Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I've now also developed a very mild case of envy for Akin's views over old Amsterdam. I wonder Akin - do you have a lovely Dutch bicycle too? My all-time favourite design object is the classic sit-up-and-beg Dutch bicycle - the lovely curving frame and the way it makes the rider sit up straight and float around like a swan. Hmmmm - to live in Amsterdam, surrounded by bicycles and the ghost of Descartes..

Meanwhile, back in Abuja, yet another okada driver drove into a car I was in (3rd time this has happened). We were turning right into the Finance Ministry where I work when BAM! A Nanfang bike went flying past us on the right as did its rider, decapitating our wing mirror in the process. He ended up bruising his legs quite badly but could easily have died if his head had hit something hard. He hadn't noticed we were indicating and was hoping to overtake us on the right. The gate keepers wanted to know if we were going to demand compensation for the mirror. It shocked me to think that anyone would ask an injured poor okada driver to cough up (we taped it back on). Okada driving provides an employment opportunity, but the work needs to be more formalised: they must be forced to wear a helmet on pain of penalty (most don't) and to take a rigorous driving test. In Lagos I've seen several dead okada (one that rode straight into an upturned car on the Marina flyover). Instead, State governors chunter futilely on about banning them every six months or so.

A striking piece of theatre which I wish I could find a way of filming are some of the traffic conductors at some of the major junctions in town. While some do their job with a tired lackadaisical air (I'd be the same with such a monotonous monoxidous job), there are others who seem to think they're on stage with a heavy spotlight beaming down on them. The dramatic ways in which they make their gestures, taking full advantage of the opportunities for digital flourishes afforded by wearing pristine white gloves is quite something to behold. Definitely there are some frustrated actors out there on Abuja's roads who could show RMD a thing or two.. They seem to be consumed with passion for the moment - playing the role to its utmost by condensing their identity into it. It reminds me of Sartre's comments on the Rive Gauche waiter he observes (probably while smoking a Gitanes) in L'Etre et le Neant as he pranced around full of self-importance- how we often try to construct an authentic identity out of inauthentic role-playing. I remember doing exactly the same thing washing industrial-size kitchenware for weeks on end in Israel... Maybe I'll try and sneak at least a photograph one of these days.


Styl Council 10:26 am  

Jay...Stop!! Envy is NOT YOU!!!! ...End of!

As for the okada...much as i understand that the guy maybe injured (and here goes the controvercial view)...That surely should not stop you from claiming compensation for the damage....Perhaps if more people claimed compensation from these irresponsible 2-wheeled-death- taxis, then perhaps they would be forced to ride their bikes in a more responsible manner not to mention the lives of their passengers. Furthermore, YES!YES!they should be forced to wear helmets...But in this case the owners should be fined and not the rider as most of these bikes are owned by some faceless local "Big-Man"!.

Suki,  2:30 pm  

I just noticed you are coming up to your two year anniversary of the blog. Looking at the pics You could pass for an arab or half english, half pakistani guy. do you have any Asian in you?

Jeremy 4:20 pm  

Heh heh. This reminds me - I once went to the Nehru Centre in Mayfair (Brahmins-only). A distinguished looking silver haired man came up to me and said, "Excuse me, aren't you the Director?" Wonderful being confused for a Bollywood big shot..

I also took to wearing a beret during my student days, only for a clutch of snarling Hull locals to shout one evening, "Oy, look at the fucking frog! Froggie! froggie!" (not quite so pleasant an experience). In fact, I am, despite my blog strapline, extremely English - apart from a drop of Norwegian-French a thousand years ago: my ancestors came over during the Norman conquest in 1066.

Shango,  5:06 pm  

Anywhere else (read: civilized), the Okada driver would have been cited for not wearing a helmet and a moving violation then taken in for medical attention cluthing those tickets.

I don't understand this philosophy that the injured are by that fact alone immune to the consequences of their actions. Injury doesn't preclude being wrong, it's a fallacy otherwise.

Jeremy: So, deep down then, you ARE a frog.

Anonymous,  5:31 pm  

of course the menancing okadas should pay, but what if the demage is so minor? Besides, to take them to hospital is to incur charges yourself.

Akin 7:24 pm  

Bicycles, I have, 3 in fact, because I am a closet circus-act.

None of them are Dutch however, I like controls at my hands, that is gears and brakes, the whole idea of stopping by back-pedalling scares me stiff.

Quite amusing that an Okada rides into your vehicle just as my cane sometimes collides with people's shins when I need space :-))

I have to make better use of my harbour, there is a sailing school downstairs, I might just do enough to get on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean 5.

culturalmiscellany 7:48 pm  

Jeremy/Akin, I also love the dutch bicyles but found them tricky to ride. I went on a day's bicycle tour of Amsterdam and surroundings a few years back and found the back pedalling to stop very tricky. We started our journey by the train station so I had to get to grips with the system quite quickly else get squashed by trams, bicycles, cars and buses. I got the hang in the end and found it quite fun after a time.

daf,  1:50 pm  

I had an encounter that could easily have ended tragically, I took a bike from Area 3 in Garki to Wuse and ended up on the ground with luckily only a bruised knee, no thanks to my okada rider colliding with another coming from behind. I was lucky no vehicle was speeding from behind, I could have ended up with a lot of crushed bones.

The way this okada riders go around town, i wonder if they had any sort of training not to talk of understanding traffic rules

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