Everyone knows Yaba; at least every Lagosian does. On the mainland, after Surulere and Ikeja, Yaba has to be the next bubbling place to be. There are a lot of things that make it stand out. From the popular “YabaLeft” for the mentally challenged to the amazing University of Lagos, lovely Ozone Cinemas, prestigious Queens College, busy Yaba market with those Igbo boys that like dragging girls upandan anyhow, eateries and restaurants (pizzerias and mama-put inclusive) and lots more.
I know all these Island people will want to show themselves and tell how much more fun you can get on the Island but please, we love our mainland like that; at least we can sing “open the floodgates in abundance” without fear, can you? If you know, you know.
One Sunday evening, I did my usual contact rounds and hit one of my female friends up. I would have said girlfriend but my monitoring spirits (big uncles and aunties) and my church people will not understand that I’m just playing, and I’m not ready for another round of counselling biko so ‘female friend’ does it for me. Her name’s Kendra.
Kendra is the classy, pretty, island type of babe and as a gentleman, I just asked her innocently to an outing. For some reason, Yaba popped up in my head and I suggested. Of all places, right? I know, I know but only few will understand. Moreover, it seemed central for both of us considering our different, opposite locations.
Me: “We should hang out. I’m thinking somewhere in Yaba. Do you know Yaba?”
Her: “Is that a place?”
Me: “Mogbe. I’m dead. What do you mean? 1 – 0
Her: LOL. I know Yaba sha but no, I can’t even come to Yaba. I can’t suffer.
In my mind, I was like “and there goes the Island girl. So we that live on the mainland are now cheap abi? Issoryt”
And she goes on…
My dear, I can’t come to Yaba again, at least not anytime soon. I took off the first month of my holiday to tour Lagos and on the third day of my first week, I landed in Yaba. I was really excited about it, not only because it was my first time and I was deliberately going to “jump bus”, no Uber, no Taxify, but it was my birthday photoshoot! A day to my birthday! And she always had extra cash to throw around, if you know what I mean.
I boarded a danfo bus and midway through the journey, when we were yet to arrive at my first bus stop, Yaba Tech, our bus broke down. To compound the problem, it was raining heavily and our bus stopped inside a large pool of water. Compulsory swimming lessons began getting off the bus; plus being beaten by the rain, getting my hair and clothes partially soaked before I got on another bus was not funny at all. I was already regretting my visit to Yaba.
As though that wasn’t enough, there was this woman whose bus stop was somewhere around Yaba College of Technology, yaba tech. She had mentioned this before but the driver stopped just twenty metres from where she was to stop to pick up another passenger. Oya this woman, come down, she refused. Madam, just come down and take fifteen steps to your bus stop now so we don’t have to stop again, she refused. She wanted to be dropped exactly where she wanted. She came down.
I was not familiar with the route at all as it was my first time in Yaba but I was to stop somewhere around Tejuosho market according to the directions I was given. I just sat still in the bus, my white clothes already badly stained from all the jumping from one bus to another to adjusting myself to allow some other passengers alight when my village people remembered me again. The bus stopped! I didn’t even know if to laugh or cry. I just sat there until they fixed it.
At some point when I was almost the only one left, I decided to jump down from the bus to trek with some youth corps members as I just guessed I was already approaching my destination. That was where I made the biggest mistake of my life. I told them where I was going and they said it was just somewhere ahead.
I was trekking with these people who kept telling me it wasn’t far. Thirty minutes later, we were still trekking! They kept telling me it was close, I shouldn’t worry and we would be there soon. Then the worst happened – my phone died.
I knew deep in my heart that it wasn’t ordinary. I got to the so-called Tejuosho junction, borrowed a phone to call my cousin and the madam wasn’t at Tejuosho anymore. I was glad I even had her number off hand, and everyone I told my ordeal afterwards always said something along the lines “your story is so touching it sounds so fake” which even makes me hate Yaba and Samsung even more!
I looked around and decided to stay in one of the shops where a young sales girl was. After explaining my ordeal, good soul she had, she gave me her power bank to charge my phone a little. I called my cousin again to find out where she was and if she would come back. She wasn’t coming. She instructed that I take a bike to one Ade-something road, whatever the name was.
Considering all that I had suffered that day, I didn’t want to compound it with having an accident on the bike of an aboki man – all these men that drive roughly. Neither did I want to have anything to do with any near-drunk, red-eyed hooligan that will see a pot-hole and want to fly across, mba. I told myself that even if it meant standing for thirty minutes before picking the right okada man, I would do it. Finally, I settled with one elderly man whom I was sure would ride slowly.
I told him the name of the street and we started the journey. We got to a junction with a church sign that had the same name my cousin mentioned. He told me that was the street so I got down and paid him a hundred naira. I waited at the junction for another 15 – 20 minutes and my cousin kept calling me, telling me she couldn’t see me at the junction.
“but a bike man just dropped me where you instructed and he said ….”, before I could finish my sentence, my battery died again. To worsen it, it started drizzling again! Another good Samaritan called me to stay under his shade. At first, I didn’t want to leave the junction. “What if my cousin was somewhere around looking for me”? On a second thought, I decided to leave because I didn’t come to Yaba to suffer biko.
The man asked me, “my dear, are you waiting for someone”? I told him someone asked me to wait at the junction. He asked what junction it was. I mentioned the name and he laughed. Typical of Yorubas to end their sentences in “o”, he announced “this isn’t the place o. This is (he mentioned another Yoruba name). I was heartbroken. I started cursing the bike man. He obviously did not know the street and was only using signposts to locate the place. I realized that the sign post was just that of a church directing people to where their church was for an upcoming program they had. There was also a smart, little girl in the shop who gave me the right directions.
I got there but my cousin wasn’t there. One guy calls me and asks if I was Ruby’s sister, I replied in the affirmative. He was the beautician, and he told me my cousin had gone to the main market to look for me. Too much wahala in one day. At least, I had very, very good food afterwards, made my hair, my nails and went shopping with my cousin. And I took an Uber taxi back home.
I couldn’t even call my mum to complain because she warned me against going but I knew it was just her usual way of keeping me at home; she was still the same person that allowed me to go.
Me: It then makes me wonder. Are all Nigerian mums the same?
Her: Yes o! There has to be an Institution of Nigerian Mums that we don’t know about. So Yaba is a no-go area for me, at least not anytime soon.