My City Is Mad
Welcome to insanity.
I have seen children standing in front of their homes before dawn, zombified by grogginess as they wait to be shipped to school in buses driven by equally sleep-deprived drivers.
They always look bewildered, hurt or tired.
Or all three at once.
“It’s a normal thing.”
“They’re going to learn.”
We’re raising machines.
Over seventy-six kilometers (ballpark figure) of road.
Multiple, oversized roundabouts.
Three pedestrian bridges.
Countless jaywalkers, countless close shaves.
This deathtrap is called the Lekki-Epe Expressway and it’s a cash cow.
Roads without gutters.
Rain meeting sewage meeting plastic bags as flood waters rise.
Families marooned on their plots, held hostage by something that ought to be good.
Save the furniture, save the TV, save the mattress.
Buckets, bowls and cups put to work because drains don't exist.
A blessing becomes an ugly thing.
Public buses, jalopies really, too few to serve a growing population of low-income earners.
Often, they don’t come to a complete halt for commuters to board them safely because we’re all acrobats in training.
Women are harassed, rubbed up against by strange men burning with a misplaced need.
We’re in each other’s faces, inhaling scents, breaths and invisible creatures.
Traffic officials: terrorists.
The men at the gate of a public building: terrorists.
The abuse of even a little ‘power’ is regular, everyday people constantly tossed aside and trampled.
“Welcome, sir!” is a greeting directed at the perceived money and influence, not the person, and every day is the weekend so “Happy weekend, sir.”
What due process?
Shunt the queue floating on a few discreetly exchanged naira notes or wait forever, your choice.
“Anything for the boys?” is not really a question then as much as a faux-casual reminder to do what is ‘necessary’.
“The system is broken.”
No, it isn’t.
This system is whole, it’s just the antithesis of an ideal system.
An office building with floors in the double digits.
The service elevator doesn’t work.
Cleaners are banned from using the other elevators.
So they clean and do the extra work of going up and down stairs all day.
But the company they work for is a keen supporter of corporate social responsibility.
What about the irresponsibility at home?
“Oh, that’s fine as long as everything looks great from the outside.”
My city is mad and we’ve been touched by the madness.