So this is the famous Lagos?

Abigail Ibinabo Iyowuna
4 min readSep 9, 2023

Driver: Madam, you never pay me your money o

Me (in the most distorted form of pidgin spoken by a Nigerian born and bred in Nigeria): I don pay you since na, wetting you dey talk. I tell you, say I dey drop for Parkview.

Driver: And you no drop since? We don pass am na

Me (sighs in disbelief because I was certain today was the day I’d make it to/back from work with no hassle): Na wa for you. But I tell you na, Abeg just drop me make I dey go (at this point, I had decided to use the very Uber that I had been avoiding -or maybe not).

I had stopped somewhere around the Microsoft building at Ikoyi, and I stood for a few seconds trying to settle an internal debate between walking down to the office or just booking the Uber once and for all (ps — The Uber won. My guy had very valiant points).

I earnestly wanted the day to be one marked by ease, especially since the previous day left me weeping in the backseat of an Uber telling the driver how much I needed my Mummy. While wailing in the least glamorous way possible, I was convinced the word hassle was formed in anticipation of the events that happened that day.

It was only my first day at work and I needed to go back to Banana Island from Parkview. I tried using Uber but decided against it because the rush hour had begun making the fares spike and also because my friend had convinced me that Banana Island is somewhat positioned behind Parkview, so I’d be home in no time and with zero stress.

My friend told me this; Enter a shuttle to the Parkview gate, and when you get there you’ll see a car going to Banana Island. It’s that easy. I did what he said, but with no car in sight plying that route and having stood for a couple of minutes in shoes that made the soles of my feet ache desperately, I concluded that it wasn’t that easy. In fact, I’m certain that the next day, I heard my co-workers whispering, “Abby’s soles were crying bitterly yesterday, in a way that’s akin to the patterns of the professional Israeli wailers”.

Oh, my friends, the aching soles were only the tip of the iceberg. I tried to figure out how to get home by myself and went around asking questions. Before I knew it, I was on a bus headed to Obalende with plans of taking a taxi from there to Banana Island. If you’re familiar with the Ikoyi area, you are most likely shaking your head in confusion, utter disbelief and maybe a hint of pity. I understand.

I was on this bus doing somersaults in my head and singing praises of myself for the brilliant work that I had done, so I decided to check my map as a confirmation that I was headed in the right direction. The distance between my current location and my destination began to grow with every minute that passed, but I convinced myself that it was a result of using a “one-way” and the driver would get to a place where he would make a U-turn.

  • Laughs in my desire to hold on to falsehood.
The famous “Danfo”.
The inside of a “Danfo” on life support.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked back to find my colleague beaming at me with a smile. He asked if I could give him NGN1,000 and have him transfer it because he had forgotten his wallet. The moment I dipped my hand into my bag in search of my own wallet, the realization that I was just as stranded as he was, started to seep in, in little trickles before it came rushing in like a flood. Panic set in immediately, and the state of my mind could be embodied by that scene in SpongeBob SquarePants where tiny versions of himself were dealing with a fire in his head.

I sorted that out by asking someone else for help (I know, this was a really bold move for a Lagos JJC). I checked the map and saw that we were in fact not on a one-way but on the right path to Obalende — a couple more meters away from my actual destination.

I stopped the bus, came down, screamed “This is Lagos!” and booked an Uber.

It did not end here.

My phone died while struggling to locate the Uber driver. I did not know where I was.

You’re reading this now, so it’s a sign that I indeed made it home. And that I stopped getting missing, that I became a pro at navigating through the streets of Lagos, and that now I have more time to appreciate the regional planning of the mainland, the structural beauties that are the bridges linking different parts of the state of the together. Life is a lot more enjoyable when you’re not worrying about being lost.

You know what’s funny? Earlier that day, I had been so fixated on why the Security guard at Parkview said Goodnight to me rather than Good evening like “normal people” would. It was the first culture shock I experienced in Lagos. While we’re here on the issue of culture shocks, the next one was finding out that people would throw Locust beans into anything and everything, one can mistake it for the salt of the West. I don’t need to explain this joke right? You do get it right? Good.

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Abigail Ibinabo Iyowuna

Improving my writing skills by writing consistently(ish) on medium.