Bus tales: Of mice and men

One weekday morning on a danfo, a young man with funny pointy ears was sitting in the row of seats behind the driver. He had long skinny arms, and looking at him, you assumed his voice would be high pitched, mostly because of his ears. He sat at the end next to the window.

There was another man sitting next to him. This other man was built like a bus stop tout. He was stout with a thick neck and stubby fingers that were blackened at the ends, as if he had been digging earth using his hands as a shovel. In spite of his grubby fingers, he had a neat haircut, a clean shaved head and well-defined goatee and the kicker was that he was wearing a suit.
The bus was heading towards Lekki when it started to drizzle. The light rain faded in and out. It went on for a long time in that undefined weather space between raining and not. The wipers of the bus were off and you couldn’t see any water drops hitting the window, but if you stared into the distance you would see the precipitation making the morning misty.

After getting some dampness in his face, Pointy Ears struggled with his window and jiggled it shut.

The bus moved about half the distance to the next bus stop then it got caught in traffic. Everyone on the bus moaned. Without the forward motion, it got hot on the bus. Grubby Fingers, in his suit, reached past Ears and pulled the window open. The breeze blew in. The bus inched forward in the traffic jam.

Invisible rain droplets pelted Pointy Ears and his ears, he pushed the window closed.
Grubby Fingers reached over again and opened the window. Pointy Ears spoke, and yes, his voice was high pitched. “Why na? Can’t you see the rain is beating me?”

He closed the window.

Grubby Fingers glared at him, stretched his hand and opened the window.

Pointy Ears shut it.

Grubby said, “I am warning you. If you touch this window again…” He left the threat dangling as he opened the window.

The passengers were glad to get some air.  Nobody was sure if it was raining or not.
“No,” Pointy Ears said in his squeaky voice, “No, I am the one sitting by the window.” He made a move towards the window. Grubby Fingers grabbed his hand. They tussled.

In their seats, grunting, they locked hands in a tug-of-war. Pointy Ears was losing, his hand was being edged away from the window. He gave up. He tried to stand in the confined bus. Panting, he said, “If you want open window, why don’t you sit next to it?” Grubby Fingers slid past him and took up the seat by the window. Pointy Ears moved into the second seat. His chest was still heaving from the exertion.

The bus was full. The bus was quiet. The fight had been contained to that spot. Some passengers were looking at their phones, others were staring straight ahead ignoring the fight.
Past the Jakande roundabout, the traffic cleared. Now the rain was heavier. It drummed on the roof of the bus. The driver accelerated. The speed blew the water in through the open window. It was undeniable. The driver turned on the windshield wipers.

Over by the window, Grubby Fingers sat stone-faced, ignoring the change. Raindrops ran down his face, pooled in his beard and dripped onto his suit. The rain dowsed him. It blew into his eyes, blocked his nose so he had to part his lips to breathe. But he hung in there, with the window open, like every man before him, trapped by his words and his ego.

Icebreaker 2.0

There is a couple, Dayo and Faith.
Faith is the girl, in case you were wondering. It gets tricky with these things.
They are new age. Not new age new age, but they are modern.
Dayo proposes to Faith at the park. Before that, they go to watch a movie, it is a Saturday afternoon, and this time he holds her hands for the full 90 minutes, except for when he reaches for the popcorn. After the movie, they eat lunch at the food court then she feels like he’s rushing to drop her off at home, but he says, First let’s stop at this park.

At the park their friends are there and her parents too. He has done the right thing and asked them and even though they are not crazy about him, it has been a four year relationship so they’ve said, Fine you can ask her.
No one yells Surprise or anything like that. The couple walk into the park, Faith sees her friends, she turns to Dayo, maybe knowing, maybe a little confused. He holds her left hand, he drops to one knee. He tries to put his hand into his pocket to get the ring out, but by kneeling down he has wedged the case tight in his jeans pocket.

He stands back up, still holding her hand and wiggles the case out. The audience of friends and family do a nervous chuckle and end it with a small cheer as he gets the case out. He kneels again, says something like, Ever since I met you I have dreamt of this day. The day to finally ask you to be my wife. Will you, Faith, do me the honours?
She nods, says Yes. He squeezes the ring onto her finger, gets up. They hug.

After that, things get intense. One day, they have their regular date night. Dayo says he’s thinking of getting a tattoo. He wants it to say Faith, right over his heart. Faith laughs, says they should get matching tattoos. Well, not matching she says, I should get Dayo and you get Faith. Dayo doesn’t laugh back. He grips her hand, his gaze is serious. More serious even than when he asked her to marry him. He says, Yes we should.

They are at the tattoo parlor a few weeks later. They go into separate rooms. Dayo and Faith. When he comes out 30 minutes later, Faith is standing there in the open space.
Dayo is holding his arm stiffly, in pain. Faith says, I couldn’t do it.
Dayo is looking at the fresh markings on his chest. Faith. He says, What?
Faith says, I tried. Honestly. I just couldn’t do it.

Dayo storms out, leaving her there. Faith tries to call him, he doesn’t answer her calls or reply her messages. She tries for three days. Then she gets angry. She tells her sister to forget him. She tells her sister Dayo is being petty. She tells her sister, of course Dayo wouldn’t mind inking Faith on his chest, even if we break up, it would still be meaningful. Faith says, Imagine me carrying Dayo around on my chest forever. What will I tell another man?

Dayo calms down a week later. He calls Faith who doesn’t pick up. He calls her sister. They chitchat. Her sister says, I will talk to her for you. Her sister says, You sef you shouldn’t have gotten angry. Dayo says, Why wouldn’t I be angry? Am I not the one here with Faith written on my body?
The sister lets it slip, Yes but it’s Faith, it can mean anything. It’s not like Dayo.
Dayo is silent on the phone. The sister does a delayed laugh to try to retrieve her comment. The laughter trickles out of her mouth and achieves nothing. Dayo is quiet. She checks, Hello are you still there? Sorry it was just a joke.
Dayo says, So it’s like that?

Two weeks later, Dayo and his friend come to Faith’s house. She is there with her sister. It is their first time meeting since the tattoo parlour incident.
They sit in the living room. Faith’s sister serves drinks, she sets them out and returns to the kitchen. Gets an extra glass, gets an opener.
Faith says, Things didn’t have to get this bad. I am so-
Dayo holds up his hand, cuts her off. He says, Here is what’s going to happen. I am going to get your middle name, Tubosun, on the right side of my chest.
Faith says, Haba I thought this thing was settled.
Dayo says, It’s sad that I have to prove that I love you, but I’m doing this for myself.
Faith says, And I have to get the Dayo tattoo?
Dayo shrugs, as if to say, it doesn’t matter. He is seated on the sofa leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. He drops his head into his hands. In a low voice, he says, If you want to get married.
Everyone hears him.

The tension in the house is thick. Dayo’s friend is not sure why he is there. He sips his malt. He looks around the room. The television is on mute, the sounds of traffic come in faint from outside. He sips his malt again. He attempts a joke. Just Dayo? Or Dayo and your middle name? Hehe hehe… He puts awkward laughter at the end. Then quiet.

Minutes later, Dayo says, It’s Timothy.
Faith says, There’s no way I’m getting two tattoos.
Dayo says, Then do the full thing, Olamidayo.
Faith says, Oladayo.
Dayo says, Fine whatever.

The last time I saw him was at the beach. He was wearing a tank top and striped shorts. He would wade out until the water was up to his knees then he would wait for a large wave to come and race it back to the shore. Sometimes he would outrun the wave and make it to the shore, and sometimes, the wave would crash around him drenching him. You could see the edges of two tattoos on both sides of his chest, and he was alone. Very alone.

QuizUp – Nigerian Nostalgia

I spent a lot of time being fascinated by 1970s black culture of bell-bottoms, afros, and disco music. But I never considered what was happening in parallel in Nigeria at the time.
Today is my father’s birthday and I was looking through his old pictures. In one of them, he is sitting on the shore of a sepia-toned beach, somewhere in Lagos I presume. His beard is appropriately scraggly, polyester shirt with wide collar is open halfway down his chest, and he’s wearing some trousers that I hope he’s ashamed of now.
He looks happy.
And, more importantly I think, he looks hopeful.


One of the bands below is NOT the name of a Nigerian music group from the ’60s or ’70s. Can you identify which one it is?

1) Sir Victor Uwaifo and His Melody Maestroes
2) Prince Nico Mbarga and Rockafil Jazz
3) Cardinal Rex Lawson and His Mayors Band
4) Emperor Dele Ojo and His Star Brothers Band
5) Dr Victor Olaiya and His Cool Cats
6) Roy Chicago and His Abalabi Rhythm Dandies
7) Bishop Femi London and His Grooving Brothers
8) Tunde Nightingale and His Highlife Boys
9) General Prince Adekunle and His Western State Brothers
10) Dr Sir Warrior and His Oriental Brothers International


See below






Sir Victor Uwaifo and His Melody Maestroes (sang Guitar Boy aka if you see mammy water)

Prince Nico Mbarga and Rockafil Jazz (sang Sweet Mother which was remixed by Nneka)

Cardinal Rex Lawson and His Mayors Band of Nigeria (sang Sawale remixed by Flavour)

Emperor Dele Ojo and His Star Brothers Band (below: Ilu Oyinbo Dara)

Dr Victor Olaiya and His Cool Cats (below: I feel alright jam session)

Roy Chicago and His Abalabi Rhythm Dandies (below: Sere fun mi baby)

Bishop Femi London and His Grooving Brothers is not a real band.

Tunde Nightingale and His Highlife Boys (below: Omo Lafiagi)

General Prince Adekunle & His Western State Brothers (below: Aiye Nreti Eleya)

Sir Warrior and His Oriental Brothers International Band (below: Elu Uwa)

Thanks to all the people who have compiled this information online.


Further Analysis
Creating your own 70s band
<Title> <First Name> <Second Name> and His/Her <Exclamation Word for things you like> <Moniker for posse>

Preferably something stately, (cannot use Mister). Multiple titles acceptable.

Only one of first or second name must be English.
If you have two English names (I’m looking at you, Ben Bruce), must come up with second name in local Nigerian language.

<Exclamation word>
Get fancy with it


The Curious Death of Baba Sola

My mother’s cousin died last month and relatives called from the village to tell her.
But the phone connection was so bad, she couldn’t hear them, so when they said he died of cancer, my mother, standing by the window for better reception, said, “What? Tanker ke? Ni bo?”

The person on the end of the line replied, “At home.”

My mother hung up and put her hand over her mouth.

She said, “Baba Sola ti ku o. A tanker ran into his house and killed him.”

What struck me later, after it was cleared up, wasn’t her mistake but that for her, both options seemed equally likely. That here, between tanker and cancer, one did not seem more farfetched than the other.