“…don’t let the sun roast your spirit of wakefulness. Wokeness can slide off you when you’re not watching, so stay VIGILANT!- The Scriptures of Wakefulness, Chapter Woke, verse Still Woke
That’s how one day I was carrying My New Look bag, steady in my left grip. I had my Amherst sling bag on my left shoulder- my Givenchy tote on my right. I wore my friend’s Brandeis shirt and still, in all that liberal arts glory- somehow- I could not prevent myself from the heat of the wicked Lagos sun.
I was coming from swimming class at the Four points. I had come from those sessions enough times to know the taxi drivers outside the hotel are just armed robbers true true. When I had had enough of their shit, I called one of them out for overpricing: “Oga why are you people like this? so even on a Sunday…ON THE DAY OF SABBATH, YOU STILL WAN TO CHARGE ME ONE-FIVE(1500)? TO SHOPRITE? Haba mallam!”…
If you see the way this Oga just about-turned to his car park. And then, before he returned to his bench, he just felt like he needed to look back at me one more time; just to look me up and down as if my sense was not sitting well on my head.
It was at that moment that I was sure that I was gonna be trekking home. Fada why?
But what was I thinking? I had come to Four Points enough times to know that even though The Palms (aka Shoprite) looked like it was so close to my house, it really wasn’t; especially when the fucking Lagos sun was being so damn feisty.
So, on this faithful (abi fateful) day- just after I came out of the sauna- I tried calling my sister to ask for her keke guy’s number. And as usual, she wasn’t picking up.
Here I was- the same person that laughed at my sister for having a “keke guy”- standing in front of the bathroom mirror, desperately calling for the fruit of her hustle. Finally, after hissing like ten times, I realized my sister was not going to pick anytime soon. With anger in my soul, and stress inna mi left breast, I headed into the shower, and wept for the journey I was about to embark on
Slowly, but surely, I put myself together. Decked in a blue Brandeis shirt I got from my friend, and a pair of grey Fila sweatpants I bought on sale at Macy’s, I looked into the mirror and said to my reflection; “We move.”
On my way out, the hotel receptionist asked if I enjoyed my workout. I did. Honest to God, I really did. But since I knew I would have to walk the journey home in my Legedeez benz, I could not smile too much because I knew the real workout lay ahead of me. I just waved her a flaccid bye-bye; did a mental sign of the cross; and sighed under my breath as I clutched onto my Givenchy bag. For some stupid reason, I hoped the bag would give me some street cred for the journey I was about to trek.
I then stepped out, expecting some small fresh air. But instead of cool breeze, I was slapped- mercilessly- by a heat wave that I could have never ever esperred.
…the heat that day was overhot.
The rays were blinding as well. So, I decided to up my game by bringing out my Roberto Cavalli sunglasses that I had gotten for 10$(N2000) from TJ max. Why not if not. The glasses were dirty- I used tissue to clean them. They were also rough around many edges because TJ fuckin max doesn’t sell sunglasses with any case. (Can we take a moment to agree that Tj Max can be so scraps #struggudesigner #byforcefleek.)
Anyhu, we still move.
At this point, I’m feeling like I cannot make it home without divine intervention so I decided to pray a prayer: “Father please, I just need one of these range rovers to stop for me.” And this, is actually where this post gets serious because if you know me, you will know that this was an unusual prayer request. I’m often very vocal about how much I feel preyed upon when random men “offer” to take me home. But, look at me, and LisTeen: Under the hellish furnace that is the Lagos sun, the part of one’s brain that holds all feminist theory can easily shrink. The same sexist disgusting men who I chastised for greeting me with “hey sexy”, became nice men who only wanted to help a struggling sister.
But, look at me, and LisTeen: Under the hellish furnace that is the Lagos sun, the part of one’s brain that holds all feminist theory can easily shrink. The same sexist disgusting men who I chastised for greeting me with “hey sexy”, became nice men who only wanted to help a struggling sister.
The heat transformed them from parasites into upstanding citizens who really REALLY care about the plight of the poor. I mean, I’m always looking for new friends, am I not?…
I have always committed myself to the feminist struggle. But it wasn’t until experiencing hell on earth (I’m talking about you Lagos), that I concluded that; debating theory is more fun- and even life changing- when AC is blowing my brain. Like pain, privilege is something that illuminates itself in the absence of comfort. Privilege, which is arguably relative, usually reveals itself the most when you’re thrown into situations where the very things you expect as givens become too much to ask for. e.g, Clean Air, Cool Breeze, Efficient Public Transportation, Fuel.
Today there was none of the above; all I had was the sun, hammering my head.I wiped my brows with the same tissue I used to clean my shades, shrugged my heavy shoulders, and alas, I kept moving.
As I was in movement, I kept hearing horns and wishing they were for me. In retrospect, I should not have done that because that was nothing but self playage. Asin, I played myself into nothing more than a sad game of hope and disappointment. Hope, is looking at a black Prado jeep, windows rolled up (which usually means there is AC), and watching that car speed up to you before slowing down right in front of you. Hope- my dear brothers and sisters- is adjusting yourself and putting on the resting bitch face that you will use to say “sorry I’m not interested” because maybe you want the guy to “insist and persist.” But disappointment, is watching that car speed off ahead of you just as you realize the slowing down was for a speedbump- not for you.
The only car that horned for me was a white bus full of people. At this point I needed to roll off my high horse because, to be honest.… eyan le drop dead any fockin time! I braced myself with a short speech:
“Look here madam, if it is this bus that will stop for you today you better enter… because this sweat that’s dripping like rain is confusing our priorities right about now.”
Without greeting, the man in the front of the white bus interrupted my thoughts, whipping his stupid flyer in front of my face. “We are opening a new salon” he said, smiling sheepishly. I wanted to say fuck off but I shook my head and put up my right palm which-correct me if i’m wrong- has always meant “No (thank you)”
But brodas never ever want to hear word: This Johnbull kept trying to convince me to come and patronize his market. With the way my face was set up, to show anger and annoyance, it was clear that I was angry at life.
But just when I thought the day could not get any worse, this flyer-sharing malu found the effrontery to shout from his window; “AH! Sister, you especially, you need our help oh. You really need it”
I clutched my chest. Jezes.
My life! All of a sudden, Igwe Tupac’s snitchin on my ass remix (featuring snoopy dogg) came to mind. I cannot explain why that happened, but it did. Then, I remembered I had my luscious human hair wig (from DUBAI) in my red Givenchy bag. I was ready to whip it out, put it on, and whip it back and forth- just to show the bastard baby he doesn’t know my story. But this Lagos sun was not going to tolerate that stupidity. Heat was hot. Apart from the heat, the humidity was not going to let me wrap my scalp under unbreathable tracks just because I want to be forming big babe. So, I kukuma left my wig in my bag and continued moving with my simple all back.
For many reasons, I kept thinking of Johnny Walker #Keepwalking
I looked up and I was almost home. I still couldn’t believe it: So… no man- not one single man- had stopped for me? not even the expat ones that are always the most eager? My big Marlon James book was weighing down my right shoulder and for a second, I really thought to myself, “Whaz the use of all this English if I can’t afford a ride home?” I switched my Givenchy bag to my right grip and thought to myself again, “This bag is getting dirty, I need to wash it.” I also thought back to the day I got the bag on top Givenchy promo when I went to buy the first bottle of perfume I ever bought for myself, with my own peznal money, from my own peznal salary. I thought back to the joy of ownership- even when it’s just a bottle of perfume.
But back to reality: I was almost home, and at this point, I was looking more like:
There I was, on the streets of lagos, resembling wild fowl. So you can imagine my shock when one of the new guards in my estate said “welcome madam.” Apart from the fact that people rarely respect me in that Lagos, I was shocked because “Me? Madam? Like this? Since when?” I didn’t know if he called me madam because he knew I knew people from Brandeis University, and I read Marlon James and I got high GPAs at Amherst college. Or, if he called me madam cuz I was simply a woman who lived in the gated estate right behind the first sensible mall in Lagos. I couldn’t tell if he cared that I tried my best to afford a place like this with my own salary in the near future. I couldn’t tell if he cared that I might have used my “pum pum” to afford myself a home there. Why did I even think he cared about my life? Maybe he just wanted me to dash him sumtin.
Sha sha, his greeting made me remember the guy who told me that I didn’t need to know how to drive. I heard that shit before but I was still intrigued that people really believed it;
- Me: Why shouldn’t I learn? It’s actually embarrassing that I can’t drive.. I need to know how to drive at this age.
- Him: No, you don’t
- Me: I’m 21 and I need to be mobile. soo…i think I do
- Him: Well, that’s what some women who don’t know how to be women think. If you know how to be a woman, in lagos, you would know you don’t ever need to know how to drive.
“If you know how to be a woman in Lagos…”
My friend seated opposite me at the café (who was actually interviewing me for a job) didn’t seem to understand what he meant. But I did. I understood very well that he meant women who knew how to be lagos bigz gehls would never wear sweatpants out of any hotel- especially Four Points by Sheraton. Women who knew “how to be women” would always know how to afford to live in a gated community.
As delicious as that sounded, I also wondered if they would be allowed to leave the gate. I wondered if they would know what it feels like to donate a cheque and hear a “thank you madam” without having to say “don’t thank me, thank your oga.” I know it doesn’t happen like that everytime, but I just wondered how many exceptions there might be.
As for me, I knew I still needed to know how to drive before one entitled fuckboy will now say I put him in driver zone. Please oh!
In the end, I made it. Finally, I’m home now. My brandeis shirt is soaked in sweat; my thighs are also itchy from walking that quickly. But, I’m home…in my father’s house…that my mother pays for. Plus, I looked into the mirror and my all back doesn’t look bad at all. And the moral of this story is, don’t let the sun roast your spirit of wakefulness. Because, it’s when the sun fully roasts that wakefulness that misogyny can start to look like it has perks.
You have to be alart! Listen, no matter who you are, and how many books you can recite offhand (abi offhead), you can never be greater than the Lagos sun. Wokeness can slide off you as you wipe away your tears or sweat from the Lagos struggle. It’s hard to accept, but in fact, you have to be aware of the fact that you too can find yourself wishing you were a diabetic baby. When you find yourself amidst those desires, my dear sister, remember: You are not alone *Michael Jackson voice*. That is why I say; STAY WOKE! and not just BE WOKE. Wakefulness is easy to claim but damn difficult to maintain. Remain Vigilant dear Sistren. Plz and 10q