On Wednesday the 28th of February 2018, I was at the Landmark Event Centre, Lekki,Lagos for Social Media Week 2018. I had loads of fun at the event itself, in fact I had so much fan that I lost track of time. When I looked at my watch it was almost 7pm. A desperate taxi ride to the bus stop later, I stood among a crowd of people waiting for the same bus. My desperation mounting, I approached a group of commercial bike riders waiting nearby, and asked one: “can you take me to Oshodi?” He agreed. The following is the result of that unplanned and thrilling trip.
The decision to do the Lekki to Oshodi trip wasn’t totally borne out of desperation.
Of course I was mindful about time and concerned that I might enter Ibadan so late that I would not be able to get a cab home. Or worse still I might end up in the hands of the night guards or robbers. However I knew that only an optimist verging on delusional would hope he can get to Ibadan in the early hours of the night after leaving Lekki around past seven (even without Lagos traffic). So getting to Ibadan late wasn’t enough motivation. What made me really do that trip was curiosity. Was there a noticeable difference between the experience of Lekki to Oshodi by bus and Lekki to Oshodi by bike, especially for a non Lagosian like me? Were we going to run into one of those “mad” drivers that Lagos twitter will never stop talking about, who would try and run us into the ocean, or at least cuss us out Lagos style? Would my brain matter be splattered across a Lagos road or maybe the boot of a windshield of a Lagos car (sorry for that rather morbid image, a writer’s imagination isn’t particularly filled with chocolates and flowers, is it?) will the experience be worth a “Five Things I learnt from riding a bike from Lekki to Oshodi” blogpost about?
It ended up being a routine ride
Thankfully I made it from Lekki to Oshodi in one piece. Other than the mildly sore butt I got for sitting on a hard motorbike seat for 40 minutes, there was nothing else worth reporting. No Fast and Furious shenanigans from the bike rider, no mad Lagos driver trying to run us off the road (even the mainland riders were surprisingly well behaved), and certainly zero chance of my brain matter being splattered across a Lagos road, or being run into the ocean. The bike rider hadn’t even had anything to drink (*side eyes Ibadan bike riders*). Of course I know some of you Lagos people are probably rolling your eyes at a country bumpkin from Ibadan, trying to make a mountain out of something that the average Lagosian probably does every day. But at least you guys should allow a young storyteller a story to share with his Ibadan “fans” about those “mad Lagos people.” Worriz all deez? much boring, very disappointment.
I would have paid the bike rider twice the amount I paid.
I paid the rider a thousand and five hundred naira. I don’t know if He cheated me or not (he originally demanded for two thousand five hundred), but I know that the last time I made the same journey by bus, it lasted nearly four hours. This time around though it lasted between thirty to forty minutes which I think is only about a tenth of the time (Oh! it is not? Well If I was a math whiz, I’d be dragging the Nobel Prize for Physics with Shuri the daughter of T’chaka, instead of being an underpaid writer slogging away in front of a computer). I was having so much fun at #SMWLagos that I lost track of time, and people who had far more sense than I do, had warned me not to go to Ibadan that night, or else I’d end up sleeping on the road because of traffic. But I had no option because I had made precisely zero plans to stay the night in Lagos. I didn’t even have a toothbrush to hand. What I saw at various points on the road that night convinced me that if I didn’t take the risk I took, I’d have ended with a far bigger risk of sleeping on the road. The mildly sore butt I got from a forty minute bike ride was a far better option than the possible loss of blood circulation in my legs from a four hour bus journey. If I didn’t die first from high blood pressure brought about by worry at the prospect of a late night journey on the Lagos Ibadan expressway that is.
I saw the sights (and contrasts) of Lagos.
The lack of mad Lagos drivers notwithstanding, I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy the thrill of the cool ocean breeze blowing on my face and making my hair flutter (or at least it would if I had hair). Also the sight of Lagos Island at night was breathtaking, all those bright lights at night reflected into the dark waters of the ocean, would have inspired a least a sonnet or ten, if I wasn’t such a no talent at poetry. Of course it wasn’t my first time of seeing Lagos Island at night, but it was the first time of seeing it while sitting on a bike, whizzing along the bridge at 60-80 km/h. However once I crossed the bridge into the mainland, the dark streets with the pinpricks of scattered lights, the busy streets packed with milling crowds, complete with the shacks and stinking gutters filled with refuse and murky water hit me with the force of a hammer. The contrast between the mainland and the well-lit and ordered skyscrapers and posh mansions of the Island stood sharp and stark. As we drove along, I could not help but imagine a Hunger Games style horde straight out of the dark shacks of Oshodi, Idumota and Agege streaming across the bridge into the posh Villas and offices of Lekki and Ikoyi (*sigh* I know have been watching too much YA fiction movies for my own good). The mass of the milling crowd I saw in Oshodi seemed like a different species from the people I had spent most of the day with at the Landmark event Centre venue of #SMWLagos. Even for a non-Lagosian, such squalor sitting side by side against such sign of affluence and prosperity is jarring. Of course I could talk about the social implications of that but I’ll keep that for one of my more political think pieces.
I will probably do it again sometime.
The trip didn’t cost that much, it wasn’t that dangerous and it was filled with interesting sights. What’s not to like? Even though I will still say I prefer the even more boring bus ride from Lekki to Oshodi to the bike trip. However I know if a situation such as that night presents itself again (and I am sure that one day it will), I would do it again. Because, of course I have little knowledge of Lagos, and who doesn’t love a thrill once in a while?
PS: I should talk about how the useless bus driver, that drove us to Ibadan from Oshodi, wasted whatever advantage I thought I had gained with the bike ride with his crappy bus, but that is a story for another day.