Lagos, Nigeria stands out for many reasons from the crazy nightlife, the good food to the famous traffic jams capable of taking years off your life and leaving you stressed out. For this week’s Nigerian Lives, Culture Custodian talks to four Nigerians who share their craziest experiences in Lagos traffic from armed robbery to meetings with crazy people:
If you live in Lagos, you will know that the fear of madmen is the beginning of wisdom. Not to talk about the fear of madmen when sitting in a car in the never-ending Lagos traffic. I can remember a time back in 2019 when I was in a taxi en route from my friend’s house and there was a massive holdup along Addo-Ajah road. I was just in the car, pressing my phone and minding my business when I hear two loud taps on the window. At first, I thought it was a beggar or hawker, and then I turned around and saw a black, dirty, mad old man smiling. Almost all his teeth were gone and the remaining teeth he had were almost charcoal black. I did not even know whether to scream, shout or just cry. We gave each other a good one-minute stare down before he decided that I would not be a good target, and thus, moved on to the next car.
No matter what you do, never, EVER, use an expensive phone in Lagos traffic. ‘E get why’. I lost my precious iPhone 12 max that I got in November 2021, less than 2 weeks later. I was using this phone in my car with the windows wound down around Ajah. The traffic had been on for literally five hours and I got hungry. I saw a hawker selling biscuits and decided to patronize him, but it turned out to be a big mistake as he grabbed the phone with tremendous force and fled. I screamed ‘Ole, Ole’ (which means ‘thief’ in Yoruba), but all to no avail. The loss of that phone was as painful as losing the love of my life. I can never, ever go through that again.
In 2019, I landed a job as a digital marketer for a company at VI. Meanwhile, I was staying at my uncle’s house in Sangotedo, Ajah. On the first day of resumption, I left the house at 7 am and got to work at 9 am, which was already past the resumption time (so much for first impressions). This was for a journey that usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. Luckily for me, they gave me the benefit of the doubt as a new staff. But, it was as though that day was cursed, as the journey back home was hell. Because of the same Lagos traffic, it took 5 hours for me to get to Igbo-Efon from VI. This was not even up to a quarter of my journey. With all frustration, I decided to stay over at a friend’s place for the night and go to work in the same clothes I wore the previous day. From that day onwards, I knew that Lagos traffic truly isn’t your mate.
In 2015, I was heading back from a thanksgiving service at a friend’s church in Ikeja, when suddenly, from Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue down to the Lekki toll gate there was some massive holdup. On a Sunday of all days. What caused the traffic? You might ask. Well, this was caused by two ladies who had jammed each other at the Lekki Toll Gate. The weirdest part was that they were both sitting in their cars, looking at each other. One was even pressing her phone. Lord knows the number of curses they might have gotten from the 100+ cars that had queued up.
I can remember the days when I was a youth corp member and staying at my aunty’s house at Agege. One day, I went to my friend’s house at Anthony and spent so much time there that I left his house around 6 pm. It was one of the worst decisions I have made in my life to date. The road was jammed from ‘Ikeja Along’ (a bus stop), to Agege, which is approximately 6.8km in distance. I spent close to two hours on the same spot in Ikeja, and out of frustration, walked back home. I didn’t care that I was on the express late at night, where they could kidnap me, or kill me for money rituals. All I cared about is that I wanted to get home, no matter what.
This article is based on real-life events. Names used are mere pseudonyms to protect the identities of the individuals mentioned in the article.
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