Get in touch - email@example.com
Follow me on my new journey from being an ex-Londoner to a Lagosian!
A – Z of how to conduct yourself in Lagos. Part two…(N-Z)
Naive: Every lunch has a reasoning behind it, every day has it’s payback method! The nice young man you meet may already be married with two kids! Shock, horror, surprise! And this is vice versa for men. Everyone’s eyes are opened to the fictitiousness of the city. DO NOT be naive!
Original: Stand away from the crowd. If everyone is wearing the latest label, going to the seemingly best clubs, and eating the best food; which by the way have no idea what it’s made off in order to fit into the ‘Lagos’ mould. Then step back, and be original. Look around you and see how many people look and dress alike for starters. If you could be mistaken as a clone, then re-think and re-brand.
Punctual: Just because everyone in your life decides to take no notice of time, that doesn’t mean you should follow suit. You ask someone the time, and their response would be ‘past one’. Yeah, but how much time exactly past one? Is it one past one, fifteen past one or what? If it’s not past, then it’s to two. There’s obviously a clear difference between five minutes to two, and twenty-nine minutes to two
Qualified: Trust is a big issue in Lagos, or lack of it! So to harness back the trust in Lagosians’; you need to be trustworthy in your field of choice. And the best way to elicit trust is by being qualified. Take your craft seriously. If you an accountant – have as many qualifications as possible. Not only the mandatory qualifications, but go one further. Lagosians love ‘a piece of certificate’
Resilient: You will hear a lot of things you’re not expected to listen to. Anyone older than you can speak to you in any manner they see fit. The store assistant does not have to be polite to you. In fact because Lagosians can behave as badly as they deem fit. But you have to keep your head up. Let it run off like water off a duck’s back. Don’t sweat the little things.
Sociable: Being sociable does not mean you will attend every event in Lagos, parading in front of the media. It means choosing your event carefully. Ensure the activities you choose fit into you branding. If you are an artsy person, then focus more on events that offer fun, entertainment & art.
Thermophobia: As the saying goes; if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen!
Urophobia: Do not urinate outside, it’s very tacky and makes the places smell as bad as an alcoholics den. You probably have just left a housing, restaurant or from a premises that has (not so perfectly clean) toilets.
Verminphobia: Those afraid of a little bit of germ here and there need not apply for a visa. The city is full of open gutters, heap-up trash and so much pollution that you’ll be scared to get an x-ray on your skin.
Well-documented: There’s nothing like a ‘gentleman’s hand-shake’! Get everything documented, from buying a car from your uncle to renting form your sister-in-law. Get everything written and co-signed. Over-night friends become foes; family become enemies. Keep business to one-side and be prepared for any unseen situations
Xenophobic: Lagosians love to meet new people. So be open, sociable and explore the city with new friends made. DO NOT be xenophobic.
Youthfulness: May not be an advantage, in fact it’s a serious handicap. If you are fortunate enough to look young for your age, don’t tell people your real age! The younger they think you are, the less they respect factor! If you are of a small frame, dress up to look less petite. Fill the room, and make your presence count.
Zoophobia: It’s probably better if you are not an animal lover, as the city is not really geared towards taking your canine friends for brisk walks. There are drains everywhere, gutters and so forth that your young pup may not stand a chance!
Lagos Loves You
There comes a point in your move to Lagos that you begin to question, ‘did I make the right decision to come?’ or ‘should I go back?’ Questions that are perfectly normal. But it’s better to understand the different states to go through when transitioning before falling into a deep hole of depression.
This is stage six when you have given up, gone on BA and booked a one-way to elsewhere. You have almost packed up the last remaining trace of your existence in the city. You simply cannot take it anymore, before you make the jump, just remember.
Do not compare living standards; so what you cannot drink tap water here, and the fact that NEPA comes but once an hour, the buses look as though they have been in several crashes, and that customer service is worst that Basal Fawlty. Your carefully planned business may not have worked out well, or the job you thought you had – did not quite live up to its expectations. Even if your boss is crazier than Kramer, stay. At the end of the day, you know the reason you left, the reason you came back to our beloved country supersedes that negative voice in your head.
Reasons to stay in Lagos
Limited racism: well there is colourism, but at least it’s not as bad as you feeling that the reason you did not get that promotion or job – is because of the colour of your skin. This is true in some ways….but then again we still have those that discriminate against different shades of black. Is it better to be discriminated on by blacks though?
Love life: okay if you are of the orientation that you must marry a fellow Nigerian, then you are in the right place. Where else are you going to meet a large percentage of Nigerian men! They are everywhere you look; weddings, bar openings, concerts, banks, even church. So to make a love connection is a given.
Rags to Riches: millionaires are made faster than vista was scrapped! It only takes one deal; you needn’t know a thing about the avenue that will make you a fortune. One day you are a market seller, the next an oil tycoon. They say Hollywood is where dreams come true, but dreams can come truer in Lagos. All it takes is one meeting and one deal. But getting this big break may be a little bit tricky, but once it’s been discovered there’s no turning back.
The Weather: so long to polo neck sweaters, skin drying heaters, ear-muffs, sweaty lycra tights, woollen gloves and jumpers. This state is basked in sunlight. The day starts earlier than normal; 5am looks like 7am.
Friendliness: as crazy as the city is, as bad as the customer service, as rubbish as the road is – there is no better place to feel as if you are at home. You feel welcomed and have a sense of belonging. You know it’s not the same anywhere else in the world. There’s any event every weekend for you to go and mingle with friends new and old.
So bear it, the feeling will pass over as long as you recognize the 10 stages:
- Excitement of returning home
- Excitement then slowly kicking into reality
- Reality bites!
- Disappointment when things don’t work out
- Desperation of how to leave
- Feeling of excitement
The hardest stage would be the feeling of shear desperation. But fear not as this will subside within 3 months. It’s something a high percentage of so-called ‘returnees’ go through. But in the end you’ll pull through; at first if it doesn’t work out, then step back have a hot cup of Milo. And start again!
Welcome to Lagos, stay in Lagos, and don’t give up!!!
‘Hey you stop there’ an angry Hausa looking man is shouting furiously with a seemly loaded rifle. What’s going on there I wonder; well that’s their business nothing to do with me obviously! I approach nearer and this Hausa man is almost cheek-to-cheek with me. ‘Are you travelling today?’
Wait, he’s referring to me! Oh how did I miss that? ‘No, I’m escorting my aunty to the airport’ I respond
‘Well, as you can see she’s inside and you are not needed’ He retorts
Flabbergasted by this…I continue to head towards the door.
Another man intercepts. ‘Young lady, step back now’ to hear him is to think that a criminal is on the loose being warned for the last time to step back before fire is opened.
‘But I want to see my aunty off’’
‘If you‘re not flying today you cannot enter the airport. Sorry no ticket no entry’
Since when are airports strictly for flying passengers, (well wait that sounds about right when said out loud)! But do they make no provision for family and friends who want to see their beloved ones off. And wish them IJEOMA?
‘Then why the hell, is that man being allowed in without you even stopping him?’ I don’t care if he looks more English than the Queen herself! Embarrassed by his blatant favouritism against the man; he reassessed and stopped the Oyibo ‘Your boarding pass please?’
The man looking slightly put out, merely flashed his red passport. And he was inside the airport.
Light bulb moment!
So all it takes to enter this Murtala Muhammed International Airport is to flash a European or I’m guessing North American passport. No problems?
My brother is travelling the next day; so I’d obviously need to think of a way to get into this Alcatraz!
But before that I still need entry to say bye to Aunty Amara; okay in life when one door closes, there will surely be another door to try!
I not so quietly walked away from entry door one looking back once or twice; and headed towards entry door three. Let me not tempt door two. Three is one of my lucky numbers.
These men seem more polite ‘sister you dey travel today?’
‘My aunt dey inside, we suppose collect something from her’. my broken is a little shaky but it gets the job done.
‘So you want go inside abi’ another is attempting to be playful. But obviously is looking for some small change! My brother hands over
N1,000 which I thought was too steep. Surely the man looked like he would have settled for less. Next thing you know we’re in. As we walked back from Ariks’ entrance to BA; we made sure the Hausa man by door number one saw us! They should wonder how we made our way inside.
The mystery of how we got inside still baffled my aunty; and my sister who was still outside call to find us. She thought it was more hassle than it was worth!
A few hours later; my aunt has boarded and we make our way out of the airport using door number ONE of course.
‘BYE BYE’ I greet the Hausa security guards. They flinch in alarm. And at the corner of one eye I see them giving me very ungracious looks.
There that’d teach them!
The next day we arrive again at the airport to drop my brother off. But now I’m prepared for these Hausa looking men! They clearly remember me; how can you miss this wild curly fro I’m rocking!
With my brother’s hand-luggage in one hand; my passport in another; I’d like to see them try and refuse me entry now!
Obviously today I look the part, they didn’t even bother ask me any questions. And to think I made all this preparations!
Question; why is there so much protocol with seemly normal activities n Lagos? When has it become the norm to add additional layer of nonsense to visiting an airport. Hundreds of airports have all been surviving without such harassments!
So here are my REDUNDANT tips to enter Lagos International Airport: when you are not travelling!
- Have a hand-luggage in one hand
- Ensure your passport is visible in the other hand
- For additional conviction – create a pseudo e-ticket print out!
How to conduct yourself in Lagos…(A-M)
Attitude: you must show confidence at all times, ready for any situation. Do not let anyone see you with your guard down. They’ll pounce or see you as incompetent; Lagos is about putting on a good show. So whilst in Rome…..
Beauty: make the most of what the good Lord gave you, appearance does matter. You look the part you make the cash. Okay…don’t take this phrase literally. Put it this way, if there were a contract to gain, and one lady looked fashionable put together and the other.. well resembles a ‘Lagos big girl’. Then I leave you to come to your own conclusions…..
Career oriented: Lagos is a city where dreams can come true, it’s not only reserved for ‘The Big Apple’. Here you have an idea that works, it works almost too well. And before you know it life can take a 180 turn!
Daring: Take risks with new ideas; be it business, looks, or way of living. Only those that dare survive. Lagos is not for the meek!
Eloquent: Lagos is full of crazy accents and various inflections you’d think you were in another country all together. One girl will sound like she’s a croaked American cat; the other is an over-weight English horse. But to truly stand out in Lagos, be eloquent in your natural accent. Do not force a new weird intonation to fit in. It just makes you sound daft!
Friendly: you have to be friendly, but not too much as you still need to maintain a certain mystic about yourself. You do not want to be an open book. This can be misconstrued (especially for ladies)
God fearing: this is a nation full of believers in a higher being, so to fit into the city. You have to have a strong belief system in God. Or at least be a regular church goer. But sometimes the hypocrisy is just too much. Lagosians feel superior if there are deep rooted into the church systems (Forget being a nice person and doing going things!).
Humour: the amount of things that do not make sense in Lagos, is enough to make you turn crazy. But to survive, you need to see the funny side in things like the broken down buses, the pot-hole filled roads or the fact that Lagosians do not have grasp the concept of ‘personal space’.
Invest: If you have the cash now, then invest in land. The speed of appreciation can be quite surprising within 2-3years even you can make a hefty profit. If not land, then look into buying shares. Consult with a knowledgeable finance person that can point you in the right directions of what to buy.
Just be respectful: No matter the surrounding, respect has to play a part. I’m not a fan of calling your bosses ‘uncle’ or ‘aunty’ but you can use their titles instead Mrs Bimpe rather than aunty Bimpe. It makes the whole working environment seem unprofessional. But in social gatherings be aware of the age gap. But then again I have the 15year age gap rule. If you are not at least 15years older than me; then I will cease from using the almost obligatory ‘uncle’ / ‘aunty’ title.
Kind: Offer a helping hand whenever you can, because those people may be able to help you again in future. But in Lagos there’s a clear demarcation between rich and poor. So if the rich never reach out to the less privileged then the social ladder would stay the same (this would suit some) but if you are in a position, then it’s a beautiful thing to do.
Location: Location Location Location is not just a popular TV series, but in Lagos this is the only way to be (so it seems), live on the wrong side of 3rd mainland bridge and your so called status is slightly diminished. Musts live quarters on the Island are it seems Ikoyi, VI and Lekki
Marriage: If you are within the marrying ages of 25-35 and are still un-hooked, you will be seen as a pariah. As your elders would say ‘why aren’t you married?’ You live in the country with the right ratio of black men (be that your preference) and you are still single? Be prepared for constant prayer marches on your behalf!