Katako used to be a very peaceful place where Christians and Muslims lived together — that was before the riot in 2001.Ebun Omeiza, Fadeyi.
Our questions are italicized.
What’s your favourite memory about the street you grew up on?
I was born in Plateau State, in an area of Jos called Katako. I remember I attended this school where my teacher used to eat my food. Very funny story. Anyway, I grew up around a lot of Muslims. Katako used to be a very peaceful place where Christians and Muslims lived together — that was before the riot in 2001. Before then, Katako was a very lovely place, we had Igbos, Hausas and Yorubas all living in the same space. I moved to Lagos in 2016 and going back to Katako after I left made me realize how much I miss growing up there. Jos is very calm compared to Lagos.
The first time I came to Lagos it was as if my brain almost moved from its actual position. It wasn’t a very easy decision moving from Jos to Lagos. What happened was I got a job offer, which eventually didn’t work out. So, I braced myself and still moved to Lagos. When I got here, I then looked for another job. I came to Lagos on the 29th of December 2016 and I got a job on the 27th of January 2017. Lagos has never been my type of place, so I never really imagined I’d be moving here. Not sure what made me change my mind, but I eventually made the move.
When I got to Lagos, I lived onAderibigbe Street, Onigbongbo, Maryland. It reminded me of Jos in a way. It was a calm street without any rowdiness and we always had electricity. Going to work in the morning was where I saw all the madness. Everybody is screaming in Lagos; everybody is angry in Lagos. On my first day heading to work, I fell from a bus. I think a LASMA officer was trying to chase the bus I was in and I didn’t realize what was going on. I was innocently trying to get down from the bus then the driver zoomed off. Gbam! I found myself on the floor. Everyone was like “Sorry o, sorry”, I just picked up my pride and I continued to move. I learned a quick lesson; not to sit at the back when I know I’m dropping off soon. As passengers get off the bus you move forward. I miss Jos though, I miss Jos for the cheap food. I miss the fura da nono, the kunu geda. So many nice things in Jos.
When was the last time you visited Jos?
October 2020, it was my mum’s birthday, so I went back for her. It felt so different; very cold, peaceful as usual. No one was in a hurry. I caught myself driving like a Lagosian a few times. Haha!
Are you planning on visiting Jos in 2021?
Yes, I look forward to visiting Jos in 2021. I am not certain why I’ll be visiting but I look forward to it.
What’s the major difference between where you lived in Jos and where you live in Lagos?
The generators, the noise, the nosy neighbours. The list is endless.
What’s something people may not know about moving to Lagos?
Lagos is not for the faint hearted. Still, Lagos has some really lovely people who have not allowed the environment to change them.
What’s the longest you’ve had to travel for something?
The longest I’ve had to travel within Lagos would be from Fadeyi where I live to Lakowe for a birthday party. It was just after the recent lockdown; I left my house at 7 a.m. and I got back home around 8 p.m. I spent only about three hours at the birthday party. The rest of the day was spent in traffic. Hmm! Lagos and traffic, family friends. I used a private cab and I think it cost me around ₦15,000.
What’s your daily commute?
My daily commute is from my house in Fadeyi to where I work in Maryland and back. That’s my route, I know all the bus stops, I know the road even if I am blindfolded. I even know where all the potholes are on the road are.
What’s one thing you enjoy about your work?
I work with a co-working space called WorkStation. It is a space where people can work. We provide internet facilities, work desks and offices. We also give people room to network; we have a diverse community of individuals you can become a part of. We open 24 hours a day so you can come in to work at any time. Before COVID, we used to have physical events where professionals from different fields come in to share knowledge on various topics. We also had parties and other networking events. Now it’s mostly virtual. So, if you are an entrepreneur, freelancer, student, small or big businesses looking for a space to work out of, you know where to look. I enjoy handling customers, meeting their needs and satisfying them. Even though I didn’t study anything related to that in school my job has made me understand how to deal with people better. Even when there’s no immediate solution to a problem a customer may be facing, I now understand that there are ways to keep them calm and at ease. Providing a satisfactory service makes me happy.
Car, Okada, Bus — what’s the best mode of getting around Lagos?
This is a tough one. I think it depends though. So, for buses, all the shortcuts I know in Lagos, I got to know while using buses. For Okada, those ones have nine lives, so you have to be careful with them. Because I prefer commuting with other people, I’ll pick a bus, I don’t want to get lost alone on an Okada.
What’s an obvious part of Lagos that you’ve never visited?
What’s one place in Lagos everyone should visit before they turn 20?
I’d say Landmark Beach. I think it’s a fun place to go.
When was the last time you visited a new street?
The last time I visited a new street was sometime in October 2020. I went to Agbara for a wedding. Aye! Owambe will not kill me in this life. I promised myself not to ever go that far for any gbedu. Even though I went in a friend’s car, I won’t be going there again till the roads are fixed. I don’t know if that counts as a new street but Agbara was new, too new to me.
What’s something you know about Lagos that not too many people know?
One thing I have learnt in Lagos overtime is that Ikeja has some of the best restaurants and spots around and new ones keep opening. I recently got to know about this place called Gidi Lagos. I’m yet to visit but I saw pictures and I can assure you the place looks really nice. I think Ikeja has everything.
What’s a [Lagos] route you know by heart?
Maryland Bus Stop to Adekunle Bus Stop. I know that route by heart. I know it so well that even if I direct someone who has never been to Lagos before the person can’t miss it. Yes o, buses, they helped me.
In that case, please tell us how to get from Maryland Bus Stop to Adekunle Bus Stop.
So, this is pretty easy: it’s usually a straight bus. From Maryland bus stop you take a bus going to Yaba. You may hear the conductors call out Yaba/Oyingbo. You take the bus straight to Adekunle bus stop or they can stop at Murtala Muhammed Way, so you’ll have to take a bike or a bus going towards Third Mainland Bridge then you stop at Adekunle. It really depends on where exactlyyou’re going to in Yaba. Yaba market is just beside Murtala Muhammed Way.
What’s one thing you always look forward to seeing on your street?
I don’t have anything I look forward to seeing on my street. I live with Agberos. I don’t even like seeing them. I hope one day I wake up and I don’t see any of them trying to do “Owo da” on the road. That’s one thing I look forward to not seeing on my street.
How much would you say you typically spend on “Owo da” every week?
I don’t spend any money on them o. Even though I live in an area field with thugs, I just mind my own. So, the only thing is, at the end of the year they go around asking people to contribute for their parties and you can choose to contribute or not.
What’s the most you’ve had to pay to get from one place to another in Lagos?
Asides from my trip to Lakowe, one time I went to the club in November 2020. Using a cab, I spent ₦10,000 from just Yaba to Lekki Phase 1the surge was ridiculous that day.
The last location you texted or tweeted is where you’ll live next, it’s:
Canada o, Canada. I want to leave Nigeria. I’m going to Canada; that’s the last location I just tweeted. Canada here I come.
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?
This has to be Santorini, Greece. I would go with a lot of beautiful clothes that I’ll use to pepper everybody on Twitter and Instagram.
Ebun Omeiza is the Assistant Community Manager at Workstation. She moved to Lagos from Plateau State in 2016.
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!
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Editor / Publisher — Wale Lawal
Sub-Editor — Muyideen Dosumu
Interviewer — Nosa Osunde
Illustrator — Samson Msheila