Traversing Lagos at Night During a Pandemic-Induced Curfew.

Unknown Location, Lagos Nigeria.

I stare down at Google Maps on my phone.

The Lekki peninsula is an awkward polygon, completely bereft of any useful informative detail. My physical location is marked as a big blue circle that seems too large for the strange polygon it is situated on.

Edge is just useless ugh.

I switch my phone’s connection from 2G to 3G. I’m not even going to touch the LTE because I’m trying to save my battery. It is one percent. It has actually been one percent for like the past two hours.

In my experience the last one percent on the iPhone is equivalent to like the 20 percent that comes before it.

That last one percent is surprisingly indefatigable. I know. But of course I am still not going to touch that LTE right now.

The junction is dark. There are no street lights. As usual. That’s Nigeria. The only roads that have reliably functioning street lights are those named after the people who the residents of that area generally consider to be prominent.

Usually if a street is not named after a prominent Nigerian, it’s going to be very dark at night because the street lights are highly likely to be nonfunctional.

I approach one of the guys on a commercial motorcycle.

I’m going to Victoria Island. How do I get there?

I know how to get to Victoria Island. I just do not know where I am. The bus driver who drove us from Eleko had to go through an unorthodox route because he needed to circumvent the police roadblock which was situated along the usual course. And so now I’m in this place that I do not know, and in which a gradually accrued familiarity is taking time to develop because there is not enough illumination to make sense of my immediate surroundings.

The motorbike guy says something. The sentence he utters seems to be completely comprised of valid English words, but there does not seem to be any meaning in his utterance as a whole. I think he is trying to be sarcastic and make fun of me, but his joke seems like it seriously lacks a point.

I hiss and keep walking.

Ah. I see the policemen at the roadblock now. The infamous policemen. They are right under Jubilee bridge. I do not think they are bothering pedestrians. I walk towards the junction beneath the Jubilee bridge.

Jubilee Bridge, Ajah, Lagos.

I am trying to find a means of transportation to Lekki Phase 1.

I have already paid rent. I don’t think I am interested in spending a night here in Ajah. I must make sure to fully utilise every kobo of that rent that I have paid. I have to get to Lekki this night.

Plus there is this pot of rice and beans I made last night. I was already falling asleep and I had to keep waking myself up to check if the food was done.

It is in the fridge. I just need to land at the apartment and microwave it. I put some chopped-up KFC chicken in some tomato sauce along with some corned beef. There was some snail meat in the pot at some point but all of that is definitely gone now.

That is what is on my mind right now. This Ajah environment is extremely unappealing to me. I need to get to my rice and beans and KFC chicken and tomato sauce and corned beef. I need to get away from this place.

Some guy raises his voice at me. He says something with a somewhat derisive edge to it. My interpretation of his needless derision is that some people could find the shovel I have slung across my shoulder, confrontational.

I bought this shovel from the Game store at the Palms shopping mall a few days ago. I needed a sturdy shovel to uproot some palm tree stumps on a freshly acquired piece of land in a considerably remote area of the eastern part of the state. The moment I saw the shovel, I knew I had to buy it. It came with a 90 year warranty. Ninety fucking years. A shovel has to be like indestructible for it to come with a fucking ninety year warranty.

So yeah, it’s been an interesting day with the shovel. It’s been explicitly admired by a considerable number of people today. The driver who dropped me at Eleko took some time to marvel at the shovel and comment that it really was worth the price.

I keep walking about and talking with the commercial motorcyclists. I need to get to Lekki.

Jakande, Lagos Island.

We’re zooming forward on the bike. The road is so empty. This curfew thing must be very serious. A guy zooms past us on a power bike.

Ahhh. This one is a boss. In this lockdown you’re zooming about like this. Me I don’t know what cc your motorbike is that is giving you the energy to zoom about like this. Sha be going. Mister power bike.

The commercial bike rider slows down. There is another roadblock ahead.

Oh my God. What is all this. I thought we were past all of these roadblocks.

We turn around, in search of an alternative route.

We exchange ideas as he manoeuvres his bike towards safety. He says he knows of a different route we could take.

We keep going.

The Different Route.

How far! Anybody dey front?

Nobody dey, nobody dey. Dey go dey go!

A fellow motorcyclist lets him know that this new route is without any road blocks.

We keep moving.

There is a somewhat large Mercedes Benz building by the left. Ah this reminds me of the Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin. Ah that was a few years ago. I think that one was bigger though. I remember I used to skateboard around the premises—

Mayowa face where you’re going. There is a pandemic. And there is a curfew. And it is late.

And so I focus my attention on what is ahead of me.

The motorbike guy tries to inflate his price.

I negotiate.

Two thousand Naira. From Ajah to Lekki Phase 1. Because you’re the one putting money inside my bank account abi.

You better keep going Mister Man.

Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1 Entrance.

I alight from the motorbike and pay the rider. We exchange pleasantries and part ways.

Ah I am going to have to walk all the way down Admiralty way now.

With this heavy-duty ninety year warranty shovel.

Oh God.

I keep going.

Ride-hailing services close by six because of the curfew. I think public transportation closes at about the same time. I have not had the time to learn how to drive a car. Skateboarding for transportation is pointless in Nigeria, and I did not feel like booking a driver today.

Oh this is so annoying.

I see a Dominos Pizza by the right.

I march towards the entrance, shovel slung across my shoulder, trying to decide if one XXL Triple Meat Pizza (or whatever it’s called) will be enough, or if I’ll have to buy another one in addition. At least all of this walking about will be compensated with something.

As I approach the door, the security guard calls out to me.

Wait what? It’s closed?

How about delivery?

What? Delivery is also closed?

Oh my God. Now I am really beginning to feel the impact of this curfew. What is all this?

I keep moving.

Africa Lane, Lekki Phase 1.

It is 10:30 PM.

I open the door.

Somehow I managed to get not just my physical body here, but also the heavy-duty ninety year warranty shovel, and two full bags of drinks from the 24/7 supermarket along Admiralty way. I just kept filling the trolley with drinks out of annoyance. Nonsense pandemic. Rubbish lockdown. Nonsense curfew.

I put down all of the shopping bags.

Hm I think I have a story today.

Image: View of Lagos Island from the Third Mainland Bridge at night. This was actually a different night.