Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An Anecdoted Topography of Chance

So there I am, inching my way in traffic to the ring road at lunch time just now, when a car drives straight into the side of me, crumpling my back door and shearing off paintwork down to the silver metal underneath.

What the f... circulates rapidly in my head, with no quick exit through ears or nostrils.

I get out. The guy in the other car is already on his knees, begging me. His flip-flops look old and knackered. I ask him to get up, and then get a whiff of pure 130% ogoggoro (is that how you spell it?) breath. Drinking at lunch time: damn!

The obligatory crowd gathers to survey the scene - mostly newspaper vendors and passersby. A couple of cops then arrive on those fancy LAPD-style motorbikes they have here. The new improved Jeremy doesn't lose his temper at all.

The gist of the story I am collectively told is that this guy is a poor man. He cannot help to pay to unscrunch your car. It is better that you go. We are sorry o!

I make him sweat for a few more minutes before heading off.

I wonder if Sharon Stone would agree with me that this is a case of bad karma, or is it just the randomness of the universe unfolding in its usual capricious manner?


Akin 4:08 pm  

Hello Jeremy,

I am sorry about your mishap.

However, something seems to be wrong here, but the guy was so inebriated at that time of the day and driving that he caused an accident.

One would think the police should have done him for drink-driving, and his insurance should be at least 3rd-party to pay for the damage.

Or is there no law against drink-driving in Nigeria and no requirement to have motor insurance?


Jeremy 4:15 pm  

Akin, you've been away from Nigeria for a long time, abi?

Sandrine 4:15 pm  

Hi Jeremy,
I am really sorry you had to go through this.Thankfully nobody got hurt.I would look at the accident another way.It is upsetting and inconvenient but it could have been a lot worse.One of my friends had her breaks fail at a stop sign and a car ran into her pretty much like in your case.Except it was on her side and the rescue crew had to use the jaws of life to get her out and she spent a long time at the trauma center.So you can look at it this way; the fact that the accident happened the way it did, prevented it from happening with a car full of kids for example.
Or if you look at it considering the laws of probabilities, driving with flip-flops and under influence would make the risk of accident pretty likely regarding of any kind of karma.
Kuddos on keeping your calm.I do not have the "maitrise de mes emotions" like you do.
Take care.

Naijasoverwoman,  4:49 pm  

LOL @ Akin's question and Jeremy's reply.

Clearly, Akin hasn't been home in a while:)

Sorry about your mishap Jay (taking liberties with the shortening of your name ... hope you don't mind?)

Naapali 5:03 pm  


Pele o! How for do? As usual dis is Naija and the fact that he is drunk and uninsured doesn't bother him and apparently the cops that arrived.

I hope the rest of this year really turns out well for you and no more mishaps.

Anonymous,  5:06 pm  

What is the use of a drink driving law if it is unenforceable? Oh, and about insurance, you can buy a motor insurance certificate from someone sitting under a tree in the car park of the Lagos State Government Secretariat, and under the bridge at Ojuelegba, and in many other such places, if the only object is to ensure that you have your complete "particulars" when you are required to present them at check points... Just in case you didnt know..

omidanbellafricaine 6:05 pm  

Actually the question is Akin have you ever been to Nigeria? If you spend at least a week there you don't even have to be from there to get the answers to your question.

Anonymous,  7:19 pm  

Randomness of the cosmos hmnnnnn
let me think.....

Anonymous,  8:05 pm  

And this is one of the things that upsets me the most about Nigeria. The fact that someone can hit your car and defiantly refuse to pay for repairs while people gather and tell you to 'take heart', remember God, BLAH BLAH AND MORE FREAKING BLAH while the offending party slinks off into the sunset. I mean what the FUCK?????? God, but this country frustrates!!!

And while i'm on the subject, we have our own dear president umoru never go who has assured us we won't have steady power supply till 2011 at the earliest yet he still thinks nigeria can be on the list of the world's greatest nations by 2020! I could slap the spit out of his mouth right now!

Anonymous,  8:20 pm  

um, excuse me, our cars are fully insured, thanyouverymuch (cost an arm and a leg), and when our driver ran a red light and bashed some guys car, we were especially glad that we did/do!
sounds to me like you middle class lot ( and i am cardcarrying member) prefer to be disdainful of nigerian laws etc, assuming that no one is following them (yourselves included, and in particular) when it comes down to it, and then make mocking, all -knowing comments on blogs such as this when you are in reality a huge part of the problem...
this reminds me of the elections of june 12, 1993...when so many people were outraged when the election results were being delayed (before the eventual annulment), and we'd say ' well did you vote?', and the answer was usually 'no"...
pity. Nigerians, thaa-aat's us!

Anonymous,  9:13 am  

@anon 8.20, you miss the point. You'll be surprised that quite a number of middle class nigerians have their cars insured, especially as it comes with the finance package anyway, but most people do not even UNDERSTAND what the insurance is for! I kid you not! A guy who's car is fully insured hits you and doesn't realise that rather than argue, all he has to do is hand you over to his insurance company and that's that. Trust me, i've seen it happen before. I couldn't understand it then and I still don't understand it now but I'm thinking maybe the INsurance companies are such a pain to deal with that people would rather not. Maybe, I don't know.

But we're not even talking about middle class nigerians. We're talking about the flip-flop wearing, ogogoro drinking, jalopy driving class. Or the danfos. Or the okadas. Or the cars that had no business being on the road 20 years ago, talk less of today! Those people definitely do not understand the concept of insurance beyond 'make my particulars complete' and so when they hit you, it's better not to bother getting out of the car unless you've got time to spare. And then, as if on cue (if it's a danfo), the driver gets out, throws himself at your mercy by prostrating flat out, while his conductor follows suit and people gather and tell you to 'thank God, it could have been worse'. Then you have to go and deal with your wahala while the offending party goes off with a knowing smile.

The truth is that a lot of nigerians do not understand the concept of insurance, especially the lower class. When Tejuosho market got burnt, i asked a few of the shop owners if they had insurance and of course they did not. Most wondered whether they would get their money back after a certain period if nothing bad ever happened, some expressed distrust of insurance companies but it all boiled down to plain ignorance!

Anonymous,  10:02 am  

And by the way, to all Nigerians in diaspora, rather than sit behind your computers making derogatory comments, why not come home and start making a difference?

Get your cars insured, don't run red lights, don't give bribes, build businesses based on honor and dignity, fight for laws against drunk driving or anything else that's close to your heart, petition your government, march, do WHATEVER but do something other than fling snide comments this way. There are people doing these things and while it's tough (oh LAWD is it ever!) and it certainly won't happen overnight, we cannot, we MUST NOT be discouraged into just sitting back and complaining. Chief Newton Jibunoh got the Lagos State Government to pass a law making the indiscriminate cutting of trees illegal. So it can be done.

Let's make a change, one issue, one person at a time.

rukks 10:23 am  

stop judging...i drink at lunch time!!!

Mr C 8:56 pm  

lol. Jeremy, I think the question you need to ask Akin is if he has been to Nigeria at all.

But really in Nigeria when issues arise, the last thing you think of is the police but how the issue is managed between both of you.

Sorry Jeremy for the mishap, but this zone is jungle.

Anonymous,  9:53 pm  

Sharon Stone? The woman don kolo finish! mschewwwwwwwwwwwww!

Anyway, jeremy, glad to hear that you are ok. naija roads are full of drunk drivers. problem is, the policemen are too busy chasing their 20 naira bribes to do the whole breathalyser(sp!) schbang!

Anonymous,  9:59 pm  

@rukks, and if you drive afterwards, you are a classic idiot.

If you want to be foolish and throw away your own life, feel free to - sensible people prefer to live.

Ada,  1:40 am  

lol I've reason to believe that Akin was being sarcastic and not being serious.

shey this is naija where evenif a rich man jam u, if u like comot and start yelling, na olopa go comot from his car come arrest you! hehe
sorry Jeremy, thank God you are alright.

anonymaus,  11:34 am  

That is lousy!! No justice for you or any suitable recompense.

I understand that the guy appears to have no money, but didn't he violate the law? Are there no charges for drink driving? Will he be let off scot free to do it again, and this time maim or kill someone?

So much for right and wrong!

At least your body is intact, that is something to be grateful for.

Toks- Boy 4:58 pm  

J- Pele oh. What struck me most about the story was the fact that the guy was already on his knees before you got out of the car. This is Naija insurance (fyi Akin).It's called begging.

What really kills me though is that you can have some idiot driving erratically and you might even have the oppportunity to warn him before he hits you but no, he will continue to do gra gra and shakara. But the minute the metal hits metal all the bravado disappears to be replaced by the begging scenario as above.

Oh well.It is only a car after all J and I dont peg you for one to dwell on materialistic things what with being existential and all.

Me on the other hand? The oboy would have done some hard labour oh.

In my head and around me 9:31 am  

Akin, lol at your comment. A lot of police men are either high on Igbo (the poor man's drug) or drunk themselves. Besides, this case was one where they could make no money so why would they bother?

No-one will hit my car and go free o!! I do not have a "bash me and I will fix it myself budget", so if you want to drive like a mad man, just make sure you carry the cash to maintain your habit. I really do not care if you cry or use your body to sweep the streets in the name of begging me. I have lived in Lagos for too long for such behaviour to get to me.

At the most, if you don't have money, I will break something so that we are both inconvinenced. I totally refuse to be nice about it.

Just yesterday, I had 2 differrent okadas shoot out from accross the street to the front of my car, almost causing me to run into them. A large truck right in front of me braked suddenly on the bridge because an Okada man in front of him decided to stop suddenly to pick up a passenger and all the other bad driving I encountered on my traffic filled 1+ hour drive to my house.

I am not a nice, calm Lagos driver. I can't be.

Akin 1:17 am  


As to all the comments about whether I have ever been to Nigeria, I have many memories and dimensions of Nigeria.

I remember a Nigeria when I was primary school and all of us could speak English, we laughed at people who made errors.

I remember a Nigeria when vying for a place in secondary school was real competition and you rarely saw parents trying to bump up the marks of their kids.

I remember a Nigeria when I first when to polytechnic we were paid bursaries and this was from Ogun State.

I remember a Nigeria where things seemed to be in a sort of order, maybe I was cocooned from the worse aspects.

But as the 80s came and progressed, that Nigeria was changing radically and probably now it is completely beyond recognition.

The question is why insurance should sound so alien and why drink-driving should not be an offence in Nigeria?

Anonymous,  9:36 pm  

lovely story akin..... lovely story

Anonymous,  3:03 pm  

@anon 8.20

errrmm. hold on you're the one being disdainful, and why did your driver jump the light? Isn't that YOUR responsibility ?

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