The Slap of Life: A Woz is not a slap! Nigeria's a Jungle

In Nigerian English, there’s this thing that we call the woz. The woz is a slap, only that it isn’t a slap, it is a woz. A slap may occur on any part of your body, like the head, the bum bum, or the leg but the woz is different. It is restricted to the face. It’s specificity shouldn’t distract you from it’s lethalness. When you’re slapped you may say, “Oh! You slapped me. You Bish! I can’t believe you slapped me.” But when you’re wozed you wonder where in the world you are, and what you were doing before you were struck by a thunderclap. I do not lie when I say that it is the open palmed hay maker and conversation ender.

Visitors to Nigeria shouldn’t fear the woz because it isn’t a skill that just about anyone has. It requires specific training. Policemen do it, Army men can do it, and seasoned Area boys are magnificent at it. The woz is the reason I believe that time travel is possible, because just the other day I saw a man get wozed to the middle of next year.

I went to the Cinema to see Spy for the second time. It’s a brilliant film. Rose Bryne is a revelation and I must confess that it’s the first time that I didn’t find Melissa McCarthy a little bullish. She’s a hustler of a comedienne. Each punch line is delivered with the gravitas of a comet and the subtlety of a lightning storm. In Spy it worked out well. There was always something to laugh at, so I laughed until I wasn’t sure if my farts were farts or sharts. Sharts are farts that come with a payload of faeces.

When the movie finished as all good things must, I went to the toilet in that incredibly mediocre, often too cold, sometimes too warm cinema in the Palms, Lekki (It wouldn’t be so mediocre if they served popcorn that didn’t make you think of ass but that’s a different story for a different day). In the toilet, the cleaners were slopping about filthy water with mops. I didn’t care really. I’m not going to pretend like I haven’t stepped in shit before. It isn’t the most pleasant thing, but what I’ve found is that shit don’t stain. All you need is a shower and some anti-bacterial soap and you’ll be right as rain.

They asked me to hurry up so that they could get to slopping. They were a bit rude but I didn’t mind. The one thing you need to understand about being from a fairly wealthy family in Nigeria is that you’re trained to not engage. You do not fight with people who don’t matter to you. If I had said, “you better speak more politely to me” to the cleaner what good would that have done? I’d have got myself into an argument with someone who can’t speak English properly, and gone home vexed because I’d have found his absolute refusal to be civil troubling. You have to consider their struggles in your dealings. He works for very little pay. He doesn’t live close to where he works. In contrast, I’m driving the 6 kilometres home in a car that I didn’t buy myself to sleep under a relentless air conditioner. He doesn’t need my shit. His load isn’t one that I can bear so how could I add to it by demanding courtesy in the toilet where I’m restricting his work? I would like to think that more people would agree with this sort of thinking than not, but I’d be wrong.

When I stepped out of the bathroom, I heard some aggressive yelling from the women’s toilet. It was a large man yelling at a cleaner with the cleaner’s collar in hand. “You splashed water on my wife!” He screamed.

“You splashed toilet water on my fucking wife?”

“Toilet water on my wife.”

“Who the fuck do you think you are?”

The sight of it hit me before the sound. He summoned all his earthly might and lifted his hand to the ceiling like he was accepting some demanding power. His hand hung in mid air for what seemed like an eternity before descending faster than my eyes could follow. It struck the cleaner like the hand of fate itself. The cleaner’s face snapped right before his body achieved lift off. He flew a few feet and stumbled into the wall upon landing. You would think that that would have been enough but it wasn’t. His dominance gave wind to his assault driven sails, and lent greater voice to his wife who yelled, “You will never work here again.” Her screams only served to stoke the flames of her husband’s anger. In the heat of his passion he’d become a neanderthal and needed three to restrain him from continuing his battery.

He and his wife left not long after that leaving the offensive cleaner with a torn shirt and a bruised face. They walked out of the mall almost hand in hand and climbed into a white Range Rover Sport that didn’t have a plate number. No charges were pressed. There was no mention of the police. There was no defence for the cleaner no matter how much wrong he might have done.

Do you believe me now when I tell you that Nigeria is a jungle?

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