The word ‘hustle’ comes fully alive in Lagos. Hustle grows arms and legs and has a breath of its own. Hustle walks down the street with you. Hustle is the sweat that drips down your face. Forgive me, I’m Lagos born and bred but I’ve never felt her in my pores. I’m doing some work in Lagos for a spell and the confines of my home can’t keep me safe anymore. Lagos has thrust her naked body in my eyes.
Here are some helpful tips to the naïve Lagosian:
- Do not put your phone, wallet or money in your pocket. Whatever is in your wallet should be expendable. Just don’t try the spirits in Lagos. No matter how deep your pocket runs, just do not tempt them.
- If you’re carrying a bag, make sure the zip(s)/lock is/are within eye range. When you look down, you should be able to see the zip/lock of your bag. Anything over your shoulder is at risk. Plus there’s absolutely nothing wrong with carrying your backpack in front.
- Always carry extra cash for a cold drink and snack. The sun that shines in Lagos is different from every place. I don’t know how that is but it just is. You don’t want to swoon by the roadside. Nobody will help you by the way, this is a very common sight.
- Do not ignore beggars especially the ones with no disability; the ones that can follow you around. Be on high alert if they are kids. Your purse/wallet will be intact but your money/ATM cards will be gone, I promise you. Just give them something and let them leave you alone.
- Just let them touch you. There’s little you can do to avoid body contact. In places like Yaba, Ojota, Berger/Oshodi, CMS, Lagos Island , Oke-Arin, Idumota, Aswani, Tejuosho, those Igbo boys will call you (nice) names and touch you. Just get other it. A reaction is what they seek and my my, you don’t want to give it to them.
- The best place to sit in public transport is not by the window. I’ve realized this. The back seat is not an option too; you’ll feel every bump the bus feels in your bones.
- Conductors/Drivers are not beneath you. They can be a plus to you if you’re extra nice. You want them on your side. Do not raise your voice at them. Ask for your ‘change’ calmly. Do not be a backseat driver. Lagos drivers will never listen to you. They’ve been driving Lagos roads for years without a license.
- Shades and an earpiece will save your life. Gone are the days when sunglasses were fashion accessories. Just make sure your phone isn’t in your pocket when your ears are plugged.
- Do not buy things on impulse. Lagos will put a hole in your pocket just by walking through her roads if you’re not careful. Keep your eyes straight ahead of you.
- Use the bridges please. It’s not only safer, it makes perfect sense. Unless you’re an expert in the zigzag dance. Do not find shame in asking the experts to help you across the roads. They’ll do it gladly.
- Walk briskly in Lagos clutching-not-so-tightly to whatever is in your hands. Your cat-walking skills will destroy your shoes, encourage brash body contact and leave you vulnerable to her demons.
Dear Naive Lagosian, I hope this helps. These lessons were borne out of an enlightening three day experience. I have eleven more days to go and I’ll keep you posted if there’s anymore.