I had an important meeting to attend in Benin City sometime in April 2018. I had to hurry there from work. I don’t live in the two cities that can connect Benin City via commercial flight and hence my only viable option was to go by road (I could have trekked if I wanted; that was another option. The operative word is viable). Since I was going alone, I opted to use the commercial buses rather than drive.
If you travel with commercial buses, you already know that if you miss the first bus that leaves the station, which is early in the day, you are now at the mercy of multiple variables. Most times, you do not leave on good time and you are likely to arrive late. I knew my lot and set out for the journey. After spending about 2 hours at the bus station, it was finally time to leave. I took the front seat and had a light banter with the driver. I never knew what I had invited into my space. The story you will hear later.
Well, I always try to be nice to drivers. C’mon, they are your pilot for those few hours and anything that aids in not agitating them is welcome. I learnt this many years ago when I opted to play my type of music while a driver was taking me and my beloved wife of my two-days old marriage to Lagos from Warri. I played Terry Clark’s music, which was slow and sleepy in tone / sound. While I worshipped unto the heavens, I did not know that I was driving the driver nuts. When the cassette finished playing (yes cassette, I am dated), the driver rejoiced and then put his own ‘jamz’.
When we got to Lagos, he told me, “Oga, I get small advise for you. Abeg next time when driver dey drive you, allow am make e enjoy himsef with de music wey him like. Na d only jollification wey driver fit get for road be that. Even if na music wey you no like, leave am. Play your own music when you reach house. E better make una reach house jeje than to play your own music and una go get accident”. I thanked him and moved on. Back to the story of my Benin trip.
Our driver was of Bini origin. It takes one to know one. Though I am not Bini, it is my second tribe (shey I can choose). I spent university days there and enjoyed my time there. The Bini accent is unmistakable. If you ever watched “Do Good”, Edosa, my favourite actor in that series, did a fantastic job. First lesson in Bini accent / pronunciation is that things are never pronounced in full; “How far now” is “Hafala”, “health” is pronounced “het”. See, I enjoy listening to a core Bini man speak English. I laugh throughout. It is nostalgic and soothing to my spirit and soul.
Another thing of notice with my driver was that he was proud of his profession. Since I started the conversation, he took over from there and told me many stories. Before I outline them for you, let me inform you that my driver lives in another world. Talking to him about civility is like instructing Fela in morality. He had an opinion on everything on the face of the earth; both moving and non-moving things, marriage, religion, tall people, animal rearing, the presidency, the dull lives of passengers etc.
Our driver was one of those guys who will tell you things factually as if he was there when it happened. He can say things like “When Umaru Dikko went to get powers in Uromi land, we advised him against it”. “Bombastic” you would say. But I am used to his type. I once had a job that made me relate with fellas like him. They always have stories to tell. When such speak, you do not add or remove; just enjoy the gist.
Our driver had no regard for the policemen on the road. He just drove past them as if they were not there. He wondered why others stop. Remember I told you that he lives in another world. (Hold that thought dear because it will come in handy in understanding our driver). He also had answers to every question; those that were directed at him or not. On our way we met the guys that stand by the way side to hitch a ride on a lower fare. One of them raised his voice and asked “U dey go Lagos?” Our driver screamed back “No be only Lagos, I dey reach Abuja”. He was having fun.
The fun was punctured when one of my co-passengers advised the driver to concentrate. My Lawd ! All of heaven was let loose. Our driver fumed at that remark. He was vividly upset. Then he turned to me and said “Na dis kain thing dey make me drive private people. Bus passengers no de get respect. Even de one wey be say na beg dem take enter your bus o.” I had to “form” empathy. He continued “Even person wey him head no correct, go dey give driver instruction inside public bus. My brother, I don see for this life o”. “If na rich man I drive now, as we drive for one hour e go de ask “are you ok?”. Infact when we reach where dem de chop, e go buy better food for me. But for this bus, anybody don ask me anything?” The lecture between the rich and the poor continued “Na so so mouth dem get. Poor man get mouth o. Na de only thing wey poor people, like these my passengers get be that — mouth”. Somewhere in his mind, I was either a rich man or a co-driver because he was attacking passengers and the poor and I was exempted. Oghene !!!
“Bros, you no see as their neck long like their leg. Na suffer wey dem don suffer nah”. Though he was referring to my co-passengers, I could not hold it any longer. I started laughing very hard. My ribs were aching. I could not sit still. I did not know what my co-passengers thought of me. This driver was giving me the drive of my life. My driver was Lasisi Elenu on wheels and not on Instagram.
Don’t trust the traffic light; believe in the car heading towards you.
He went on to another story “one time wey I dey drive, I quarrel with one girl inside bus. Na him wey she knack my head. As I wan knack am back, all the passenger come de quarrel me. That thing pain me eh. A whole me. Woman beat me and I no fit beat am back. I just calm down come dey drive. When I reach Army check point, I park motor go tell d Army man I dey sick and I no wan drive again. Army man say make I siddon. My passenger dey fear army and dem no fit come near me. One of them gather liver go ask de officer wetin happen. Army tell am. Na im wey my passengers come de beg me. I do like say I no dey see again. Dem beg tire. Make dem drive nah. No be me hold key ? After one hour, I go tell the officer say I fit drive now. Na him I go drive the motor. Everybody quiet until we reach Benin.”
When we got to Sapele junction, he asked for the grilled wriggly bug that comes from dead palm trees popularly called “edible”. It is whistish and a common delicacy that is roasted and sold by the way side. “How much be edible” “Driver na 200 Naira” “Why your own cost like this ? Abi na fuel you dey use ? No be bush wey you enter go carry am for free?” The guy selling the stuff was shocked and appalled. He gently walked away.
We slowed down at the Sapele roundabout check point because of the bumps on the road. Our driver pointed out a mad man at the roundabout. “You see that guy, im work easy o”. I responded “which work e dey do ? Na mad person nah”. He responded “Bros, craze na work o. Dat guy no craze like that. E no just baff for two weeks. But people de think say he dey craze”. “Why I think say e no craze be say, everytime wey I dey pass here, d guy de chop. I nefa see craze man wey de chop like that. Na im make me suspect am” I could not believe that my driver was envious of a deranged man. You see why I had to keep him clam. Again, remember I told you he lives in another world.
As our conversation went on, the mad guy walked towards us and told the driver “Oga driver, anything for me ?”. The driver turned to me and gestured. “How mad man go tell me anything for me ? Me sef I wan mad” I felt like telling him, “you have been for a while now but you are not yet aware. Unfortunately I am not the one that will give you the diagnosis.” But “fear let?”
To craze na small thing. Na de waka be work. — My Grandmother.
As we drove into the Urhobo heartland, our driver switched into Urhobo issues. He told me that in his next life, he will be an Urhobo man. I asked why and he postulated his reason. “Urhobo man no get responsibility nah. E fit get 80 children. Na him wife work to train d children. E no concern am how the children de grow.” “Urhobo women dey hustle nah. No be dem de carry concrete. Dem go suffer suffer so tay dem lean finish. Na dem de still de beg their husband make d man come chop food wey him no give money o”. “My brother, my next life, God go make am say I go come this life as Urhobo man”. He continued “See eh, when Urhobo man marry, e go buy canoe give the woman. Infact if your husband fit buy canoe for you, na im be say d man don try. You no fit ask am for anything be that. E don settle you. Na so dey woman go enter water de fish. No matter how fish run, Urhobo woman go catch am. She no sey if she no catch dat fish, hunger go sama d children like koboko”.
I just kept laughing uncontrollably. He had an audience of one and so he continued. “Last Valentine na im wey my wife come d ask me for gift. I no answer am. Urhobo woman fit ask Urhobo man for Valentine. Wetin concern am with Valentine. Shou ! na with fish for river she dey do Valentine”
He went onto the next topic: Marriage. He talked and talked and wondered why he even married. He said he fears for his life. I asked him why and he said “Bros, if you enter Akpakpava, na so so landlady dey dere. No landlord. Person wey im husband die since 1954 still dey collect house rent. De Edede no get teeth again but she still dey collect house rent.”. Now you see the type of driver whose bus I got into today. I was hungry, famished and too weak to laugh. I was sparing all my energy but he just kept at it.
As we entered Benin, the hustle part of my driver came out. He had collected parcels from different people to give to recipients in Benin. He told the recipients to converge at one spot in Benin so that he could give them the parcel. For obvious reasons, he did not want them to come to the bus terminal. He was a courier man — part driver, part UPS. He was on the phone with everyone — shouting, cussing, screaming etc. He was distracted from his driving and at some point I had to take over his phone and assisted him in the co-ordination of calls and distribution of parcel. It was not in the spirit of altruism but rather in the spirit of life preservation for all of us in the bus.
Well well well. After 4 eventful hours, I got into Benin. But this was a driver I was not going to forget in a hurry. He lived in another world and today, my world and his met. I only watched him come alive and glow.
In case you enjoyed this, I have other hilarious moments that I have captured before. Here they are: Hilarious Moments Of Life, More Hilarious Moments (II), Hilarious Moments III , Much More Hilarious Moments IV, Hilarious Moments V and most recently Hilarious Moments VI
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