For any first timer, a trip to Nigeria is a whirlwind of experiences and perhaps nowhere is that truer than in the south west, which to most people mean Lagos and the Yoruba speaking states that surround it. If you’re planning a trip here, you have to know the lingo, the slang. You don’t want to come here without that knowledge.
First off, be prepared to be called Chairman. A whole lot. It will probably start at the airport or the bus park when some random guy offers to help move your luggage for a token. No, it doesn’t mean you’re a chairman. Let it slide. Embrace it. Call him chairman too while you try to beat the price down. P.S: If you’re a foreigner, you might hear a few whispers of the word “Akata”, that’s you. You’re the Akata. Welcome.
To get mobile, you’ll probably make your way around town in a variety of means. In Lagos, you could take a ride in a taxi, the blue BRT buses that dot major routes or more often, in a ‘danfo’, a long bus painted in yellow and black that you’ll find anywhere. You will probably be assisted to get on the right route by one of the young men known as “agberos” who perform a host of duties in the garage or bus stop where your bus ride begins. Your driver on this ride is assisted by a ‘conductor’ who knows nothing about music but a lot about the art of providing change and getting the driver to stop at select bus stops. Liaise with him. He’s your friend. For the short distances or when you’re in a bit of a hurry, you could hop on an ‘okada’ (or-kah-dah), a motorcycle that offers a ride for a token or one of the many tricycles known as ‘Keke’ (keh-keh).
In Ado Ekiti, the buses are called “Akoto”, small White vans that seat between 8 persons on a sunny day and 14 persons when the driver remembers his financial obligations. I wish you good luck.
If you do decide to do a little shopping in one of the many malls, small stores or shopping districts like Lagos’ Yaba or Ibadan’s Gbagi, you better know how to ‘price’ which is basically haggling mercilessly without concern for the true value of the product or the seller’s profit margin. And when he\she calls the ‘last price’, it means you have reached the lower threshold. Pay or walk away slowly. Be informed that goods, particularly clothing, come in various grades, they could be ‘packet’ which implies they are brand new or ‘akube’(ah-qoo-bae), slang for used products. Look closely. Very closely.
The South West offers an eclectic range of meals and snacks from ‘ewa agoyin’, a legendary delicious bean porridge dish to ‘akara’, a fried bean cake that you’ll find on almost every street corner at the right time on any morning. If you or your wallet ever get tired of the buffets and high-end restaurants, you’ll find good local dishes in one of the many small family run restaurants known as “Bukas”.
If you find yourself in Lagos, and if you’re coming to the southwest, you must, then Friday is when the city takes off its suit and dons 16 gold chains. The Lagos Nightlife is the stuff of legend. In the early evening, you might find yourself in a ‘beer parlour’, an open bar with loud music where you’re likely to be asked to choose between ‘Ororo’ i.e Spirits or anything of alcoholic extraction that isn’t beer, or Beer which is the umbrella word for everything from Lager to Stout. Whichever your choice, it should wash down anything from ‘asun’, a spicy goat meat kebab or “pepper soup”, a spicy meat or fish soup. Enjoy.
Saturday is the day of the owanbe, elaborate parties that celebrate anything from birthdays or weddings to funerals. Should you find yourself in one, enjoy a plate of Jollof rice, a rice dish that is a staple of Nigerian parties.
It’s really that simple. You have just gained the pass you need to make your experience a memorable one. Get out on the town and let the west coast hit you.