Igbo?’ and you say no; ‘abi you’re Hausa?’ you say no again. They will look at you like, ‘where are you from? Are you even Nigerian?’
Don’t blame yourself. It’s Lord Lugard you should blame for packing all of us in one country.
- When buying food, stew is not the tomatoes and pepper fried in groundnut oil. Stew here is pepper fried in red oil. I learnt this the hard way.
Always tell them to put the stew in one corner. Thank me later.
- You make the mistake of entering bus without the exact fare and bus conductor will act like you’re an abomination (even if the change is just N50 o). Don’t lose focus, ignore him when he is frowning and being unnecessarily rude. Please remind him, collect your change. I left N450 for one once because I was forming polite. Never again.
- You go to market to buy jeans. Now, you can see that the jeans is not blue, but the seller will try to convince you that it’s blue. Don’t be confused; you have not become suddenly mad or colour blind, just gently move to the next shop. If you don’t like whatever it is you wanted to buy, no matter the pressure (‘sister, this one will fit you shape well’) leave it. Of course they will insult you sha.
- When you are about to cross the road, and some random person is telling you to just cross, (maybe because you have been standing for a while). Don’t listen to them o; wait until the road is clear, because in Lagos, many are mad and they are all driving.
- When people are gathered whether to watch fight or quarrel, don’t follow and look. Learn to mind your business, especially when you are on the road. Unless you want to go home without your phone, money, or the clothes you’re wearing.
I’ll stop here for now. So what else do you know that should be in the Lagos guide?