How To Survive Public Buses In Lagos

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Survival. As seen on the Lekki-Epe Expressway. © Ore Fakorede

Survival. As seen on the Lekki-Epe Expressway. © Ore Fakorede

Ten tips to live by from a self-proclaimed authority on moving around Lagos by bus. Trust me, I’ve been doing it for years.

1. If you’re concerned (who wouldn’t be?) about picking up fuel fumes and the smells of strangers, wear a jacket or a thick sweater. You may get uncomfortably hot, but it will absorb everything. Your trousers won’t fare well though, because smelly seats and sweaty bodies.

2. Never sit right next to the driver. Everything from sweat to musty face towels and loose change will touch you. Your head will be the bridge over which interactions between him and the conductor will take place. Your head will suffer. Sufferhead.

3. Look out for your feet (because no one else will). I’d say you shouldn’t wear fancy shoes, but who am I to stifle your sense of style? Just don’t place your feet where they can be easily stepped on. ‘Sorry’ doesn’t clean a scuffed shoe.

4. Window seat available? Take it. The closer you are to fresh air, the better for your humanity. Besides, it’s a vantage point from which purchases can be made in slow-moving traffic.

+ Window seats are also ideal spots for your watch to be snatched off your wrist. Keep your hands inside the bus.

5. People will wipe sweat off their bodies without any concern for those around them. Noses will be picked and boogers flicked indiscriminately. Fortify your mind and keep your mouth firmly shut.

6. Hand sanitisers are not just an Ebola precaution, they are the difference between peace of mind and the feeling that bugs are crawling all over your skin. Carry a bottle all the time.

7. This one is a no-brainer: Don’t display your phone or tablet. That’s like putting up an electronic billboard calling thieves to crash your life’s party. Leave the first in your pocket and the second in your bag (not some case). Ignore calls or use a hands-free.

+ If you have to make or receive a phone call, don’t discuss personal details such as your itinerary.

8. Be paranoid, don’t talk to strangers. Seriously, don’t. Yes, you could meet your soulmate on a bus, but you could also meet your end. Besides, your soulmate will find you eventually…I hope.

9. If anyone starts talking about large sums of money in a loud voice, get off the bus immediately. I don’t care if it isn’t your stop, get the hell off!

+ ‘Dollars’ is a trigger word in a bus scam.

10. Don’t fall asleep. Stay woke, literally. Drift off and you could wake up in a neighbouring state. Or in a cave. Or in Heaven.

This Fucking Lagos

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Drawn like dazed moths to a dancing flame, they rush to Lagos. Ah, the big city of dreams. Boisterous and vibrant, constantly moving at breakneck speed. Seductive, energising, emphatic and exciting.

But for every dream that comes true here, a thousand die.

And the city is dark and seedy, violent and demanding, and you know it, regardless of how long you’ve lived in denial.

You know that it takes more than it gives, this accursed place. It takes till you have nothing left to give, till you’re a shell all empty save for bitterness and rage, chasing long shadows and doubting your own sanity.

People here will walk all over you till you’re one with the floor,
Then they’ll kick you out through the fucking back door.

Lagos will woo you and then resize your heart.
It will make you do things in which you should have no part.

It will ask you over to lunch, then fuck you in the ass with a tightly clenched fist.
And of all the hurts you will feel, the pain of that violent fucking will be the least.

It will strip you of your humaneness, and one day, mid-expletive, you’ll realise how far down the wrong path you’ve gone, but it will be too late: the monstrous beast will have won.

Don’t come here, son, don’t ever come here.
Stay away, or you’ll be trapped in prisons cleverly disguised as offices, chained to your seat by a dozen kinds of fear:

The fear of never having enough. The fear of disappointing the girl who’s got her eye on you. The fear of the scared asshole in the big office one floor above. The fear of becoming nothing, a meaningless statistic creeping with all the other meaningless statistics.

All the wrong kinds of fear; demons at home in your head, leaping with maniacal glee at the lies you’ve bought.

Everyday Miracles: Marco Lapenna’s ‘Story Telling’ Photos Of Lagos

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Barbed wire-topped fences, moss-covered walls, human porterage and everyday people. Itinerant Italian photographer Marco Lapenna’s stills of Lagos may seem quite ordinary at first glance, but look closer and you’ll be drawn into the remarkable visual story of the bustling Nigerian metropolis that’s more living organism than inanimate geographic entity.

Photos via Marco Lapenna

 

I Lied to My Wife, Flew to Lagos, and Got the Sh*t Beaten Out of Me Because of a Nigerian Email Scam

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By Laurent Moucate (as told to Felix Macherez)

By now, everyone is well aware of “419” scams, also known as advance-fee fraud or Nigerian-email fraud. These are cons in which anonymous hustlers pose as corrupt African officials or exiled refugees looking to transfer Scrooge McDuck-ian heaps of cash into foreign accounts. They blanket thousands of email addresses with invitations, and the occasional gullible victim is tricked into forking over private banking information. There are a handful of variations, but most people with eyeballs and keyboards know to hit mark spam whenever they see anything of the sort sliming around their inbox.

In 2003, however, the con was less well known, and a friend of my father’s got seriously duped. When Laurent (his name has been changed at his request), then a 42-year-old salesman at a pharmaceutical company living on Réunion Island (a French territory in the Indian Ocean), received an offer to launder $1 million from a frozen Nigerian bank account into his own, it seemed to solve all of his money problems.

Instead, he wound up battered, bruised, and abandoned in a strange country. I spoke with him recently to find out what the hell happened.

About ten years ago, I was at home playing chess on my computer when an email from someone claiming to be the governor of Lagos, Nigeria, landed in my inbox. The subject line was URGENT, so I read it right away—actually, I read it a few times in a row. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

I don’t recall the exact wording of the email, but the gist of it was that the governor of Lagos West constituency, Bola Tinubu, had hidden around $1 million in a secret bank account to avoid taxes. The money had been stolen from public funds, the email continued, and the Tinubu family couldn’t use it because they were being closely monitored by the government.

They needed a foreigner to come to Lagos, take the money out of the account, and put it into a Swiss bank. That’s where I came in. Supposedly, if I sent $1,300 in cash to a Lagos address, they would get me a room in a luxury hotel, and I could come over and sign some documents that would be prepared by a lawyer, whose fees would run me another $1,300. I’d wind up with 5 percent of that $1 million, which sounded pretty fair to me.

Don’t stop, keep reading.

Image, text via VICE

 

 

Kalakuta Republic: Vintage Photos From Fela Kuti’s Homestead

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Around noon on Friday, February 18, 1977, about a thousand heavily armed government troops stormed the Kalakuta Republic, Afrobeat pioneer and outspoken human rights activist Fela Kuti’s residence at 14, Agege Motor Road, Idi-Oro, Mushin, Lagos.

After a fifteen-hour siege in which mortars were presumably fired, the building was in flames, women had been raped and Fela’s mother, women’s rights activist Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was badly injured after being thrown out a second-floor window along with her son. Mrs. Ransome-Kuti later lapsed into a coma in which she remained till her death on April 13, 1978.

Since rebuilt, the Kalakuta Republic was converted to a museum by the government of Lagos in 2012. Head below to see pre-1977 photos (courtesy of The Nigerian Nostalgia Project) of Fela, his wives and dancers as well as a clip from Music Is My Weapon, the 1982 documentary on the legend. Also, stream Zombie, the anti-government song released shortly before the irate Olusegun Obasanjo-led military regime ordered the vicious attack on Kalakuta.

The Truth, Unfiltered: Watch ‘Fuelling Poverty’, The Powerful Short Film Banned By The Nigerian Government

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Filmmaker Ishaya Bako sure has the Nigerian government in a tizzy. That’s because Bako has, with his documentary, Fuelling Poverty, kicked open a large can of worms. Crammed full of revelations about the inhuman underhandedness that led up to the massive Occupy Nigeria protests of January 2012 (and a cinematic account of the nationwide remonstrances), the sub-30-minute visual tell-all is President Goodluck Jonathan’s worst nightmare, captured on film in vivid colour.

From its rousing soundtrack featuring songs by Afrobeat legend Femi Kuti and singer-songwriter Asa, to the powerful deliberateness of the footage employed, there is no room for anyone to doubt that this is the story of Nigeria’s great fuel subsidy whooper, the story of the man on the street, and an artful stripping away of the coat of arms-emblazoned sheets that have long masked corruption in this once-great country. The truth couldn’t have been told any better.

P.S. A collaboration between writer/director Ishaya Bako and producer Oliver Aleogena, production of Fuelling Poverty was funded by The Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA). According to this report, the documentary has been banned by Nigeria’s federal government and Bako has been placed under security surveillance.

 

Frenemies: The Fourth Webisode Of ‘Gidi Up’ Is Here

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Ndani TV’s eight-part web series is heating up! In ‘Frenemies’, the freshly minted fourth webisode (that’s what an episode of a web series is called; web+(ep)isode, get it?) of the Nigerian urban life-centered show, secrets come to light and the past comes calling. No spoilers.

P.S. Listen to this webisode’s soundtrack, South African DJ Nkosinathi Maphumulo aka Black Coffee’s sexy house jam ‘Turn Me On’ (with vocals by Bucie), after the video. Thank me later.