The Adventures of a Lagos Boy; Ikeja.
Yeah, the title is a bit much and so am I. For the past two weeks I have been going to Ikeja under bridge learning hairdressing and I have to say that it has been a huge teaching experience for me. The way I look at Lagos has changed quite a bit. One thing I defs know is that; “Lagos is hustle till thy kingdom come”
This is a day in the life usually goes;
I go to the BRT bus stop at Iyana-Ipaja at around 8 o’clock in the morning to take a bus that goes to Ikeja. JYSK that BRT ride is one of the best things of my day. It is extremely sane. There’s none of the regular Lagos madness inside.
(If you are not that interested about the BRT experience, you can skip this bit. Features of the BRT ride include;
- Free wifi (as long as your number saved on the Lagos cowry system)
- Charging ports at every seat!
- Centralised AC
- Parking buttons
- Comfortable seats
- Nice driving views
- It’s fast! No unnecessary Lagos traffic! (you know, because of the BRT lane)
- It’s an unspoken rule, but everyone behaves themselves on the bus.
- Most times people are on their devices; chatting and watching stuff.
I know I am greatly hyping BRT, but mehn it’s comfortable.)
A welcome greeting from the machine when I tap my cowry card starts my journey.
Followed by a roughly 10-15 mins ride to Ikeja Along. If you know they are constructing a bridge around that side so crossing to the other side can be stressful particularly because of those Okada men
Once I cross the train tracks I walk straight on to the local government office, through computer village to my shop where I am an Omo Ise. Omo Ise- loosely translates to a child of work. It means a person /apprentice learning a skill.
Computer village is a very stressful and fruxstrating tbvh. “Brother come and swap your phone, get your UK used iPhone here. Wait abeg, do I look like I have money🙄 Someone is always asking you to buy something! There’s sermons and accusations going on in the morning that I don’t understand, fliers flying around, people everywhere and those pink lips boys. ‘Aunty come and buy your cream.’ Some of these boys selling the cream for “nice looking pink lips’ have black lips. Like bruv sell your market well 😂 Another annoying thing is slow walkers. It should be a known thing, don’t take your sweet time in the market. Abeg comot from my front.
And the thing about that area is that you have to be alert! Your phone can be stolen at any point, anything on you can be taken. (More dets on that later lol)
Here’s a breakdown of some memorable days.
The one with the fight
Not long after I started settling in and taking what would be my new environment for a while, did I see an exchange of hands. I think the situation was that a customer was trying to gauge which hairdresser was the best and cheapest out of three of them. So there was probably that first come first collect situation that led to a lot of curses and hitting. One thing I liked though was how you don’t keep grudges for that long in that kind of place. It’s a community vibe so you have to fashi at some point.
The struggles of an omo ise
This was a funny day. Learning a trade in itself is a skill. Learning in an environment where anyone can use you is a completely different scenario. Omo ise(s) are used to run any message and errand there is. Go and buy fuel, go and meet iya somebody. Basically you have to work at every moment. You get to learn by doing stuff, but it really boils down to how your boss treats you. This was where she made a mistake. So this girl apparently was tired. They had sent her message and she couldn’t seem to get it done and she didn’t report to her oga. So when her oga started to para, she sef showed her own werey and started shouting back. Now never make the mistake of doing that when people are there, especially Yoruba women. If you see the thick insults that girl received, hot premium tears. The worse thing was that they were adding pepper to the matter; adding all the things she used to do, how disrespectful she was, it was a whole show for all of us to see. At the end she eventually tended a public apology. LOL
The Nail Wahalurr
Just putting it out there, Yoruba people don’t have the best customer service. In my opinion the woman was in her right. It’s common to come to my shop to do your hair and fix nails. So while I and some other people were braiding her hair, someone was filing away. She showed them the nails she wanted five times and they said they could do it. You know how we can be, overestimating what we can and can’t do. So the nail person was like eleyi o le (it’s not hard) It was a classic case of what I ordered vs what I got. It was rubbish and nothing even close. That’s how this quiet woman was shouting and swearing in Igbo. Like what is all this rubbish. Turns out that they didn’t even have the colour to paint. In a case like this, they are supposed to beg the woman and try to bring a solution. That’s how the oga of nails started giving attitude, instead of her to be mellow. This woman was torn between managing the nonsense or completely removing it. Eventually the oga’s subordinate came to sort things out. Moral Lesson: Know what your capabilities are. Don’t oversell yourself too much.
In this Lagos where many people are doing the same things as you, you have to find a way to shine. You have to make your hustle unique. Here are two examples;
No one (absolutely no one):
Random Indomie seller: Indomie boy is here, come and buy your indomie here. I do indomie for a living.
Indomie and yam, fish, ugu, indomie is my work.
Jewellery seller: Who’s looking for me, who’s looking for your favourite Grannie. I have all the jewellery a fine girl like you needs. Tell Grannie what you want.
Why wouldn’t you want to buy from two of them specially😅😆 I was just laughing.
Even hairdressers that stay in front are always advertising in their own special way. “My love, which hairstyle do you care for?”
Everyone’s fav day: Falentine
Happy “falentine” in the accent of the Yoruba hairdressers. I can’t count how many times ‘falentine’ was mentioned that Monday. Mondays are usually sluggish days (everyone is still recovering from the weekend customer rush), so around nine , nine thirty when people started arriving there were a lot of falentine hugs and greetings. Everyone that came there that day was treated extra nicely as they did their nails and hair. Because why not? The day of love. Sad thing no one, no one at all wore any red👀💀
Other notable events
The phone thievery . This occurrence is perfectly normal in Computer village. You sef here the name. Even at work, your phone is in your possession at all times. You can’t just drop your phone anywhere, you are practically begging to get it taken. Back to the story. That’s how there was a commotion near that roundabout side. Guess what? Someone stole a soldier’s phone. Abeg shey you na dey see werey😭 A soldier!
They beat the stupid and bastard out of the thief.
Some tips to surviving the place called Computer village
- Wear your face mask- I know it’s weird, but it works. I noticed most times when I wore my face mask going back home that they didn’t bother me to buy anything.
- Do not I repeat Do not look into their eyes- Let me explain. People selling market in that area have a keen sense of detecting interest. So if you mistakenly look in their direction, they will for sure hunt you down.
- Try not to be confused: They smell that confusion and take advantage of it. So definitely don’t go there not knowing anything to go and buy something, you will be cheated.
- Think on your feet, make smart decisions.
With all these in mind, I guarantee a 50% chance of easy movement.
Things to note when you want to learn a skill
- Don’t be like me, for your first day bring a crate of drinks and biscuits. It’s tradition to bring those things when you are learning a trade. It’s like a welcoming celebration. The whole community is eating something like a peace offering. That way you can meet anyone to teach you something. I did eventually bring it, but it was the next day. I got a lot of looks from people, judgy, weary vibes that first day. I expected it afterall.
- Prepare to be oversabi. Yeah you heard me right. That’s the way to get into their good graces. So suck it up, kiss ass and do a lot of work. Sweep their workspace, offer to help buy stuff. That’s a way to become the people’s favourite.
- Be respectful. Obviously this should be a no brainer. Greet very well, they appreciate it.
- No matter how annoyed you might get, don’t show it. I think our comrade’s experience above is more than enough example.
You’ve gotten this far comrade. You are da real MVP. I salute you for repping the cause✊🏽. Anyways I suggest you to be open to such opportunities like this. Don’t be completely closed off to something that can make you see life in a different way. Thanks fam for reading! Y’all stay safe out there😷🖤. Love and light🔥
A definition of terms
- Fruxstrating- describes frustration
- Sent her message- sent her on an errand
- Para- shouting, complaining while being loud about it
- Selling market- refers to sell something or service
- Oversabi- doing too much, eye service
About The writer
Korede is one of those fine boys, a rare commodity.