Naija in My Blood


A lot has been written about hazards such as driving in Lagos and on Nigerian roads. I do not mean to flog the issue, but it was this very thing that revealed some needed home truths.

You see, I am not one to allow my blood pressure levels rise over a little thing like another driver cutting into my lane without permission. The lack of simple courtesies that supply grease for smooth driving relations leaves me unruffled. Watching other tense drivers gripping their steering wheels for dear life as they struggle not to be outmaneuvered, provides witty relief from the unending traffic.

These hooligans—both the ones in black suits and the ones sooted from the ash heap of life—have shown me that aggression is the normal way of life here. The proximity of Lagos to the serene breeze from the Atlantic has done nothing to cool the pepper that burns in their veins.

On the roads, tempers edge dangerously close to boiling point, so, loud arguments and disputes settled with fistfights are not uncommon. No wonder I gave up eating pepper long ago, cucumber is more my style. But, I was soon to discover that the cherry does not fall far from the tree.


Nigeria, a place we all call home

Anger that constant simmering over decades of rape

Independence, a cherished hope; the impetus to rise again at 4 a.m.

Jaded after half    a century of promises unfulfilled

Affection, a feeling that continually binds us to the Motherland

Two weeks ago, my driver was going nose to nose with another vehicle. Normally, I would have cautioned him and asked him to yield to the yeye driver, but that day was different. Whether it was the roaring inflation or soaring unemployment, I cannot tell. It may have been the cumulative effect of bumping my head against the car window as my driver navigated one pothole-ridden street after another. Perhaps it was the sinking feeling that yet another con artist promising much and delivering little had swindled me. Whatever, I was tired of being a fool. My redundant aggressive genes surfaced. “Do not give him any chance,” I warned.

Both their countenances showed strong determination. A mad rush of blood had made the veins visible on their hands and temples, a sign that neither wanted to lose this race for survival. As my driver and I struggled to gain supremacy, he from behind the wheel, and me a cheerleading accomplice from the owner’s corner, the inevitable happened.

An ugly screeching sound rent the air as metal kissed metal. I had a taste of nauseating reality as the beat of the ancient talking drums in my head ceased. My driver jumped out, his rage fuelled by the sudden remembrance of his N5, 000 accident-free monthly bonus.

As he sparred with the other driver, I realized that their loud voices were a mere whisper in the buzz of a Lagos that never pauses. My car had finally been baptized with the telltale marks around the fender that speaks of a skirmish or two in traffic. After both drivers traded sufficient insults, they unanimously agreed that the scratches were not worth coming to blows over.

Rhetorical questions swirled in my mind as I tried to make sense of what had just happened. What was it that made my blood boil? How could I have Naijanized so fast?

Back home, my resourceful driver applied a little brake fluid to the scratches and the car looked almost as good as new. I guess it was a little insurance to secure his bonus. It reminded me of the shoddy patch jobs on our roads that are exposed by heavy rains. Yes, Lagos is getting greener on the outside, but true redemption must go beyond skin-deep.

As for me, years on foreign soil only camouflaged my leopard’s spots. The power of Naija, as the large billboards scream, can never be underestimated.

Pride Power Naija

Yeye: a derogatory term used for an annoying person, thing, or situation.

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

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23 thoughts on “Naija in My Blood

  1. Hello,I log on to your blogs named “Naija in My Blood | livelytwist” daily.Your story-telling style is witty, keep it up! And you can look our website about proxy list.


  2. Haha. Turns out I haven’t visited this yet.

    Lol. Hahaha, I’ve had too many experiences of this with my Dad and his driver. Same scenario; sometimes let the other driver go, some other times: ‘ma gba fun o, mo tin só fun e’. 😂😆

    Hmmm, the accident free bonus is interesting.

    Naija! I hail.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I carried major last on this piece, Timi! What you have described here is very true of Naija blood. I’m a little on the passive side “traffic wise,” but I can tell you my naija blood surfaces in one very obnoxious moment that sometimes send my skin crawl when I become aware. Pssh, almost every Naija person does it.

    That moment when you’re having a heated argument about politics and what not, and your American neighbors can hear your voices two blocks away. Talk about naija passion…very ogbonge! *covers face* lol 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My redundant aggressive genes surfaced. “Do not give him any chance,” I warned.
    Ha ha ha…

    Lucky you!! That gene has never been redundant in me 😉
    I used to count up to 20 but hey, it never worked…lol.

    I remember when I was preparing for my driving test in London and I drove up to a roundabout with my driving instructor and instead of giving way to traffic on my right, I just blared my horns, spooked all the drivers into submission and went my merry way ( Naija style). My instructor told me to pull over, looked at me and said “why did you do that?” I looked at him a bit puzzled and said “I don’t know? That’s how I’ve always driven?”

    It certainly is the Naija in my blood 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My first three-month stint in Lagos led me to conclude that that city has no gentlemen or ladies (if they exist they do not commute on the roads). I also concluded that any car without a scratch in Lagos is either fresh out of the dealership or just got a proper rehabilitation.

    There is a feeling that it is only ‘mad’ people that can survive in Lagos and the city tries to prove that to you no matter how civilized you think you are.

    You people that drive in Lagos are brave, very brave.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Which was why I yielded to all the ‘yeye’ drivers… trying to avoid those scratches and more. I’ve seen ‘mad’ men in suits deliberately ‘bump’ another car just to prove a point!

      I heard that if you can drive in Lagos, you can drive anywhere else 🙂


    1. True Charles. Nothing like pressure to display what we’re really made of.

      Lagos traffic in particular riles up even the gentlest soul! From the moment you depart from your house up until you are in the thick of it, a culmination of factors (fill in the blanks), leaves you simmering beneath the surface, waiting to explode 🙂


      1. When we were on campus and we had some overzealous ‘born-agains’ [ok, a little too many of them], I used to tell them to wait and practice their brand of fanatism in real life [insert Lagos] and not mock us with hypocrisy in a controlled environment like UI.
        I believe, Lagos like any other big city would drive you to the extreme but if you have the strength to keep calm in the face of Lagos threats, then you have mastered the flesh!


  6. ‘“Do not give him any chance,” I warned.’ — Abi o? 😆

    While I was learning how to drive, my instructor told me that I should consider every other person on the road, drivers inclusive, as mad people. For him, it was a cautionary step to driving safely and responsibly. But Naija no dey send o … Sometimes, if one acts nicely, some people will just take advantage of it.

    Like Fela Kuti would say “I no be gentleman at all o.” That’s me when I’m in a bad mood or pretty much in a hurry.


  7. This driving matter, yes it really does depend on your mood. My standing instructions to my driver are that he must never tussle for way with anyone, especially public transport drivers – true, the accident won’t be his fault but chances are I’ll be left with repair bill. When I’m driving myself though, perhaps because of some inner sense of justice, especially if I’ve been sitting patiently in the queue for the toll gate, I am extremely hostile to someone trying to cut me off. And I used to be such a passive, rule-compliant Ibadan boy…


    1. I feel you TexTheLaw. Nothing like “traffic injustice” to bring out the “gra-gra” in all of us!

      Introspection may reveal that little “injustices” here & there birth “traffic monsters” on Lagos roads… but we won’t go there, not today at least 🙂

      btw, I want to contact you privately. No contact form on your blog…


  8. That feeling that (re)surfaces on sensing someone wants to ride roughshod over you and in a bid to forestall that, you ironically end up doing to them perhaps the exact thing you would rather they didn’t do to you.
    And yes, donkey years overseas might, at best, bury it for later exhumation.

    Beautiful piece, as ever.


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