I was taking the bus and halfway through the commute, the driver decided to end his journey a few stops short of where his conductor had previously publicized. A woman seated to my right was going to CMS [ Lagos, Nigeria ] and this sudden development had become an impediment to her trip and so, she complained, and the driver responded nonchalantly, almost as if she was the one who had issued the decree. The conductor made efforts to hail another danfo [ Public means of transport in Lagos ], but the woman did not plan to entertain that outcome, so, she refused to get down, saying things like “No be me wey you go choose bus make I enter. For this Lagos!? No oh”. It just got more awkward from then on for the driver, the woman, and I, the bashful observer. She kept complaining and the driver kept acting as if she was a nuisance. Eventually, she got down to board another bus, ultimately hailed by the conductor.
Here are a few things I observed from this episode:
Firstly, the deep distrust that exists amongst us, it took next to nothing to lead her mind to nefarious possibilities like they could use her for ‘one chance’ [ a popular attempt by local transport owners to kidnap passengers ] and I wouldn’t even jump to blaming her because as farfetched as it may seem that the first random bus on the highway is out to get you, uncannier happenings have transpired in Nigeria, or maybe she’s usually a manic person and it’s merely a showing of her character, but what really struck me was that hearing her say those things made me connect dots in a weird Nollywood movie plot kind of way and for a second it made perfect sense to me. For someone who makes a conscious effort to cast aside destructive beliefs, that one moment was enough to signal to me, the depth of disparity that thrives in our society.
Also, I think it’s safe to say that the bus driver only thought to try what he did because she was a woman, someone he’s gauged as weak and inferior. To make such an assumption would be preposterous considering their paths had just crossed for the first time. This manner in which we perceive and treat women needs to take a 180 and find new bearings, it simply is and should be, unacceptable. Like that wasn’t enough for one trip, at the toll gate, while the bus driver was collecting his change he held on to the toll collector lady’s hand to tease her a little bit, smiling at her in the process beckoning for a smile in reciprocation, not to speak for her but, I’d be very pissed if a stranger did that to me at work.
Take a second to look around you and reflect on why things happen, the cause and effect relationship of pretty much everything, much will be revealed. To the culprit in this story, he has done nothing wrong, but I believe every person must judge his or her actions by their consequences and the consequences of his actions were not exactly of a luminous nature to the people he interacted with. We must try, to the best of our powers, to make the next persons life better not worse, because one seemingly trivial act of nastiness is capable of creating ripple effects of the like, just like how this bus driver’s insolence caused the woman to be solemn and riddled with contempt for the rest of her commute. A poor mood to bestow upon another via deplorable actions.
As a people trying to build from the ground up, it’s only logical that we collaborate with each other in every aspect of our lives, so as to better our collective situation one person at a time. There are systems that would try to divide us by spreading falsities that incite hate amongst one another so that these systems will continue to benefit at the expense of the overall well-being. To that master we must not bend the knee.
The people are the most powerful constituent of a nation and are often fed with distractions in order to not realize the strength that lies within.
For one man alone, it may be difficult to recognize this power, as the grandiosity of institutions is enough to halt hope in its tracks, but for a people as one, no ivory tower is tall or strong enough to keep them from making a better life for and by themselves, and it seems to me, a much better alternative to perpetually complaining and trivializing our strength and plights as we have done since the time of our fathers.
A quote comes to mind ‘Madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ and with that, are we not all mad?
We must take a leap of faith to trust and love the next man for the individual and collective situation to see real and radical improvement.
If you fuck with the vision, let’s build.