The Nigerian Experience. We’ve all attempted, at some point in our colorful lives, to fully define what this phrase means to each of us, how it shapes our decision making, how it defines our perception and reaction to everyday situations, and above all, how it uniquely qualifies our experience in this dear parchment of land we call home. That’s all I’ve done here really. Now, walk with me through a few of those moments that make you exclaim every now and then “Why are Nigerians like this?”.
When you drive…
Imagine driving your car on a cool Sunday evening (best day to drive around Lagos really), negotiating a roundabout somewhere in the metropolis… don’t be caught thinking that vehicles approaching will give way to traffic at the roundabout. They rarely will. It’s left to you to know when to stop, inch forward, stop, jerk forward, give way and then move ahead.
At other times you’re driving behind a commercial bus or taxi on the highway… you’re a good and smart driver so you maintain a safe distance… a bus stop is just a few seconds ahead of you. To your utmost shock, the commercial vehicle driver does not ease off the highway into the bus lane… he stops right there in front of your car, while you watch the conductor jump out, hollering at potential commuters. You make the mistake of honking as expected… the conductor throws you a glance that implies to you that you must be crazy for expecting them to pull over in the bus lane … which is actually the right thing!
“If I’m not compelled or forced, I won’t obey rules!”
Ah! The other very typical scenario… it’s a hot afternoon and you’re just trying to drive down for lunch. You have been tailing this car for a few minutes and notice the driver starts to slow down and his indicator comes on, telling you he’s about to make a left turn. So, likewise, you hit the brakes and slow down, to allow him make his turn before you move on. But wait… the car behind you will have none of that… as far as that dude is concerned, you are slow and daft… no be so we dey drive for here, he thinks. So yea, he swerves out to your right and overtakes you and the left turning vehicle… not forgetting to give you that “Yo! You stupid?” look. The worst part? He’s probably a chauffeur and his ‘oga’ is seated behind giving him thumbs up because oga is late for a business meeting with a bank MD!
If doing it right will take longer, do not wait! Who waiting ‘epp?
Swerve your way till you get ‘there’! The end justifies the means!
When you’re trying to chill…
It’s Thursday night and Ade just got off work super stressed. So he choose to drive to the cinema to see a movie… something cool and calm… he really just wanted to relax. He gets to the mall and the car park is filled to the brim, so he drives out to park outside by some company building. Ade is barely done parking and some guy in a security uniform walks up to his side, taps on the window… “oga, no parking here sir”! Ade opens the door, attempting to alight and then asks him what the issue is. He replies “no parking here sir. It’s not allowed”. But you see… Ade is a ‘sharp guy’ and so he smiles and looks the security guard straight in the eye, and with a mastery of Pidgin English, he says “cool dahn! I go sort you!” The guard retreats while grinning ear to ear… then wait for it… he salutes Ade!
Money first… every other thing follows!
At the bank….
Jude misplaced his debit card and needed to do some urgent transactions. So he hopped out at lunch time aiming to dash in and out of the bank. After all, all he needed was a replacement debit card. To his surprise, he met a queue, some sitting, others standing, waiting in turn to be attended to by two customer service personnel who did not look excited about life in any way. Jude joins the queue. After about ten minutes of waiting, he notices a sleek range rover drive up close to the bank entrance, a young man steps out, clad in his sparkling white fitted traditional attire, his leather slippers all shiny brown, sunglasses on ‘fleek’, and wrist chains flashing in the bright sun. He walks in, approaches the customer service section, sweeps his gaze across the line of customers waiting and then beckons to the bank staff. One immediately stands up to greet him “welcome sir, please come this way sir”. Jude almost fainted. He had been there all these minutes, yet this ‘big boy walks in and gets premium service, not needing to join the queue!
“Queues are for mere men! Big boys don’t line up!”
Those annoying questions…
It’s another Monday morning and Fola just got to work. She’s still tired from the weekend but the bills have to be paid. So she parks her car at the office designated spot, does a brief ‘facebeat’ session, picks her bags and walks into the office building, hoping to avoid any trouble makers or work horses. She barely takes a seat at her desk when one of those office madams (who must always talk) stops in front of her. “How was the night?” she asks! Fola smiles in return but says nothing… but madam won’t stop. “You look stressed. Didn’t you sleep well?” Not waiting for a response, she continues “You need to take it easy o! All you these single girls… always attending parties abi… you better go and marry!” At that moment, Fola’s manager calls her phone. She was too glad to take the call.
“Your problem… is our problem! Your business is everyone’s business”
Every now and then, there’s the warm, welcoming Nigerian nature that meets you from the least expected, like having a road traffic officer assist you when your car breaks down in the middle of the highway, without asking for a dime! Or the occasional driver that stops at a zebra crossing for you and other pedestrians to walk across! It’s all part of the Nigerian experience. What are your experiences?