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.
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.
To live in Lagos is to know when to flaunt your body. I will always be amused by the tales of Danfo bus drivers who resort to stripping naked to avoid being penalised by LASTMA officers after flouting traffic laws. ♫ I’m sexy and I know it ♫
To live in Lagos is to know not to run when you hear shouts of olè, as you might get confused for the thief and receive fiery punishment for much more than restless legs.
I once heard a joke about a man who was running wildly, and as he raced along everyone who saw him joined him unquestioning. When asked why they were running they’d simply point at him and say “Something must be chasing him, I don’t want it to catch me.” To live in Lagos is to intuitively know what sort of race to join.
To live in Lagos is to accept that everyone owns you, people feel entitled to a piece of everyone else whether they like it or not. An unspoken communal ownership of human beings. Lines as thin as the translucent strings seen when lifting amala from well-whipped ewedu stew separate your business from my business and our business.