Wednesday, September 26

Inside Lagos Traffic

For those of us living in Lagos, we know anything can happen in traffic; and evil does abound  especially at night, but then so does creativity!

Able-bodied young men and women spend their prime running up and down, hawking anything from pure water, gala, drinks, recharge cards, newspapers, car accessories, DVDs, watches, tomatoes, cell phones, electrical appliances, fruits, cutlasses (yes, that!), garden tools etc etc. Name it, and you can almost find it in traffic! In fact, we sometimes joke that you can prepare a meal while in traffic in Lagos!

But through the great throng of hawkers, and the nuisance we sometimes think they present (even though we all encourage them by making purchases, they do make life easier!) I acknowledged for the first time yesterday the utter ingenuity of these people. Over time, they have perfected the art of making a sale with minimum or no fuss. They carry their wares in such a way as not to be impeded a sale, and where that is not readily possible, they think nothing of abandoning such wares and making the 100 meters dash after the vehicle wishing to make a purchase!

Those who sell drink now have them well-packaged, complete with ice and a tiny tube that drains the melted ice, the newspaper vendors now insert their papers/magazines in transparent bags to keep them from getting wet, the (illegal) DVD sellers now arrange them on a flat wood or cardboard  such that you can easily see/pick out  what you want to buy, the tomato/potatoes/pepper sellers now pack them  in transparent bags so all you have to do is pull off the bag containing what you need. The fruit sellers now have transparent bowls on which they punch holes so the grapes can breathe,  the bowls are then strung together so all you have to do is pull. Is necessity the mother of invention or what?

Much as I am tickled by this, I wish there was a way this creativity and ingenuity could be harnessed while these young men and women are still so full of life and energy. Are we making these opportunities available? Can we? Do they have a chance? I doubt these ones are lazy. How about the handicapped guy who sells handkerchiefs and stationary in traffic?....of a truth, a majority of our human resources  are on the streets. I can imagine them collapsing in bed at the end of the day, thoroughly exhausted, and thinking they certainly couldn't do this anymore, but getting up the next day anyway and doing it all over; talk about a vicious circle. That really saddens me.

God Bless Nigeria.

Be Free oh.


  1. i sometime wonder how much they make from those sales and how they manage to feed themselves, their families and send their kids to school. its really sad


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