As someone who has a knack for adventure and travelling, it is only natural that I must have witnessed a lot of unprecedented happenings and “alien” behaviour. The weirdest place I’ve been to in Nigeria has to be Benin City (and that is saying a lot, as I’ve been to a lot of places). I think what makes this ancient city the “weirdest” has to be the contribution of both human and natural factors to that effect.
My first entrant into Benin City, proper, wasn’t planned. We were actually on our way to Onitsha from Ibadan, but a 5-hour traffic jam at Ore meant we weren’t getting into Onitsha that night. It was therefore a unanimous decision by majority of the passengers that we pass the night in Benin City.
When we got to a place called Olukwu junction, we decided to pass the night at the filling station there. We alighted to grab some dinner and from then on, all went “ape-shit”. We hadn’t quite gotten around to stretching our legs when we heard a heated argument between a young man and a scantily-clad female.
What was most astounding wasn’t the argument itself but what caused the argument and the nature of words traded between the warring parties, particularly from the third parties who were supposedly ‘trying to calm the situation’.
Apparently, what we could make of the cause of the argument was that the scantily-clad lady was a streetwalker approached by a man who wanted to hire her services. In came another man, who undoubtedly was not very fond of grande horinzontales, he vehemently discouraged the initial guy from procuring her services. Evidently, no one would be happy if out of the blues, a random fellow just emerged to thwart a ‘potential business deal’; so in the wake of this, the prostitute started hurling loose pounds of insults and curses at the “bad belle”.
As if that was not enough, an elderly woman glided into the scene, she was clearly well-respected within the vicinity and I was eagerly expecting her to tender some well-chastening words to both parties, little did I know I was about to be shocked. To my utmost thunderbolt, the old lady did the exact opposite of what I anticipated; she completely swept under the carpet what was left of moral speeches and admonitions.
Profanity was more like a second language to them, but there was something uncannily humorous about it.
Their “elders” had this unnatural energy and youthful vigour. Scantily dresses for the female folks seemed like the norm or probably the ‘in-thing’ but still had this magnetic-like appeal.
There was this intense shroud of reckless abandon hanging in the air; something in that place reeked of nonchalance. Is it the way they talked? Or their manner of approach to situations? Honestly, what threw me off-balance was the casual manner in which lewd and profane words were thrown about, which, I have to admit, was a pungent mix of weird and intriguing.
Even the weather was spooky. Rain fell heavily one day before noon, there was a mini-flood, however, come evening the Sun was scorching and it obliterated any hint of rainfall that had earlier descended. Everywhere was as dry as the Sahara. See ehn… I often form hard-bones and ‘Mr Bond’, but trust me, this one here was a completely eerie phenomenon.
Benin City has to take the crown as the weirdest place in this country I’ve ever been to.
As weird as I found that place though, it is somewhere I’d like to visit again pretty soon.