TAMING THE DRAGON OF LAGOS

We dropped my little cousin off at the airport, he was catching a night flight to Houston. On our way back home, we got stuck in traffic- a terrible traffic, as terrible as Lagos traffic jam can get at the Ojo Barracks area. We were all there, the whole tribe, packed tightly into the Land Cruiser jeep, passing the slow traffic-jamed hours in good spirit- good music playing on the car stereo, them kids sipping on flavoured fruit juice and snacking on crackers and cookies and being happy; I had lots of editorial work to catch up on, and my eyes were riveted to the screen of my blackberry.

Suddenly five boys between the ages of 20 and 30 appeared by the car’s windows. They showed pistols and sawed-off shot guns. My first thought in appraising the situation was a humorous one. I had that uncanny impetus to cynicism at threats- I was going to say “hey, nice guns, your mama bought them for you?” But those blood-shot-eyed goons don’t look like they would take a joke.

They commanded us to wind down and unlock the doors, we did. They harassed us to surrender our valuables. They cursorily searched our bodies for hidden items. The humiliation of it and the helplessness of the situation; but as would the sages say: “this is Lagos”. That was how they took our moneys, our mobile Phones, and some jewelries. The kids were all at the back, they were unmolested. Glad nobody got hurt, more than the shattered morales.

Yes, I was scared a little, but I was very much brave. Not for me, but for the kids to whom I am mentor. They did better than us the adults, though: they never stopped chattering, and snacking and sipping away. It must have seem to them like “Hollywood in Lagos, Live”. It all happened so fast, too fast that it was over before shock could set in.

I love this city- Lasgidi. She’s so hot. So raving, she’s a dragon. A beloved pet dragon she used to be, now she’s all grown up and independent. She roam the streets in day light, and prowl the dark corners at nightfall, seeking the unwary to roast with her breath of fire. Her den is located under the bridges- where destitutes and brigands shelter. She waits for victims, like a troll, to devour for naught but psychotic pleasure. Even the sky is no longer safe- she got wings and she is no Kiwi; The waterways aren’t safe either-she got fins and can swim. Folks now fear to go out of the dwelling places- houses, street corners, under bridges, and towers- for fear of the troll that Lagos has become- Yet, none is safe behind their veils of poverty, or castle ramparts from this dragon roaming about seeking for whom to destroy.

We are free, (since we are free citizens) but we all live in cages, and the dragon- our adversary- roam our streets free, unleashed, raving, spitting fire. Who will tame this dragon, perhaps a flood will drown her, or she will self-destruct in her own flames, or grow old and die, or lost her taste for recklessness. No one, can save us unless the hedonists amend their ways, and cease to tempt the dragon of Lagos with such wanton display of wealth. Calling on the government officials, the celebrities, nobles rich, all the Haves and highfallutting: Let us sanitise our minds, and by extension, our society. Eko oni baje o!

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