A follow up to Èko o fẹ́ràn rẹ́. Lagos Still Does NOT ❤ You
You may have seen my post yesterday on Lagos “Street Kings” and wonder why I am writing again about Lagos? Please bear with my obsession. I believe some stories need to be told. Go read my first post on Lagos titled — Èko o fẹ́ràn rẹ́. I have also written in the past about “Sabo” and “Gidi Poseurs”. I have a very complicated relationship with Lagos. This below is however not a love story.
My friend Sam (not his real name) is a corporate lawyer in Lagos. He does not practice criminal law, but about 10 years ago, he got a call from a client to come bail him from Maroko Police Station.
Apparently, the client had run over and killed a recharge card seller in front of Mobil as he was heading home towards Lekki. Sam then called someone who called the Police commissioner, who called the DPO…. I never followed up on the case but I don’t think the client was ever jailed. One more favor he owed. One new minion of the cabal.
My mind kept going to the victim of that accident. The guy who was wiped out of existence as he was trying to fight poverty.
There was a law against street hawking. People were easy to point out that he was careless and should have avoided the highway. It is the same people who would not think twice before buying newspapers and recharge cards from the unknown guy I named “Chigozie”. Gozie’ lived a short and brutish Lagos existence.
My first Lagos address was #13 Prince Fadina Street, Olodi Apapa, Lagos. The place they call Ajegunle. My mother’s younger brother was a customs officer at Tin Can Island port and we usually came to visit him there before he moved to Festac. Ajegunle was not fun to live in. Don’t believe Daddy Shokey.
Ajegunle was filled with people who came to Lagos in search of a better existence. Some people like my uncle got out. Others remained. People did everything they could to get out of there. There was no love lost between them and poverty. I later lived in Ikoyi but never forgot Ajegunle.
I imagined Gozie as one of my old neighbours in Ajegunle who would never go home again. His relatives will search for him for a while and give up. He will probably end up unclaimed and become a medical cadaver at LUTH.
Gozie never stood a chance against Lagos. Lagos is not Gozie or those like him. Lagos is what creates people like him and takes their lives. I have never loved Lagos. I never hid my disdain. Lagos never loved me too. It also does not care. “Èko o fẹ́ràn rẹ́.”
Gozie probably was not aware of any anti-street trading laws but knew that he had to pay someone to be able to trade there. He would not have left Ajegunle to Victoria Island on his own if he didn’t also have a supplier of recharge cards. That supplier also probably paid for “protection” for his foot-soldiers selling in the area.
The money Gozie should have paid as legal taxes would have been paid by the supplier to the protectors, who probably would share some with the police. The same police who would now extort Sam and his client, the man who killed Gozie in the accident.
That is how Lagos REALLY works. That has always been my problem with it. Same way most Nigerian cities work too but in Lagos it is on a different level entirely because of the population density.
Not everyone will be able to leave Lagos as I did. For those who choose to remain, be compassionate to those who did not choose to come there but were forced to by circumstance.
RIP Gozie. Lagos never did ❤ you too.