Friday, March 4, 2016

Driving Me Crazy!

Hello lovers!

Trust you've all had a swell week.

I hope this post meets you well? If so...doxology! Lol.

As a Christian Nigerian driver, one of my greatest concerns is God scheduling the rapture for when I am driving. Fam, making heaven would be difficult!!!!! In fact, I will be directed to go straight to hell! Do not pass go. Do not collect 100 pounds. GO. STRAIGHT. TO. HELL!!!!!!!!!!
If you drive anywhere in Nigeria, you can attest to this; I find some strange and strong curses emanating from my lips when I drive. I pretty much become Suraju, the danfo driver as I can curse and drag road with the best of them. It is a crying shame but that is what driving in this country has turned me to.
Mango Productions/Corbis 

Not to toot my horn or anything but I have a pretty robust driving background. Started driving as a teenager. Been privileged to hold the driver's licenses of three countries and to drive in four countries (beep! beep!! toot! toot!!). Due to my 'semi-extensive' experience, I have come to believe that driving is an art form. Oh yes! From the push and pull motion of the steering wheel (being careful not to cross your hands as you drive/turn) to the strict observance of the 'two car length' distance between your car and the car immediately ahead. From the gracious motion of the parallel parking to ensuring your car is sufficiently at 'biting point' before you move off. Yessir! All aspects of driving are carefully studied  art forms (shalla international exposure!!!) 

But not in Nigeria.

If driving is an art form, in Nigeria, it would be akin to a monkey repeatedly flinging shit at a canvass! Drivers in Nigeria are...for want of a better word...clinically insane and unsurprisingly (at least from my intro, you should no longer be surprised) I am one of them.

Driving anecdotes abound but I want to tell you a little story about the first time I drove in the UK (trust me, you care).

 I was driving my flat mate's car and she was in the passenger seat. A white gentleman  stopped right in front of us for some reason. I can't remember what he stopped to do. As a Naija babe, if someone stops in front of you when you are driving it is one of three things:
i. their car chose that unfortunate time when you were behind them, minding your business, to break down OR
ii. they are taking the piss (either dropping someone or picking someone or on their phones or having a little chinwag with their pal across the road) OR
iii. they are trying to rob you ( you know...stop abruptly and some masked men with guns and/or cutlasses come down and obtain your car).
It is usually either of the first two and occasionally, the third.

So when you've assessed the situation for a nanosecond, the immediate response where it doesn't appear that danger is eminent, is to lift your 'gear hand' and smack it in the middle of your steering wheel emitting a loud noise, indicating your impatience and intolerance for such foolish behaviour on the road. You carry this on till the driver (often times not bothered by your horning protest) finishes what he's doing and shuffles along. Sometimes, some are cowed by the horn to quickly move along. But this is contingent on having a powerful, headache inducing horn that has bullying capabilities.

I've digressed over-much.

Anyway, back to my story. I was quick to resort to my Lagos ways. As the first whine of impatience emitted from the car, my flatmate nigh dived over from the passenger side to yank my hand off the horn.

I'm looking at her like child, don't you see this foolishness in front of us?

She's like "I can't believe you just did that! The horn is for emergencies only. If that guy was crazy, he could come out and shoot you square in the face for startling him!" 

I'm like edakun, ewo tu ni 'startle' ninu pe mo te horn nitori Olorun???? Why would he be startled? Is he a deer??

Needless to say, that was my first lesson in the fact that horns were for emergencies...and I was already in my twenties, guys. I thought they were a regular part of your driving. In fact, my mum's driver presses the horn for no discernible reason. He gives it short jabs every two minutes as he's driving along and whistling to whatever is on the radio. IT IS ANNOYING AS HELL and if he's not careful, it may be the focus of my murder trial when I plead not guilty by reason of insanity: the insanity he drove me to with his foolishness. He should keep trying me!

The first month after I moved back to home, I PHYSICALLY could not use my horn. One day, I was driving my mum and I straight up refused to use the horn. She's like 'te horn fun weyrey to wa le'gbe e yi' (press your horn to alert this mad man beside you that you are there) 

I'm like 'no mum, it will startle him'.

She first looked at me with concern for my mental state and when she was sure all was well; with a mixture of disgust and pity and said 'my friend! Te horn fun mi! Startle ko...startle ni! Gbogbo nkan to n startle eyan ma ti tan l'ara awon eleyi!' (My friend! You better press that horn! Is it only startling? All the elements that cause people to be startled is dead in these ones!) I still remember how weird it felt to press the horn after years of driving without needing to.

Fast-forward seven+ years and I'm a one man orchestra on the horn! I am to horning what Mozart was to piano concertos! I always told myself that I won't let Nigeria change me. I've kept to that in some ways, e.g. my car often times looks like a land fill because I absolutely refuse to throw anything out of the window, into the road and if you ride in my car and you do, I will give you an abara, a stink eye and call you 'dirty child' for the rest of your life. But in my driving, I have adopted the 'if you can't beat them, join them, dammit!' approach. I still try to maintain poise and decorum in my driving but man, but I veer between Driving Miss Daisy and 'Obalende! Obalende!!'

I presently live in Abuja. Family, there isn't a worse place to drive than in Abuja. "Exaggerate much Cherrywine?" I hear you say. But please trust me on this very thing. Abuja driving is the worst! This is evidenced by crazy accidents at intersections and some practices that you won't believe that happen in this town.

Let's start with the cab drivers. Oh how I hate these devilish vermin...let me count the ways! They are to Abuja what Okadas and Napeps are to Lagos. But they are more daring.

They are hell bent on showing that alongside the biblical camel, they too, can pass through the eye of a needle! These animanus will wriggle into a sliver of road that won't even contain a bicycle. Many a time I have feared for my paint job based on the brazenness of cab drivers in Abuja. Their Modus Operandi is scratch and beg. If you are taking too long to accept the begging sef, they will jump in their cars and zoom off.

Then there is the issue of the non-existent right of way. A lot of us drive thinking everybody else with a car on the road is sane and a little bit versed in the traffic code. Let me give you a reality check: NO! THIS IS A FALLACY. Nowhere is this more evident than in Abuja. If you are on a road and a cab driver (or even any other driver) is merging, begin to look for how to move over as they are not averse to running into you and asking whether you are blind and stupid for even conceiving such a stupid notion as right of way. Matter of fact, they'll argue that THEY, not you, had the right of way.

Same cab drivers will slam their brakes abruptly in front of you to pick up a passenger that hails them. You know how Lagos cabs would look for a convenient place to park and you walk up to them? ANYWHERE is convenient for an Abuja cab driver to pick you up. Anywhere. When they've picked up the passenger and are trying to move off, they pretty much just do. No indication that they are about to move on. No worries about the on-coming car who gauged the road ahead and saw them parked. One second there's no car in front of you and the next second, there they are and you have to take care to avoid hitting them.

Fridays is the prime time to see some ripened taxi madness.

My sister was in a cab once when the call to prayer came. This guy stopped in the middle of the road; I did say "stopped" and "middle of the road". He didn't park on the side of the road. He stopped smack dab in the middle, got down and went to pray. My sister challenged him about leaving a passenger in the car and he said she could either wait or get the next cab. I do not go anywhere between 12 and 2 on Fridays. It is the craziest day in Abuja because of crazy behaviours like parking in the middle of the road etc.

That’s for cab drivers.

Well, Cherrywine, you can’t judge the entire driving populace of Abuja on the actions of a couple of cab drivers, camman! I bet private car owners are more sane and careful. Umm…no booboo. They are in some ways worse. A lot of them think that the public roads are their father's sitting room and have taken anyhowness to the next level. Is it the one that is talking on his phone and slows way down just so he can laugh like a hyena? Or the ones that are changing lanes but looking in the other direction and it takes ploughing into your side for them to realise that they should turn their heads in the direction they wish to go and your incessant horning for the past mile was not you just making melodies to the heavens?

There are many lunatics on Abuja roads and the other day I was driving behind one of them.

I'm moseying along on the extreme left lane of a four lane express way when this orangutan slowed down abruptly in front of me. It is an express way and cars are zooming by.  Bearing in mind what I said about Abuja drivers, I flashed her. This goat put on her right indicator AND mimed flashing lights to me with her fingers. Ok, change the lane now, She started doing like earthworm they poured salt on, poking her head out then returning to the lane. Meanwhile, cars were barrelling down the road behind me and I was a sitting duck.

Aunty, shey e ya weyrey sha? E jo, e k'oshi danu!

While I was still thinking that last uncharitable thought, what this woman did next shocked the life out of me. On an express-way with oncoming vehicles, madam executed an instant four lane change in my very before!! My mouth almost hit the ground! You knew you were getting close to your exit, is it 60 meters from your exit that you should be looking for how to get over when you are not a bastard baby????? Hear people screeching, dodging, boobing and weaving so as not to die due to this mad woman’s driving. After relocking my jaw, I asked myself why I was so shocked. This is such a common occurrence in this city. Thank God no one was harmed not even her stupid ass (though she would have more than deserved it).

Another day, there was a guy driving oh so slowly on this same expressway. I pulled out behind him, got over, looked into his car and this guy was rooting around his nostrils... possibly for gold, I don't know. What killed me wasn't that he was digging in his nose but that he had his second hand; the one he wasn't using to reach into the back of his brain, ACROSS HIS CHEST! The car wasn't being steered, y'all!! His two hands were occupied; one for digging, one for lying on his chest uselessly. I was too through!

I have contemplated hiring a driver for months. I am only curtailed by the fact that firstly, I really don’t go anywhere and secondly, everywhere I have to go to is, on average, 15 minutes away at any given time. It would be the height of laziness and waste to hire someone to drive me for all of 30 minutes a day.

These are my driving rants. Share your crazy driving stories please.


  1. LMAO! You should come and try Ibadan taxis, okadas and kekes. This is the only town I know where okadas will drag road with a 5.4ltr V8 SUV and look at you like you're mad when you try to chase them out of the way. Is it the taxi drivers with their Nissan Micras? They don't just try to squeeze through the eye of the needle, they succeed and leave space for a kekes to join them. Or is it the general "kilo'n kan e l'oju" mentality? Press ya horn all you like, no Ibadan driver can be rushed and those who do rush do it to an extreme. When you're calmly negotiating a pot hole filled road and some guy comes flying by in his Camry pencil light like its a paved express and you're the mad one. And please o please, if you don't see well at night like I do, better park your car once it's 7pm cos I've never seen an Ibadan driver who knows the meaning of low beams. Thank God for auto-dimming rear view mirror or it would be total blindness from all the high beams hitting me from all sides at night. Lastly, forget right of way. Even when you decide to be sane and stop for traffic on your left, they too will be stopping for you like you're the mad one.

    1. This!!!!!!
      Those micras are the devil's minions! Kilode!

    2. Abuja drivers install floodlights. You can't see a thing at night if you don't have floodlights of your own to match their blinding lights

    3. I was on my way driving to ilorin when I passed through Ibafdan and just the few minutes I experinced with those micras convinced me that goats are also cruising on the roads

  2. Kai. To think Lagos was the worst city to drive in the world. Mehn you cracked me up. But you have serious bad mouth sha o.

  3. I learnt how to drive in Kano. It was lovely. Driving was so easy except you decided to go to Sabon Gari on a weekday however my dad who taught me how to drive kept reminding me that i must drive defensively at the time saw no reason to learn how. Then I went to Lasgidi, the very first time was almost a disaster almost everyone wanted to chance me from the road. Later I learnt that Lasgidi drivers were actually quite good but aggressive. I left Lasgidi for Abuja and I saw madness. A person driving on the fast lane at 40 km/hr. Haba 4 lanes fa na speed lane u de do 40, hia. I now drive defensively and I fear Abuja cab drivers worst of all is that some of them are unpainted so they may stop in front of u at anytime.

  4. BUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Driving in Nigeria is not something I will miss when I leave. God knows if I had a gun in my car, hundreds of road rage murders would have been on my head. I don't know who is worse - bus drivers or keke drivers or okada or private car drivers. Driving here is a real test of patience and sanity.

    Just remembered one post I wrote a couple of years ago -

  5. Hahaha....Nigerian raods! Trust them to ignite the crazy in you.

    A commercial bus brushed me and the conductor disembarked and started fronting like I was at fault. I was just crusing slowly through potholes and this monkey and his chimpo driver decided to do fast and furious to get into my front....they ended up brushing my side and leaving their dirty yellow paint skidmarks with a dent on my fender.
    I was enraged. The conductor came down trying o make me look like I was at fault. Two things made me decide to ignore them and just drive away (and that was not an easy decision)
    1. I was just coming from Church and I didn't want to set bad example for church members who may see me on the road.
    2. These guys were high on igbo and had nothing to loose. As for me....I like my teeth and clothes intact.

  6. LMAO...i totally get you! i have had my fair share of crazy drivers in Abuja and told myself i would rather take a cab or have someone drive me than die young in abuja. I can't come and kee myself pls. Lagos driving ehn...i jst say 'patience is a virtue'. stupid people on the road would make you drop your xtian values aside and want to curse the living delight out of them. Please don't even let me start with the idiots that cross the road like it's their father's parlour...sigh


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