“You know, when I was younger I was told that for you to have a good life and be responsible, you need to get married and live with your husband and all that. But now that I’m gaining my own life experience, I’m beginning to see things differently.
There’s this lady I follow on Instagram. She’s living a very good life. She has a son for this guy. The guy is very rich. And so he sends her all the money she needs.
She doesn’t need to work! She only works because she feels like it.
You know, I myself won’t mind that sort of life.”
I’m sitting next to her, listening.
She’s talking about a Lagos Baby Mama.
Baby Mamas are essentially women who secure a grasp on the bank accounts of men they perceive to be wealthy, by getting pregnant for these men.
These pregnancies may or may not be a mutually agreed decision. A good proportion of the time, these women figure out a way to get pregnant despite there being no such agreement.
They get pregnant, give birth, and then are automatically entitled to a proportion of their Baby Daddy’s earnings.
I am at a restaurant in Victoria Island, Lagos.
I am on a date.
I am in-between spoonfuls of Jollof rice, munching and listening, as it dawns on me that I am sitting next to a prospective Baby Mama.
okAY. Now I’m know what I’m looking at. Now I know where I am.
We keep talking. Of course her Baby Mama leanings aren’t solidified yet. She’s just beginning to consider the possibility of toeing that line.
There was a time when I used to think I could change people. Think I could change their minds and give perspective and possibly nudge them in a different direction.
All of that was before life dealt me some very sour cards. Some immensely debilitating and soul-crushing experiences.
Now I just try to get a sense of where someone is headed, and I accept that for what it is.
I am talking to a prospective Baby Mama.
I expect that in a few years she would’ve latched on to the bank account of some guy. Or multiple guys. That’s what I expect.
Now it’s just left to me to decide if I intend to be one of those people.
I keep munching on the Jollof rice.
I am at Sangotedo, Lagos.
I have a date in about an hour.
It’s this lady I met on Tinder. A number of days ago.
She calls me Papi.
Like “Hey Papi”.
I was like Mmm. She seems fun.
I decide to give her a call to know if she’ll soon be on the way.
We talk for a bit.
She says she just woke up. She doesn’t sound like she’s anything close to getting ready.
I’m a bit surprised. We’ve had this meeting planned for a while. This is strange.
We keep talking.
She sounds different.
She sounds very different. Hesitant. Uncomfortable.
I wonder what’s going on.
We keep talking.
I’m not quite sure what the issue is. I probe a bit.
At some point she says what’s on her mind.
“You see, we need to talk fact. We need to say what’s really happening.
What do you want? Do you want me to come around, we chill, have some food, and after that I go somewhere with you?
But you know then you have to give me a little “Thanks for Coming”. And we have to discuss before I leave here. I need to know what I’m coming out for.”
Now I know what’s going on.
She’s one of those Tinder “Hookup” people.
The year is 2022. In Lagos Nigeria in 2022, “hookup” is a euphemism for prostitution.
A “hookup” in Lagos is a situation where a guy arranges a meeting with a lady – a meeting where they intend to have sex. Usually an amount of money is agreed on, prior to the meeting. And usually- no not usually, All the time- the guy is the one who pays for the meeting.
A lot of this happens through dating apps – in fact In Lagos dating apps are really just a platform for prostitutes to find customers. Like, the people who build dating apps would be very surprised to see what people use them for in Nigeria.
Typical Tinder conversations go like this:
And they keep going from there.
It is seen as very normal in Lagos. In fact what’s weird is arranging a date with a lady – it could just be a regular date – and not offering to pay her some money.
I find it unthinkably ludicrous, but I honestly have run out of annoyance at it.
These days I don’t even get annoyed – I just see it as something Lagos people do (although I think it’s much more widespread that just Lagos – a good number of places in Nigeria have this going on).
I’m just pissed this evening because I didn’t know she was one the Hookup ones earlier. I wouldn’t have bothered, and our messages would’ve ended around “Hey Papi”.
“Thanks for coming”.
By “Thanks for coming”, she means money. “Thanks for coming” is payment for her “services”.
I should’ve asked. I should’ve freaking asked.
Now I’m going to start asking if they’re Hookup people. There’s no point just wasting time like this.
We end the call.
I begin to think about what to do with the rest of my evening.
Ah, I shouldn’t have wasted all this time making plans with this person.
But there’s no problem. I’ll find something to do.
Image: Lunch (Jollof rice) at La Campagne Tropicana beach resort in Lagos.
This post is one in a Series. The other pieces in the Series can be accessed here.