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Yemisi says…The fast and the furious!

The Fast and the Furious

This is Lagos!

Where everything runs at the speed of light; “fast fast”, “sharp sharp” and “now now” are everyday lingo, and everyone seems to be rushing somewhere.

Impatience levels here are extremely high and everyday interactions can trigger fistfights and intense arguments. Queuing at a petrol station or being stuck in one of our legendary traffic jams can become an exercise in creative and highly colourful verbal and physical abuse, as everyone tries to get ahead unfairly and unjustly, possessed by a spirit of one-upmanship that makes cars maliciously speed up to cut you off when you indicate to move into their lane. After all, don’t you know my time and my destination are much more important than yours? Who do you think you are??? Do you know who I am???

I’ve always wondered what makes us so angry and crazy in this amazing and complex town that’s been described as “New York on crack.” The land of fast talk, fast money, fast cars, fast women and faster deals. My mom used to blame it on the heat, and the amount of pepper we consume. Well, that’s one theory. I think its because Lagosians have forgotten where we came from. No-one knows how to just be anymore. We are so caught up with “life” that we’ve forgotten how to really live…

The microwave lifestyle is a sign of the times. Once upon a time Africans used to pride ourselves on having some incontrovertible values:

Being our brother’s keeper…
Believing it takes a village to raise a child…
Looking out for each other…

Granted, it has not all been songs and roses, but all in all we’ve been thought to have more of a sense of community and caring than that which exists in the western world, where your eighty year old next door neighbour can be found dead in her flat after three weeks, but only after someone complained about the smell coming from her house and commented on the collection of full milk bottles on her doorstep.

But we have now become followers of the “Cult of Me,” which advocates getting ahead at all costs, pushing and elbowing people out of the way. Using others as a stepping stone to climb the ladder; being concerned only about “my” time, “my” work “my” bills, “my” family, “my” things; striving to have more of “all”, if there is any such thing, and faster than ever, employing anger, aggression and disrespect to get it.

We want it now, don’t waste our time.

Having an alternative view or hankering for the old order of things may make one seem radical at best, or just plain stupid. A Johnny Just Come. A “mumu,” whose “eye never open.”

I live in the middle of the chaos of this awesome, frenzied city. But I aim to learn to stop and really see people and things instead of just glancing at them; to learn to be content, and not accumulate empty things harder!better!faster!more!!!; to really feel things instead of just hopping from one experience to the next in the search of the next big thrill…

I want to slow down, so I can intensify my experience of the beauty of life amidst the chaos of Lagos living…

I want to be in the eye of the storm. Could use some company…

YS

About Yemisi Sawyerr


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