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Follow me on my new journey from being an ex-Londoner to a Lagosian!
So what, you just got into the country? Everybody else doesn’t need to know you’re new in Lagos. The best way to do this is by adopting some colloquialisms along the way. I mean you may sound as out of place as Alfie Moon would in a remake of Little Women. But to fit in as best as you can, here are my top 10 everyday phrases any newbie must know and use!
1) If you hear anyone call youOyibo, which literally translates to ‘white person’; stop, think, and re-adjust your actions. It’s somewhat of a backhanded insult. The person here is basically telling you to stop your high maintenance ways. For example, you may say ‘I don’t drink pure water’. You would be met with ‘chai Oyibo’; at first glance really unrelated, but they’re literally saying stop your damn acting, and whilst in Rome – be like the Romans.
2) Wahala rolls off the tongue effortlessly. If you ask a person for something, and they refuse; you could respond ‘no wahala’ meaning ‘that’s fine, it’s not a problem’. Or it can also be used as a response when someone thanks you for doing something for them. In other words ‘you’re welcome’.
3) Chop means to eat. I don chop – I have eaten, I wan chop – I want to eat. The slang was presumably borrowed from the English phrase ‘chop’ to slice/dice.
4) My sister has so many bags, so she dashed me this one. In this phrase it denotes ‘to give’ freely. However when a police official strongly insists you dash then money; the dashing is no longer ‘giving freely’ but has now turned into a bribe!
5) Section 419 in the Nigeria law book deals with using false pretence to defraud. This has now become synonymous with all losses. Someone sneakily eats your last rolo – you might claim ‘chai he don do me 419’. Someone steals from your account; again the person has played 419 on you! If you think you deserve a promotion, but you are passed over; again you can claim you manager did 419 (or ojoro) for you!
6) Whilst living in Lagos, you must become accustomed to ‘go-slow’ which literally translates to ‘going slow’! This is a traffic jam that has no light at the end of the tunnel. It’d probably be faster if you got out of your car on 3rd mainland bridge and walked.
7) Oga, when said correctly it can get you out of many tight holes. If the LASTMA (ruthless traffic cops) man tries to fine you, you can add a little ‘oga…haba’. It gives the powerless power to think they are ‘big / rich / in charge’. In some work places oga still places an important role as you dare not call your boss his name! So instead of calling him Mr Ayobami, you might choose (by force) to call him ‘Oga Ayobami’.
8) Wetin translates to ‘what’s wrong’, but can easily be used the same as ‘how come’. You can generally free use this when bargaining at the market. So a piece of meat is quoted to cost twice its expected price; you can freely respond ‘haba wetin’. Loosely meaning are you kidding me? Or how can?.
9) MOPOL, these mobile police are not your friends, you even have a better chance dealing with LASTMA. They carry guns heavy enough to weigh them down. To add to the extra weight being lugged about is a soft-shelled armour looking kind of suit. Believe me, they are not chasing down criminals; more like looking for brides down Lekki Bridge.
10) Abi is used as regularly as ‘I’m telling you’ or ‘Isn’t it?’ It’s a statement of agreement. Either as a direct yes response or a ‘tell me about it’ phrase.
I hope my 10 mini phrases can help you function in Lagos a little bit more. Try and use one, two, heck all of them within this week.
Beep beep beep beep…..
Taxi, Taxi, Taxi…..
Cab, Cab, Cab…..
Gate, Gate, Gate…..
No, this is not an episode from Taxi or cheers. This is a daily occurrence.
In Lagos, no-body walks…even from let’s say Charing Cross station to Leicester square. Nobody walks…to walk is seen as a foreign act.
At any passing, a taxi will stalk you into entering their vehicle. One, two, three in a row…the third would have seen you refuse two previous ones, but he would not have taken notice of this.
Even going for an evening stroll is met with unfriendly gazes. To Lagosians, you need to always be enclosed in some sort of vehicle. Never mind the fact the buses can be death traps. It’s better than walking on the road. It comes back to the idea of only two type of ladies walk on the road; either a lady of the night or market traders. Neither is respectable in Lagos (I mean I have nothing against traders, in fact they are doing an honest day’s work), but the former - well that’s their call really.
For short distances, you are expected to at least take an okada (bike) but I’ve cleverly avoided them in Lagos; choosing to repress the memory of me falling off one with a cousin in Owerri a few years back whilst on holiday. I mean I’ve never toyed with the notion of riding one in Lagos. You see, Owerri is a different type of city. Not as populated, the roads are shorter - making the distance one sits on them shorter.
Reasons Not to Walk:
• Disapproving stares
• Scorching Heat
• Dusty Road
• Pervy drivers
• Smelly gutters
Reasons to Walk:
• Good exercise
• Economically friendly
• Good source of Vitamin D from the sunshine
• No need to be in contact with B.O infused passengers
Memo to self: must walk in disguise to diffuse the constant attention, as it’s better that you drive an un-roadworthy vehicle just as long as you are not walking!
Written for www.movebacktonigeria.com
Published on 25th December 2013
Ubochi mbu keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem Otu akpa ukwa
(On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me one bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi abuo keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi ato keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem akwa nja ato, ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three ankara wrappers, two arm bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi ano keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem ola ukwu ano, akwa nja ato, ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four leg bracelets, three ankara wrappers, two arm bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi ise keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem akpa ube ise, ola ukwu ano, akwa nja ato, ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five bags of African pear, four leg bracelets, three ankara wrappers, two arm bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi isin keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem eji isin, akpa ube ise, ola ukwu ano, akwa nja ato, ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six escargots, five bags of African pear, four leg bracelets, three ankara wrappers, two arm bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi asaa keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem isi ewu asaa, eji isin, akpa ube ise, ola ukwu ano, akwa nja ato, ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, seven goat heads, six escargots, five bags of African pear, four leg bracelets, three ankara wrappers, two arm bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi asato keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem efere ugba asato, isi ewu asaa, eji isin, akpa ube ise, ola ukwu ano, akwa nja ato, ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eight plates of African salad, seven goat heads, six escargots, five bags of African pear, four leg bracelets, three ankara wrappers, two arm bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi iteghite keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem nkwu ocha iteghite, ugba asato, isi ewu asaa, eji isin, akpa ube ise, ola ukwu ano, akwa nja ato, ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, nine cups of palm wine, eight plates of African salad, seven goat heads, six escargots, five bags of African pear, four leg bracelets, three ankara wrappers, two arm bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi iri keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem uju iko aki iri, nkwu ocha iteghite, ugba asato, isi ewu asaa, eji isin, akpa ube ise, ola ukwu ano, akwa nja ato, ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, ten cupful of palm kennel, nine cups of palm wine, eight plates of African salad, seven goat heads, six escargots, five bags of African pear, four leg bracelets, three ankara wrappers, two arm bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi iri na otu keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem mba ji iri na otu, uju iko aki iri, nkwu ocha iteghite, ugba asato, isi ewu asaa, eji isin, akpa ube ise, ola ukwu ano, akwa nja ato, ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eleven tubers of yams, ten cupful of palm kennel, nine cups of palm wine, eight plates of African salad, seven goat heads, six escargots, five bags of African pear, four leg bracelets, three ankara wrappers, two arm bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
Ubochi iri na abuo keresimesi, Ihunanyam nyenrem akpa nzu iri na abuo, mba ji iri na otu, uju iko aki iri, nkwu ocha iteghite, ugba asato, isi ewu asaa, eji isin, akpa ube ise, ola ukwu ano, akwa nja ato, ola aka abuo, na Otu akpa ukwa
(On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve bags of edible clay, eleven tubers of yams, ten cupful of palm kennel, nine cups of palm wine, eight plates of African salad, seven goat heads, six escargots, five bags of African pear, four leg bracelets, three ankara wrappers, two arm bracelets and a bag of breadfruit)
"You are the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with" I’m finding it hard to fathom as I’ve only know him for a few months, and even at that we were not even dating. So can’t figure out of all the ladies in Lagos, why it should be me? Do you know what my favourite food is? What’s my favourite song? Do I like cream in my coffee? You know nothing about me yet you brandish the marriage package willy-nilly.
"What?" was as much a word as I could conjure up.
"So what do you think?" What do I think? You’re not asking me whether to buy a blue tie or pink tie now!
Fast forward 4 weeks later, and my BBM delivers the following broadcast message:
You are cordially invited to the traditional wedding ceremony of Miss A and Master B on the 31st December 2013. Venue is Senior Miss A and Senior Master A’s residence, village C. Time 12 Noon. Be there! Miss A / Master B.
This story is not heartbreaking as there was no emotional involvement and besides I was invited after-all! This is nothing compared to a primary school friend of mine.
One Saturday in May, she and said man went to Ikeja Shopping Mall. They shopped happily as they weaved from store to store; trying on the best suit. Finally settling on a navy blue suit with crisp white shirt and black bow-tie; perfect for his brothers’ graduation in London. This would be a key ingredient as it would explain his absence from her.
After shopping, they stopped off at Debonairs to grab a bite of pizza and some drinks. They would be staying at his house because it was easier to get to the airport from there, the next day. Early that morning, she drove him to Murtala Mohammed Airport and wouldn’t come inside with him - as he hated the goodbyes. Little did she know, that as soon as she left, he would make his way to the Local airport for a flight to Enugu airport. He had to come in a few days earlier to rest well for his big day the following Wednesday.
Her phone was more active than normal; the constant buzzing sound coming from her device would show 10 missed calls, more than 15 texts, countless BBM messages. It wasn’t her birthday, she had to remind herself. So why was the whole world remembering her now?
Text one: “nne I’m sorry”
Text two: “it’s a pity”
Text three: “what a shame”
The same line of messages continued…she was still perplexed…that was until she checked her facebook page. She quickly clicked on his profile; but she couldn’t view it. He hadn’t wanted her to see…he didn’t want her to rant online…he thought he could keep her in the dark…well for at least a little while. But it came as a rush to her; she knew because that wasn’t her picture with him on his profile. She used her cousin’s login details and saw it for herself. She saw pictures of him kissing her as they exchanged their vows!
Why is it that Lagos men can just lie in your face? If they have found another lover, what stops them for telling their other partner? More shockingly, why is it that easy to ask multiple women within a short time-frame to marry them?
Is marriage just another activity some men do without actually thinking deeply about? The fact that Nigerian men get married earlier than men in many other countries needs to be addressed. But I’ve come to learn that marriage doesn’t’ really stop them from their normal ‘engaging’ activities with women. Infact, marriage to some is protocol, almost business as usual.
Whatever happened to meeting the right girl and waiting for her? Not marrying the next available girl that you can never be happy with; all in the name of being a married man. Next thing kids, many years of marriage. And finally one day, you think of her. The one that got away!
Hope you have had an amazing 2013, here’s to starting the new year on a high! xoxo
Written for www.movebacktonigeria.com
Published on 3rd December 2013
Everyone knows that yam porridge is my second favourite dish (how could you forget!). This should be one of the top things one should know about me. Last Sunday I visited Yellow Chilli in VI and ordered a plate of Yam Porridge which I thoroughly enjoyed! But the meal throws me back into a time when I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the dish.
I once had a friend who tried to impress me by cooking my all so beloved yam porridge. I was so excited that I didn’t even mind that hour’s journey from Stockwell to Dagenham. What’s a little distance for the food that you love? Also knowing he was non African didn’t deter me either!
The fact that I forgot my weekly oyster in the house didn’t disturb me too much. I gingerly bought another day’s pass (zone 1-6 by the way). As you can see this dish is very important to me.
As the train pulled outside Dagenham East tube station by 5.50pm, I raced down the stairs and turned left into the streets. There was no way I was going to be late for my 6pm dinner! Finally get to the flats. And with a quick buzz…
“Ije…you made it” Aaron greeted
“How could I not” I’m already salivating at the thought of my meal. He walks me into his flat, and escorts me into the living room. He signals for me to take a seat
“Can I get you a drink?” man when is he going to stop this delay and serve the damn food?
“Just some cranberry juice please” I politely requested. With my drink order to hand he heads to the kitchen. It’s strange how I cannot smell the crayfish, maggi, and dried fish. Well perhaps he has a super secret recipe he uses that I’m not aware of.
“Nuts?” he offers more snacks to accompany the plate of biscuit laid out on the table
“I’m alright…don’t wanna ruin my appetite” he lets out a little chuckle at my response
“Shall I serve you now then?” He can see that I did not come all this way as a joke. Coming to think of it, he has been trying to drag me to Dagenham for quite a while now. And I’ve always resisted at the distance and because he may have wanted more than friendship from me. Which unfortunately for him (but fortunately for me) I was not interested in that way. But seeing as he once earned an apprenticeship with a French chef (so what that was when he was 17!). I know I’m in good hands.
He vanishes into the kitchen and I hear the dishing spoon making contact with the pot. Well the pot sounds tasty. Surely you can tell how tasty a meal will be by the noise the cooked-with-pot makes?
A few minutes later, he arrives with two plates of his so-called master-piece. I mean the colour’s slightly odd, but I’m sure it’s the taste that will seal the deal. But coming to think of it the smell is also odd. It’d be that taste factor again that determines if it’s a winner. The phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover comes to mind’.
A mere spoonful taught me that perhaps I should have judged this dish by its cover! I mean I did find it odd when the colour was almost pinkish rather than a yellow/orange shade.
“So..what do you think?” Is he really joking now?
“How did you make it?” I’m trying to let my emotions not get the better of me. So you mean to say I travelled for over an hour to be served with unseasoned white yam with a pink colouring. I don’t know how he did it, but I’m determined to find out who or what taught him how to make this concoction.
“I boiled the yam and added vegetable oil” he’s still looking chuffed with his dish.
“How did you get the colour like this” I’m smiling like someone who was interested in re-creating the dish. But …how…what…how?
“I added food colouring” alas his big secret…”Don’t you go giving away my secret ingredient now will you” Oh believe me, I won’t!
“How did you learn to make it like that?” I need answers ASAP
“My mate has a Nigerian friend who showed him.” He’s so excited at trying to make a different dish than his nations’ very British ‘mash potato’ I bet you there was no friend of a friend that taught him this. It may just be a case of his friend flapping that he had Nigerian mates. Then when it came to crunch-time, the so-called mate bottled it and probably googled ‘how to make Nigerian Yam Porridge by a white person’. And seeing as he probably was unable to find red oil from Waitrose he substituted for veggie oil and food colouring to deceive. Well you must give him props for trying (memo to self find that fake friend and give him a good telling off!).
“That was a lot of effort you made there” I mean maybe I lost my faculties for a second, but what hope did I have when a British person was trying to make me this very Nigerian dish!
If you’re looking confused then join the club. You probably do not want to use vegetable oil, nor food colouring to cook yam porridge. But you may want to follow these steps…
How to make Yam Porridge Lagos Style!
- 1 small tuber Yam (white)
- 1 small onion
- ½ cooking spoon of red oil
- 1 tablespoon ground crayfish
- 2 medium size dried fish
- 1 bag of stockfish pieces (you can use bigger pieces and break up yourself)
- 4 singular maggi cubes
- 4 medium red pepper (add more if you like it hot)
- Salt to taste
- 1 spring onion (to garnish)
- Cut a thick slice of the yam tuber, peel and cut into small cubes. Wash and add into a cooking pot. Add enough water to cover the yam
- Cut onions into tiny pieces (this also adds to thicken the porridge rather than blending)
- Grind pepper with some water, add crayfish and break maggi cubes into blender. Quickly re-blend (this step ensures the seasoning mixes well when pouring into the porridge)
- Soak dried fish in hot water for 5minutes, then wash thoroughly using salt. Remove the bones and break the fish into large pieces
- Wash stockfish in salty water. Remove from the water solution, rinse well and add into a small pot.
- Set the yam (covered) pot on fire on medium heat (remember enough water to cover)
- Add enough water to the stockfish pot, bring to the boil
- Add the washed dried fish into the yam pot. Once the water starts to bubble (approx 12mins)
- Add the cut onions and blended ingredients into the yam pot. Stir using a wooden spoon
- Allow to boil. Taste the porridge water
- Remove the stockfish from fire. Add the stockfish and some of the stockfish water into the yam pot (for maximum taste)
- Using a wooden spoon, stir the yam around to allow the seasoning to blend well
- (Add more maggi or crayfish if needed into the yam pot)
- Add salt (not too much as the stockfish water is already salty)
- Allow to boil for an additional 5 minutes
- Add red oil into the pot. Allow to disperse
- Use a wooden spoon to break a few yam pieces inside the pot to thicken the porridge
- Add some more stockfish water if you desire more porridge (the sauce)
- Taste, if happy lower the heat to a gentle simmer
- Garnish with spring onions
Enjoy sans Vegetable Oil, Food Colouring, Leaves (I detest leaves in yam porridge)
Twitter: @ijescorner | Email: email@example.com
Written for www.movebacktonigeria.com
Published on 26th November 2013
When I go out to eat at a restaurant, I normally order a glass of juice. This to me I found normal. However it seems it’s not the norm – rather the exception. I went on a mini date last weekend and I ordered a glass of cranberry juice.
“just bring the pack” my date interrupted the waiter.
“I only really want the one glass” I attempted to insist to the waiter.
He gave him the look of come on…who’ll actually be paying the bill? With that, the lanky waiter scurried away out of sight. A few moments later returning with drum rolls please… one pack of juice. I gazed up at him with a curious look but he took no notice of this and insisted on opening the pack and pouring a large glass for me. My date smiled cheekily as if he had pleased me in some way by ordering a pack of juice. Meanwhile he was presented with 2 large bottles of Guinness.
A little while later, we ordered our mains and upon arrival; we began to tuck in. Slowly the grilled fish and roasted yam chips began to reach a contented part of my stomach. I sipped my juice (still on the first glass by the way) and after polishing our identical plates, we ordered desserts of profiteroles, chocolate brownies and ice-cream. I sipped some more of my juice (still on that same glass).
As the remaining chocolate lingered down my lower lip, I squealed in the delight of thoroughly enjoying my meal. I washed down the last drop with a long sip of my now almost emptied glass of cranberry juice. My date, let’s call him ‘Josh’, seized the opportunity to top up my glass “I’m very full, I’m done with the juice”
“That’d be very wasteful of you”
“Excuse me? Pardon? what?” I swallowed the cool breeze of the outside seating (minus the silent mosquitoes buzzing around)
“You’ve ordered a pack of juice, and you don’t want to finish it”
“Noooooo…you ordered a pack of juice for me”
“But why would you order a glass, no-body orders a glass”
Nobody orders a glass [of juice] in Lagos, this statement could not be any truer as I looked around our surroundings and noticed for the first time that evening that each table had at least a pack of juice to each individual. Then it hit me, each afternoon meal at ‘The Place’, ‘Bukka Hut’, ‘Chicken Republic’ is always filled with lunch-goers with their straw heavily buried into their pack of juice.
Tell me this, why would you need to drink 1 litre of juice at each meal? Breakfast = 1 LITRE, Lunch = 1 LITRE, Dinner = 1 LITRE. 1 litre x 3 meals = NONE-WASHBOARD ABS. This is the Lagos way, to have a bloated stomach is to show your level of enjoyment at various eateries. A flat stomach is seen as the poor man’s lack of nourishment. No thank you sir, I’d rather keep my stomach the way it is, believe me, I am in no hurry to develop the Lagos Abs Style. Even the slimmest girls are proudly showing off their size 16 pouches.
Let’s have an ab-off!