The Murtala Jangle: Nigerian time, Davido and DRB Lasgidi

Bear with me, for as I write these words, I myself have no idea where I will end up. Such are the dangers of rambling.

I detailed the circumstances regarding my flight back to Lagos in "Hogwarts and Unicorns: The trip to Lagos" but I did not or could not tell you of the incidents after it at the time, because I wrote most of that feature whilst on-board the aircraft. The circumstances regarding our landing were most peculiar. Nigerians have a tendency to be rather eager and enthusiastic regarding the movements of their hands. They often feel the need to clap them together with little or no provocation. I am not unfamiliar with the concept of applause, but I was of the opinion that it was to be used in two circumstances:

  1. Someone has done something highly commendable so you celebrate them by producing as much noise as your frame can muster. In this case it is permissible to stamp your feet, clap your hands and hoot as loudly as possible. If you do this well enough, the recipient of your attention's head will swell and explode.
  2. Someone is putting you through an epically horrifying experience. This experience is often like passing crushed glass through your ears, or your colon. In order to put an end to your torture you applaud them for their efforts and beseech them to depart from the stage prematurely. This is the best outcome for all parties involved because you don't hurt the individuals feelings and your ears are saved from further torture.
In this instance, the pilot's undoubtedly bumpy and slidy landing was celebrated with a round of applause. I cannot and will not attempt to understand it. It is and will always be a curious incident that occurred at night time.

The remainder of my journey was exactly what I have come to expect from the Murutala Mohammed International airport. I'll write it in song.

It was hot and sweaty,
La la la la la
The airport was dirty
tra la la la la
The people in the queue were smelly
doo be doo be doo

(On a more serious note, Nigerian body odour is so remarkable a scent that it should be bottled. I fear that it may be an evolutionary mutation developed to cope with the dominance of mosquitoes. You don't think so? Well, I'd hate to think that the sole reason for it was the lack of decent and proper hygiene.)

There was a tout amongst us,
la la la la la
He fought with the immigrations officer
dum dum dum
Do I know what happened?
tra la la la la
No at all, all, all.

The carousel was slow,
lo lo lo lo lo
Our luggage came out last,
la la la la
No really, the wakeboard was the last thing off the flight
dum dum dum
This song sucks?
What did you expect?
the waiting was much.

A remarkable picture of the airport. I'm starting to think that Nigeria may be better in pictures.

Murtala Mohammed International airport is a genius invention. Even if you'd been away for so long that your memory of life in Nigeria appears to you as a dream or a sequence of events from someone else's life, the airport shall correct your misconceptions. In that airport you will be exposed to everything Nigeria has to offer; the best and the worst of it. You'll see the bribery and corruption as some able bodied little Lord Farquaad speeds past you in an airport go-kart reserved for the disabled and gets put on the much shorter queue for foreign citizens when his passport is as green as yours. You'll see the branded suitcases that may cost as much as one of the men pushing your trolley does for a year. Then you'll see the die hard, "yippie kai yay" motherfucker mentality of the people (Unshakable Optimism? I got a little carried away with my descriptions). Every employee of the airport will be looking to make a quick buck out of you. I am of the firm belief that the man who first said that a fool and his money are soon parted was Nigerian, because the phrase is truest here.

It should come as no surprise that I was in shock. After such a hectic trip; a trip that British Airways themselves declared unfortunate for I, Afam was a rose seated between two thorns (their words not mine). I expected to be driven home so that I could collapse on my impossibly hard double bed that I had missed for a year. I kid you not when I say that my bed is harder than the floor. But this was not to be. All my dreams of being a Howard Hughs-esque recluse were dashed for I was carted to a Davido concert. You see my sister, Bintin, was in attendance. I got to the venue at 10:30. The main man had not yet come on stage. I was surprised because this was a Sunday and the Monday that would undoubtedly follow was not a public holiday. So why would a concert (especially one targeted at people too young to be roaming about at night in the undoubtedly unsafe and intolerably exciting society that Lagos is) have any cause to start so late?

 Lagos is like a big budget movie, a kidnapping here, an armed robbery there; it's all fun and games till it's you, or someone you know.

 I comforted my sister as big brothers do, because there was no way that I was going to turn up at Papa Afam's door with his only daughter in the early hours of the morning just because she wanted to see Davido.

A week and a bit later, another opportunity arose to sample the Lagos music scene. It was the DRB Lasgidi industry night at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos. It was a free concert. I was quite keen to see them live. I had heard of them while I was doing my A levels, till this day I appreciate their work ethic and dedication. I am distinctly pleased that they have kept at it for so long and are now reaping the fruit of their labours. I don't mind their music. When I hear their stuff on the radio I do not feel the need to attempt to incinerate the radio with my mind. Having said that, it is important to mention that upon listening to their music I am not overcome with the need to drive myself to the nearest internet hotspot to begin a stalking and downloading spree. To make up for the disappointment of the night of the Davido concert I decided to take my sister to the DRB Lasgidi industry night. She in turn brought her posse.

I drove into Oriental at 7pm sharp.

Enter Afam, Bintin, Jolz and Wam.

Bintin: It looks dead.
Jolz: It starts at seven right?
Wam: Yeah, 7.
Afam: Are you sure?
Bintin: You doubt me?
Afam: Not at all, it's just that these things are harldy ever this empty. This is a blessing though, we'll get awesome seats.
Wam: When do we have to be home.
Afam: We'll leave at 10pm and get home before 10:30pm.
Bintin: Can't we leave at 10:30?

The answer to Bintin's question is silence. The terms of Bintin's curfew are not negotiable.

You can tell from the above conversation that I was a Johnny Just Come (JJC), I had forgotten the rules of Nigerian time. This was my second offense. The long standing rule of Nigerian time is that if there is an event, you must ignore the time of arrival prescribed by the organisers, for the organisers know not of what they speak when they tell you that they want you there at 7pm. Truth be told they really want you there at 11pm or 12am. The laws of punctuality fail to hold in Nigeria, and it isn't better late than never, it's better late than ever!

It should come as no surprise to you that there was no one there. In fact, the hotel had not finished setting up for the event. Being deathly allergic to waiting and having nothing to do, I abandoned my wards and went home to enjoy a light supper and some Olympic fun. But even this was not to be. As I settled on the couch to sup and watch, I found myself in the other plane, the dream plane. In this episode I, Afam fought with a great white and came out on top. I then proceeded to grill it on a skewer. I never got to taste it for I remembered that there was some place that I had to be. I leapt from the couch like a dervish and raced to the pimp mobile. I found that there was no need for my hustle and bustle because even at a few minutes past 10 the concert had yet to begin.

At that I rounded up the troops and took them home. As luck would have it, we spotted the DRB gang stepping out of their ride as I drove out of Oriental. I wanted to jump out and say, "Hey, we waited! Where were you?" but I thought the better of it. I could not blame them for my ignorance of Nigerian social etiquette.

Happy Days,

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