My friend Dr Olabisi Onoviran Osagie decided that I needed a Survival 101 list for living in Eko. She titled it The Beginner’s Guide to Living in Lagos.
Don’t climb Okada inLagosunless you absolutely have to.
Don’t use okada helmet in case the previous user had head lice.
Don’t argue with LASMA if stopped. You are never right.
Don’t criticize anything aboutNigeriato a Nigerian. Even when the Nigerian is criticizingNigeriahimself.
Don’t compareNigeriato your country when a Nigerian is around.
Don’t eat what you don’t know or understand.
Don’t eat at local bukkas. Typhoid fever is very much present here.
Don’t hang out where high class prostitutes hang out. You may be drugged and the next day be forced to pay for ‘services’ you are not aware of.
Don’t go to an unrecommended hospital when ill. You will be treated for a malady you don’t have and billed for money you’d rather not spend.
Don’t be naive. Conmen are looking for mugus.
Don’t be obviously suspicious of everyone you meet.
Don’t be afraid of Boko Haram. They’ve not started perpetuating their nefarious acts below theNiger…yet.
Don’t get kidnapped. Kidnappers serve their victims garri for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday until they release you….or kill you.
Do learn Nigerian pidgin English fast and drop your accent quick. To every Nigerian, foreigner means dollars.
Do have an open mind, not every Nigerian is a conman though you may never get to meet the one who isn’t.
Corruption is an institution here. ‘Oga give me money for pure water’ or in higher circles ‘money for transport’. Means give a tip or a bribe or a ‘gift’. Weigh the situation. If its bribe to do something bad or something you could get arrested for, dig in your heels and say no. If it’s a tip to speed up the processing of your drivers license, you may have to decide whether waiting 6months for the license is worth making a point. If its police checkpoint, give it.
Do try to learn how to speak Yoruba. The effort endears you to the speakers.
Until you sabi the place very well, do go out with an accompanying person.
Do shop at Shoprite. Until you get the hang of market bargaining, you will be thoroughly cheated.
Do watch Nollywood movies. Sadly, you can actually get an idea of how the Nigerian mind works from them.
Do join a church. There are many money grabbing Pentecostal mega churches inLagoswith lovely, lovely sisters who won’t mind helping your wife to look after you. Do avoid them.
Bisi’s Footnote: Other Nigerians can add to this list.