On Guard

Lagosians wear the agbádá of suspicion rather elegantly.

If there was such a thing as a scale that measured a person’s suspicion level and if the average human being’s suspicion level ranked 7, a Lagosian’s would rank an off-the-scale 12.

Yes, distrust is imprinted onto our subconscious, we go to bed with it and wake up with it.  The typical Lagosian prides himself on being streetwise and thus blessed with an AntiMumu™ that repels the slightest sign of foul play.

Nedoux Lagos Chronicles 1

Just like the iron gates that barricade our homes, with tiny slide windows to peek through, our hearts are guarded by our suspicion, our eyes are the simply the minuscule window, they play no role when it comes to discernment.

We are adamant that nothing is what it seems even when it can obviously be no more than what it appears to be. Our flair for the dramatic concocts a delicious conspiracy theory.

I learned the hard way that asking for directions from the passersby on the streets might only yield being out-rightly ignored, Lagosians are wary of strangers.  It is fueled by a suspicion bordering on irrational paranoia.

One day, I got lost on the narrow one-way streets of Jibowu, and decided to ask a young girl for directions to the main road but not before arranging my face into the most harmless expression and plastering an unassuming smile.

I drove slowly beside her and asked politely. She shot me an angry look and walked away swinging her hips.  I frowned knowingly, she assumed my smile would somehow hypnotise her into entering my car and I would whisk her away for ungodly intentions.

I wondered how I would manage this feat in broad daylight, the fact that I was female like her made no difference to her.

Nedoux Lagos Chronicles 2

I drove a little further and saw an older gentleman standing in front of what I assumed was his home.  I repeated my request adding an overly respectful voice to my facial expression.  He also scowled at me and ignored me, but not entirely from fear of being spirited away to an unknown fate.

No, this time, I suspect my offence was having the effrontery to ask him- an elder- for directions. Or perhaps that I had the effrontery to even consider whisking him- an elder- away.  Who knows?

In hindsight,  I should have gone down from the car and knelt before him seeking help, like so :

“Oh wise one! I am on an epic journey to Ikorodu road and have become quite lost.  Pray forgive my youthful foolishness which has led me on this aimless quest.  Please bless me with your treasured golden counsel, show me, guide me, put me back on the right path of truth and light.”

On another day, my quest for directions led me to a young man, with a smile he offered to get into my car to guide me and ensure that I stayed on the right track.

My suspicion radar came alive and beeped maniacally as I imagined all the potentially sinister motives embedded within this seemingly kind gesture.  I smiled and shook my head in refusal. As I drove away, still very much lost, I thought about the two-sidedness of this Èkó brand of distrust.

You are suspicious of me and I am suspicious of you.  We are in this Lagos together.

Sign

 

 

 

 

PS:  I was one of contributors to the first edition of the Monochrome Lagos Digital Photobook, where this piece was originally published.  The aim of the photobook is to showcase Lagos from the fusion of photography and literature. The photographs are art and capture the essence of this interesting city beautifully.

Monochrome Lagos Digital Photobook

About Monochrome Lagos

 

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85 comments

  1. As always your posts make me laugh and reflect. Unfortunately, after having been to the school of hard knocks from living in Lagos I too have learned to be distrustful. I had a painful shift in my mental health as I battled the questions: ‘who do I trust?’ ‘Why should I become very distrustful of people’, but I learned. Do I recount the instances where I lost my phone to someone who pretended to be stranded and needed to make a call, or my bag to a drunk old man, or was it wads of cash…..and on and on. I learned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Inez,

      You’ve put it so aptly, Lagos is indeed the school of hard knocks, once one graduates they can weather whatever storms life throws their way. XD

      Lol @ “who do I trust?” Yes, we learn from our experiences and even the experiences of others.

      Thank you so much for reading this.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Like

  2. Oh wise one! I am on an epic journey to Ikorodu road and have become quite lost. Pray forgive my youthful foolishness which has led me on this aimless quest. Please bless me with your treasured golden counsel, show me, guide me, put me back on the right path of truth and light.”
    This cracked me up😂😂😂
    Nedoux, you write so well, gosh!
    I think this is my first time commenting on your blog even if I know I have commented on some posts before and I dnt know what happened after that…lol

    Welldone dear, keep shinning!

    thatinternist.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tosin,

      I sincerely appreciate your sweet compliment. 🙂

      Ah, sometimes the antics of Lagosians leaves one more amused than annoyed. Indeed, Lagos na wa!

      Thank you so much for reading this.

      Have a lovely weekend.

      Like

  3. @ Monochrome, congratulations Nedu!

    Guarded suspicion is a feature of metropolitan cities. It seems especially heightened in Lagos. Once we asked for directions from some boys who hailed an okada and gave him directions to take us. Scared that we were being set up for possible robbery we declined the offer.

    After roaming for about an hour, we paid another okada more money to take us to the place. He headed in the same direction and to the same place the boys had earlier described. Oh well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Timi,

      Thank you so much for sharing this opportunity with me! 😀

      Yes, it’s especially heightened in Lagos. Your story made me laugh, because I can relate with it. Lol

      Ah, the term “Lagosian” is definitely a badge of survival.

      Have a lovely weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was simply laughing through reading this! wow!

    that brymo song titled “Eko” playing in the background of my mind.

    Very interesting, insightful and poignant writeup!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Immanuel,

      I’m so glad that you saw the lighter side, I was very confused that day. 😀

      Btw, I’ve been meaning to buy Brymo’s Tabula Rasa album for a while now.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Enjoy the rest of the week.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Denike,

      Ah, Lagos tales are effortlessly funny. You are right. 😀

      Thank you so much for reading this, enjoy the rest of the week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Like

  5. wow, i really enjoyed reading this.
    The issue of distrust is not just a lagosian thing but a Nigerian thing. Countless times i’ve found myself in situations like this and my mother’s advice of not talking to strangers keep replaying in my mind. I try to read my psalms everyday (23,91,121) it helps me deal with this paranoral because truly this susipicion is not a one sided feeling.
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    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Praise,

      Yes our parents raised us to be wary of strangers even those with unassuming smiles. 😀

      Indeed, we trust God for protection but also depend of our intuition when faced with potential danger.

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your insightful thoughts.

      Enjoy the rest of the week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nedoux!! I know where to go when I need a good read. Your writing is GOOD. Ahhh! I should go back and read your old posts.
    That photo of the bus is so on point!
    The paragraph describing how you could [possibly beg an elder to show you the way is so funny!
    Such a sweet and short piece!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lady P,

      You know I really appreciate your readership, right? 😀

      Ah, his reaction really stumped me, I’d hoped that his age would make his reaction different from the young girl’s, I guess suspicion is no respecter of age.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Best wishes!

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Like

    1. Hi Dami,

      You’ve raised a valid point, the antimumu stance is a coping mechanism of sorts. For surely the Lagos motto must be “Survival of the fittest. 😀

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Best wishes!

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Like

  7. I fitn’t laugh abeg. My antimumu radar is always hyper once I am in Naija because I’ve been robbed not once, not twice, not thrice but several times. We are born with suspicious genes – eyeing each other like opponents on a chess board.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sis,

      I know what you mean, once bitten a million times shy.

      Ah, you described it so aptly “like opponents on a chess board” each one trying to figure out the true intentions of the other. 😀

      Thank you so much for sharing your interesting thoughts, enjoy the rest of the week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding to your comment sooner, I have been horribly swamped.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Its a global trait, being suspicious I guess….. I am sitting here being suspicious of the stranger I am sharing a taxi ride with and the fact that they keep trying to glance at exactly what I am doing on the phone has my suspicio-meter on hyperdrive…..
    ~B

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Beaton,

      Hmmm… You do have a point, it just might be global especially in these times that we live in.

      Ah, I’m that way too when I use shared transportation.
      Lol @ “Suspicio- meter” PERFECT!!! XD

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, have a happy rest-of-the-week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Like

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      You are so right, everyone is busy minding their lane, too busy to be their brother’s keeper. 😀

      Wow! the fear of kidnappers is sure to raise paranoia to the skies, please make sure you stay safe.

      Thank you so much for reading this, best wishes!

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Berry,

      You are so right, these days I arm myself with detailed directions from Google maps before setting out on “epic journeys”. 😀

      Lol @ Heck Naw. I know right?!

      Thank you for reading this, enjoy the rest of the week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Like

  9. As always, great piece. And the AntiMumu™ meme rocks!

    Well, Lagos is an extension of Nigeria, it is the hub where it is acceptable to set our AntiMumu™ to On Demand.

    What I have seen is that the more religious a country claims to be, the more suspicious the citizens are and the higher the costs of AntiMumu™ Pills.

    Also, there is a close correlation between a society’s attitude to judiciary system and the level of AntiMumu™ dosage (aka suspiciousness) needed by her people.

    Now cat is leaping out of the bag, very soon, fingers crossed our irrational paranoia will have no where else to hide so we can put our hard earned income to better use 🙂

    As Fela Kuti said ‘We fear for the thing we no see, we fear for the air around us…”

    And Elvis Presley “And we can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds…”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Folake,

      Lol… I laughed as I coined “Anti-Mumu”

      You’ve raised a thought-provoking point o! RE: “The more religious a country claims to be, the more suspicious the citizens are and the higher the costs of AntiMumu™ Pills”.

      Ah, most of us have overdosed on those pills and reached that tipping point when everything means something even if it is nothing.
      XD

      Both Mr Kuti and Mr. Presley were onto something…

      Your well-thought out comments always give me great joy, thank you so much for reading this. Have a happy rest-of-the-week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Nedu ooo! 😂

    “Oh wise one! I am on an epic journey to Ikorodu road and have become quite lost. Pray forgive my youthful foolishness which has led me on this aimless quest. Please bless me with your treasured golden counsel, show me, guide me, put me back on the right path of truth and light.”

    Plus you trademarked Antimumu!
    I can’t breathe…. bye

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Doc Sandy

      Honestly, I could only laugh about this incident in retrospect, I was mostly perplexed before I became amused.

      Ah, Anti-Mumu deserved to be trademarked. 😀

      Thank you so much for reading.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Like

    1. Hi Kachee,

      Lol… I know right, Lagos screams “every man for himself” because who no know go know! 😀

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Best wishes.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Like

    1. Hi Obisco,

      I sincerely appreciate your kind words.

      Lagos is what it is, this city writes its own stories all by itself. 😀

      Thank you so much for reading, enjoy the rest of the week

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Watch Lagosians flip out at people in other Nigerian cities/towns for letting their guard down in perfectly normal situations and you’ll understand how much this thing eats into our sanity, like a slow-working cancer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Ife,

      You are so right, we do that thing where we raise our eyebrows almost condescendingly/half-mocking at non-Lagosians for being so laid back. 😀

      When abnormal becomes the new normal…

      I enjoyed your comment, thank you for reading this. Enjoy the rest of the week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful writeup. And this is sooooooo true.
    ‘You’re suspicious of me and I am suspicious of you. We are in this Lagos together’
    😂😂😂😂😂

    Hope you somehow got to your destination that day tho.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Zaram,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Indeed, that it is true is actually what makes it even more amusing. 😀

      Ah, I did get to the end of my epic journey that day.

      Enjoy the rest of the week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. NEDUUU! How body? Erm, did you ever get to your destination in the end,??! Hahaha, loved this ‘tory. And ps I was having this conversation with someone from work last week, he was telling me how he does couchsurfing- you know- when you invite a stranger from god-knows-where to stay in your flat, in the hope they will return the favour. I am still in awe over that concept and I told him it could never work in Lagos, coz you might as well advertise on the same online forum- I live here come and thief errryting and then kill me!

    The same thing goes for the carsharing thang: the Nigerian in me can neeeeever be down for those thing.
    Ps how come AntiMumu is TM?
    Have a goooood week ( :

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi babe!

      You are hilarious, your comments always feel like banter with a dear friend. XD

      Body dey fine o! I got to my epic destination eventually.

      Couch surfing?! Ah, that one can never work in this Lagos, they will thief everything and even thief the person join.

      Lol…. Anti-Mumu deserved to be trademarked, I laughed as I coined the word.

      Thank you so much for putting a smile on my face, enjoy the rest of the week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hahaha @Antimumu.
    Who can blame us. The other day I took a bike, the guy offered no scratch that, the guy insisted on taking a “shorter route” despite my persistent refusal. Since I couldnt jump off the bike, I held my umbrella tightly ready to strike if need be.

    It was indeed a shorter route.
    Sigh!

    Epiphany29.com
    Bodycon, Sneaks ‘N’ Fringes

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Gracey,

      Lol.. I imagined the scene if you had smacked him with the umbrella.

      We are suspicious even when people have good intentions. 😀

      Thank you so much for reading, enjoy the rest of the week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Like

  15. Anti-mumu! I like that.

    But who can blame us? In Lagos, you never know who’s who. But I am quite surprised that no one gave you directions.

    My problem with Lagosians when it comes to direction giving is nothing matches. Someone says “This way!” Then another person says “That way! ” Confusion.

    While growing up, we were told a lot lot “one chance” stories and warned against speaking to strangers. I guess those warnings and stories will forever be with us.

    http://www.miralabelle.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ijenna,

      Indeed, who can blame us?! Lagos is full of surprises so one must be wary. 😀

      Lol @ this way and that way. I know what you mean. Ah, “one chance” stories are so scary.

      Thank you for chipping in, I really enjoyed your comment.

      Best wishes.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Like

  16. Lagos nawa.
    There is a way a guy or lady will ask me for directions I won’t even answer, that’s when I play selective hearing.
    You know rumour has it that sometimes when they (fraudsters) hear you speak it activates their jazz(medi) and then you become a victim.
    I don’t want to be in the “you no wise” category.
    I enjoyed reading this write up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Vivian,

      Lol @ selective hearing &Jazz (medi). I know what you mean, I once used to be scared of telling strangers the time when they asked. The rumour then was that once one told the time to people with bad intentions, their body parts would disappear.

      Indeed, Lagos na real wa. 😀

      I enjoyed reading your comment, thank you. Enjoy the rest of the week.

      PS: My sincere apologies for not responding sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hahaha.

    This is my best part.
    Oh wise one! I am on an epic journey to Ikorodu road and have become quite lost. Pray forgive my youthful foolishness which has led me on this aimless quest. Please bless me with your treasured golden counsel, show me, guide me, put me back on the right path of truth and light.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Fadeke,

      I just read that bit again and laughed out loud, it’s my best part too. I was very confused that day, then eventually I found it all amusing. 😀

      Thank you so much for reading, have a lovely weekend.

      Like

  18. 😂😂

    Ekò!

    Haha. I’ve definitely wondered if that would get some elders to open up about the ‘experience’ from which they give advice or instructions 😆. The paranoid being subject to the decisions of another’s paranoia – hmmm, it can be annoying sometimes but at the end I can empathise. It is what it is.

    Congratulations ‘Nedu. I think I chose well. Nedu the mentor 😁😆🙌🏾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tony,

      I’m sincerely sorry for not replying sooner, I’ve been so tied up with preparations for my sewing workshop holding this Saturday.

      Lol @ “The paranoid being subject to the decisions of another’s paranoia”, pretty much sums up this article.

      But really, I wondered about a lot of things that afternoon, the whys, whats & hows. 😀

      Ah, ‘mentor’ sounds very important, thank you so much for the wonderful support, means a lot to me.

      Best wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi N,

      In Pakistan too? Our societies are rather similar. 😀

      I strongly suspect this suspicion comes from a primal need to protect one’s self from potential harm.

      Thank you so much for reading this, best wishes for the rest of the week.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Hahaha. this suspicion extends to my lovely people in Kampala, Uganda. For the same reasons, we are very suspicious people too. Everyone thinks everyone is out to get them.
    Lovely post. I enjoyed reading.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Atim,

      Lol @ “Everyone thinks everyone is out to get them.”

      Ah, even in Uganda? It’s interesting to know that the Octopus named ‘suspicion’ has widespread tentacles. I suppose the natural instincts for self-preservation is universal after all. 😀

      Thank you so much for reading this.

      Have a happy rest-of-the-week.

      Like

    1. Hey Lady!

      You are the sort of fantastic reader that every writer wants in their corner. I sincerely appreciate the support and kind words.

      Lol @ “suspicious peg” XD XD XD

      Best wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. My antimumu was not so strong a few years ago when I fell into the hands of fraudsters, now as a Lagosian I’ve been forced to become wary to kindness, everyone is a wolf in sheep-clothing. Trust only your own intentions. I love the end, the accused became the accuser. And that old man part made me crack up! Spot on, post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Oyindamola,

      “Trust only your intentions” I love the sound of that, it would be the perfect mantra of Lagosians. 😀

      Eventually, the young shall grow, likewise every JJC shall one day wear the medal of street-wisdom.

      Ah yes, the accused became the accuser. Lol

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comment, thank you so much.

      Best wishes for the rest of the week!

      Like

  21. Chai, Nedouxxxxxxx! Ha with hahahaha! I am rolling with laughter right now. Antimumu ke? I remember the first time I went to Lagos. I was on a bus and suddenly realised I was confused about my directions and I kindly asked the lady beside me “Ma please, is this bus going to…”

    The manner in which the lady answered made me wish the ground will just open and swallow me. She was like “you no even know where you dey go, na im you enta bus. See dis girl o…”

    That was how I came down and tried my best to locate my direction. It’s not easy in Lagos oo…Thanks for making my day with this beautiful piece!

    Sorry But I Cannot Go Out With My Natural Hair

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Cherish,

      Lagos stories have a way of being effortlessly funny.

      Lol… Your story cracked me up. Ah, Lagosians like to tease people they suspect lack street smarts, as if the most streetwise person didn’t once start off as a fresh JJC at some point. We live, we learn jo ! 😀

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, have a happy week!

      Like

  22. Nedu very true. Society has made everyone suspicious of every other person’s moves. Sometimes even a “good morning” is misinterpreted. Anyway my dearest, Happy belated birthday” I tried reaching you but I guess this will get to you faster. Call me sometime. Remain blessed dear sister😀🎂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Sweetie,

      It’s quite sad when even good intentions get caught up in the suspicion net.

      Lol @ “Sometimes even a “good morning” is misinterpreted” Ah, I suspect that there are people whose “good morning”s are pregnant with ill wishes. XD

      Thank you so much for sharing your insightful thoughts, I really enjoyed reading your comment.

      Like

  23. The idiosyncrasies of a Lagosians 🙂 lmao @antimumu. Lovely piece with a hint of humour. And oh, congrats on the being one of the pioneer contributors contributors to the first edition of the Monochrome Lagos Digital Photobook. Well done Nedu!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Preye,

      Idiosyncrasies is so apt. I’m glad you saw the subtle humour, for isn’t Lagos the perfect blend of hustle and laughter? 🙂

      Thank you so much for your kind words, means a lot to me.

      Have a happy week!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Anti-Mumu sounds so funny. XD

    You really described the attitude of a typical Lagosian, I am like this too sometimes because Lagos can be so unpredictable.

    I enjoyed reading your post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Ndidi,

      I, myself, laughed as I coined the word. 😀

      To me, “Lagosian” is a lot more than one who lives in Lagos, it is a badge of resilience.

      Thank you so much for reading, have a happy week.

      Like

    1. Hi Chioma,

      If suspicion were a pill, a few of us would have OD’d on it by now. 😀

      You’ve raised a profound point, indeed, when this suspicion extends its tentacles to ethnicity and religion, it disturbs the unity required for national growth.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, have a happy week

      Liked by 1 person

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