TUALE BABA

photo credit: getty images

I got really tired after a stressful week at work and was supposed to travel out of Lagos for an appointment I had, so I decided not to drive to my appointment but go by public transport and preferably a bus because I felt like seeing a free movie of some sort if you know what I mean. I was in high spirit as I looked forward to the trip as it was a long time I did that last. Getting to the park, it was a boisterous atmosphere more like a market place save for the buses and cars that were on queue awaiting their turns to load passengers and others going about their daily endeavours.

The MOVIE started earlier than I had expected as I sat in the bus and hearing different conductors soliciting for passengers but the passengers were not showing up as quickly as expected due to the heavy downpour early that morning; so I was in for a NICE time as they say. Young, agile youths with potentials who ought to be in school or better still vocational schools strutted (as yorubas will say; won nfese pale kiri) around the park which incidentally had become their homes over the years, some actually grew up there sleeping in make shift transport union offices or inside the buses and cars and waking up VERY early in the morning to take their baths ( some of them actually do u know) and getting set for the day’s HUSTLE( also known in street parlance as jaman jaman). This is actually their own school of life next only to Nigerian prisons and they have learnt to be street wise here too.

A self-proclaimed motor park musician gave me the opening scene and was entertaining the babas ( motor park union leaders) by fire by force and was spewing out lyrics that actually made some sense which could be applied to daliy living but unfortunately no one sprayed him any crisp naira notes, the only consolation he got was that a food vendor gave him some food after she seemed entertained. Scene two was more intriguing as two young men started a fight and in that part of town, no one separates a fight so as not to spoil the fun though these are scenes they witness on a daily basis. The cause of this particular fight was as a result of a bet the looser refused to redeem, both men had a bet that they could finish a bottle of spirit without diluting it and I wondered how on earth they thought of that ( laaro kutukutu, e gbami ) before I pinched myself back to reality that I was in a motor park after inhaling all sorts of odour.

Scene three was, wait for it; a disciplinary hearing between some other parties and what amazed me was the whole court like scenario and the way it panned out just like a regular court session but the only difference was that no lawyers were present but the parties got judgement all the same. Tuale baba, tuale baba, tuale baba with both hands in the air and stamping of feet on the ground rent the air; a sign of respect and reverence to the victorious party. The kind of life that goes on there is a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly but lessons for the authorities to put in place a plan for these kind of youths who are wasting away as a result of neglect and failure of leadership. Taking a good look at the scenarios, I realized that the bus was yet to be filled up but I had seen enough for a day. I signaled to the conductor and offered to pay for the remaining 3 spaces left in the bus as I did not want to miss my appointment. Immediately, the conductor signaled in turn to the driver and the go ahead was given by the conductor to move.

The next thing I heard was “Pilot, paro lo joor, no food for lazy man” while he took the last drag of his cigarette.

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