Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Posted by Joy Isi Bewaji at 8:59:00 PM
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Drivers in Lagos are probably the most untrained in the world! Trailer drivers get a thrill from popping fright into fellow road users. Public bus drivers drive recklessly; they curse, spit, and fight. They hate the sight of a brand new car, they imagine what a dent would look like by the side of a posh and glittery ride, and they usually go ahead to ‘bless’ a car with one.
Uugh! They just make my hairs stand! The first month I bought my car, I remember the experience was hell.
It just seemed every ‘ugly’ car out there wanted to ‘kiss’ mine. I’d usually run off the road just to stay safe – away from their wicked intentions.
But this is Lagos, you don’t remain ‘simple’ for too long. So I grew brave and dared the buses and even okadas when they tried to play rough. I valiantly gave out the five fingers when I am ‘manhandled’ and on rare occasions give a chase. Ha!
Last Thursday, things didn’t go as planned, and I came out of an accident with a bloodied right-hand.
No, it wasn’t like I was hit and my car tumbled three times and ended in a ditch and I had to crawl out into the streets to scream for help. No!
It was a simple accident really; a private bus driver kissed my car and gave the beautiful thing a dent and ugly scars to go with it. I blared my horn over and over again, but he wouldn’t do anything – I guess he didn’t know what to do, the damage had been done. I was so upset, I started hitting the side of the bus, I grew livid as I picked my shoe and banged at the side of the bus – ‘stupid fool…,’ I cursed. My anger wouldn’t subside, so…wait for this…I slammed a fist into the side window, and the glass shattered all over, bruising my right hand and making the case much more interesting.
I finally got his attention as he jumped out of his vehicle, raving like a theatrical puppet in utter disbelief of what just happened. I on the other hand gave a hearty laugh whilst I tended to my injured hand, blood flowed freely and I wouldn’t stop laughing. He cursed and spat and told me to repair his car. I told him to go to hell.
Now how does it feel being on the other side?
He gave my car a dent, and I gave his bus a shattered window; and I was unwilling to negotiate at all – let every man repair his/her damage, abi?
He wouldn’t let me go, so I wrapped my hand with my handkerchief, got back into my car, switched on the A/C and listened to Cool fm. Yea, I am crazy like that!
An hour or so later, a soldier from heaven came by the side of my car. He smiled at me and told me to explain the situation; and I did. He looked at me queerly; I’m sure he wondered if I was ‘ok’.
“It’s getting late madam, I cannot leave you here with these people, let us resolve this immediately,” he spoke calmly. Of course agberos had gathered, no one needs a crystal ball to picture that. In a second he dispersed the growing crowd of touts, called the driver to the side and pleaded with him… I couldn’t hear what was said as I was listening and nodding to TI’s Live Your Life featuring Rihanna on radio.
After a while the raving driver who was now panting after much exaggeration, entered his bus cursing as he drove off. The soldier came to me again, I alighted out of courtesy, told him thank you, and he said, “you must be very angry madam,”
I laughed and answered, “Oga this is Lagos, we are all angry!”
Posted by Joy Isi Bewaji at 11:53:00 AM
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
One December evening in the city of Montgomery, a 42 year old woman headed home after an exhausting day at work. Her feet ached, and she wanted nothing more than to experience some comfort without disturbance. She boarded a bus for home, and as the bus became crowded, she was told to give up her seat for a white passenger. The woman remained seated. Not the threats of being arrested; not the insults hauled at her; not the fear of what life would be after such blatant disregard to some ridiculous segregation laws would deter her. She stood her grounds; apparently she wasn’t only tired physically, but was tired of the lesser life she was forced to live because of the colour of her skin.
A new struggle was born because one woman dared to fight back a system that was inhuman.
Her name was Rosa Parks.
53 years later, the atrocity lives on, and we suffer; not only for being black, but for having to live amongst power-drunken, ill-tempered, low-class military authorities with no respect or regard for human dignity. Apparently we are lesser beings compared to the armed authorities in Nigeria; or how do we begin to describe the incredulous act of November 5, 2008, when Uzoma Okereke was attacked, dragged, beaten, with clothes ripped off her back because the young lady who, just like Rosa Parks, was coming from work exhausted, wanted nothing more but to experience some comfort without hindrance, only to be brutally disturbed by the whips and guns of Nigerian Navy men. Just one woman, locked in the typical Lagos traffic, molested by six armed men.
What was her crime? She wouldn’t move her vehicle off the road for a certain Rear Admiral Harry Olufemi Arogundade's personal Navy saloon car and his pilot truck to blast past an impossible traffic jam. Yes, that is the crime; and like the crazy white fellows on board a bus on Montgomery in 1955, these Navy men with such deft ripped a woman of her dignity and right as a human being to live and let live. Where is our pride as a nation when we disregard simple principles of life that makes us not just mere animals roaming senselessly in the jungle? Why should we condone such cruelty in the wake of our democracy?
Miss Okereke’s saga is the tale of many Nigerians – men and women badly treated by the same authorities that should protect them. And we keep quiet. Oh, the curse of a nation! We keep quiet because we are afraid of what the consequences might be if we should speak out, and fight for justice.
Uzoma did not keep quiet. As she was dragged, pushed, and beaten on the streets of Victoria Island, she fought back like a valiant woman, and went a step further to sue the men for trying to take her liberty. The case will be heard at Lagos High Court.
We salute her courage, and also applaud Governor Fashola – whose veracity and uprightness is needed for a time as this. The governor’s aid towards her hospital and legal bills is heart-warming.
As we look forward to the hearing, eagerly awaiting verdict, I ask that we all learn to fight for our right. Silence isn’t always golden. For the sake of our children let this barbaric acts by armed authorities be put to stop – once and for all.
Posted by Joy Isi Bewaji at 2:48:00 PM
Monday, November 10, 2008
To witness the victory of a black man in the American polls causes a rising to my pulse; knowing the impossible is indeed possible. As humans, we continuously fight the fear factor, realizing that we crumble heavily below our potential because we are afraid to imagine what our ‘best’ might look like. Especially here, in Nigeria, we are simply too materialistic, too egocentric and too damn afraid to act, to live, and to dream.
We have long stopped dreaming of living extra-ordinary lives. We only aspire to mostly self-aggrandizing greatness that enriches one financially and make us able to fart without having to apologise. But it is unruly to think off greatness that oppresses another. We do not dream clearly and selflessly, so we do not achieve. And we can only achieve by pursuing dreams that are altruistic.
We have seen the dream of one man come alive… as a young Kenyan, did he envision himself attaining this height?
What kind of man rallies the world around, with sufficient belief, unless a man that was born to fulfil this purpose – to erase doubt and fear from the hearts of the weak-willed, and dare us to dream!
We are all born for a purpose, most never live to realize it…but to witness this phenomenon despite the racially crippling world that exist is to believe that life is for living, and fear has no place in it.
We must learn from this great example of audacity…what is life if we cannot dare…we must fight for our freedom and stand for what we believe in.
Are we not tired of being poor – poor in mind and in spirit? We have embraced the second class life for far too long. We watch our leaders rape us blatantly of what is ours, but we cannot speak – our fear silences the anger in us…and we continue to live mediocre lives.
One man has given us hope this day of Nov 5; he has snubbed every perceived norm to become something great. There is nothing greater than to live a life blessed with all your dreams and fantasies.
Let us rise to this challenge placed before us, to embrace our world and fight for a better life. We are here at this time in history to witness this miracle… what do we do with it?
It is time for change, and that time is now.
We can live that life we thought was impossible… never shall we continue to settle for less, we know it is possible – we have seen it! Yes we can achieve it!
Yes we can!
Posted by Joy Isi Bewaji at 1:25:00 PM