The Omo Onile with a Machete.

I’m staring at a rip in the Chain Link fence, assessing the damage.

These Omo Onile guys are motherfuckers.

These nonsense guys in the neighbourhood.

A group of them came over to the construction site yesterday, interrupting the activities of the workers setting up the metal fence.

A fe ri Engineer! A o ni je ki e se ise kankan nibi! A fe ri Engineer!!!

We want to see the Site Engineer! We’re not going to let you guys do any construction here! We want to see the Engineer!

The fence guys called me and I had to show up. I think I was asleep or something. In a rented apartment about twenty minutes away. I had to abandon that endeavour to come see what was happening.

I ended up paying them some money. The Omo Onile guys. “Sons of the Soil”.

People are generally familiar with them in Southwestern Nigeria:

Whenever there’s some sort of construction going on in their neighbourhood, they show up sporadically and begin to demand money.

All of this is separate from the money you must have paid the family from which you purchased the land. Separate from official donations to the community, Separate from building costs, etc. These arbitrary guys just show up and begin to demand their “birthright”.

Ah. I wish I could simply approach the organisations I correspond with professionally, and request “birthright funds”.

I wish I could insert “Birthright funds allocation” in like budgets and financial requests and stuff.

I wouldn’t mind at all, if that were actually a thing. I honestly wouldn’t mind.

I had to pay them some money, regardless of the outrageous nature of their claims.

Else they would have put our work on site to a definitive stop.

We had initially agreed on a price. I was doing what I could to beat it down some more.

And then all of a sudden this new guy came along, bristling with fresh discontentment. He began to galvanize his colleagues to raise their price. Began to make them feel like they were settling for a ridiculous amount.

The strangest thing about such negotiations is that you’re not actually paying for anything. You’re not buying anything. And so there’s really no way to quantitatively determine how much the “Sons of the Soil” should be paid. It’s predominantly an interplay between your reluctance to release money and the belligerence of the insistent Omo Oniles.

I had to quickly pay the price I was initially trying to beat down. Before the new guy successfully influenced the rest of them.

But all of that was yesterday.

I thought the Omo Onile issue was completely sorted out.

Who the hell is this guy who ripped the metal fence with a machete?

He’s obviously unaffiliated with the people I paid some money yesterday. Obviously. This guy tornadoed through this space with a very fresh sense of disgruntlement and unfounded entitlement.

I’m standing by the rip- trying to make sense of the situation, and wondering what to do about the diminished morale of the construction workers setting up the fence.

They had to spend the night here yesterday. If setbacks keep occurring at this rate they might just head back into Lagos, with the work here suspended until God knows when.

As I stand here, immersed in contemplation, a being emerges from the trees right up ahead.

His skin is gleaming with sweat.

He has the crazed look of an unimaginably-grieved wild animal in search of an object on which to offload his wrath.

He walks towards me, staring me in the eye as he swings a machete in his right hand.

E gbo, se eyin ni e ra ile yii ni owo Family?

Hello, are you the one who bought this land from the family?

He keeps walking towards me- a menacing scowl on his face as he flexes his machete.

I try to make some meaning of what I’m seeing.

It seems like the blade of his machete is meant for the neck of the person who bought this piece of land.

And so I myself begin to wonder who that unfortunate being might be.

Hm, who is the unfortunate entity who purchased this godforsaken piece of land?

I look around a little, momentarily joining the machete-wielding guy in his search.

Somebody bought this land?

Where is the person?

Where did they go?

Ah, that person is so fucked.

We eventually sorted out the issue.

The guy with the machete was the younger brother of the wife of the younger sister of the actual person I purchased the land from.

Whatever. They have their lives and their family trees.

All of these Nonsense guys.

Of course he collected money. More than the other Omo Onile guys collected per-capita.

It was just annoying that he messed up a part of the fence. The constrution workers had to redo that part.

I am lying down under the shade of a tree, swatting at the occasional mosquito and watching TED-Ed videos on Youtube mobile.

I am right next to the Site. The fence guys are working.

TED-Ed videos seem pretty cool. More objective. With TED talks sometimes it feels like everyone is positing their personal perspective like its absolute truth.

Oh this is how life works.

Oh this is how you should be living your life.

Oh this is how this should be done etc etc.

Ted-Ed videos are more focused on objective topics.

I’ve been watching this video about how toilets evolved through human history.

There are a lot of animated poops and embellished fart sounds.

Hopefully none of those Omo Onile guys come around to cause any more trouble.

Image: At the Construction Site.

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