That angry scowl you have on your face when a rough looking guy jumps in front of the bus you are in, effectively stopping it while demanding for owo da (money). If you are in a hurry (like I was this morning), you are instantly filled with morbid thoughts (like I had….and trust me, I am like the poster child for mega creepy when upset); I imagined the bus failing brake and leaving bright red splotches and entrails on the pavement then thunder abruptly striking the side of the guys head or…..
Hey! Sorry, Zibah here. I got carried away for a moment. Anyway, I’m referring to the ruffians (agberos) that dominate Lagos roads demanding for money (what the hell do they use the money for and what are the drivers paying for? roads?). I was running late this morning for an appointment with a Doctor who I recently collaborated with on a project. I’m to speak at a conference concerning remediation of polluted land using biological means (see, I told you I’m smart *cheeky smile*). Oh yes, back to the story. The ugly looking dude with red-rimmed eyes, hoarse voice and retarded dreadlocks had the guts to stop the car with Zibah in it, I mean seriously. After several minutes of meaningless arguments between the ruffian and driver with passengers screaming at the driver to pay so ‘we can go jare’ (it’s usually annoying when passengers encourage such thuggery), the driver reluctantly shoves a dirty N100 bill in ruffian’s hands and the journey resumes. Now, this encounter sparked a memory of something that happened a few years ago.
One fateful Tuesday at Western Avenue on Lagos mainland, Zibah was with some friends in a car. In front of us was a commercial vehicle that in typical Lagos fashion kept stopping every 5seconds to pick up passengers; effectively causing traffic behind it (and pissing off Zee). Just as we tried to manoeuvre our way around the bus, it suddenly picked up speed with a ruffian hot on its heels (erm….wheels) screaming ‘owo mi da’ (where is my money?) in the local language. Anyway, he (ruffian) got within touching distance of the bus and…..leaps. ‘Good grief! Such healthy leg muscles’ I remarked. Unfortunately his hands were clumsy because he failed to grip the bus’ railing and what followed was an ear-splitting screech (with all his muscles, he sounded like a sisi), splat and then….silence. All this happened within a few seconds. I turned back to see the ruffian lying motionless on the ground with blood pooling around his head and his limbs awkwardly bent. The bus involved didn’t stop and nobody gave chase. While my ride didn’t stop either, curious Zibah (i’m a distinguished busybody too) had the car slooow down for a few seconds and took in the scene. Lagosians are a dramatic breed so a crowd quickly formed and ‘Yekpas’ and ‘Chineke’ filled the air. Most people just kept staring at the dying/dead man; nobody made any visible move to help. We zoomed off, talked about it for a few minutes then started arguing on who would pick the tab for lunch (no, we weren’t insensitive to ruffian’s plight; it just doesn’t pay to dwell on tragedies…right?)
Anyway, did ruffian (I never got to know his name so y’all shouldn’t think Zibah is rude because of my reference to him as just ‘ruffian’) commit suicide or is this occupational hazard?
Have you had any encounter with agberos before? Did anyone go splat on the pavement? Did owo da result in a fight? If yes, gimme all the deets alright. Now if y’all don’t mind, Zibah got plantains to fry.