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.

“Hello?”

“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.”

Oh.

Ohhh.

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:

“Hello.”

“Hello.”

“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.

Psych Ward Diaries. Addendum 2.

I’m going to call Mr Dayo today.

I’m chilling in this alright apartment at Victoria Island. I have no serious doubts with regard to my sanity or mental wellbeing, and I’m plotting some schemes to enable me discontinue my enrolment at that soul-eroding university.

Life is good.

I call Mr Dayo’s number.

The phone rings for a bit.

Someone answers. It is a woman’s voice.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Good evening. My name is Mayowa. Mr Dayo gave me this number.”

We speak for a bit.

I mention how I know Mr Dayo. I say we spent some time at the Psych Ward together.

It’s his wife.

The one who he said left to go live with some guy.

Hmm.

We exchange some more words, and then she says something that completely suspends my thoughts.

“Mister Dayo is dead.”


Sorry What?

Mister Dayo is what?

It takes me a while to process the implication of that statement on all of the things I was initially planing to say.

Sorry What?

“He died late last year.”

I am thoroughly disoriented. And very sad.

I do not understand.

She says he died in his sleep. That the autopsy said it was some sort of a heart condition.

I feel so sad. And shocked.

We keep talking.

She says he got depressed when his friend died.

I recall him mentioning that.

After my time in the Psych facility- When I regained access to the internet, I googled his friend’s name. He was spoken of, as someone with a renowned reputation. Like someone I should know by name.

No results on Google.

Most likely for people in Mr Dayo’s generation, the establishment of their careers/reputations predated the prevalence of the internet. In Nigeria at least.

Dated newspapers, physical memorabilia, and collective memory are probably the places where they still exist now.


We talk a bit about their relationship.

She says his family interfered a lot. Says that was very frustrating for her.

I recall him mentioning something like that. He said his siblings were trying to turn him into a Pastor of sorts. Said he was like the black sheep the family.

I am extremely sad to hear that he’s dead.

I was looking forward to catching up, and laughing and recalling our shared experiences in the Psych facility. We spent a number of months as inpatients in the hospital. In such close quarters and insulation from the outside world, there’s little else to do but talk to pass the time.

This is so so sad.

My own life in like the past two years has been full of its own tumults I’ve had to navigate, and so calling or paying a visit hadn’t been anywhere in my plans until now.


We keep talking.

I mention that he was also pretty upset because she left. He seemed largely nonchalant about it in our discussions, but he had to be upset. He had to be.

She says she never left him. That she never went to live with any guy. That she had just one husband. That all she had always done was to go spend time with her children. With their children. That she’s a Christian. That she’s a Pastor, blah blah blah.

Mhm.

Oh now you’re a Christian. Now you’re a Pastor.

I’m not so surprised anyway. It’s not like I expect her to be so forthcoming with tales of her affairs, while answering a call on her dead husband’s phone.

We exchange some more words, and then say goodbye.

The phone call ends.


I delete the phone number. Mr Dayo is permanently unreachable now.

I take some time to try making sense of everything.

This was completely unexpected. Completely.

Damn.


This post is one in a Series. Feel free to view the other pieces here.


Image: Random stretch of Lagos countryside road.

Psych Ward Diaries. Addendum 1.

The past few weeks have been pretty chill.

I got this serviced apartment here at Victoria Island Lagos, to stay for a bit.

I do not earn a monthly salary. Every now and then money comes into my life somehow, and then I’m responsible for staying alive and well until the next financial inflow.

I initially paid for a week or so. I don’t have enough money to pay for a longer stretch of time at once. Maybe I might if I put my mind to it, but I’m still raw from my last attempt at trying to rent a space nearby. At Lekki Phase 1.

I paid N400,000 into the bank account of the real estate agent. The “Mr Olu” who walked me into the compound, greeted the security guard, opened the doors to the apartment, and showed me around.

N400,000 was supposed to be rent for a year. Or six months I think. I’m not sure now.

That was last year. I never got to move into the apartment. I never saw “Mr Olu the real estate agent” again. I later realized that the email address with which he corresponded with me, was different from that on the agency banner hung out on the building’s front gate.

Say the banner of the actual real estate agency had the email “olu_something@gmail.com”. This guy’s email was “olu_somethingg@gmail.com”.

The second email has two “g”s.

I knew his email address was weird, but I assumed it was because the intended one was already taken. That can definitely happen with email addresses.

So I thought he was just making do with an address which was lexically similar. What I did not notice at the time, was that the email on the actual agency banner did not have that anomaly.

I mean, it’s not like you scrunch up your nose to scrutinize every letter in the email address on some banner outside the building where you intend to rent a space.


All of that was last year.

I went to the bank to make a complaint. They said they would freeze the recipient account, and that the fraudulent guy wouldn’t be able to withdraw the funds.

That was good to hear. They said to recover the money I would need to contact the Police. The Police had the authority to request a reversal of the funds transfer.

I stopped by the Police station to narrate my ordeal. At some point they said there was a special department that dealt with digital fraud and stuff. Said I would have to pay about N200,000 for a start, to access the services of this department.

Haha.

I was trying to recover N400,000. To do that, I had to pay the Police N200,000.

For a start.

Hahaha.

I took some time to weigh my annoyance. Was I angry enough at Mr Olu to undertake such expenses even if they could eventually add up to, or even exceed the amount I was trying to recover?

Hmm. I didn’t think so.

In all it was a very confusing experience.

It all felt so legit. I’m still not sure if I was intentionally dispossessed of the funds, or if there was some sort of a misunderstanding.

Like, there was another guy- some like, seventy year old man I spoke with on the phone.

He said he was the owner of the house. The Landlord. Mr Olu was just the agent. Helping him get new tenants. The “landlord” was asking me questions like:

“Hope pe iwo o kin p’ariwo ninu ile? Awa o like ariwo o.”

“I hope you don’t make noise where you stay? We don’t like noise makers here o.”

Like, how can a seventy something year old man who asks such questions, and who sometimes doesn’t answer my calls because he says he’s in the mosque, not be legit? How?

I don’t understand. I honestly don’t.

At some point I called the numbers on the actual real estate banner. Some guy responded on the other end. Said he was the one the agency was named after. That he was Mr Olu. The real Mr Olu.

I told him someone was impersonating him. I spent some time expressing my frustration and annoyance on the phone. He said all that was difficult to believe, because I was the first person to make such a complaint. Sensible point. But not at all placating for me.

Honestly it was this whole annoying episode. I’ve just had to take my mind off it, and pay attention to more inspiring and encouraging things.

Mr Olu. Has his office on Lagos Mainland. At Palmgrove. Talking to me and showing me around the apartment like a responsible human being. Fraudulent motherfucker.

It was to my utmost shock, that the security guard said he didn’t really know the fake Mr Olu. Said he was just some guy walking by the house, who proposed to show some prospective tenants around.

The fact that he had access to the building and keys to the apartment gave me the impression he was undoubtedly legit. Legit to the point that I thought he would feel insulted if I asked too many questions.

Motherfucker.

“Mr Olu”.


I’ve been trying to buy a motorbike. A cool dual-terrain kinda bike. I’m looking forward to some off-roading soon.

I found this guy on Jiji.ng. Jiji.ng is like the Nigerian EBay. He had a cool Scrambler for sale. I liked it. He was located in Abuja, the country’s capital.

While I made preparations to send him the funds for the purchase and delivery of the bike, he was telling me stuff like “Don’t worry, there’s no problem. I’m a family man.” to increase my confidence in him.

Family man.

Mister Olu was very likely a family man too.

Bruh, I’ve been swindled by family men, don’t even go there. Don’t even try that line on me Mister Man.

My N400,000 from last year is still nowhere to be found.


It recently occurred to me to call Mr Dayo.

Mr Dayo from the Psych Ward. The fellow inpatient.

The sixty year old ex-hockey coach.

The last time I saw him, I was at the hospital for a post-hospitalization checkup. So the doctors could see if I was properly recovering from a mental illness I never had in the first place.

Mr Dayo was sitting on a chair in the walkway. Looking very relaxed. We spoke for a bit. He seemed very comfortable and chill. I had collected his phone number earlier. I said I was going to call him later, after he had been discharged.

That was close to two years ago.

I haven’t exactly been in the frame of mind to make the call. I’ve been dealing with struggles of my own:


So, post-hospitalisation, my parents enrolled me in a university.

It’s this university that’s owned by this pretty prominent church in Nigeria. The church’s ideology is principally based on concepts like deliverance from demonic oppression and the breaking of ancestral curses and the holy murder of destiny-devouring witches and other such esoteric phenomena.

The university was founded by, and is managed by the church.

At 5AM every morning all of the students gather in the chapel to cast and bind some demons real quick before commencing the day. Repeated failure to report at the chapel could get you suspended.

On average, students spend about 2+ hours everyday collectively binding and casting out demonic powers.

And that is just the very tip of my disconcertion iceberg with regard to that university.

I would never in my right senses have agreed to be enrolled there. But I was fresh out of Psych Ward. Fresh out of 3-months of daily antipsychotics, and full of daily-reinforced doubt in my decision-making abilities:

I obviously didn’t know what I was doing with my life. Everyone obviously knew what what was good for me. Everyone except for me myself.

A couple months after being discharged from the Psych Ward, I ditched my supply of antipsychotics and lost all of the Psych-Ward weight. I gradually became more and more certain that the entire Psych Ward thing was Bullshit. And I became angry at everyone who made it or let it, happen.


I’m going to call Mr Dayo today.

I’m chilling in this alright apartment at Victoria Island. I have no serious doubts with regard to my sanity or mental wellbeing, and I’m plotting some schemes to enable me discontinue my enrolment at that soul-eroding university.

Life is good.

I call Mr Dayo’s number.

The phone rings for a bit.

Someone answers. It is a woman’s voice.

“Hello?”


This post is one in a Series. Feel free to view the other pieces here.


Image: On the balcony of a room at the Prest Waterfront Hotel, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

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.

Hmm.

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.”

Ahhhh.

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.

Ahh.

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.

Hahahahaha.

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.

Hahahaha.

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.

Nonsense.

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.

Hmm.

Hmm.

Hm.

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.

HAAAAAA!!!!!

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.

White Rice, Olive Oil, and the “Of Course?!” Guy.

Some guy just joined me at the table. He is dark-skinned, dressed in conspicuous flowing white, and has a medium-sized beard.

He eats like one who is almost late for an appointment. He is not evidently in a hurry, no. Not really. But sitting across the table: hearing his perfunctory greeting, seeing his head bowed in total concentration on his food, watching his spoon grab mounds of rice in diligent cycles, and experiencing the incisive ferocity with which he munches, I can tell he has somewhere to be.

This is my first time ever seeing him. In the next few weeks I’ll learn he’s Senegalese. He’s a member of the Senegalese Islamic sect at whose meetings I’ll happily receive free rice and chicken during Ramadan. But that’s still to happen in a few months. I don’t know any of that now.


I take my time with my food, taking care not to let the Senegalese guy’s justification-bereft haste rub off on me.

I didn’t know people added olive oil to rice. Like, while eating. There’s a small bottle of olive oil right next to my food. I didn’t know sprinkling some of it on rice, was a thing.

In Nigeria I only ever saw olive oil being used by the super-abundance of superstitious churches in the place. It was usually employed as some sort of a supernatural weapon- To cast out demons and ward off evil spirits.

To the extent that your impression of reality and what is real and what is normal and what is natural; To the extent that all of that is dependent on the human beings around you and your immediate society, growing up in some parts of Nigeria teaches you that Olive oil is manufactured to cast out demons. That is why olive oil exists. And that olive oil advertisements proudly quote stats on demon fatalities, just like how disinfectants claim to kill 99% of germs, etc.

And so it definitely feels very absurd for me here, seeing almighty Olive Oil being used for something as mundane as seasoning rice.


The Senegalese guy is done eating.

Of course he’s done eating.

In a few weeks I’ll be at this restaurant with a new acquaintance from the Netherlands who studied Mechanical Engineering.

We’ll meet on the sunny beach at the southern end of the island. We’ll talk about Holland’s ingenuity with dams and dykes, and he’ll explain the physics of sailing. He’ll attempt to explain the physics of kitesurfing to me, but I’ll have too little experience with the sport to get what he’s saying.

I’ll tell him about some of my interests involving the representation of words and ideas in general, as co-ordinate points in multi-dimensional space. Initially he’ll be skeptical, but at some point he’ll come around and find it exciting. He’ll tell me about the Bauhaus- say I’ll be interested in the philosophy behind it. I’ll open up a mobile Safari tab to check out later.

We’ll talk about his work at KLM. About his bosses and how they receive very fleshy salaries, but aren’t doing all that much work. We’ll talk about his intention to move to a larger apartment- one that costs about two thousand euros a month. The salary is capable of handling it, he says.

I’ll introduce some girlfriend talk. I’ll be surprised to hear he has never had one. I’ll be going through some wrenching heartbreak at the time, but I’ll still suggest that he think about getting one. He’ll appear receptive to the idea.

He’ll tell me about his friends in Holland and their recent trip to Thailand. He’ll ignore phone calls from his mother, wanting to know how he is doing in Cape Verde. He should be old enough to handle himself, he says. I agree. At the time, I myself will be embroiled in some brain-scalding disagreements with my parents in Nigeria.


In a few weeks we’ll be at this restaurant, and he’ll point out to me that you slant the beer glass while pouring the beer. So the foam accretes on top. Apparently that’s the cool-guy way of pouring beer. I’ll realize it also looks better.

In a few years I’ll message him on Facebook, but he will not respond with the enthusiasm I expect. There’ll be too little information to discern why. It’ll probably have to do with the possibility that he has forgotten most of what happened on that day.

That’s something I’ll become aware of in the next few years. That people generally forget pretty much all of these things, and so I shouldn’t immediately attempt to pick up a conversation we were having years ago, because they usually don’t remember ever having that conversation. Sometimes they don’t even remember having ever met me in their lives before.


And so in a few weeks I’ll be at this restaurant with a new acquaintance from the Netherlands, laughing and having conversation he’ll most likely completely forget before long.

I’m done with my food. I call over to the waiter-cum-manager of the place. I ask him a polar question about his opening times. He responds with a vigorous “Of Course?”, that is accented to sound like a question.

This is like the fifth time this guy is going to respond to my questions with “Of Course?”. Initially I thought he was somewhat offended by my question- that it meant I felt the need to ask for something that should simply have been assumed.

Now I’m beginning to perceive this behavior differently from when I initially met him: I don’t think he’s a native English speaker. He’s black, and generally feels like someone who originated from somewhere on the continent, but I don’t think he’s Cape Verdean. Probably from a non English-speaking African country.

I think his English lexicon is limited, and “Of Course” is one of the few expressions in his vocabulary. That’s probably why he says it so often.

I pay for my food and get up to leave. The “Of Course?” guy is heading out to serve some chicken. I let him know I enjoyed the meal, and that I’ll definitely be back sometime soon.

He appears to appreciate my compliment, and wishes me goodnight.

There’s a hearty “Of Course?!” somewhere in his response.


Image Credits: https://www.origanico.com/product-category/food/extra-virgin-olive-oil/

A Derelict Train Station, and Ruminations on Krav Maga. 2.

What is your work?

I am now being quizzed by a man I believe to be a police officer. There is a Police Station in the Terminus.

He’s asking for my occupation.

Engineer. I’m an engineer. Software Engineer.

I prefer “Researcher”, but I think he’ll be more likely to relate with “Engineer”. The last time I attempted giving some elucidation on Artificial Intelligence research to some law enforcement officers who stopped me at a roadblock for questioning, I don’t think it quite got us anywhere.

My motorbike was parked by the side of the road. My helmet and gloves were on the ground- they made me take them off.

I was explaining to the very doubtful-looking soldier like:

Artificial Intelligence has to do with giving machines the ability to—-

Shut Up!! Shut Up!!! You are gay! Look at your mouth! You are moving your lips like a woman. You are gay!!! You are a gay!!!

I was astounded. Like, what?? Howww??? Whattt?????

So now I just say “Engineer”. Pretty much every one has an idea what “Engineer” means.

I’ve been thinking of some other words I could describe myself with. Like Founder or CEO or Managing Director. I don’t know. Maybe then people would let me off with fewer questions.

I don’t know though. The research is what I primarily identify myself with. All of those other fancy terms are just to make the whole thing sound legit. Plus, there’s the chance law enforcement could begin to demand bribes befitting of a CEO, from me.

Please I have no CEO money to give you abeg. I am but a modest researcher. Please accept this humble token, sacrificially carved out of my very unassuming wages.


Where is your ID card?

Hm that’s true. I don’t have an ID card. Not yet. It is on the list of things to get done. I explain that the company was just registered a number of months ago. Things are still taking shape etc etc.

At some point he walks away. There is a lingering suspicion and distrust on his face. He looks completely unconvinced.

I head out of the train station.


I am on the pedestrian bridge right opposite the Terminus. I need to take a picture. I’m thinking I could write a blog post about this? I don’t know. In any case a straight-up picture of the building’s facade will be helpful.

The sun is behind the building. It’s in my face. The lighting is weird. Ugh.

I take a few pictures and head back down the bridge.

There are some guys seated on the bridge. I’m not sure what they’re doing. They look like the sort of group that hangs around in secluded places with the aim of ambushing passers-by.

The only issue is that I am sure there are no passers-by here. The bridge smells of bad weed and dried urine on asphalt. I am about a hundred percent certain that I’m the only non-street-gang guy to use this bridge today. And so I kinda wonder who they’re ambushing and robbing, and how they’re getting food to eat.

Hey you! Why you dey snap us??!! Why you dey snap us??!! Bring that your phone make I see am!!

It’s one of the strange guys on the bridge. He seems to have suddenly awoken from the communal trance they appear to all be in.

He claims I’m taking a picture of them.

Hah. You wish bruh. You wish. I’m here for this decrepit train station.

He asks to see my phone.

That’s something I know I should never do. Give them leverage. Once my phone is in their grasp, I’m somewhat beholden to them.

I ignore him and briskly walk past.

As I do, another bridge guy tells the first to calm down and let me go.

I turn briefly to fling some insults their way once I am at a safe distance.

Nonsense people.


Later I’ll think about personality. Personality and contingent situational attractor states. A character in a TV show will make me starkly aware that amenableness to reason and dialogue is not to be assumed for all possible confrontational situations.

And in response I’ll begin to think seriously about Krav Maga.

A Derelict Train Station, and Ruminations on Krav Maga. 1.

I am at Oyingbo.

There is this “Lagos Terminus” building here.

I looked it up online. It says there’s a train that goes all the way to Kano, from there.

Kano. Hohoho.

I need to go see what’s going on. I need to go know what’s happening.

Usually the thought of visiting Kano or anywhere in Northern Nigeria, would infuse my mind with dread. Boko Haram and a number of other terrorist factions and sub-factions, have been wreaking serious havoc in the north.

And usually for people whose experience living in Nigeria is mostly within the southwestern region, all the Northern states sound the same. Kano. Katsina. Jigawa. Borno. They’re all pretty much the same thing. Just another state full of Hausa people.

A classmate originating from Northern Nigeria once pointed out to me- somewhat bitterly, that I was being unfair. That Boko Haram’s activities were predominantly within Borno, and that the other Northern states were relatively safe.

I heard something in the news about some kidnappings in Katsina a few days ago.

I don’t know- Maybe the stereotype “All states in Northern Nigeria are under siege by terrorists” might not be so unfair, if it’s fairness was weighed against it’s usefulness with regard to traveler safety and welfare.


I am at the Lagos Terminal.

I am walking about excitedly, looking around and asking questions.

As is usual with a lot of places in Nigeria, my excitement feels very absurd and out of place. The overwhelming weight of the incumbent socio-economic climate is evident in the general demeanour.

The hall is mostly empty. I don’t think any train is leaving soon. The workers are talking in relatively low voices. Some of them give very brief and not-so-enthusiastic responses to my questions, as they walk away.

My excitement is definitely misplaced.

I don’t really care.

I step back and take a look at the arched ceiling, comparing it in my head with the Hauptbahnhof at Frankfurt.

There are commonalities- there definitely are.

Hm, I wonder what sort of an aesthetic the architect was going for. I wonder what train stations in the world they were inspired by.

The ambience of the waiting hall fits just right with film recordings from the times before I was born. Like something you’d see in an old documentary about Nigeria- overlaid by the commentary of a very nasal British journalist.

“The Premier of the Western Region of Nigeria boards a train to Kano, to discuss a collective response to the extant British influence in the nation.”

And you’d see like Obafemi Awolowo, looking all made and affluential and important, striding into the booking office while adjusting an arm of his agbada.


There is a mouldy-looking inauguration plaque on the wall. It says the plaque was unveiled by a Sir Hugo Marshall, and Honourable Tafawa Balewa. Balewa’s face is on the Five unit denomination of the Nigerian Naira. I don’t know who Sir Hugo Marshall was.

You know, I’m really not sure what the whole point of nationalism is. I’m not sure why I should feel an unconditional sense of allegiance to, and identification with, the country I found myself having originated from. I’m not even sure what the point of a country is, to be honest.

With Nigeria specifically, the whole thing feels a lot more ambiguous and ill-defined.

“Nigerian”. What does that even mean?

Denotatively, I do not know. Other than the trivial geographical implication- which has limited usefulness, I’m not sure if any coherent meaning exists.

Connotatively, ah. That one is generally terrible. To some people, it means “Internet fraudster”. To some others it means “Drug dealer”. The list goes on and on.

And so as I walk around this Terminus, I engage myself with concepts divorced from any sort of nationalist perspectives or interpretations. Like concepts involving architecture. And engineering.


Hey! You! What are you doing there? Why are you taking pictures?

I knew it. I knew this was too good to be true. I knew at some point that overbearing, demoralizing Nigerian psychological virus would lunge out of the ominous darkness beyond and attempt to claw at my skin.

That brooding virus that causes otherwise innocuous behaviour to be consensually perceived as absurd and suspicious and even dangerous.

I was walking about in a train station and taking pictures. In most countries I don’t imagine anyone would even have the time to pay attention to me. But in Nigeria, no. It’s a crime. It’s a motherfucking criminal offence.

I turn towards the voice. It is one of the workers at the train station.

He walks up to me and asks to see my phone.


Part 1.

Traveling across Lagos During the Violent #EndSars Protests in Nigeria. Addendum 4.

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


We just left Obalende.

I had run out of liquid funds. A trenchant consequence of the severely disorienting impediment constituted by the violent protests, was that the trip had taken about two days longer than planned.

It should have been about four/five hours max. It is now about two days since I left my place of abode. I’m still not yet at my destination.

I asked a number of people for money at the bus stop, because cash on hand had run out.

I used to think asking people for money was a sign of poverty- A negative thing. Okay well maybe when it’s a continual occurrence in one’s life. But every once in a while? In cases involving like unprecedented/extremely unlikely circumstances? I don’t think there’s anything wrong. I really do not think so.

A few months ago I was in a public transportation bus. The fare was about N50 more than I expected, and I didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay the bus conductor. At the time I had a few million Naira in the bank. I was literally a millionaire. Like, millionaire in terms of liquid funds, and not even assets or net worth. Well in Nigerian Naira at least.

Two options seemed clear to me:

One: Exit the bus, go withdraw some money, get back.

Two: Ask the guy sitting beside you to help you out with the required fifty Naira.

I was very tired that afternoon. The Nigerian sun was extra-blistering that day. Just the thought of re-entering the searing radiation being propagated across space from the distressingly merciless object at the center of this solar system, injected my consciousness with some serious despair.

There is no way I am leaving this bus. Entering that sun? Waiting for the “next turn” bus to be full???

No, no way. No motherfucking way. I do not care what numbers my bank is reporting to me. I do not motherfucking care.

I turned to the guy sitting next to me, and I asked him for assistance. No time.


We just left Obalende.

About ten minutes into the journey, I realize this is the fastest I have ever been transported across the Lagos Third Mainland Bridge.

There is like nobody on the road. Traffic congestion right now, is a non-sequitur.

Just the occasional group of random guys with their arbitrary roadblocks and their unconstitutional financial demands.

On the way, we see some soldiers driving along the road in their pickup trucks, scaring away the illegitimate roadblock guys.

At some point the driver stops giving the roadblock guys money, and begins threatening them with soldiers coming from behind.

Soldier dey come, Soldier dey come!!!

They would be too startled with apprehension to demand money before the bus breezed past.

In a surreally short amount of time, we are at the Ikeja Secretariat.

I alight.


Shoprite Bus Stop.

There are a number of law enforcement officers up ahead. They are beating up some guy.

I come to a halt and turn into a corner by the left, while I take some time to properly assess the situation. I’m not interested in being a victim of physical assault this morning.

As I stand there- watching and pondering the situation, I see a guy walking up to the main road. He looks like he’s coming from a jog.

His breathing is moderately heavy, and his shiny sportswear shirt is somewhat wet with sweat. He is marching towards the road, exuding a convincing aura of adrenaline-enhanced confidence.

Ah. Look at his guy. Look at this guy walking like there’s absolutely nothing in the world which can constitute a respectable problem for him.

Ah. Ah, I think I need to move closer to this guy.

I walk towards him and interject his march with a question. We exchange a few sentences. I latch onto his momentum, and join his march.

There’s another guy close-by. He joins the procession as we proceed into the main road, and towards the soldiers.

I’m staring at the back of the jogger guy. His back looks so broad and muscular and entrancing. He is swaggering towards the officers ahead with unquestioned confidence. I wonder if this is sort of remarkable formidableness and assuredness that women experience in men, and become completely disoriented and dumbfounded.

Like, I’m a guy and I’m very inspired and impressed by the sweaty jogger guy and his unreal confidence. I wonder what a woman would feel, especially given the additional sexual angle to it in that case.


We are at the roadblock.

The soldiers begin to accost us.

WHERE UNA DEY GO???

The jogger guy responds immediately with this reassuring dissatisfaction that convinces one of the legitimacy of his position:

I dey go my house. All these protesters just dey cause trouble for this our road.

My mind is very blown.

Our road. “Our”. Like, OUR, road.

Jesus. Jesus Christ. This guy owns he road. I am walking with the guy who OWNS the road. Okay o. Okay Sir. Okay Sir, let’s go.

I am immensely impressed. Before the soldiers can come up with more questions, we’re past the roadblock.

We keep moving. At some point we head in different directions. The owner of the road heads in what I believe is the direction of the place where he lives.


I am heading towards Computer Village.

A building by the left catches my attention. The outfit on the ground floor says “24 hour Cafe”.

I am surprised and interested. I wonder what a 24 hour cafe in Lagos will be like. I make a mental note to stop by some time.

Computer Village is up ahead. I’m kinda tired. Legs hurt. I keep moving.


Image: Somewhere in Lagos.


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

Traveling across Lagos During the Violent #EndSars Protests in Nigeria. Addendum 3.

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


You paid for your passport renewal on the Immigration Service website?

Yes, yes I did.

Why?? Why did you pay on the website?

In other words:

Don’t you know the website is just for show? It is not supposed to be used as an actual website. A domain was purchased and some webpages were uploaded. Money exchanged hands, as payment for the “technical expertise” involved. All so it could be said that the National Immigration Service of the nation of Nigeria, has a website.

BUT YOU ARE NOT EXPECTED TO USE THE WEBSITE FOR ANYTHINGG!!!!

IF YOU WANT TO GET ANYTHING DONE, COME TO THE OFFICE PHYSICALLY!!!

Alright, alright. My bad. I’m very sorry. I didn’t know that. This is definitely a Nigerian thing I’m freshly becoming aware of. Government websites are just for show. Do not use them for anything. Most importantly do not make any payments on them. If you want to get anything done, go to the physical office. Okay thank you. Thank you very much.


I am walking by the Ikoyi branch of the Nigerian Passport Office. I hiss as some annoyance at a recent experience with the Passport Office resurges. I paid for a passport renewal on the website. That was earlier in the year, before the pandemic. It has been a considerable number of months since then. No new passport. No refund. Just a profuse slathering with thick layers of frustration whenever I visit the offices. Guess who is never again apportioning any significant regard to the technical expertise of a certain country’s government agencies, other things being equal.


We were just let through another roadblock. Soldiers decided to be lenient. There’s yet another one ahead. Soldier said we would not be allowed entry back in our initial direction if the roadblock ahead proved impervious to our progress-oriented intentions. And so right now we exist in the gap between two roadblocks.

The next roadblock is right next to a prison. I heard some prisoners were set free by #EndSars protesters. Police is trying to recapture them, something like that. I do not know if the story is true, but there’s a lot of commotion up ahead. Loud voices and oscillating bodies and belligerent gunshots up in the air. It actually does look like a scene involving escaped prisoners.

Walking beside me, is this guy. We began talking after the most recent roadblock. He works as a gardener somewhere on Banana Island. He’s headed back to his home in Obalende after a day’s work. We think about what to do, and how to approach the situation ahead.

The soldier back there said there’s no coming back. These soldiers up ahead look disconcertingly bellicose. What do we do?

We keep thinking. As we think and talk, we drift closer to the soldiers up ahead.

We are getting closer. We have a very unnerving scene up ahead. I can see about twenty bodies undergoing frog jumps.

What is happening? Why are they frog jumping?

More gunshots.

Oh God.

At some point we are close enough to be within the field of vision of one of the soldiers.

HEY!! YOU!!! TWO OF YOU!!!! COME HEREEE!!!!!

Alas. We have just trespassed the event horizon of this military black hole. Now our physical bodies are being choicelessly drawn towards the menacing beings that constitute this pernicious collapsed star.

Spacetime is now curved, and our physical bodies have no choice but to slide down this curvature and into the gaping chasm of military defilement that awaits us.

Ah! We are done for.

A soldier bellows:

OYA!! FROG JUMP!!! FROG JUMP FROG JUMP!!!!!!

Up and down. Up and down. We join the frog-jumping bodies which were alarming me from a distance a while back.

Now we are right in front of the soldiers. Gunshots keep ringing.

WHERE UNA DEY GO??? WETIN UNA DEY DO FOR HERE??? UNA NO KNOW SAY CURFEW DEYY????

We try to explain. There are two people behind us- male and female. I think they are siblings. One of the soldiers has a bright green rubber pipe in his hand. I think its one of the types used to lay underground cables. He hits the male sibling across the torso with the pipe. I think his frog-jump was unsatisfactory.

We are asked some more questions. And some more.

At some point the soldiers decide to let us through.

OYA!! FROG JUMP!!! FROG JUMP FROG JUMP!!!!!!

We keep frog-jumping. We keep frog-jumping till they’re out of sight.

Obalende bus stop.


Image: Obalende.


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