Route 005: Fu’ad Lawal

This illustration is based on the locations mentioned in this story.

Lagosians should actually leave Lagos before they turn 20. It’s BDSM city. E go dey tear you koboko and you go dey happy. Nonsense— Fu’ad Lawal, Yaba.

Our questions are italicized.

What’s your favourite memory about the street you grew up on?I grew up on many streets, but the oldest one in Ebute Metta holds my oldest memory of NEPA and my first errand. I was five and I lived on a street I can’t remember in Jakande Housing. NEPA just brought light at night. I looked out the window. Kids were doing somersaults. Up NEPA.

“Daddy, I want to drink Fanta Chapman!”

“Okay, go and buy it.”

And off I went.

I had spent a lot of my time living there looking out the window, because I was an Omo Get-Inside. When we moved to Ikorodu, we suddenly had a small compound and an estate I could play around in. My bubble expanded but just to my neighbour’s house. There wasn’t much to see.

Fu’ad, 2010. Photo Courtesy: Fu’ad Lawal

When was the last time you visited Ebute Metta?

On a random day two or three years ago when I happened to be in the neighbourhood. You know how when you were small and everything looked big? Now, everything had shrunk.

What’s something people tend to forget or may not know about growing up in Lagos?

Grew up when? My old Lagos memories are from the late nineties, onwards. Dead bodies were on the floor everywhere. Not like pure water nylon or anything but it wasn’t strange. Homeless people died and their bodies would stay a day or two before “council” came to carry them. But maybe it’s a selective memory bias. Also, we had Molues.

Lagos Island Mortuary. Photo Courtesy: Fu’ad Lawal

What’s the longest you’ve had to travel for something?

Random, but I realise that Lagosians measure distance with time. Everywhere else, people measure it with actual distance. Anyway, the longest would definitely be spending 4 hours in traffic to cover less than 30km. I think I was going from Lekkito Yaba.

How much did it cost? I was driving so it only almost cost me my patience but I kept it together.

Traffic on Lagos Island. Photo Courtesy: Fu’ad Lawal

What’s your daily commute?

I’ve actually gotten on the hybrid life. On some days, it’s my bed to my desk but like this morning, I’m driving to work. Again, Yaba to Lekki. Basically. My life is boring. I go from Yaba, to Oyingbo, to Marina, to Ikoyi, then Lekki.

Car, Okada, Bus — what’s the best mode of getting around Lagos?

Okada. It’s the fastest way to move around Lagos, and banning them was a personal attack. They were faster than cars and buses, and they were cheaper than Ubers. Zero latency.

National Stadium, Lagos. Photo Courtesy: Fu’ad Lawal.

What’s an obvious part of Lagos that you’ve never visited?

Hmm. I have been everywhere.

What’s one place in Lagos everyone should visit before they turn 20?

They should actually leave Lagos before they turn 20. It’s BDSM city. E go dey tear you koboko and you go dey happy. Nonsense.

Lagosians should actually visit Abuja before they turn 20. That’s always a good suggestion. It’s possible for a city to not be chaotic.

When was the last time you visited a new street?

This isn’t a thing I’m consciously doing. So I probably don’t know, or remember the name of the street.

What’s something you know about Lagos that not too many people know?

That you can get to most places faster if you get rid of your fear of water?

Fu’ad Lawal, Lac Rose, Dakar and Oniru Private Beach. Photo Courtesy: Fu’ad Lawal.

What’s a recent place you went to by water?

I haven’t gone anywhere by water in over a year because we’ve all been spending most of our time indoors.

What’s a Lagos route you know by heart?

I know every bus stop from Ikorodu Garage Roundabout to Ojuelegba. My primary school route.

How many bus stops are there between Ikorodu Garage Roundabout to Ojuelegba?

I think about 16.

Please describe the quickest way to from Ikorodu Garage Roundabout to Ojuelegba

It’s a straight road. A major Lagos artery. That’s why there’s always traffic, but the fastest way is actually to ditch the road and take a boat to a jetty on the island (25 minutes), and then taking another vehicle from the Jetty to Ojuelegba (15 minutes). Instead of 2-hour traffic. I don’t know what that is like now though. I haven’t done that commute in almost a decade.

Ojuelegba. Photo Courtesy: Fu’ad Lawal.

What’s one thing you always look forward to seeing on your street?

Nothing. And in Lagos, that’s a good thing.

What’s the most you’ve had to pay to get from one place to another in Lagos?

I honestly can’t remember. Probably an Uber ride during a surge.

On Jollof Road. Oiudah, Benin Republic. Photo Courtesy; Fu’ad Lawal.

You were part of the team behind Zikoko’s Jollof Road. What’s something you did not expect about travelling by road across West Africa?

I didn’t expect entering Liberia to be so difficult. Liberia is mud country, and the border with Côte d’Ivoire was impossible to enter through — lorries were getting stuck in the mud. So we had to enter Liberia by first going through Guinea, and entering through Liberia’s border with Guinea.

The last location you texted or tweeted is where you’ll live next, it’s:

Maybe Gembu? Whenever I want to think of a place for peace of mind, I think about Gembu. The meat is tender, the weather is cold, but the air is so clean you might not even catch a cold.

Gembu, Taraba State. Photo Courtesy: Fu’ad Lawal.

You’re going to a place you’ve always wanted to visit and can only take one thing. Where are you going and what are you taking?

At this time, Timbuktu. I couldn’t go there on Jollof Road. I’d take a phone.

Fu’ad Lawal works on Eden Life’s growth team. Before then, he was Editor-in-Chief, Zikoko.

About Routes
Routes by GatePass is mapping African stories one route at a time. This project sits at the intersection of life stories and mobility in African contexts. Through Routes, we explore how African lives are shaped by mobility, migration, journeys, and modes of transport; and how places take on the stories of the people who have visited or passed through them.

Do you or someone you know have an interesting mobility story? Do you have a hack for moving around your city, or know something about your city’s history that not too many people know? Tell your story. We’re open to submissions and looking forward to reading!

Email: routes[at]gatepass[dot]io

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Editorial Team
Editor / Publisher — Wale Lawal
Sub-Editor — Muyideen Dosumu
Interviewer — Temi Makanjuola
Illustrator — Samson Msheila

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