THE PERKS OF BEING A NIGERIAN – EPISODE 3

Where two or more Nigerians are gathered there is drama and a lesson surely to be learnt. This is due to everyone’s level of adaptation and interpretation skill to best decode a situation and make decisions in the quickest time to his or her advantage. We all understand the philosophy behind the popular lingo, na only you waka come, since Nigerians can’t afford the luxury of waiting on someone else to make decisions for them. When it comes to being a Nigerian there is usually a mix of emotions that wells up in the average Nigerian – this minute you’re proudly Nigerian, the next you’re super embarrassed to identify as one. And, on some weird days you find both situations coming at you simultaneously. However, the situation comes at you, you walk away learning something – to always remember the tenets and principles from the Book of Elders, a prerequisite for everyday survival.

I was fresh out of secondary school and had just got a job as a janitor somewhere in the capital of Lagos. Due to my work schedule and distance between my place of work and home (Lagosians can relate fully) I had to leave home as early as possible. With other commuters who understood the frustration of getting stuck in traffic on a work day, I boarded the first bus in the park – an old, rickety, worn-out bus. I took a seat between twoplump women, as the bus grumpily zoomed off.

Drama started when the conductor began collecting fares, a man had refused to pay his fare on the ground that he was a staff. The conductor reported to the driver, who upon hearing this had began to cuss out and murmur. To my utmost bewilderment nobody seemed to be interested in what was happening. Then I noticed the appearance of the young man that had refused to pay. He was young and well-built with no mustache or beards whatsoever. Most importantly, I noticed the camouflaged shirt and cap he had on, he was military. Little wonder why everyone seemed to be minding their business. The driver never stopped cussing out and after narrowly escaping two accidents, passengers soon began to caution him to focus more on the road. The military man was not helping issues as his threat of beating the driver up and grounding the bus infuriated the driver the more. Nobody dared to caution him, this was afterall the driver and conductor’s problem.

My silent prayer to get to my bust stop safely was suddenly disrupted when the bus began to slow down. An irritating sound from the bus’s engine backfired as the jalopy finally came to a halt. Had the military man carried out his threat? Had the driver decided to pull over?

“Abeg fuel don finish. Make una help me push am small make we reach that filling station,” the driver snorted, stepping out of the bus. Not now! Everyone began to lash out at the driver. We all knew too well that this was no mistake, bus drivers were fond of this and no commuter was ready to take a chill pill. The next three minutes saw everyone in a total pandemonium. Most persons wanted their money back, as a way of punishing the driver for being rude for a larger part of the trip.

“I can’t be late today,” I thought to myself, this would be the third day in a row. Infuriated and nervous I got out, and with the other passengers, met the driver for a refund as the conductor had suddenly gone AWOL. An elderly man who had earlier had an altercation with the driver made a huge blunder, thinking he had the blessings of other passengers; he raised his hand, clenched his fist and landed a huge blow on the driver. In a very sharp turn of event, I saw the elderly man lying on the floor, panting and shrieking, with the driver getting his pound of flesh. Everyone had made way for them to exhaust their energy. An attempt to separate them was made after a few minutes. The elderly man looked ruffled and messed up as blood dripped from the side of his mouth and a loose skin dangled by the right corner of his eye.

I learnt some lessons that morning to wit: if you must strike the first punch, be sure you’re strong enough to take the next two punches. As our elders would say, no go dey do pass yourself. Never allow emotions and sentiments becloud your reasoning, and never start a fight solely relying on the blessings and strength of others. You would realize that Dame was right when she said “na only you waka come” – don’t try to impress anybody. The elderly man had violated the principles from the Book of Elders, how unelderly.

Later that day at work, I felt harassed by my boss in the presence of other staff, and then she made a mistake, I thought of correcting her openly to spite her and feel better and then I remembered that na only me waka come and that I shouldn’t do pass myself because it would end in tears.

“Yes ma,” I said as I hurriedly left her presence. How elderly.

DHESERT CHEQUER

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