When you least expect, Ibadan will politely butcher your dignity then curtsy when done.
Let’s say this is your first time in Ibadan, and you unfortunately don’t know how to speak Yoruba. Let’s say, you look like an uptown guy. You unconsciously have that aura of “those people who are wealthy” and you’re on a commercial, either a Danfo, Okada, Keke NAPEP or Micra.
The direction you’ve been given for instance is “when you get to Apata, take a bike going to Queens Cinema, then tell them you’re going to Gate”. Simple enough isn’t it? Oh, but you’re in for it.
Okay, to continue, you get to Queens Cinema and you see a bike and say “Gate!” The bike man says “100naira” and like a grasshopper, eager to show off your street smartness, you hop on the seat and say “oya!” which, by the way, is one of the ten Yoruba words you understand.
After a ride that you enjoyed (except for the funny smell that blasted you intermittently, courtesy of the swamp behind the bike man’s ears) you get to where the bike man says is Gate. Then you look around and say “oga, wey the Gate?”
The bike-man will look at you up and down, then recognizing that aura of yours will remove his “wind glasses” (one of those black wrap around sunglasses) and say “where you dey go gan gan?”
“Gate na! UCH Gate!”
“ah! Iru nonsense wo leleyi?” he will exclaim.
The market women by the roadside will say “kilonsele?” what is happening? because in Ibadan, your business is everybody’s business.
The bike man will turn to them and say “he is going to UCH oh, and he called Gate!”. By this time you’re bewildered and a bit upset. The women will then turn to you and say “ngbo Uncle, where you going?” in the best English they can summon from memory.
“Gate, UCH Gate” you say, your voice faltering.
The women will look at you and shook their heads and exclaim in Yoruba. Then they, alongside the bike man will try explaining to you that Gate and UCH are two different stops. But after a while, they will understand that you don’t understand.
“he can’t understand, poor fool” one of them will say.
“you sef” one will say to you “when you’re not an idiot ehn, as fine as you are, why didn’t you get directions well?”
You stutter that that’s the direction you were given. The bike man will beckon on you to hop back on, just like a grasshopper. But because you’re disoriented, you will slide towards the bike like a tired sack of onions.
“see how he is doing. What a pity, all that English and no sense! Uncu! They said you should get on the bike!”
You give a start and hop on, blabbering thank yous and some other senseless things. But all you get will sniggers and some biting “ehn, e pele, sorry oh! Boda stupid”. But you won’t know the insults, we, the onlookers will. Because you’re our temporary comedy flick.
But let’s look at this other scenario.
You’re in your car, on your way back from work. You’re caught in a traffic jam. A Danfo is at your back, another is trying to squeeze in your front, with the driver beckoning at you to stay put while he slides in. But because you have no time for such rubbish, you block the bastard.
So there you are, on a Friday night, “dragging space” with a Danfo driver. By now, you’re both vexed, along with the passengers in the Danfo. But as a civilized human being that you are, you put on your bitch resting face and face front, deaf to their insults.
“Your father there! So because you think you have put this tin can on the road you can be forming anyhow! See as tie be! Better use that tie to kill yourself because what’s your use! Ordinary space you can’t give! Ode oshi! And we have been begging and begging since morning! Na you get road? Na you?!…”
But did you hear? Of course not. Because your shield is up and you’re listening to badass bass beat on Beat Fm.
Suddenly, you hear a knock on your side. It’s the Danfo driver. He beckons to you to lower your shield, his expression is quite neutral so you think he wants to talk to you about something as he leans across his window.
So you bring down your shield, then you hear the squeak and hawk and scruff of his throat as he hacked up a generous amount of phlegm. Before you could ask what the hell he wants to say so you can move on, as a new space just opened up, you feel something hot, thick, slimy and smelly as Satan’s butt crack all over your face. While you are reflexively recoiling and your senses transmitting the horror of a message to your nerve cells, he has screeched off with his passengers roaring in glee and mockery.
And that, is how Ibadan bullshits you, your esteem and respect without remorse.
Note: These are true happenings.