Traveling across Lagos During the Violent #EndSars Protests in Nigeria. Part 5.

This post is one in a Series. A list of all of the posts in this Series can be accessed here.


I am at the Circle Mall at Jakande bus stop.

(I will later wonder why it is called “Circle Mall”, after spending a number of minutes on Google trying to figure out the name. There is nothing circular about the mall.)

People are scampering about. They are scampering about with fresh loot from neighbouring shopping malls and supermarkets.

There are people with mountains of tissue paper on their heads. Bottles of wine. Foodstuff. All sorts of things.

Every once in a while I come across someone with a big transparent bag of the smooth paper that’s inserted into POS machines for the generation of receipts. I didn’t know the paper was all that valuable.

People are scampering about with loot.

There are a number of soldiers up ahead. They are standing by a pickup truck, trying to infuse the corporeal chaos with some sort of order. There has been an immense public outcry about forceful military intervention in the recent protests, and so these soldiers are attempting to get things under control, verbally.

It is not working.

There are crowds on both sides of the road. They are watching furtively, like mice hankering for some delectable cheese that’s being guarded by cats in military uniform.

Looting looting everywhere. I need to get somewhere please.

I find my way through the crowd.

I just hope some weird soldier guy doesn’t mistake me for a looter and decide to send a stray bullet my way.


I am at the Lekki toll gate.

I was here a few days ago.

I needed to get to the bank to make some modifications to my account details. All of branches in the state that I came across that day, had a canopy with about sixty people waiting to get into the bank and be attended to. Nigerian banks generally require you to visit the bank physically, relatively frequently. And the queues, God. The queues.

The branch with the fewest number of people waiting outside was right next to the national headquarters. I had to get there that day.

I was here a few days ago.

The toll gate was locked down. The entire expressway was empty. I was astonished at the coordination of the protesters. I wondered who spearheaded their activities. I was very impressed. I felt like locking down the toll gate would coerce the government into taking them seriously and paying attention to their complaints.

I recorded a few videos. Shared on social media.

And then I kept hurrying towards the bank. I had been on the road all day. It was almost 3pm. The bank would close soon. No way I was going to travel all the way here, and still not have stuff get done, no freaking way.


After I was done at the bank, I felt more relaxed. I sat down in the grass to partake in the protest experience.

I opened up my phone to chat up the very interesting looking Lithuanian woman I recently met on Facebook. She was studying to be a nurse. I sent her a video of the protest, asked how she was doing, what she was doing, and when she would be available for a video call. I need a girlfriend in my life.

That evening I perceived two distinct brands of marijuana. The first made me think of hipsters and music festivals in San Francisco. It smelt like relatively high quality weed. The ones in San Francisco still smelt somewhat more convincing, but at least this was close.

The second brand made me think of muddy, chaotic Nigerian bus parks and potentially violent thugs. Whenever I perceive that smell, I ask myself what in the name of God the concerned people are smoking.

They call it weed.

This thing does not smell like weed.

I honestly do not know what this one is, please keep your second-hand smoke to yourself and don’t cause any nonsensical problems for me abeg.

I looked at the people smoking the more offensive weed. They fit the profile.


Yesterday I was hiding from stray bullets behind a shipping container. I was in front of a gas depot, engaging in some interesting conversation with the security guards of the depot.

I learnt there had been a shooting at the Lekki toll gate.

Wait what? Shooting at Lekki? It’s a lie.

I was there a few days ago. Sitting in the grass. Feeling very safe. Feeling like the only protesters who were in danger were the ones at Ikorodu, or Oshodi. What do you mean there was a shooting at the Lekki toll gate?

I looked it up online.

There had indeed been shootings. And killings. I saw a before and after picture.

Before: Two people- one male, one female. Late teens or early twenties. Dancing. Smiling. Generally feeling cool about participating in the protest.

After: This one is taken at night. There are three people. On the floor. Evidently dead. Two of them are wearing similar clothes to the two people in the “Before” picture.

Wait no, not similar clothes. The same clothes. These are the same two people in the “Before” picture- Wait, what?

What?

They look different, in the way the indignity of death generally makes bodies look different. Their limbs are positioned unnaturally relative to the rest of their bodies. They have the immobility of inanimate objects. Even their clothes look paler.


I am at the Lekki toll gate.

I think I just walked past the spot on the road where those bodies lay two days ago.

The area is deserted.

The expressway is quiet and hollow and empty in the wake of the recent tragedy.

I keep walking.


I am walking by the Oriental Hotel at Victoria Island.

I thought someone said the protesters burnt down the place. It looks relatively untouched to me. I also wonder how possible it is to burn down a group of such large and imposing buildings.

Some soldiers are seated in front of the hotel. Guns in hand. Probably to prevent the rumours about the hotel being burnt down, from becoming reality.

I walk by briskly.

These are the people who are killing everyone.

I keep walking.

We go still come burn down the hotel!! All you corrupt people!! Na money all of una dey collect!! We go come burn down Oriental!!

Two guys are at the other side of the road, farther from the hotel than I am. I wonder why they are provoking soldiers with guns, who as very recent history has evidenced, are capable of indiscriminate killing with bewildering impunity.

We go come burn everything down!!!

They keep yelling at the soldiers.

What is the problem with these guys? Do these ones want to be alive at all? Don’t these ones know about the people who were killed like almost right here, two days ago? Ah ah??!! Are these guys okay at all?

I keep walking briskly. I have somewhere I need to get to. These ones should not put me in trouble with their brimming indignation.

There are gunshots. Apparently the soldiers have decided to respond.

KPA!!

KPA!!!

The gunshots ring.

I have spent the past day and half on the road. I have successfully traversed uncountable roadblocks. I have heard numerous gunshots. I have encountered one very legit dead body in extremely close proximity. I have heard someone else being killed live.

I am still alive. My limbs are complete. I am without injuries, save for a blister on my right foot from all the walking. Well that and just general pain all over my body.

I know of one strategy that has kept me safe so far: If you hear gunshots, duck and run for cover. Duck, and run for fucking cover until the gunshots stop.

KPA!!!

KPA!!!

My body begins to move automatically. I am a crouching position and my legs are moving quickly. My eyes are scanning for a barrier. I need cover. I need fucking cover.

The gunshots stop.

The tension begins to calm down.

Why this one dey run??!! Why you dey run??!!

The idiotic beings who provoked the soldiers, for some reason, are deriding me for breaking into a run.

My fury at them overflows.

UNA DEY MAD!!!!!!! UNA DEY CRASE!!!!! AHHHH UNA DEY MAD, TWO OF UNA!!!!

UNA DON CRASE FINISH!!!! MAKE I NO RUN!!!! MAKE I STAND DEY LOOK THE BULLET!!! UNA DEY CRASE, NA GOD GO PUNISH UNA FINISH!!!!!!

I BE BULLETPROOF????? ABI I RESEMBLE LUKE CAGE FOR UNA EYE???!!!!

UNA DEY MADDDDD!!!!!!!! UNA DON MAD FINISHH!!!! IF I DIE FOR HERE NA UNA GO BURY ME?????!!!!! NA GOD GO PUNISH UNA, TWO OF YOU!!!!!

Idiots. Fools. Repugnant brick-brains. Idiotic beings.

I shouldn’t run. I should stand there and count the gunshots. Because I’m Luke Cage. Because I’m bulletproof.

Abhorrent human beings.

One of them begins to smile. I think he is smiling at the Luke Cage reference. I don’t care. I am yelling at the very top of my voice. I keep hurling insults at him from my side of the road.


I am at Adetokunbo Ademola street.

I need to withdraw some money.

I need to get to the bank.

There should be one just around the corner.

I keep walking.


Image: Obalende. A different day.


This post is one in a Series. A list of all of the posts in this Series can be accessed here.

One thought on “Traveling across Lagos During the Violent #EndSars Protests in Nigeria. Part 5.

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