Nigeria is like a membership that automatically charges your credit card, even after you canceled it.
In short, me no like Nigeria.
The corruption that permeates life here, could, I’m sure, make anyone an insane criminal or a sociopath devoid of any empathy, within three months.
Like Andy Dufraine, from Shawshank Redemption said, “I had to go to jail to learn how to be a criminal“.
Three months in Nigeria and I’d be Al Capone.
What a terrible place.
I’m determined to keep this piece of writing positive, GODDAM IT!
If there is a hell on earth.
A place that uses a modified economic model to ensnare, then enslave people, forcing them into desperate joyless lives.
More positive, Bobby.
I arrived in Calabar, free of all my demons.
Thanks to river exorcism I was party to.
According to my ancient guide book, the Nelbee Executive Guesthouse in Calabar, is a top choice.
Nine years ago.
I asked a moto to take me there.
After checking in and briefly meeting with Nelbee Guesthouses all female staff, most of whom were shuffling toward me through an empty parking lot, like sassy zombies infected with mono.
I went immediately to ABC transport.
Of course the bus ticket I bought online in Cameroon, via a Nigerian PayPal, (flutterwave) didn’t exist.
My credit card was charged, but there was no record of my purchase.
The thing of it is, you never know who to get mad at?
Is ABC transport in cahoots with flutterwave, the fraudulent online payment service they force you to use, if you buy online?
Just get me to Benin, I said, buying another ticket.
MasterCards going to be in military school until he fucking dies.
Nothing direct huh? I said rhetorically.
“Mmm” she glerted ( a made up word that means, answering a question with the least amount of energy possible).
I have to stay the night in Lagos? I said to air.
Arrive in the biggest city Africa has, Sunday night?
She glerted again.
Leave for Benin on Monday morning, “Yeah, let’s book that” I said.
I have an entire Saturday to not get murdered or accrue a demonstrable facial scar, in Calabar.
Before I can dodge both, I need to eat.
Preferably something other than a loaf of white bread and salted fish.
I herd apples was a fairly decent restaurant.
But that’s what I herd.
I love the name, maybe they have t-shirts.
I hissed for a three wheeled Moto to pick me up.
My new homie.
As Daniel was driving me to Apples I got the impression he was distracted.
It looked as if he was multi tasking but he wasn’t, he was single tasking.
“What’s up Daniel?”
“What do you mean?”
“It looks like your playing Ecco the dolphin up there”
“It’s a sega game, it’s really hard.”
Just as I was explaining what Eccos powers were, some random man ran up to us, put his hand inside our taxi then shut it off.
We rolled to a stop, amidst a cacophony of horn bursts.
The brazen man and Daniel exchanged words.
The context of which, I could barley decipher.
Daniel gave him some money, started his taxi and we drove off.
Before I could ask him “what was that was all about?”
He was stopped again.
Daniel was multi tasking.
He was playing Ecco the taxi.
Trying to find a route with the least amount of people to pay.
I observed the two humans interacting.
They speak softly to one another, neither seeming to have the energy to deviate from what seems to me, to be, a very old script.
Daniel lowers his head then shakes it slowly.
(David Attenborough voice)
Now that Daniels been bitten, he’s contorting in response to the painful process, of being liquified from within.
Meanwhile, the Spider-man casually looks over his shoulder for more unsuspecting victims.
His eyes seem to track two separate opportunities, simultaneously.
This terrible Spider-Man has all the discipline of a diabetic child asked to hold a jumbo sized box of Fruit Loops.
(Stop the Attenborough)
Daniel digs around his man purse for money.
This completely illegal thing, happens at just about every Intersection.
I’m not taking liberties here, Daniel was practically the Joker in the original Batman, throwing money at complete strangers.
This wide spread corruption has forced him and many others to drive specific routes in order to avoid scandalous police and criminal vigilantes.
It was the most disgraceful thing I’ve seen in Africa.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a statement.
I was left alone.
This virus seemed to only affect Nigerians.
After I treated us to Apples, which I was hungry for.
Daniel asked if I was interested in the particulars of Calabar.
I’m interested in not becoming dead in Nigeria, I told him, finishing my Apples, which I was, to be clear, hungry for.
He asked if I wanted to visit several of Calabars historical nuances.
“Heck yeah, dude” I glerted, while dabbing the corners of my mouth with toilet paper.
When we arrived at the independence memorial, I took a photo, which prompted the several men sitting behind it, to aggressively question my photographic intentions.
To put it mildly.
“Oh, I’m with the national fear patrol, we go out looking for really shady people, then give them smily face stickers.
You have to put one on your forehead now.
Or we put you in jail.”
I walked toward the tiled pillar, toward the semi naked swarm.
“Ah, a little Kumbaya sesh”, I said sitting down with the squad under a little palm tree.
They asked, so I told them.
How did I come to be in Nigeria?
After my story, one guy called me a warrior.
I like this guy, I thought, I should get his email and send him an e-valentines day card.
Parts of my story, specifically my bid in a maximum security Congolese prison, bought me enough Nigerian street credit, that the leader passed me a fairly large marijuana cannon.
which I proceeded to smoke with post haste enthusiasm.
Daniel peered over my shoulder, “Are we going to leave now? ”
Just a hint of impatience, rolling from his mouth.
“Woah, yeah” I said, suddenly realizing that I was sitting in a clump of dirt with eight shirtless Nigerian strangers.
I stood up and opened my backpack.
The faces of the men I shared the past half hour with changed.
They thought I was going to give them money.
I pulled out a bag of gummy bears instead.
They looked at the bag like, “how do we fuck this thing? “
Later that night Daniel and I were walking through Watt market.
I was looking for a tailor to fix the zipper on my lucky sharp tooth Gucci fanny I bought from a unsuspecting server in Kinshasa for ten bucks, when Daniel was summoned by a rather large man, we will call him, Greyworm.
They were speaking pigeon (a bastard language, with English roots).
Apparently, from what I could piece together, due mainly to my interest in Lou Begas Mambo No. 5, when I was in Junior High, Greyworm and his cohort Blueworm, were shaking Daniel down for money.
Money, Daniel owed.
Money Daniel borrowed.
I was with this dude all day.
He was paying bribes to everyone.
Now, I’m standing in the dark, while two men are demanding money from with Daniel.
Then Greyworm, with a lightning fast speed, took Daniels phone.
Snatched it right out of his hands, as he was asking for more time to pay.
“How do you not become the Batman here” I thought to myself.
Daniel just put his head down and shook it back and forth.
I took Daniel aside, “How much do you owe them?”
Five thousand, he said.
We went back to Blue and Grey worm.
“How much does Daniel owe you” I asked?
I weighed my options.
Do I walk away, assuming Daniel and these guys are in cahoots, attempting to Nigerian me out of some money. Turn to page 361
Do I pay Daniels 3000 Naira debt to Grey worm and Blue worm, chalk it up to me hiring a guide for the day, Turn to page 41.
Do I start jacking off on everyone, like Louis CK. Turn to page 964.
I turned to page. 41.
After two days at the Nelbee Executive Guesthouse in Calabar.
A place, I learned only hires women dressed in minis.
Late night knocks on my door forthcoming.
“Do you need soap?”
“It’s 11:30 honey, unless I strike you as a bearded germaphobe, you’re wasting your time.”
I run a prostitute free conscience.
If you had ice-cream, I’d be rubbing your back already.
Daniel agreed to pick me up at 5 am that morning, to take me to the bus station.
My bus to Legos was leaving at 6.
At 5:30, after cursing Daniel with glerted disapproval.
I decided to walk to a nearby taxi stand in the pouring rain.
“I should be on page 964”. I thought.
Could they have orchestrated that entire piece of theatre, to sheer me of 3000 Naira (11$)?
Regardless if they did or not, the very fact that I think it’s possible is what makes Nigeria so incredible.
Nigerians are capable of limitless feats.
“These boys are sharp” I was warned in Cameroon.
Despite its reputation, I pledge that Nigeria, is the beating heart of Africa.
Among the African collective, who among them is cunning enough to outsmart, outplay and outlast the Chinese.
It’s very certainly not Kenya, who are basically Chinese now.
It’s not short man syndrome, “frontier ferme” Gabon either.
Let it go dude.
China V.S Nigeria!
Live on pay per view.
“Its 10:30 in the night, I just finished a 16 hour minivan commute.
It was terrifying.
We were going too fast the entire time.
The confidence this guy had that people were adverse to driving head on into us, bordered on pure faith.
I’m laying on a sticky green bus bench, that was designed to seat three, outside a bus station in downtown Legos, looking to the horizon for any hope of daylight.
Like a tramp.”
Eventually I realized I slept at the wrong bus station.
I quickly hired a taxi to drive me across town.
Just in time.
As I was crossing into Benin with relative ease, I witnessed an armed Nigerian border patrolmen going from car to car extorting money from the occupants waiting in queue to enter Nigeria.
He casually put the money in his pocket and strolled along, whistling.
I whistled too.
I won’t be here for the civil war.
But he will.