Friday, August 15, 2008

Lagos and Lies: Abuja's guilt

I went on Bella Naija a while ago and saw her post on Gossip Girl LIVE IN LAGOS, fake accents and all and The New York Times' article on opulence in Lagos.

Yippie! was my first reaction, now the world can see there is more to us than AIDS, Malaria, Hunger and all that rubbish. Then I realized that with majority of our country's population living on less than $1 a day (N120 imagine) we really are a wicked bunch of people.

I am the thriftiest, stingiest (in a good way), economical Ijebu-Igbo girl I've met without being to hustler-down to earth ish. Lol! At Here's my average weekly expense at least for this summer in Abuja during my internship:

N1200 Taxi cab (I try for safety and all)

N800 Half plate of jollof, coconut or fried rice

N150 Maltina or Fanta twice a week

N1300 Credit that's like N500 for 3 days

N350 randoms acts of kindness/treats

In all that's N3800 almost N4000 if i did the math well. I had shawarma indulgence but have avoided cinemas, bowling alleys, concerts and (popular ajebutter hangout spots) and I'm supposed to be thrifty middle class???? With majority of my people (wayyy older than 19yr old me) living on N900 a week, dunno how I'll survive.

Thank God, my family can eat in an expensive Chinese restaurant not every month but a few times in a year. What of those who will never eat more that once a day?

It makes me think of how privileged I am that even though I don't have a car but can afford a cab.

My hustler cousin who wasn't raised as 'aje' as me took me to the market. She made me enter Abuja 'Danfo'- green and white buses instead of a cab. It was squashed up with people, no seat belts Duh cause of overcrowding, the 'scent' and 'odour' of what truly defined Nigeria: The masses. I couldn't complain.

That experience made me smile as a certified Nigerian. What 70% of the population goes through everyday.

We paid N60 for the ride saving us N200 if we had used a taxi. If God didn't bless me small this uncomfortable danfo would be my pimped up ride every blessed day.

At least I can afford a cab.

The worse is the so called rich who still have the guts to exploit. Cows of Bashan! (Secondary school CRS We went to my villa this summer and on the way back we went to this place where fresh fish is sold. The Hausa guy was complaining that a woman came in a 'BIG' car to buy fish of N2,150 (N150 probably being his profit again change that to dollars). She gave him N2,000 and zoomed of in her SUV. If she could afford that ride as much as to show it off in Abuja why couldn't she just pay the full price. Later, she'll eat the fish with her children. What if that Hausa guy decided to quit selling fish and be cheated by rich folks instead to join armed robbery and pick a couple of millions every week. That lady will be first hit as well as many of us who hiss and say to ourselves "why the heck does a low class Hausa man need N150?"

If you believe in juju, the fish bone might choke someone to the nearest clinic too. Abi?

I'm not justifying crime but it starts from somewhere so I vowed to try and give tips when I can afford, not bargain uneccesarily. Simon Kolawole of Thisday newspaper wrote an article, "one day the people will rebel" basically saying the housemaid, driver, washer man, cook/chef and staff of the wealthy can see the Ghana-must-goes of cash, designer items, the restaurants and joints you hangout, the mall you shop in, which they would never have/afford and one day will rebel. We pray armed robbers won't come near our houses but we can't give a little donation.

Though the article was directed towards corrupt government officials, it applies to all the privileged who ignore whats happening in our poor, backward, 3rd world continent.

Think of that guy that sells credit making maybe N200 a day and pray he doesn't decide to channel his frustration elsewhere.

I keep asking my self what the point is. Why do we have to eat Portuguese, Thai or Chinese, Shawarma DAILY!!!!, go to pricey concerts, visit the cinema DAILY, be spotted carrying Louis Vuitton?

That's if you don't have the dosh for it which levels are you tryna prove?

Thank God for luxury but as we enjoy them lets not forget those who don't have the opportunity to every be like me, you or us.

At least I can afford a cab.

If money if about to leave your wallet, purse of account think of what you can do to help someone. As long as 70% of Africa is poor, no one gives a HOOT if you spend summers abroad, live the glam life and have a fabulous job. You'll only bee seen as the wicked bourgeoisie too who can't even give crumbs to Lazarus.

Thank God for his mercies.
Again I'm from a middle class family, 19 years old, want to enjoy all the luxuries of life and hoping I don't become a Cow of Bashan. Simplemente!!!!!

Ladi is back in US and can resume blogging and releasing her inner frustrations.



Back to the point, I felt very nostalgic after reading that NYT article. I am from an upper class family, have attended expensive schools abroad, wear designer clothes etc BUT after reading that article, especially the part that mentions how the man in BMW comes in contact with a street hawker just made me feel useless.

I truly hope that the gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria reduces. However, I take joy in the fact that even the poorest Nigerians are often HAPPIER than the richest, so at least they are wealthy in some sense ;)

oh and one more thing....about the cooks, nannies, househelps etc rebelling...Yes, I have lots of friends whose domestic staff have stolen from them and run away(probably because of poor treatment) but I've realized that as long as they are treated well they will never do such.

In our family all our staff, from gateman to cook, has been with us for over five years because they're well treated, fed and paid.

lol i do feel useless sometimes, grew up in the uppercrust and believe those kids with porsche and ferrari actin a fool in the clubs are probably half my friends. lagos basically is like the old france with marie antoinette and her co's . am afraid one day the unfortunate will rebel. but on a serious note you enter cab ok you just earned my respect no really you enter nigerian cabs.

Abuja Cabs are not like lagos cabs sha!

oh thank God i though u said lagos cab , look mann am goin home next year for a week and am already havin fever lol either way femi'sfolks better bring out thier goverment money thier swappin to take of me lol

So you're getting your piece of the national 'oil goodies' lol. Sha don't zoom off ripping fish sellers. Have fun!

lol before nko lol but naw i hate when people have money and become stupidly stingy

Hey babe!, you came to naija...woooooooooaaawww!!!

im back! i was away for a long long time and i was faraway from blogville. check out my blog for my new update...babe u dey try as u manage ur life well well for abj city

much lovexxx

I really feel you on this. You wrote this well and u touched the right core of the issue. I take danfo all the time and you dont want to hear my exprience.

One thing I have learnt as a Nigerian is to treat others the way I want to be treated. I know it's not good to cheat pple if I wont like to be cheat and all that.....

Thanks for stopping by at my blog

the truth is that Nigerians are a lot tougher than most ppl think. I truly doubt that there is such a thing as a hopeless Nigerian. We have a knack for always seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
If you were born rich, there's no point feeling useless - I know my children will be , LOL.
Just make sure you dont waste if and end up poor , or living off your parents and their connections, thats what's irritating, when you see an empty headed guy with loads of money and no sensible idea what to do with it.

This whole story about suffering and standard of living may not quite be true. Our society is structured a bit different. So somehow everyone watches out for the other...
Proof: you hardly find Nigerians sleeping out in the cold, or old ppl with children having to live in a n 'old ppls home'.
There's a whole lot more to us than we actually see. I pray we dont loose it

Hmmmm I read the article and I hear you Sister. How are you? I just got back too from Nig and Liberia.

Let's realize something here, gaps between the rich and the poor are not a new thing in this world.It saddens me to see us make it a purely nigerian affair.However, we as nigerians need to seat down and havea roundtable discussion without being informed by greed, corruption or the liike. For us to make some headway, I believe which should make use of knowledge from various fields, in arts and sciences, research and application and so on. Till we start doing that, i.e. thinking out peculiar ways to solve our own issues then we are all to blame(Nkeze,2008)

Hey girlie, this is my first time here. Great observations!!! I'll be back for more, you better believe it lol. Good writing ;)

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