It was 2.45 am in the early hour of 2018, and I had a flat tyre somewhere in Oshodi. A wheel spinner was in my right hand, and I was threatening to smash the head of an entitled tout who thinks he needs to be ‘settled’ for me fixing my tyre on ‘his ground’. 


He was about 37, dirty, with gruffly voice, rough face, bloodshot eyes, and an incomplete set of teeth obviously lost in street brawls. He called himself ‘Star boy that sells brown’. ‘Brown’ in street parlance means marijuana that had been soaked in concentrated local gin for days. So, Star Boy sells weed in Oshodi.


A few moments ago, we were jumping wildly in the church, amidst firecrackers and the Holy Spirit, celebrating the arrival of the New Year. I ‘dropped’ my family home around 1 am and drove off. I wanted to feel the pulse of the city and for the next 4 hours, I was driving madly all over the city. 


While enjoying breaking traffic laws at that hour, my merry-go-trip around Lagos showed me once again the sharp divide between the rich, the poor, and anything in-between, maybe the middle-class.


I drove from Okota, through Cele, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Ilasamaja, Oshodi, Ikeja Along, GRA, Sheraton Area, Maryland, Anthony, Ikorodu Road, Jibowu, Ojuelegba, Yaba, and Surulere. 


While the lower-middle-class and the poor were wildly celebrating the New Year with street dance, alcohol, and firecrackers, the rich were quietly sipping exotic wines in VIP bars and their homes.


Cele was sparsely rowdy, but even at that unholy hour, few hawkers could still be seen, and some beggars still soliciting for New Year alms…


‘Oga, this new year, you go buy bigger car…’

‘Mo blessing oga… ‘


I sped past without hesitation. 

It’s too early for this shit.


Amidst firecrackers and deep immersion in alcohol, Ilasamaja was wild with excitement. The dingy bars were fully opened, and drunks could be seen staggering all over the town. I moved on.


Oshodi was loud and filled with raucous laughter. The brothels were opened and the ‘ashawos’ were enthusiastically happy. It is New Year and business was good. Even at this early hour of the year, money was already flowing in. They were grateful to God that the hardship that earmarked 2017 is finally pushed behind. Yes, it’s 2018 and it is their year of unlimited prosperity. 


The bars were fully operational, and alcohol was flowing freely like River Niger at the peak of the rainy season. The streets were crawling with celebration and there was traffic at that odd hour. Somewhere ahead of me the street was blocked. I heard there was a street carnival and was advised to turn. Of course, in Lagos, we always obey the last order. So I made a U-turn and found myself another route to lead me to somewhere around Brown Street. 


Again, the street was blocked, now by a ragtag partying group chanting Igbo song. They were producing a rhythmic ‘ogene’ sound using a fusion of stones and bottles of alcohol, though disorderly blended but the sound was entertaining. Many of them pulled their shirts to dance wildly to the music, even some scantily dressed girls who apparently were also high on alcohol. The energy of Oshodi was almost unmatchable. Again, I moved on.


Ikeja GRA was completely dead. Cars were parked on Adekunle Fajuyi around La Mango and Bungalow. Of course, the owners, who most likely were not residents of Ikeja GRA, were in those bars and getting high on alcohol. Except for the traffic light and the well-lighted streets around Isaac John, the place was completely deserted. I drove around 


At The Place and Yellow Chilli, few cars were parked outside, but no heads were seen except some bored policemen who seemed tired of sitting.


Nothing was happening in Ilupeju, though I guess bars like The Captains would be opened, but superficially, Ilupeju was sleeping. Maryland and Anthony were undecided, half asleep, and half awake. 


Mushin was pumping with adrenaline. Fuji music pulsed at full blast from different spots, creating a riotous mixture of sounds, and a cacophony of the first order. A gas station was even converted to an ad hoc carnival ground where a local musician was dishing out Fuji music at phenomenal speeds, the area boys dancing wildly, while their skillfully rolled marijuana sticks dangle carelessly between their lips and fingers. Mushin was a burning hell.


I was welcomed to Ojuelegba by the stench of decaying rubbish and the pungent odor of the sewers in the surrounding. Ojuelegba was alive, equated to a pressure cooker hissing steam and threatening to explode. A Wizkid’s song was threatening to tear the fabric of a speaker somewhere and competing with the jovial noises of some drunk guys in a neighborhood beer parlor. People were still returning from churches and connecting back to the center of Surulere. Okadas were busy making money, as a drug-addict-beggar walks around with bloodshot eyes, begging for New Year alms to fix his next shot. 


Surulere was alive and wild. The clubs and bars were opened. While some churches were still binding all the demons of 2018, the stripper clubs downtown were booming with business. Car parties were happening everywhere, especially Akerele area. A group of peeps would gather and dance to loud music pulsing from a nearby car, some posing with champagne. 


From Adeniran Ogunsanya, Adelabu, and Ogunlana Drive, Oloshos were crawling all over ‘Lere’, I mean those skimpily attired quick service chics with everything at the right places, wanting to be laid in exchange for the new year largess. All you need to say is hi, as long as a car key was dangling in your hands and a few currencies in the pocket.


Shitta reeked with the sweet smell of alcohol and marijuana. 

Unlicensed traders set up their stalls all over, selling cheap alcohol and weed, helping ‘boys’ to put up the mask of menace needed to begin the new year. Somewhere opposite around where the abokis use as Bureau de change, a couple was making out behind a car. I dimmed my headlight and wished them a happy New Year. 


Bet9ja outlets were opened and busy. While some were placing bets or ‘cashing out’, some outlets owners declared a free flow of cheap liquor to their customers who have stood faithfully with them over the last 12 months.


Some minutes past 4 am, I was driving home and amusedly reciting my Lagos creed; ‘Eko Akete, ilu ogbon, aromisa legbelegbe, a city of hustling and bustling; a city of hackers, of hawkers, of hookers. A city of love, a city of life. The rainfall city, the sunshine city…’


Then I saw this open bar somewhere around Lawanson. It was noisy and alive; a football game was on the screen. The music was mad. Hookers and hackers were hawking, lager beers and stout hungrily gushing down throats in search of the new planet earth. 


I stand lonely, wondering, smiling, and basking in the joy that soccer brings in a noisy bar. I ignited the car, sped down the road, and screamed, for the first time in 2018…


Hapiii Newwwww Yaaaaaa!!!



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