Detainment in Abeokuta.

Hm, I think I’ll spend the night here.

There’s a pile of stones on the ground. I sit down and relax, staring into the night sky and generally just contemplating life.

This reminds me of Cape Verde. Nights I spent on the island of Sal out in the open and staring into the sky. Either at the beach or in the desert. No human being around for miles and miles. Just me. Chilling.

Sal is so cool though. So much free space. There’s not that much rainfall and so vegetation is very sparse. This makes available a very large expanse of open desert land that you’re pretty free to just roam about. It’s not like anyone has the time to patrol the wide open desert.

There is a hotel right next door. I went in to ask about their prices. Prices seemed fair, but just did not make much financial sense given the amount currently available in my bank account. It was just a night. By the next morning I would have very little left available in the account. So I thought, why not spend the night out here, chilling under the stars? Like I used to do on the island of Sal?

I’m here, reminiscing about my fresh experience with Abeokuta nightlife (Abeokuta is a city in Southwestern Nigeria), comparing and contrasting it with my nightlife experience in Berlin, Germany.

The most striking difference so far is that people in Abeokuta (possibly in Nigeria generally) are not nearly as nice. I asked to have a little of a stimulant someone was having at an event in Berlin and he forgot it with me. I had to look around for him to return it. I tried to do the same thing in Abeokuta and I almost got punched in the face.

Nigerians are generally very suspicious people. And this learned suspicion probably makes sense because people for some reason are more likely to be secretly malevolent here. I think the issue is fundamentally a socio-economic one. It’s much more difficult to be nice to people if you feel like a lot of things you desire are missing from your life.

My thoughts are suddenly interrupted by a voice:

Hey! Kilonshe nibeyen!

Hey you! What are you doing there?

It takes me a few seconds to exit the headspace I’m currently in, and pay proper attention to the dark indiscernible figure in front of me.

Mo ni kilonshe nibeyen!

I said what are you doing there?!

Er, I’m like just sitting here. Like just sitting here. The plan is to spend the night. Is there a problem?

The figure does not respond to my words.

Osama! Osama!

He is calling out to someone.

Okay now I feel weird. Who the fuck is Osama?

Osama! Osama! Mo ti mu ikan ni arin won o!

Osama! I have caught one of them!

I am wondering what is happening.

A figure emerges from the darkness beyond. I think he is holding a gun. He does not look like he intends to use it, so my perturbation is still considerably containable. This figure who apparently is named after a once FBI most wanted terrorist walks towards me. He walks with a limp that makes his dark ominous figure seem even more menacing.

I am still trying to understand what is going on.

I try sending some words across the space between us.

Hello Good Evening Sir.

Nigerians like it when you use “Sir”.

I didn’t feel particularly comfortable paying the rates at the hotel next-door so I decided to spend the night out here in this open space, is that alright?

I think I also say an equivalent of this in Yoruba. In case this is a language barrier issue.

Words emerge from the Osama figure.

Ahhh mo mo gbogbo yin! Ikan ninu yin ni o wa ji tire trailer ti o wa ni ibi nijosi! Awon oga wa so pe awa vigilante gbudo san owo tyre yen lati inu salary wa! Ah ti e ba e leni!!

Ahhh I know all of you! One of you came here to steal the tyre of that trailer a few nights ago! Our employer has demanded that we pay for new tyres from our salaries! Ahh you’re so dead!! You are so deaddd!!!

 I try sending some more words, explaining that I had nothing to do with the mentioned stolen tyre. That I am just visiting Abeokuta.

But something has to be wrong with my voice. I don’t think these people are able to hear anything I’m saying. It’s like I’m talking- my lips are moving and sounds are coming out of my mouth, but all of these sounds are falling to the ground before they reach the figures in front of me.

They draw closer. Osama seems to be adjusting his grip on his gun.

I keep sending out words. They do not seem to be having any effect.

I think I’m in trouble. I think I’m in serious trouble.

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

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