Grey Matter

Grey Matter
Five hundred kilometers to Oshogbo and back in 24 hours. On my way back somewhere before Gbangan I wasn’t sure which turning to take at a fork in the road. The section of road was very quiet but fortunately, a couple of people stood by the roadside just before the fork. I pulled up, greeted them politely and asked about the turning. 
After answering my question, her younger male companion asked if the older woman could join me. Turns out she was going to Ikire which is after Gbongan on the way to Ibadan. I am not much of a talker so after some fairly mundane exchange, we settled into a comfortable silence with some news program on the radio providing the background sound. 

She had a relatively small basket with some bundles of what appeared to be spinach in it. I assumed it was for sale and it struck me I could buy a couple. I already bought some African snails and a well made vegetable soup with peppered snails suddenly sounded very appealing. 

“Mama. Is the vegetable for sale?” I asked, glancing briefly at her. 

“Yes my son. They are special though.”

“Oh. In what way?” Playing along thinking it’s a psychological move to increase the amount she’s going to ask for each bunch. 

“Ah! They are not for everybody” she says.

I smiled. 

“So who are they for then?”

“Special people.”

“Special people?” I asked. 

“Very special people.” she said.

“Am I special enough?” I asked joking. 

“It depends.”

“Really? On?”

“Yes o!” She said. 

I had to smile at her colloquial answer.

“I should think I am special enough.” I said smiling.

“Oh. Big man like you. You are definitely special. But not for this kind of vegetable. At least I hope not!”

“Ok ma. But I am a little confused. Isn’t it just spinach?”

“Yes and no.” she said with a smile. 

Her cryptic answers were starting to get a little old. I was considering dropping the whole thing when she went on.

“There’s evil in the world my son.” Something in her tone made me glance sideways at her. She was looking straight through the windscreen. The expression on her face a cross between sadness, loneliness and something I couldn’t quite fathom. I didn’t say anything.

After a minute or so, she went on. 

“Are you a good man my son?” This time she was looking at me in earnest. 

“I like to think so ma. But like everyone I have my issues.”

She nodded. That seems to pacify her a little as the expression on her face softened somewhat.

“Are you married?” She asked. 

“No I am not.”

“Why not?”

“Long story. Personal issues. Then there’s a girl. She’s far away yet I can’t or won’t consider anyone else”. I trailed off. 

“Is she that special?”

“Yes. Everyone else pales into insignificance before her.”

“Very beautiful?”

“Very very beautiful.” I smiled a little uncomfortably. The conversation was getting into painful territory. 

“And I bet light skinned as well.”

I glanced sideways at her. Was she perhaps a mind reader?

“Oh. No need for that look. Isn’t it what all you men are looking for?” She laughed. She went on before I could say anything. Not that I had a good response other than to agree. 

“Is she as light as I am?”


“Lighter ke? Is she albino or something? Very few people are naturally lighter than me o.”

“No. She’s not albino. But she’s still lighter than you.” I had to smile at her evaluation of herself. 

“Of course I am much darker now. It’s the sun. In my days ….”

She seemed to be lost in thought. The strange expression was back on her face and she was looking through the screen again at nothing specific. She just appeared to be gazing into the distance.

I kept quiet. 

“When you get married never raise your hand against your wife.”

I nodded my head.

I could sense she was going to go on. And I like a good story.  

“My husband was an evil man. He destroyed my life and the lives of his children. You won’t think it to look at me. I am not well read. I only finished primary school. I started trading after that. But like my mum I was industrious. I was quite comfortable by the time I got married to my husband. He was very charming when he was wooing me. But he became an animal after we got married. The beatings started. I even had a car and a driver at one point for my business as I was traveling a lot. He was stealing my profit and spending it on his girlfriends. Of course it took me some time to find out about the women. It affected me seriously. I couldn’t cope. And I think it was the day I confronted him that the beatings started. I tried reporting him to his family. But they took sides with him. My own family only cautioned patience. That I should keep my home together. I should overlook his womanizing. I should rest content in the fact that I am the woman at home. All the ones “outside” are transients. 

I was too independent and strong willed for that. It got so bad he would beat me not only with his fists and feet, but with anything he could lay his hands on. Slowly between his emotional and physical torture, stealing my money and my own inability to concentrate on the business, I started losing customers and made some irrational decisions as well. The long and short of it was that the business went down. It was gradual but before I knew it I had sold everything including the car just to survive.”


“The beatings only stopped briefly when I was pregnant. But started again not too long after I gave birth.

Even the baby in my hands couldn’t save me from his anger. Once or twice he hit the baby as well. I think that was when my feelings for him turned from indifference to hate.

* * * * * * 

The first time I met the old woman, it was completely by chance as I had lost my way while looking for a particular vegetable that was difficult to get when it was not in season. For some reason I had this unholy craving for it. The woman later told me nothing happens by chance. I don’t completely believe that. Nevertheless the sequence of events that followed shook my believe in ones ability to completely control ones destiny.

“Morning my daughter.” Her greeting shook me out of my reverie.

“Good morning, ma.”

“How are you doing today.”

“Ah mama. Life is good. All thanks to God.” But I wasn’t feeling good. We had been at it half the night and as usual I had borne the brunt of it. I was aching all over and it was all I could do to maintain a polite facade. 

“I understand my daughter. There’s I am alright and then there’s I am alright.” she looked at me with a cross of pity and concern in her eyes. I ended up spending the whole day with her. In between attending to her customers, I told her my whole story. She listened without a comment. It felt good to be able to talk to someone. 

She sent me away with some medicine for my pains and to let me sleep. Another round of beating was waiting for me at home of course, but I didn’t really care. Afterwards I took the drugs and woke up feeling better than I had in months.  

If anything my new found happiness just made the quarrels and beatings worse. But I took solace in my trips to the marketplace. Or to be correct, my trips to see “mama” in her stall. I became her unofficial student and assistant rolled into one. 

Before long, she started to leave me there on my own sometimes. I was to tell anyone who’s issue I couldn’t handle to return later. And those situations started to happen less and less frequently. 

There wasn’t a lot of money to be made in the trade. I guess she could have charged more, but she saw it as a sort of service to the community. Appreciative customers will from time to time go above and beyond of course. 

Things didn’t improve much at home. But I had become more patient and over time the beatings became less frequent. But didn’t stop entirely. By that time he had added drunkenness to his list of vices. 

I landed in the hospital the last time he laid hands on me. I was in a coma for a week. When I got out, I had a limp that became permanent. 

I went to the market when I was strong enough to make the journey. 

Mama was of course very happy to see me. She noticed everything and was quick to see the limp and healing scars. 

After fusing over me and listening to the whole story. She went silent then suddenly said “it is time.”

“Time for what mama?”

“Time for the sinner to get his just recompense and for the captive to be set free.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Now listen to me my daughter. You are not the first nor will you be the last woman to have violence perpetuated against her by the one person that should protect her from all harm. And once a man has raised his hands against you, it is the beginning of the end. Once, or even twice may be excused even though there’s no reason strong enough to justify violence against ones spouse. But usually in order not to hastily dissolve the union or in consideration of the children if there are any, the woman may be counseled to hold on. But more than twice is the end. It never stops. It may develop into cycles but it never stops. It usually ends with the woman either dead or irreversibly maimed in some way.”

“It is a man’s world out there. A woman has to look out for herself, and when she can’t do it alone, other women should help. I believe that’s why God made women develop emotionally faster than men. While young boys are still running around trying to break their necks (and sometimes succeeding) with dangerous pranks, young girls have already started behaving like young matured adults.”

She told me the plan in such a way that it sounded hypothetical. She allowed it to grow on me for several weeks before coming out to say it’s mine to carry out. It didn’t help or it helped depending on how you look at it, that my husband continued to beat me black and blue during this period. 

By the time she finally laid it on me in full, I was all for it with little to no hesitation. 

In order to allay suspicion, I was to go through a period of at least two months when I must move heaven and earth to ensure we don’t fight and put it out there that all is now right with the world. That is easier said than done of course. Because I rarely go two weeks without a beating. 

There were a few close calls but I did make it. He didn’t change. I just did the impossible and I tell you, it was stressful. You see the two months is to divert suspicion from myself. Humans have notoriously short memories when it comes to certain things. Like disagreements between couples. Once it stops, the talk is then about how devoted the couples are to each other. They quickly forget that a few months ago they were at each other’s throats. 

Then one sunny afternoon, she sat me down and told me what I had to do. The vegetable is potent when eaten within the first couple of hours. By the following day, the poison would have broken down completely. So even if you are forced to eat the same stew, nothing happens to you. 

I bought all the condiments, assorted fishes and meat and went home and prepared it just as instructed. I then feigned being tired. By the time he returned home, all I did was serve his dinner and return to bed. 

I should say I still had a little reservation about what I was doing even as I laid on the bed listening to him smack his lips and crack the chicken bones. He was even humming a tune under his breath. I guess it was the assurance mama gave that it was a painless death that made me see it through. 

By the time he came to lie down I was fast asleep. Which was strange but I guess I was too tired. I had thought I wouldn’t sleep a wink that night. 

I suddenly came awake in the morning at the first crow of some neighboring cockerel. It took me a while to remember what I was about but then I turned and looked at him. He looked as if he was in a deep peaceful sleep. But he was cold to the touch. 

I double checked to be sure but there was no sign of life. 

I laid back down and for some reason slept off again. 

The second time I came awake to the chatter of people passing by on the street. It was full daylight.

That was when I raised the alarm the typical way. Screaming and yelling for help. The house was full of people in a few minutes. After the initial commotion we managed to get him into a danfo bus and drove to the nearest hospital. He was declared dead on arrival. I joined the family in asking for an autopsy. The result of the autopsy was given as natural causes enervated by chronic alcoholism. 
I wondered around the house for days and observed my period of mourning after the burial which came up in less than a month after he died. I was too emotionally drained to feel anything.

There wasn’t too much trouble from his family as there was really no property or other valuables. We were as broke as they were. 
I started trading a little again but my heart wasn’t in it. It’s strange how my newly found freedom at the time left me feeling aimless and morose. I guess I wasn’t used to being alone. 
I think she knew from the beginning what would happen. That I would end up moving in with her. I learnt the trade. Including cures for many other ailments. 

When it was getting close to her time, she sat me down and in her usual direct and no nonsense way, she told me so. Then she divulged the formulas of even more special potions, and told me many secrets and even more cures. 

She said the work was important. 

I asked her what I should do when my own time comes.  

“Don’t worry my daughter. Your replacement will come well before that time. It is the natural order of things. Evil matches on without pause so the gods make provisions for good without ceasing.”

“I had many customers over the years before and after you. But they were just customers. But the moment I laid eyes on you some thirty three years after I first setup shop with the skills handed down to me just as I am handing it down to you today, I knew you were the one that would stay. When it’s time you will know in turn.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“My son. It’s a bad thing to take a life. Even today, I still get pangs of regret regularly when I think back to what I did. He gave me no choice. Because he had told me that if I ever leave, he would hunt me down and kill me. And I knew he meant it.

The act may be easy, but living with it is difficult. I have made my peace with God. Whatever is left, I will answer for it when the time comes. In the meantime, the work continues.”
I asked her how long she has been in the same trade. 

“Too long. My bones are starting to complain. I have a feeling that soon I will come face to face with my replacement. I intend to hand down the skills as they were handed down to me. I have modernized some of the cures. Made improvements to many formulas and potions by research and investigations. There are potions for almost anything that ails human beings. For even illnesses the Oyinbos think have no cures. There are potions that promote accord for example. What do the oyinbos have that does that without harm? Alcohol? Hard Drugs, sedatives? They appear to treat the symptoms but worsen the condition. All those things are all killers in the long run.”
“Is there a love potion ma?” I tried to sound nonchalant but the question came out of an encounter in my past when someone thought I might have tainted some “edibles” with it. I had laughed it off at the time because I didn’t believe there was anything of the sort.

“My son. Don’t let anyone deceive you. There’s nothing like a love potion. What you are doing is controlling the person’s mind via powerful forces. It is not love. The problem is that the mind is the person. It’s the seat of our soul. It’s central to a person’s personality. It’s not meant to be controlled by force. It’s meant to be controlled by persuasion. You see, when you hold a person’s essence bound by force in this way, even though they may appear docile or even happy, deep down a battle is raging. The subject is unwittingly permanently damaged. The end is always unpleasant. Some day the subject will break free. Depending on how emotionally stable the person is, you may get a person with intense hatred, or for people of weaker constitution, a mentally disturbed person emerges at the end.”

“You sound like it was your fault.” She said. 

I nodded.

“Life’s never how we want it. Yet we rise each new dawn – hopefully with renewed hope in our hearts.” She said. 

I nodded.

“Time truly does not heal all wounds. But it can reduce the pain to a dull ache that’s bearable.”

She laid a hand on my shoulder. I took a quick glance at her face. 

“The damage is done. But you should continue to do the right  thing.” She said. 

But what is the right thing? Silence? Distance? Distant silence?

The milk has been spilled and the jar has been shattered. The milk can no longer be gathered up nor the glass jar pieced together again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We were at Ikire. 

“Goodbye son. I don’t think we will meet again in this lifetime. But sometimes once is enough.”

“Goodbye mama” I said. As an afterthought I asked her for her number. She didn’t have a phone, but she said, “If you really really require my services, you know my name and where to find me.”

Even though I couldn’t see my own face, I was sure the smile that was on hers was reflected on mine. 

Of phones, screens and cables

Of phones, screens and cables

I should dare to call myself a writer (if I don’t, who is going to :-). I can then follow it up by saying I haven’t really posted anything in a while due to “writer’s block.” There, I said it. That makes me a writer! After all, you have to be one to get a “writer’s block” init? 🙂
And since it appears the “block” persists, I will now “regale” you with my phone-scapade for lack of anything more original.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Dropped my phone less than a month ago I think. Landed face down on a hard floor. The screen shattered in exactly the same pattern as the fake (I didn’t know at the time) screen protector on its face.
Used it like that for a couple of weeks.
Then searched on the Internet and came up with this long list of authorized retailers. Started calling them one by one. Most said they don’t fix broken phones, just retail new stuff. One of them suggested I needed to go to the iStore at Ikeja shopping mall to get it fixed. I finally got to one that claimed to be an certified Apple technician. I engaged him on WhatsApp. Engaged him on WhatsApp. “I will do it for N11,000 in about 35minutes.”
But his shop is at the Computer Village in Ikeja. Hmmn. I left it at that for the time being.

Maybe a week or so later, I wandered into the shop of an authorized Apple retailer at a big shopping mall at this end of the Island.
“We fix it but it will cost N30,000; If you drop it now, it should be ready in about 3 hours; It carries a 1-year warranty, but not if you break it o!”
(So what’s does the 1-year warranty cover? If it stops working or something like that I think he said. Smart Apple. Very smart. How many screens just stop working?)

Aside from the exorbitant price, I didn’t have that time on my hands. So I told him I would give it some additional thought and I might show up the next day. Besides, they didn’t have the USB charging cable anyway (I wanted to buy it either. I seem to remember he said it cost N6,500 apiece – daylight robbery!).

But then I thought, let’s do this thing properly. Don’t be penny wise pound foolish for once. But since I was going to probably get to the Ikeja shopping mall anyway, I would risk it and see if the fix might be cheaper from Apple themselves – also I would get to pick up the original cables.

Today, I got to the Apple store around 9:25AM. They were having a staff meeting. The security at the door told me they don’t open till 10AM. I should be able to enter at 10AM prompt. I wandered around then came back and stood in the hallway. I had my Bluetooth headset on. The staff at the “Ruff ‘n Tumble” children’s wears opposite the Apple store were setting things out for the day. One of their colleagues came in and started talking about how “Her friend in Lekki called her and told her there were lots of gun shots on the Saturday. That she just laid low.”
Soon, I heard one of them say something about the suspicious man standing out in the corridor.
I smiled, caught the eye of the one I thought had brought up the issue and indicated I was waiting for the Apple Store to open. I then took off my Bluetooth headset as well.
Apple opened probably around 10:05AM. Was the first customer through the door. Well, one of the security welcomed me by saying so. I asked if there was any special prices associated with that: “Either a special handshake or you get to add extra N10,000 to the cost of whatever you buy today.” Very funny 🙂
“Oh. We don’t do repairs. But if you had bought the phone here, we would have replaced it for you if it was under warranty.”
Well, all those conditions wouldn’t have helped me anyway. I have had the phone for about 14 months so it wouldn’t have been covered by the 1-year warranty even if I had bought it at that store.
Well, do you have the USB cable?
“No we don’t, check back next week.”

Time to go back and “localize” this fix. I had to call all three numbers I had for the certified Apple technician before getting through to him.

“Where is your shop again?” He told me and said he would send it by SMS as well.

I got the SMS, then somehow made up my mind that the Post Office (the closest landmark he suggested) was in a different place and promptly got lost trying to find the street. But I finally did.

He handles all things Apple (6S, iPads, etc) and sells original components and accessories too. I believe he changed the screen in under 30minutes. I ended up buying a couple of iPhone 5S cables and a third-party case (that’s what happens if you do a good job. You get more business and a free advert sometimes :-).
The first 3 photos are of the broken screen (had to take a photograph of a shiny screen) and the fourth picture is my spanking new screen.
iphone1 iphone2 iphone3 iphone4

An aside, you might notice that (at least for me) all the cables don’t seem to last (both original and fakes). One weekend I actually took a blade to a couple of fakes, joined the functional connector half of one to the functional USB/PC half of the second and got it to work! Not my fault entirely, couldn’t get an original from the “authorized” outlets and the fake stopped working on a Friday night.

I got the one below in Ibadan for N350 (sells for N500 in Lagos! Thieves! Lol) It stopped working after 1 day! But from experience I had noticed if you randomly bend it in some ways, you might “fix” it (so once I got it bent in a way that made it work, I just “taped” it permanently. Good as new! Of course I got an original cable today. I am going to give the original cable the same “treatment.” Wrap both ends in paper tape (I think if you establish some rigidity such that the cable can’t bend at the neck just before the connectors – the cables should last longer). The only downside I can think of is that the tape tends to pick  up dirt rather quickly – from the environment and handling – so expect it become dirty pretty soon – your mileage may vary.

(NOTE: don’t bend yours unless it’s broken already – partial contact 🙂

The attendant at the store I mentioned above actually told me: “You are not supposed to move the cables around. Just plug it in one socket and leave it there.

Huh? Say what?!

Strange days

Strange days

Saturday was OK. Cut my hair. I was at my sister’s place until quite late at night. The headache built up gradually from around early evening. It was all I could do to arrive home safely in the car. Rushed in and took a couple of Paracetamol tablets. I went to lie down until the “pounding” almost ceased. Watched several episodes of “The Good Wife” (a law series) . After re-winding one episode several times because I kept drifting off, I finally gave up, paused it and slept off.
Woke up on Sunday feeling a little under the weather and with some irritation in my throat. Went to the hospital later in the afternoon. The lady doctor examined my throat and wrote up a prescription for Paracetamol, Lozenges and Vitamin C. She told me their lab was closed otherwise she might have ordered additional tests (e.g., for malaria). She said if I didn’t feel better I should come in the following day.
Took the prescription to the pharmacy. A little room with a window where one stands to hand over the prescription note. The young lady came to the window with the drugs and went through how to use them.
“So, what’s the name.”
“Where are you from?”
“You are a pharmacist?”
“Which school?”
Some pause while I decided whether or not to …
“So what do I have to do to get your number or your pin?”
She smiled
“If you don’t give me, I will keep coming back.”
She smiled even more.
I got to the car, and decided to go back.
This time she was sitting with both her elbows on the table which was when I saw the ring. I smiled and said “Oh. There is a ring on your finger. I didn’t see it.” (Probably an engagement ring of some sort).
She smiled and wiggled the fingers on her left hand.
I said goodbye.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Monday morning I felt a little worse. By Wednesday the sore throat was in full swing. Didn’t feel too good either. Went back to the hospital on Wednesday after work. A young male doctor examined my throat, and asked a few questions. He said there was some infection. He also asked if I “reacted” to any drugs, Ibuprofen in particular. As far as I know, none. Went home with Ibuprofen, cough expectorant and some other antibiotics. He told me to take the cough medicine after I got to work and after I get home at night so as not to be drowsy while driving on the road.
I started taking the drugs but I guess I got a little worse before the drugs started “working” because I was having some chest pain whenever I coughed.
So on the Thursday, I didn’t go to work. I wondered why I was so sleepy. Then I remembered the cough expectorant was supposed to have that effect. I slept off and on.
Which was when I had the dreams …

I was in my sister and brother-in-law’s kitchen. Though the house was definitely not their current house. My sister cut up some vegetables and plantain on a cutting board and handed it over to the husband who was frying the plantain. We could see all the way into the sitting room.
She said “Peter and Paul Okoye are in the sitting room.” I could see them.
I said I was going over to tell Peter I followed him for a while on Twitter but stopped since he refused to answer my question (I actually followed him on Twitter for a while and he really didn’t answer my question – real life filtering into my dreams).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I was on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. I took my eyes off the road briefly to do “something” on my phone (either send or read a text) and promptly ran off the road into the woods. The place was quite steep but I managed to get out of the car before it went down the gradient and came to a stop way down among some trees.
There was some sort of toll-gate building. It was huge with multiple levels. It was dark, and the superstructure was mostly huge lumber beams. I went to stay on the upper floor. The place had that post-apocalyptic feel to it (loneliness, degradation, age, etc.). I could see out into the woods but couldn’t quite see the car.
Then it started to rain.
There was a huge explosion and fire burning in the trees. For some reason, I realized it was my car.
I decided to go look at the car after the rain.
I made my way down to the lower levels (clambering between the wooden beams) after the rain. I had the feeling that I was trespassing.
Some fellow was down there and he said that someone’s car had caught fire. I didn’t have to go all the way because I could still see the fire burning through the trees, though not as high as it had been originally.
There was a second person as well (not sure if I saw him or “felt” him).
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The drugs are definitely working. The discomfort in my throat is more or less gone, but I still feel a little under the weather.
It’s Friday and I have a meeting. My sore throat is almost completely gone. My voice is a still a little hoarse. On my way back to the office after the meeting I spied a couple of people roasting/cooking fresh corn (maize) by the road side. I pulled over in front of a building. The security guard came up to the car and insisted the parking space was for their staff. I told him I was going to be gone for 2 minutes: just to buy corn a few meters away. He said that’s how some people would say the same thing and then disappear into the nearby market. I repeated that I would soon be back.
I was gone for about 5 minutes.
As I got into the car, he came up and asked if I had any corn for him too.
I asked if he wanted corn or money. He said either would do.
I gave him N70. He thanked me and helped watch the road while I reversed out of the parking lot. Actually no cars were coming my way.

I got to the office, had lunch and wrote this.

Maybe I will go to see a film later in the evening with a colleague. He had called earlier to see if we could arrange something. I guess he needs a break from the the wife and kids 🙂

The Year He died

The Year He died

It rained the year he died
Big drops
From God’s eyes
Up in the skies

I slept the year he died
Strange dreams
No seams
Running together like cloth reams village streams

I drove the year he died
Lagos, Ibadan, Ilesha
Four wheels
Petrol Bills

I laughed the year he died
No memories why
Strange looks
Many moods and song hooks

I cried the year he died
I wonder why
I died the year he died
They wondered why

I lived the year he died
Words, whispers
Remembrance, hope, solitude, multitude
Heaven – gratitude


19:30pm 22/05/2013



I wish I had left my mind in Ibadan
A shell driving a shell to Lagos
Ignoring the statue at Challenge
Via Ijebu but not quite Epe

I wish I had left my heart in Ibadan
Then I wouldn’t have to “off” the radio
Because words like “Love, really?, drama, form, familiarity, talking, seriously?”
wouldn’t bother me so much

I wish I had left my past in Ibadan
Forgotten Geography
along with places such as Akobo, Mokola, Theatre, Bodija
Remembering nothing that quickened my heartbeat

I wish I had left my body in Ibadan
6 feet below ground
unmeasurable distance above earth
looking down with no care for love or lust or infatuation

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was broad daylight when I left Ibadan, so I decided to take the old Ibadan-Lagos road  from Ibadan to Lagos. It took me through Ijebu-Ode along the Lagos-Epe road.

The Church



I can’t help but marvel at the church above (the few times I have taken this route – always from Lagos to Ibadan except today I was going in the opposite direction and it was during the day). I pulled over, got out of the car and went to stand in front of the fence. I was tempted to go inside because there was the outline of 2 apostles on the metal double-door.

The bridge
This bridge below is just before the church (below). Not sure what it is called. But I guess the Federal Govt. “Omotosho-Epe-Ajah 330KV DC Transmission Line” at one end of the bridge should serve as a reference point.


I parked the car after going over the bridge (I couldn’t stop for some time so I parked a fair distance away from the bridge). Then I walked back (taking pictures along the way). Anything to keep the thoughts going through my mind at bay.

It all reminded me of my father. A surgeon (first class) and a farmer. He had a love of the land. Sweating under the mid-day Sun as he made the yam mounds. I still remember once the non-nonchalance with which he used the hoe to kill a snake that suddenly popped up once when he was making those mounds. He practically didn’t miss a beat.
Of course at the time (every Saturday spent on the farm), the gnats weren’t so nice, but we still had to fertilize the corn, weed the cassava fields, and clean out the piggery if necessary (actually fun getting in the pens with the pigs). And there was the fish ponds, the cattle, and the goats and sheep. There was the Mango trees, the sweet Agbalumo tree.
What wouldn’t I give now to spend a Saturday on the farm with him.
I think the fact that you could find me with slippers in the house and walking barefoot outside on the road/compound has something to do with my growing up 🙂







While taking photographs of the “creek”, a boat man came rowing midstream. I greeted him and asked if I could take his picture. He said to go right ahead. he even turned around the boat so I could get a good picture of him. He asked where I was from, and I said Lagos.




The other end of the bridge. The PHCN construction is just to the right.



The first “joint” where the bridge more or less started.

The pictures below were taken after I leaned over the bridge and greeted them. I asked if I could take their pictures. They didn’t understand me at first, but once they realised what I meant, they enthusiastically agreed.

Since they responded in Yoruba (but with the location at the back of my mind), I asked if they were Yoruba. The oldest boy told me that they were not Yoruba. That a lot of tribes were represented there. There were Ijaws, and other tribes. He himself was Togolese. I asked if he could speak French. he said very little. I greeted him “Bon joule”  to which he responded “Bon Joule madame”. We all burst out laughing at his mistake which he realised and I corrected (use Monsieur for men and madame for women)


Even the naked one in the group was willing to have his picture taken. I was the one that kept saying he should get in the water (since I was going to put up the pictures on my blog 🙂


Michael I think his name was. The most willing out of the group. He came up on the bridge afterwards to look at the pictures. Reporting to the rest that the pictures were very good.








Putting on a show for me (Michael I think). The little guy came up on the bridge, and jumped down into the water below! I asked him if he had done it before (jumped). He played along and pretended he hadn’t and it may be dangerous. I told him he was very brave. That I wouldn’t do it even if I was offered money!

Since they were all on the metal pipe, I told them I wanted to take a few more pictures. They decided to put the naked guy in the middle!





Back in the water!


I asked them what they did and they said “fish”. I said I didn’t think there would be big fishes in the water. they responded that it wasn’t the right season. That for now only small fishes are in the water.

I said goodbye. Once of them responded that I should “wash” the pictures. The others made fun of him!

It seems there are two ways we lose our “innocence” (the simple joy in being alive; in the wonders around us): age (growing up), and education.
Just after the bridge was a shed with a couple of kids under it. They were properly dressed and the bungalow in the background was probably their house. They were tending to a tray of smoked fish. I asked if I could take their picture and the boy said “Koni she she O!” (impossible!). Of course, it may just be superstition, who knows what I could do with the picture? Maybe “remote-control” them into slavery or money-making rituals! It contrasted heavily to the response I got a few meters away from the children and even men who were “closer” to the land.



The 25-liter plastic jerrycan collecting the real deal (palm-wine) from the palm tree!



The shed had various domestic items in it. I could also see a bottle of “Alomo” or whatever the aphrodisiac in the small green plastic bottle is called.



The other end of the bridge.


Village visit or consulting the “Babas”?


The car in the picture is a 2-door coupe.

The state of Nigeria


The old toll gate

The Epe bridge?


Loot from the Route!

The watermelon cost N600, the 6 mangoes cost N100, and the real poison (palm-wine) cost N500. After taking the pictures of the boys, it suddenly dawned on me that it would be a crime to leave the area (with all the palm-wine smell heavy in the air) without sampling some of it. There was a shed just a few meters up the road from where I had packed my car selling the good stuff 🙂
The plastic bottle is for size reference purposes. I bought the Mangoes and Watermelon at the T-junction (Epe/Ogun/Lagos).
I find it difficult to haggle too much with people selling food stuff. I think about all the effort it takes to grow them, the farmers and sellers under the fierce Sun … and I think how easy I may spend the same amount on something not even relevant such as a bottle of drink or a lunch …

Random strangers

Random strangers

I know I will likely get some interesting comments on this post (or maybe not – people may just read it and think I must be nuts but not actually comment on the post 🙂
For some reason, on my trips back to Lagos from Ibadan (and at least once from Lagos to Ibadan), I have given completely random strangers lifts all the way to Lagos.
Several months ago, I had pulled into a petrol station just on the outskirts of Lagos to have the air in my tyres gauged when a fellow approached me for a lift to Ibadan. I was not so sure, but when he added that he had one of this “staff”who would be going along as well, I just completely refused. But he didn’t give up immediately, so by the time all the tyres were checked, I relented and asked him to get in. I found out he was a tanker driver for the petrol station and was on his way home (Ibadan) for the weekend. I dropped them off somewhere before we got to Iwo road (I would have taken the “Challenge” road, but I thought if I had done them a good turn already and it was getting a little late, I decided I might as well see things through – I practically dropped them at the bus stop next to their houses – but I ended up in some traffic due to the detour. Just short of their stop, the gentleman asked for for the cost and I said no, not to bother. He said some prayers as they got down and thanked me profusely. He said I should continue doing good deeds, etc.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A couple of trips back, I had pulled into one of the last petrol stations just before leaving Ibadan (just shy of the old tollgates) to top up my gas tank when a guy and then a couple of people tentatively approached me to see if I could get them to Lagos (usually they expect to pay – but lower than what a typical commercial vehicle would charge I think). I at first flatly refused, glanced back at the jumble on the back seat and thought of the trouble I would have to go to get all that stuff out of the way. Another person, a little scruffy looking approached as well – when the first two offered to show me their ID cards, he said he was just an humble (Islamic) alfa which no form of identification. I turned him down as well. But by the time my tank was full, I was having second thoughts. So I indicated to the first couple (colleagues selling one of these health products that also involve getting other people to retail the stuff) to follow while I drove a little away from the pump. I got down and had to shove everything into the back of the vehicle. I also had to erect the 3rd row seat. The alfa had returned back to the side of the road to keep trying his luck with other passing cars. While arranging my stuff about 3 others also came up to ask if it was possible they get a lift to Lagos. Since it looked like I was committed at that point, I agreed as well. Then I thought of the alfa and what kind of Christian would I be if I didn’t take him while I took a few other people that showed up after him. So I beckoned to him as well. By the time we got back on the road, I believe I had 6 complete strangers packed into the vehicle with me.

We made it safely to Lagos, and when we were almost in Lagos, I think it was the Alfa that asked about the cost and I indicated they didn’t have to pay, the alfa led all the others in a comprehensive prayer for me with all the others saying Amen at suitable points. He was full of praise as to how I helped complete strangers and did not ask for any money. After the prayers, he hinted at the fact that he was still going to Obasanjo Farms and had spent all the money he had getting from his village to Ibadan. I think that was pushing a little too far, so I purposefully didn’t get involved in that – especially as he didn’t ask me directly for money – he just put it out there.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Just this past weekend, I was returning from Ibadan to Lagos, when I pulled into the same Petrol station. I noticed a reasonably dressed gentleman with a bag pack trying to get a lift at the side of the road. When I was done filling my tank, I noticed he was still there so I pulled up as I drove past him and indicated he get in, a second fellow that was more or less behind him came up as well and asked if he could get a lift as well. I joked that his face looked hard, but told him to get in as well. The fellow at the back soon fell asleep, but the other fellow in front was awake all through. We discussed some of the antics of the other drivers on the road and some topics on the radio as we went along. The fellow in the back asked to be let out at 7UP and when I pulled over he asked what was the cost, and I said no – you could see the surprise on his face but he thanked me as I pulled back out into the traffic. The other fellow got out around Oworonsoki.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I guess I could ask for money, but I won’t for several reasons: (not looking down on them, but) If they were comfortable enough, they would be driving as well and not trying to hitch a ride; whether or not I offer them a lift, I was going to Lagos (or Ibadan) anyway; and finally, it was an opportunity to help people without expecting anything back. Hopefully, some of the goodwill will be extended to others along the chain of life.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I won’t necessarily make a habit of it, but I can’t promise not to do it again. In fact, I am likely to – the way I see it, if I do pick up someone that” “wants” the car, I would just let them have it with no fuss – there are more important things in life than holding on to a car that’s at least 7 years old! The only thing I probably won’t do is stop along the road under any condition (if a passenger is pressed, he/she better hold it in until the next town or village). Unless a gun or cutlass is involved, in which case I revert to letting go of the car with no fuss!

Don’t go out tonight

Don’t go out tonight

You have to realize that I was bored out of my mind and at the same time there was a lot on my mind I would rather not think about. I am impulsive. I am a loner. Maybe that’s why I gravitate towards two extremes – either I over think issues and fail to act at the appropriate time, or I act impulsively. In either case, the outcome is not always pleasant for any of the parties involved. I guess people with friends can bounce ideas off them before doing something that may turn out foolish. Me, I just worry at it forever or not at all before acting.

I had had my car for just over a year when it happened. I didn’t realize the freedom I was missing until I got the car. I could head out at any hour of the day or night without thinking of how I was going to get back to the house. I was mobile. I was free. But outside of work there was always the question of what to do with that freedom. That night I had a lot on my mind I would rather not think about. I got my keys and jumped in the car. It was already past 11PM at night. I had no idea where I was going except a vague idea of crossing the third mainland bridge. I had the Garmin, so I wasn’t too bothered about where I ended up. All I needed to do at any point was ask it to take me home.

I still can’t remember where I ended up or how I got there. But suddenly I was in an area of Lagos that looked like one of those high-crime slum areas I had seen on TV. I was a little apprehensive, but though the streets were cluttered with refuse and broken-down cars, and some of the people hanging out by the roadside and in the doorways of some of the houses looked decidedly unfriendly, there were no attempts to stop me. So I drove on slowly.

The street I was driving on was long and winding, but I could vaguely see it open onto another street at the end. But suddenly there was a whoosh and almost immediately, I felt the car list to one side and the sound of my flapping flat tyre. I debated whether to stop or drive on at the danger of destroying the wheel, but decided to stop since the area was reasonably lighted. I pulled over a little to the side, switched off the engine and got out to examine the flat tyre. The tyre was completely flat, and there was something sticking out from it which I tried to dislodge with my foot. No luck. I bent down and put on the camera light on my mobile phone to get a closer look. I almost immediately realized that the small contraption was not some random wood and nail piece I had run over: it was purposefully made to damage a car’s tyre. I straightened up and had just got into the car when out of nowhere eight burly youths had my car surrounded. The ones I could see properly looked mean and had an assorted array of weapons in their hands. I was tempted to try and make a run for it, but there was at least a couple of pistols in the mix.

My goal at that point was to get out of there unarmed. I didn’t care too much about losing the car. It was covered by insurance. And I was Ok with losing my wristwatch and the small amount of cash I had in my pockets which I was desperately hoping would satisfy them. I smiled a little and called out a greeting. They weren’t having any of it. Probably the biggest fellow in the group with bloodshot eyes, just calmly asked me to step out of the car. I was hesitant to do so because the group didn’t look like they were particularly interested in just dispossessing me of my belongings. I suspect it was the way the cutlasses and axes were held that made me suspicious.

But there was no alternative to getting out of the car. The windows were almost completely up, and for some futile reason, I had locked the car immediately I made it into the driver’s seat. I was about to unlock the door and get down when there was a scream from behind the car. I couldn’t quite make out the source but the commotion was definitely coming from right behind the car. A gun went off and there was a flash of light in the darkness. Several more screams and suddenly it appeared I was the only one in the vicinity. I was confused.

But there were obviously at least two people at the back of the car.

“Pick up the knife.”
“Please sir.”
“Pick up the knife or you die anyway.”

There was some hesitation.


Then a brief scuffle. A small scream and all was quiet again.

There was a streak on the passenger side window which looked like blood. I was contemplating it when there was a knock on the driver’s side window. I nearly jumped out of my skin. There was a face at the window. Younger than I was, and from his looks definitely in the wrong place same as I was. I looked around again and he was obviously the only one around so I wound down the glass.

“Today’s work is done. Can you give me a lift out of here.”


I couldn’t help myself. I unlocked the car, and as he made his way round to the passenger’s seat, I opened my door and looked towards the back of the car. I could see two bodies, and also a pair of feet poking out from behind the car. No movement. I assume they were dead.

I quietly closed the door again and looked at my companion.

“We should go.”

Good idea. I started the car and moved off with the flat wheel making a continuous grinding noise. He seemed to know the area because after a few instructions from him to make certain turns, we were soon out of the built-up area and approaching some sort of expressway. It was obvious the tyre needed to be changed if I was to drive at any reasonable speed. I asked if it was OK to pull over and replace the wheel. He agreed.

I changed the tyre as quickly as possible and we were soon back on the move. Since he didn’t say anything more, I punched “home” on the Garmin and I was soon back across the bridge in familiar territory. I asked where he was going and he said Lekki. We went through the Lekki tollgate at about 2AM and I soon drove past the Lekki phase I entrance. At some point after phase II on a more or less empty stretch of road, he asked me to drop him off. I pulled over and he got out. That was when he apologized for the blood on my seat which I hadn’t noticed until then. He appeared to disappear into the darkness.

I drove off and found the next roundabout and made a U-turn and headed back towards the Island. I looked out into the darkness as I passed the spot where I dropped him off but there was no sign of life. I made it back home. Despite being bone-tired, I still found the strength to clean the passenger seat. He must have been bleeding quite heavily because of the sheer amount of blood on the seat and the foot-carpet. I got most of it out. And emptied a few buckets of water over the body of the car.

After that I crawled into bed and slept like the dead. I woke up around 12 noon in the afternoon. For a couple of minutes, I wasn’t sure where I was. Then recollection came but it all felt like a dream. I got up slowly and went to look out the window at the car. Sure enough, I could see the telltale brownish (oxidized) stains were still visible on the car. It still felt quite unreal and I suddenly became so tired I crawled back into bed. I gravitated between sleep and awareness for the next couple of hours. Finally, I got up and went out to the car. I went slowly round it and then checked the passenger side. I had done a reasonable job of cleaning the blood but looking closely enough showed I missed some spots especially along  the threads.

I didn’t give him my number or my name.

I got a call from an unknown number the following day. Immediately he spoke, I knew it was him. 

“Hello. Who is this?” I had to ask.
“We met early in the morning yesterday.” That was putting it lightly.
“I am calling to thank you. I hope you were able to get the stain out of the seat. Apologies.”

I did get all the stains out. But not the vision of those dead bodies on the ground. Yes, they might have killed me, but that fact didn’t make it any easier. Those young men were dead.

“Thank you. I did.”
“Good to know.”

End of phone call.

But not the last I would hear of him. If anything, that was the beginning.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * *  

If you had asked, I would say we were friends, though it was a strange friendship to say the least.

Generally because of the support nature of my previous job, I am accustomed to coming awake fully at the first ring of the phone, and not be grumpy at the person on the other end of the line. The fact that he calls randomly out of the blues is how I learnt most of what I know about him. He may call and launch midway into some topic as if we had been discussing it before.

“Hope you don’t mind my calling.”
“I was thinking about my wife.”
“Ok”. He needed no prompting when he wanted to talk.
“She died painfully you know.”
“Can you believe until then, I had never even killed a single person despite the many years I spent in the military.”

I know from past snippets that he was in the military in the US. Then the patriotism bug had bitten him. He had resigned his commission, taken his foreigner wife and returned “home.”

“She bled to death while begging me to help her.”

I had pieced together a story slightly similar to mine. It appears they had gone on a midnight jaunt in the wrong part of town and had been attacked. He was able to fend off the attackers, but then found they had already stabbed his wife several times.

“And there was nothing I could do.”

Silence from both ends for about 3 minutes.

“No problem.”
“Good night.”
“Good night.”

And that was that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * 

I was of course concerned about him, so during another call, I asked.

“Have you thought of settling down again.” (even my own questions have started to sound like comments)
“A few times.”
“But not yet.”
“You know I have done that once. That was completely spontaneous. I met a woman. I fell for her. Chased her. She fell for me. Got married. Settled down. And yet here I am.”
“Let me throw the question back at you.” Time for some answers from me.
“I am something of a loner. The reason is of course complicated.”
“I can talk up a storm with almost any lady. Even if we have only just met. That is, as long as I am not attracted to her.”
“If there is even the slightest attraction, I get tongue-tied. Everything I intend to say, I start replaying it in my head instead of saying it.”
“And that is bad. Not talking. I just basically clamp up.”
“How do I expect a lady to know I am interested if I talk about everything else but the real thing?”
“Just hanging around and hoping something happens. Pathetic I know.”
“And it gets worse. Because attempts to keep in contact or then do something positive becomes to all intent and purposes like stalking.”

Looks like I have got some sort of shrink. Maybe I am the same to him.

“You need to sort this out.”
“True. I just don’t know how.” Implicit question: does he?
“I don’t know either. But you need to sort it out.”
“And what do you feel about marriage?”
“I am not in any hurry. Certain people in the family are of course apprehensive. But for me, if it happens, great. If it doesn’t, well, it doesn’t. I have long ago dropped the idea of a deadline. I have been around all sorts of couples. Yeah. They are hopefully happy. I feel for the women though. It seems men who don’t cheat – and continuously for that matter – are the exception and not the rule. This is not the itch. This is just the “I can do it and get away with it” attitude. Young guys with reasonably beautiful wives. I guess what makes the women fall for them in the first place, and not for guys such as myself – even though we try too hard – is what makes the same guys carry on as if they are still single – the wives are hopefully content and happy in their ignorance of what is really going on. Of course, I am probably a little jealous of these guys. But only to the extent that I want only one beautiful girl to fall for me – and I can’t seem to manage that one single thing.”

“I guess it comes easy to you.”
“I never really thought about it along those lines. I am a one-woman man myself. But I guess most men who play the field say that to the women – since that’s what they want to hear. But I should say yes, it’s kinda  easy for me when I was interested.”
“Anyone in mind in particular”. I was hoping he wouldn’t ask.
“Nope. There was one. But it was one-sided as usual. Since I played dumb, there was no way she would have known. And while I fell heads over heels, as I kept a straight face and didn’t say anything, there was of course no chance of reciprocity until I had crossed the bridge where suspicion turns to discomfort.”
“And she was perfect. Almost literally. Which made it harder to let go.”
“The strange thing is that was the first good thing to happen to me in donkey years”
“And you messed it up.” I must have repeated that to him a dozen times now so he knew to finish it for me.

“Yeah. I messed it up.”
“Have you prayed about it.” I don’t find it strange any longer that he sometimes asks these questions. He is actually religious despite what he does regularly.
“Yes. I have.”
“So continue to do so, if it’s right, it will happen.”
“I am. It’s just that it is the only thing on my mind day and night. And if I hadn’t done anything negative, I would have easily accepted the fact that if it’s right it will happen.” 

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * *

I took to putting my itinerary on my blog. For some reason, I knew he was a regular visitor. Probably from some of the almost undetectable references he sometimes makes when we talk. I didn’t know when he would call and ask me to come and get him, so when I was going to be particularly busy or out of Lagos, I would craft some entry on my blog and work that into the narrative, and sure enough, I have never received his call on any of those days.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * 

“Where are you?” Strange. Usually, his first line is completely different.
“At Bubbles.”
“Where is that?”
“Challenge in Ibadan.”
“It’s a club.”
“Just chilling.” That was a question.
“Yes. Actually someone suggested it may be a cure for what ails me.”
“Which is.”
“I have been thinking about the lady continuously for over 2 months. It’s not getting any easier.”
“Some smart ass suggested what I needed was a visual overload of women. So here I am.” 
“There you are. Is it helping.”
“Unfortunately no. Plenty of ladies in various state of undress. The only thing that strikes me is that they are not the lady. I was about to leave.”

And so I left.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * 

“The day’s work is done.”
“Can you come and get me.”
“Where are you.”
At least I know Yaba.

“Which area.”
“Just pull over once you get off the bridge. I will find you.”
Sure enough, there was a tap on the window about 5 minutes after I got there. I had taken to putting a plastic cover on the seat whenever I am going for him. The blood is easier to get rid of that way. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * *

I became a sort of sidekick. From time to time I would get the call. “Today’s job is finished. Can you come and get me.” That only meant one thing – he was injured. I have to accept that I was living precariously through him. I was of course concerned that he may get seriously wounded or get killed, but there was the thrill I experienced whenever I had to venture out sometime in the early hours to go get him from some out-of-the-way, back-of-nowhere place. I also learnt never to ask questions: I really didn’t want to know about the body count. I already felt like an accomplice in some gory unholy play.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * 

He is on the line.
“I work for the government.”
“Which one.”
“The state government.”
“Doing what you do.”
“Doing what I do.”
“The government is determined to clean up the state, you know.”
“How long have we known each other – 4, 5 months.”
“How many of those incidents have you seen in the papers.” So I am sure he knew I have taken to buying papers looking for reports with possible links to his nightly outings. I thought I had just been missing the reports, but it now struck me that it was strange that hardly any of those nights made the papers. The few times there were references to some of the happenings, it usually sounded confused –  usually from people such as myself who appear to have been miraculously delivered from dangerous situations. Could he be telling the truth?

“I do free-lance. It is not because of the money.”
“Yes.” They say payback is a bitch. I guess he is on a revenge mission because of his dead wife.
“It was indeed for revenge when I started.” He caught me.
“But not anymore. Now it is something that needs to be done and I am doing it.” 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * *

The last call I got from him came like any of the others.
“I am going back.”
“Yes. There is a woman. I am going with her.”
“Thank you.”
“You are welcome.” I will surely miss those random night trips. But good for him. If he is going back to the US with a wife (I found he was a stick in the mud prude such as myself so I am sure he has either married the lady or is going to) then he will put all the dangerous stuff behind him and settle down once again. I am still on my own.

And just before he signed off, “I have a friend.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * 

I had about settled into my new routine without his calls, when about 6 months later I got a post-card from a city in the US. For some reason, I didn’t even think of him as I opened the letter. I don’t think I have ever received a postcard before. The message on the card was simple, but it was obvious who it came from.

“There is a lot to do here. Pray.” The message was clear, he was back in action. And the “pray” was for me and my “issue.”

That same day, the phone ringing woke me up in the middle of the night. I turned on the bedside lamp, and took the call.

“Today’s work is done. Can you come and get me.”

It wasn’t him.
I got my car keys.


Back to Base


Well, how does one write about a road trip and not make it boring?

Let me start with the title – not exactly correct. Ibadan is of course my original base (no, I am not a native of Ibadan) where I spent my growing up years. Now Lagos is my base.

So I decided a week or so ago that I was going to Ibadan this weekend. Couldn’t make it yesterday due to some important engagement. This morning was a no-no as well, because we had a technology update event for one of our client (a big bank). My luggage was already in the trunk of my car, so I could head for the wide open road (reminds me of the toad in the stop-motion animation “Winds in the Willows”). I decided against all reason to take the Lekki-Epe road to Ibadan. This is a lonely long road most people avoid unless the Ibadan expressway was a no-go due to some reason. Of course people (such as my mum and my colleague) advise against it for safety reasons – “What if something happens? What if you lose a tyre and you are stuck on some lonely stretch of the road, etc”

I have traveled the road before of course – as a passenger, but never alone and wasn’t the one doing the driving. So I decided doing it at least once was in order. Besides, I love the open country-side which we who dwell in the concrete jungle of “central” Lagos never see much of nowadays.

I hit the Lekki road, paid the toll (what can I do, I am still enriching the big boys in government who are many times richer than I am) and was soon on the expressway. Stopped at a petrol service station to have the pressure in my tyres checked. Then punched Ibadan into the Garmin GPS unit and it came up with a bunch of options, so I chose “Queen School, Ibadan” which was as good as any. Well, the GPS unit wanted me to turn around (meaning it had calculated a route through Ibadan expressway). No can do. So I ignored all the entreaties of the “lady in the box” to turn around for the next 30 minutes or so. Finally, after I was on the Lekki-Epe road proper, it gave up and recalculated the route, so we then got on the same travel page.

I had the radio on and some nice tracks were being broadcast from one of the stations. I don’t mind being on the road alone, but of course it would have been better to have some companionship (no male, female – yes, but not all comers 🙂

I could remember the Epe bridge with the thatched huts beside it from a previous trip and after driving for what appeared to be ages, I started wondering if I hadn’t made a wrong turn somewhere – but of course it was impossible to make a wrong turn on a straight road. Finally I got to the bridge, then crossed the big river – I assume “Epe”.

The road went on and on without end, but it was nice to see that the GPS unit knew the way to Ibadan through Epe then Ogun state.  Lots of potholes, and the traffic while not heavy, was constant for a while. Sometime after Epe, the traffic died down and I had very light company on the road. I made a wrong turn and headed for the Benin road, but I had a nagging feeling that I should have crossed the expressway to the town on the other side rather than followed it. After driving a few kilometers, I turned round and confirmed my suspicions from an attendant at a petrol station by the road side. The GPS unit had in the meantime worked out some route along the Benin road, so it kept trying to get me to turn back. But once I headed into the town, it recalculated the route again and we were on the straight and narrow once again (though I had to ignore the first turn it suggested – I think it was trying to get me to go to Benin – bloody traitor!)

Then it started to rain on and off intermittently. I like the rain – especially if I am “in-doors” and that goes for being in a water-tight car on the road as well.

Went through a couple of towns again (quite busy) then hit the old expressway that goes to Ibadan. Had relatively steady company in the form of vehicles going both ways. And the road went on and on and on (you get the idea). But it was OK, I wasn’t speeding – I think I was doing about 60 or 80 most of the journey. Took me close to 3 hours from Victoria Island to get to Ibadan, but it was devoid of the craziness that is the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

I saw a road kill, but couldn’t be sure what it was – too mangled – could see some skin and hair so it may have been a goat or something.
At some point a pigeon crossed the road – it was either blind or ill – it practically walked under my tyres – I thought I must have squashed it but somehow I missed – I could see it in my rearview mirror as it continued steadily across the road – I hoped it made it across.

Got into Ibadan and the traffic was OK until I hit the road from Dugbe to Mokola. From there I crawled all the way to Oremeji. The traffic in Ibadan is due to the various road/bridge constructions going on.

No electricity as usual, but the government is delivering on her promise to ensure some little village in the outer wilderness is able to receive radio transmissions from the Oyo state radio corporation (or whatever it is called) rather than from radio stations in the neighboring states. So the “Special Adviser on Parastatals” was there along with the “Special Assistant on Parastatals” (no, I am not making this stuff up) and an army of government officials and other hangers-on to declare the station open. How much did that little trip cost the good people of Oyo state? I guess the “little people” in the village can use batteries to power their little radio sets to listen to the bounteous station provided by the state government (“aye da de”). Yet, there is consistently no electricity supply from the grid (and I am watching the TV on a little inverter).

I think I have the “flu” (do people outside of the good old USA get the flu?) or Malaria. It started a couple of days ago. It was slightly “developing”. Now I feel sh**ty. At least it waited till I got to Ibadan. And if it’s going to bring on a complete break-down as I suspect, there is no place else I had rather be.

* aye da de – life is getting better.