Lagos: On Dating Apps and Strip Clubs. 3.

“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.


“Oh hello.”

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:



“How much?”

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.

Lagos: On Dating Apps and Strip Clubs. 2

The waitress whispers her phone number into my ear.

I take note of it as I sip on my drink.

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

I walk into the consultation room.

The doctor is working on a computer further away. She turns around on her chair to welcome me.

I sit on the patients’ end of the consultation desk.

I think there’s a UNICAF page on the computer screen.

Hm, you’re working on some online courses?

She tidies up on the computer.

Yeah yeah. You know, as a doctor learning never stops.


She gets up and walks towards the desk.

We begin to discuss.

The waitress whispers her phone number into my ear.

I take note of it as I sip on my drink.

It’s definitely been a while since I attempted memorizing a phone number in one go. Usually it didn’t have to be repeated so many times, before I was certain I had it.

When I initially asked the waitress for her number, she said it was against company policy.

Said she could get in trouble.

I told her she didn’t have to write it down or anything.

She could just whisper it into my ear while we discussed the drinks menu.

“I just feel like relationships in Lagos are all about money.”

“And the guy is the one who pays for everything.

Honestly, sometimes it’s not clear if you’re actually dating someone, or if you’re just hiring an escort.

I think it is absolutely ridiculous.”

I am expressing my disconcertion to the doctor, in the hope that she will empathize with me.

I am somewhat taken aback by her response.

“Everything in life involves expenses. If you’re in a relationship you have to spend money. Even if you’re getting married, you have to spend money. That’s just what it is.”


This woman has scattered everything.

It turns out she herself is a proponent of the unsettling asymmetry of financial responsibility, which seems to be the norm in Lagos relationships.


Nigeria is just an absurd place, with its very strongly patriarchal norms. Some people are fine with it. Some even like it.

I’m just very uncomfortable with the idea of taking responsibility for a fully-grown human being under such an agreement.

Like, why in the name of God would I want to burden my life in such a manner? Am I incapable of appreciating the value of spare money?

And here is this woman trying to make me feel like this is just the way life is. That I have no choice but to accept the way things are.

Ah, I need to travel.

I need to travel and reconfigure my brain.

The waitress is punching some numbers on the POS machine.

I am paying for the drink I had.

I am in a nightclub in Victoria Island. I’m seated by the bar, listening to the music and watching the pole-dancing women up ahead.

I give her my card.

She keeps punching the numbers.

At some point she says she’s adding a tip for herself.

I say Hmm

She says she’s tipping herself one thousand five hundred Naira.


One Five.

A whole One Five.

It seems this waitress took some shots before commencing her shift.

Odindi One Five ni o fe fi se tip. A whole One thousand five hundred Naira is what she wants to tip herself.

At my expense.


She’s definitely tipsy.

I express my objection.

She begins to flirtatiously debate. Smiling and teasing and doing all sorts.

That’s the sort of flirting Lagos women know how to do. Flirting to collect money. Financially motivated flirting.


I insist that I am not going to pay such a exploitative tip.

What rubbish. Where is the money.

She begins to renegotiate.

Part 2.

Image: Mojito somewhere.

Lagos: On Dating Apps and Strip Clubs. 1.

I’m in conversation with the doctor.

She just said something I find counter-intuitive.

She said at any given point in time, female sex-workers are less likely than women in general to have sexually transmitted infections.




Well first it depends on the place.

I’m in a clinic on Victoria Island (VI). Victoria Island is one of the more affluent parts of Lagos. Sex workers here would generally be in association with a more affluent and health-conscious clientele. And consequently I imagine their employer would ensure they underwent medical checks on a frequent basis.

And so first I think her perspective varies by location. I’ve spent time in different parts of Lagos and so I’m somewhat aware of how different things can be. Take Obalende for example.

Second, I disagree with her choice of words.

Her words were “They are cleaner than the general woman you come across on the street”.

I don’t know about “cleaner”.

I don’t see how someone who has sex with other people for purely financial reasons, is cleaner than someone who doesn’t. I don’t see how that works.

But I definitely see the logic in her thinking.

I first visited this clinic a few weeks ago. I had some things I felt I needed to discuss with a healthcare professional.

I was in VI for the weekend.

There’s this interesting DJ guy (I think. I don’t know who exactly is behind it), who throws really cool parties I like to come around for. Pretty frequently they fly in DJs from other countries to perform. I think it was a few weeks ago they flew in Hanna Hais from Paris. It was fun.

I’m not sure who exactly is behind the Instagram page that announces new parties, but whoever it is definitely has considerable international exposure. People generally seem to be aware of this, because there’s usually a substantial expatriate presence at the parties.

The events are cool, and the prices are fine. Nothing like the usual overpriced bougie Victoria Island events. I get annoyed by a lot of them because they’re so much about spending money and exhibiting financial capability, than they are about genuine interactions with other people.

Lagos can get very annoying. You can spend an entire week going out every night in Victoria Island and still not feel like you’ve really met anyone. I think it’s partly because at events in Lagos people generally keep to themselves a lot:

They go out with people they know.

When they’re out, they talk almost entirely with those people they went out with.

And when they leave, they leave with the people they came with.

Lagos makes me miss cities I’ve lived where people frequently go out with the primary intention of meeting new people.

The only people I know in Lagos who regularly do this, are the women who go out for parties and stuff, with plans to meet guys who will pay them for sex.

Like seriously. And it’s normal. Like, very normal. That’s just the normal thing. It even has a name.

See, let’s not even go there yet. Let’s still talk about some other stuff.

I got a ride from the hotel where I spent the night, to the clinic- all the while wincing about the inflation that came along with the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything is more expensive. The places I stay whenever I’m in VI, are now about 50% more expensive than they used to be. Hotel prices have gone up, and I’ve quickly realised that my personal surveys on the cost-effectiveness of different hotels around VI are now outdated. A lot of things are different now.

I got to the clinic like Okay I’d like to speak with the doctor.

The clinic is actually very visually appealing. Medicenter. I found it via a Google search. A considerable amount of effort went into the aesthetic of the place.

Got a brief glimpse of CNN on the TV in the waiting room. Something about Lebron James getting the COVID vaccine. I spent some time wondering why that was on (inter)national TV.

The receptionist was like Okay sir you’ll need to pay the fee for somethingsomethingsomething.

Which is twenty thousand Naira.

Sorry what?

Hehehehee!!!! Wetin happen? What is the problem??!!

In my head I was thinking: What is this person saying?

Just to see the doctor? I’m not sick o. I didn’t come here with a heart attack. I’m fine– I just need to talk with a healthcare professional.

For some sort of a reference, twenty thousand Naira is like the cost of eight very solid meals. Say we label meals in any city from 1 to 5 based on price. 1 is a meal from like a roadside stall or a food truck, and 5 is the priciest of the priciest. Then by eight solid meals I mean eight meals which are a very good 3. And so depending on how frequently you eat out, that could be the amount you spend eating out in say a week if you eat out everyday or a couple weeks if you don’t.

People generally convert into dollars and go Oh X Naira is equivalent to Y dollars or so. I feel conversions like that are misleading because they do not take into account the purchasing power of the concerned amount of money, and how that varies with location. So whenever I hear stuff like “Soso people (whose primary legal tender is not denominated in USD) live on X dollars a day”, I’m like Jesus Why. Why.

I had some back and forths with the receptionist, and then at some point she said I should come talk with the manager of the place.

She took me into a different room. The manager was this dark-skinned thickset woman pointing out some things on a MacBook Pro screen to someone who looked like a young nurse.

The receptionist introduced me. And then the manager and I began to exchange words.

I explained that I just intended to talk with the doctor and ask some questions.

Usually with a hospital in Lagos, any sort of visit requires that some you have some sort of membership account. With a first-time visit you’ll need to have this account created, and this usually comes with a fee.

I was aware of this, however I was really just at the hospital for information. I wasn’t about to begin a treatment routine or anything, I was just there to talk with a doctor. And so it was pretty unsettling to think I would have to pay for the full package. I asked questions to know if there was a way around it somehow, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

I liked the way she spoke though-

So, I enjoy learning new words, I enjoy using new words, and I enjoy hearing people use interesting words.

The manager (she herself a doctor) and I exchanged some interesting words, and then at some point I thought Ah to hell with it. I’ll just pay this money and keep moving forward with life.

That was the first time I visited.

That was a few weeks ago.

I got here this morning and told the receptionist I intended to see the doctor for a follow-up on the initial appointment.

Got another glimpse of CNN in the waiting room.

The receptionist was like Okay sir you’ll need to pay the fee for somethingsomethingsomething.

Which is Sososo thousand Naira.


What do you mean?!

I didn’t really register the amount she mentioned. I just registered the range. It was not too different from the amount I paid the first time. It might have even been the same thing.

For a follow-up?

The receptionist and I began to debate.

At some point she said I could discuss with her manager.

Manager wasn’t on seat so I had to give her a call.

We began to discuss.

Yes, hello?

Oh Yes Hello! Yes!

I began to explain the situation.

At some point we began to exchange words.

You this woman. You’ve come again. With your voice and your English. All you Doctor people. Leveraging my anxiety and my need to hear pertinent reassuring words from a healthcare professional. Leveraging that to empty my bank account.

Where is the money?! Where is it?!

We debated a bit more.

At some point she went, Alright don’t worry you can go see the doctor. I’m going to let this one slide.

Yeah that’s right you Manager Doctor woman. You’d better let it slide.

I’m in conversation with the doctor.

She just said something I find counter-intuitive.

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

Image: A My Coffee shop at Victoria Island.

Berlin: A Boyfriend Monologue.

I met this girl.

I met her in the laundry room of one of the Adalbertstrasse buildings.

Or no, I first met her in this walkway. Off Melchiorstrasse. She was crouched over a small storm drain, seeming to peer into it with complete concentration.

I was curious.

What is she peering at so intensely? What is so engrossing in a drain?

I walked over to see what was going on.

She was drawing the outline of the drain- something like that. For an art course. She was an exchange student from the USA, in Berlin for a semester. I thought she was interesting. We exchanged Facebook contacts.

And then I met her again in the laundry room.

We engaged in conversation while she deliberated on what to do with an occupied but idle washing machine. She needed to use it, but it was full of someone else’s (washed) clothes.

What to do?

We kept chatting while she thought about how to navigate the somewhat uneasy situation.

At some point she was (maybe not literally) like ugh fuck it, and she emptied out the machine into a basket. Whoever owned the clothes could come dry them later.

She has a boyfriend. In the USA.

I also have a girlfriend. Here in Berlin.

But I think she’s interesting, and I’d like to have more conversations with her.

I ask if she’ll be fine with lunch or dinner sometime. She goes hmmm. Says she’ll ask the boyfriend.

I’m in my room. She just messaged me. Says the boyfriend hates the idea. She actually had suspicions that he wouldn’t really like it.

I tell her to tell him that I mean no harm. I myself am in a relationship I’m pretty happy with. I just think his girlfriend is interesting and wouldn’t mind a harmless dinner or something.

He says he is going to kill you

Hahahaha. I like him already.

I look him up on Facebook. He served in the Army. Mm, interesting. Interesting guy. I send him a friend request.

She sends me an amused and bewildered message:

Jesus Christ did you really just send him a friend request???!!!


In about four years when I’m writing this story, I’ll look her up on Facebook to see how she’s doing. Their baby will be doing well. Cute baby girl and interesting woman who was peering into a drain in Berlin and handsome army guy who wanted to kill me. Happy family.

We haven’t talked since Berlin. I won’t message. I won’t know if they remember me. They most likely won’t. I imagine people forget even more significant encounters.

People are usually astonished by what I remember. About the details I recall. I think to them, it feels like a lot. They are usually astounded because I know all of these things about them, that they do not remember ever telling me.

To a certain degree it’s interesting- It’s interesting to see people get so excited about something that’s just normal for you. But past a certain point it gets very frustrating. Nobody is thinking about what you are thinking about.

Don’t immediately ask that woman about how her son is doing. The one who broke his leg while playing ice hockey four years ago and made her anxious about whether she was right in letting him play ice hockey in the first place. First find out if she even remembers/recognizes you.

Do not walk into that office and try to pick up the deep-learning conversation you were having last year with that engineer. About language translation transformers and the paper she and her team got into the Indaba conference in Nairobi. And the paper her colleagues in London I think, got into NIPS. She does not remember. She does not even remember ever meeting you before. Everyone in the office will stare at you- you and your misplaced smiles and unfounded excitement, with suspicion. Who is this guy. Who is this stranger.

Okay you can provide some evidence though. Mention that she hates the air conditioner in the office and only tolerates it because her coworkers want it. And that the second they leave the office, she’ll turn off the cooling so the room is warm and weird and stuffy, because that’s how she likes it.

At that point she’ll have to consider the possibility you guys have actually met before. The coworkers’ll be more likely to take you seriously too, because they know she’s like that.

And so sometimes I wonder how much of past interactions/conversations with people, only exist in my head.

Like you mean, nobody else is thinking about this? About this day? They’ve all forgotten? They’ve all moved on?

Moved on. Whatever that means.

Back to the storm drain girl in Berlin:

But really I think going out with girls who are also in a relationship could be a pretty interesting experience. We’re both in relationships we’re happy with, but are interested in interacting with someone of the opposite sex, over innocent meals.

I think it’s cool.

A Brazillian classmate recently told me she’ll like to have lunch. She’s single. I’m not quite sure what to do. I feel like there could be some appeal to constantly letting your partner know that you’re very much in demand, but I don’t know. I’m not that insecure. There’s definitely some insecurity, but it’s nowhere near that point.

She on the other hand, I’m sure will not hesitate to hammer evidence of external interest in my face. She’s constantly pummeling me with all that stuff.

Blah blah blah blah blah, please shutup.

As a matter of fact, in a few weeks she’ll go out on a date with some guy. They’ll go to the Berlin TV tower. I won’t learn about it until after it has happened.

A few weeks after that, I myself will be at the TV Tower. The school will be having some sort of an event. Interviews and stuff. There’ll be cameras and stuff. I and a number of students will be invited.

I’ll be walking around the bar, taking in the very interesting environment, looking at a couple in their like very early forties sitting at the bar and idly scrolling through their phones. Okay maybe just the guy was in his forties. I’ll be looking down at the interesting historical buildings and very well-planned streets and delightful red roofs that gleam with what I understand to be that general European architectural aesthetic. Every once in a while though, I’ll be disturbed by nagging thoughts about how my girlfriend was sauntering daintily around here with some guy.

She’s definitely someone who gets very jolted by external romantic interest. In addition to that though, I feel like she’s beginning to feel like maybe I’m not really what she wants.

She likes all these guys with very predictable life trajectories.

I don’t think I’m like that. Right now it’s not very possible to align my personal orientation with any sort of existing direction that’s consensually associated with some sort of recognized success.

And the unpleasant effects I’m experiencing through the reality-filter of this relationship, is making me beginning to detest people who exemplify that:

Oh hey look at me. I am a Domain Logistics intern at Jack and Robinson Finance Corporation. By next year I should be a fully-fledged Logistics Representative. Four years after that, I’ll become a Sales and Marketing Executive Associate, but of course still specializing in Domain Logistics. Trust me, you want to choose me because I am set on an established career path, and am unambiguously headed towards guaranteed success. I have such a stable futu—

Please shutup.

Recently I was at Grunewald, taking in the invigorating nature and skateboarding wherever I could find a strip of hard flooring. I was standing at some sort of an embankment, with my arms folded on the railings. I was thinking about my uncle in Dublin and his life story, and how my life was not going to be anything like his, in spite of initial similarities. While I was doing that, I stared at a pretty large inflatable swan floating idly on the lake, wondering what exactly it was doing there.

At some point I saw some guys descending the slope. Looking very motivated and focused, with very spotless-looking suits. They looked like they were headed for some sort of very important business meeting in a booked meeting space nearby.

Standing there in my hoodie and my blonde-bleached hair, skateboard in hand, I couldn’t but think to myself:

These are the despicable guys who are making life miserable for me right now.

On my way back from Grunewald, I met a guy at the bus stop. He had long hair and glasses. I remarked that he looked like some sort of professor.

We began to talk.

On the bus, we talked about a number of things. Science, technology stuff. At some point he told me about his family. About his wife and two children. He talked about how sometimes his family made him feel restricted, with regard to being able to pursue some scientific and other interests. He said his kids were like tent pegs in each foot- he demonstrated this by driving an imaginary peg through each foot. He said they were all pinning him down and that he could neither go anywhere nor do anything.

I wasn’t quite sure what to say, but we kept talking.

At some point we arrived at his stop and he got off. I realized that at the beginning of our conversation I was energetic and invigorated- fresh from the recharging ambience of Grunewald, while he was more listless. But at the end of the conversation it was the other way round: He got off the bus with a smile on his face, looking considerably excited. But I felt almost completely drained. I didn’t quite understand it.

I had to get off the bus a number of stops early to indulge in some ice cream and some other general very sweet stuff. In a bid to regain some of the charge I began the journey back to Adalbertstrasse with.

Berlin: A Boyfriend Monologue.

Image: Somewhere on the U-Bahn.


I would really appreciate some even more perspective on the pieces I put on here. I am aware people read, and I am aware there are people who find these pieces interesting.

A good number of people who enjoy this blog are people I’m in communication with. In person, online etc. And it is very delightful for me, getting to hear what they think of the pieces. Getting to hear their personal opinions on both the content and the writing is a very very lovely experience- for all of the parties involved I’d like to imagine.

I feel like I’d love to also hear from the more silent and anonymous visitors. Please feel free to drop a comment, or even message me privately and let’s just talk and catch up and have fun- that’s usually very enjoyable.