I got shocked out of my skin yesterday. Relax, nobody died. It’s just that I didn’t realize that we have become such cowards, or more directly put, that I have become such a coward. This realization shuddered me to the marrows.
I walked past two men, I dare call them gentle. They were leaning on the perimeter fencing that separated the pedestrian walkway from a man-made gully. Well, you are right, men don’t intentionally make gullies, let’s just say it’s a “gutter” that is “living its dream”. It was shaa the second “great depression” that welcomes one to the notorious Lekki Phase 1. The first being “the number of child-beggars littered on that small left turn from Phase 1 to the Phase 1 junction (if you are headed towards Ajah)”. The gut-wrenching irony is that the very same Phase 1 which had what could be described as the high in the heavens also had the down and scrubbing. So, one is caught between admiring a Buggati Veron and pitying a tender little child with extended withered hands, soliciting for money.
This was at that familiar Lekki junction, the bifurcation with one arm leading into Lekki Phase 1 while the other short arm of the “T” linked the Lekki-Ajah axis to the Sandfill-Ozumba Mbadiwe road, the place we called Victoria Island.
Back to the main story. These men were discussing whatever it was, and supporting themselves with the perimeter fencing when I walked past them. I was too occupied with catching up with my next shift to accord them more than a glance. So, I was already ascending the overhead bridge when I noticed something funny going on. Apparently, some guy had come around and held one of the guys by his belt (you know that kind of belt-grabbing that all Nigerian policemen are required to have a PhD in?). So, the guy being held appeared perplexed, he was still starring at the man to probably figure out what kind of new joke this was, when the belt-grabber dosed him one thunderous slap and evened it out with another one and yet another, to make it a complete trinity.
At this point the guy knew it was no joke and was as expected, infuriated with the belt grabber who at this moment, has been joined by two more men in beating up the slapped man. They were now calling him a thief at this point and he was equally refuting the allegation while trying to break free from their hold.
What was most shocking was that while the scene was attracting a moderate amount of spectators, none of these by-standers got close enough to ask what the man did, not even myself who was transfixed right on the 4th step up the pedestrian overhead crossing, just a few strides from the drama.
Eventually, these individuals succeeded in cuffing the man and dragging him to their car, while responding to each “what did I do” with slaps and punches and expletives.
Then, gradually, all the spectators began to disperse in ones and twos. And I resumed my journey to the second shift. Up till the time I left, nobody walked close to those guys to ask what the alleged thief stole.
For the rest of the day, I was shredded in thoughts. I was wondering what would happen if strangers stopped me on the way, beat me up and alleged that I had stolen something. Who would ask the requisite questions? Who would ask to know what I stole?
This is the new Lagos as we know it, this is a bit of what “mind your business” means to our people!
Up next: The Side effects of being Alive, ….Friday,17th August, 2018.