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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

On the STREETS, yet we SURVIVE

The streets of Naija

Several vehicles let out the different sounds and pitches of their horns and it was a definition of sound chaos. Sitting at the back of what seemed to have been a taxi with another three able bodied men, brushing, swearing, cursing and in a struggle, all I could think of was an escape.

I didn’t know if I was to pity this vehicle that had definitely seen better days, the driver who had to muster all the energy from the fufu he must have eaten, combined with the energy from that of black bullet and the moral from the sticks of cigar-weed he must have had so he could steer the little rusted steering, or this lekpa guy, neatly tucked in between this definitely huge body builders (so tucked in that a careless look would make him seem to be a bodiless head), there was no measure of care at all, The vehicle danced through the whole trip in rhythmic movement, characteristic of atilogwu dancers, indicating the last time the vehicle saw the garage of a wheel aligner.

We’ve waited a while for the road traffic warden to signal our traffic to move but she had been engrossed with her choirmaster styled traffic control that she moved a lane twice while we were still waiting.

That was the point when the hell of horns was let loose. As if she cared, she wasn’t perturbed as she kept dancing and flinging her arms as she wished. Then, it happened. A tiny adult voice rang into the cab;

Uncle abeg give me twenty naira make I buy food for my pikin”.

There she was, clutching a well malnourished infant who was so dusty and unkempt that you would have wondered if this was a pack of dirty clothes constructed and given a head to resemble a human being. 

I was very convinced that she must have borrowed this baby for the alms begging business. I wasn’t immediately disturbed because she wasn’t close to my own part of the vehicle but I could see the drama.

Spell twenty naira”. The muscular man responded.

Then there were plenty belligerent arguments in the local dialect and I was lost. There was another honking of angry horns, a swearing, a curse, then another bang on the frail body of the vehicle and we were off.

She had sworn on the man who refused to offer her alms while the man laughed and discussed her with his companions albeit in their local dialect and I watched as she went over to the other vehicle to continue her job.

Packed like a can of sardine and impatiently awaiting the end of the journey, we arrived plaza, the final destination. I speedily flung open the door, paid the driver (thank God I had smaller denominations) and ran for my dear life before he changes his mind and decides to take us further.

This is the street life of 9ja, from the vendors who sell everything, 

I mean everything at street stops and traffic lights, to the imported beggars who look Arabic and to the youth who is dressed in his worn out suit, en-route job search and to the drivers who overload their vehicles to maximize profits, and even to the corporate and business executives who wind up their glasses and put on the air conditioner even when the temperature is close to freezing, we are all parts of the Nigerian street where only the witty and smart survives. 

Welcome to the streets, welcome to 9ja.

Written by: Emelogu Godswill Chimaihe

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