If you’ve ever used the public transport system in Lagos you would be familiar with these words “Ginseng powder! It will clear your bladder. If you want to give your wife well well… just drink it. It will make you strong gidigba. It will make your problems go away“. There is nothing that’s not sold in the bus: bleach, pot cleaner, medicated soap, drugs, alligator pepper. Honestly, I’m not making this up.
Just after secondary school, I got a job in the cash office of a gas marketing company so I’d take the early morning bus from Mile II to Wharf and the traders are there. The kind of aggressive marketing that takes place on commercial buses in Lagos can be taught as a course at the Lagos Business School. The only rivals to the aggressive marketers are the aggressive preachers. They would preach from CMS to Mile II, pausing intermittently to share fliers and glare at the unresponsive passengers.
Because, we’re traditionally religious, most people join in the praise and worship session. Sometimes, the preacher has extra tambourines to share to the newly acquired congregation. After the praise and worship session, the sermon will begin. The preacher could usually tell the people imbued with the spirit of the devil as they’re the ones staring out of the window (like yours truly). Actually, I liked to keep my eyes open to see if the preacher would pay his fare especially as the bus conductor (also imbued with the spirit of the devil) wouldn’t stop his job and join in the prayer.
Sometimes, the worship session in the bus comes with the preacher reading testimonies from the pamphlet (which he usually urges people to buy for JUST N20) - “Last week, my sister who had been long overdue for marriage called to inform me of her engagement and impending wedding in the next two weeks“. After reading a couple of testimonies and resounding AMENS to the prayers, a few more people will ask for copies of the pamphlet. They need to tap into the anointing in the paper.
Many times, the preacher doubles as a pharmacist and a herbal tea vendor, so their yelling doesn’t actually stop till you either get down at your stop or you guys get to your destination. Some of us are just thinking, “Somebody…. make it STOP! Please!”
I mean, sometimes you just want to get on your ride in peace without any kind of noise, music, preaching, and drama. I remember a time a few years ago, we took the subway from Brooklyn towards Manhattan and some “Jah RastaFarai” guy was beating his conga and singing off key. It drove me crazy. As I was mumbling to my friend, he said “That guy looks like Majek Fashek sha”. I laughed so hard. Till we got off, I kept trying to see if it was really the Nigerian Reggae artiste, the noise he was making automatically took a back seat
Anyway guys, I shall love you and leave you for now. Please share your interesting public transport experiences and have a fabulous ginseng-free week ahead!
Peace, love & cupcakes!
I love this song by- “Stand” by Rascal Flatts! It resonates deep in the corner of my heart!