23 August 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

Happy Birthday: It's your turn to put the people in your life in their true place

Back when I worked at the bank, it was customary for a birthday celebrant to share cakes, small chops, drinks and sometimes, full meals (rice and chicken) to colleagues on their birthday. However, because it happens to be a bank head office, which has hundreds of staff in one location, except you fell into the generous manager's category, it was unlikely that your 'birthday bounty' would reach everyone in the office, even if the news of it definitely would.

Creative happy birthday design elements vector art Source

Of course, as a celebrant, this scarcity of resources puts you in a place where you have to choose which subset of staff would be recipients of your birthday bounty. The average celebrant's approach was to put their immediate team members (average of about 20 people) at the top of the beneficiaries list. Also, the celebrant's favourite managers and the less-favourite ones who happen to be the celebrant's direct/indirect managers usually have an automatic place on the list.

Outside these satisfy-them-or-die demographics, of course, lies everyone else. From this group, it is now clear that only the celebrant's favourites will get a taste of the bounty. Celebrants would typically write a (VIP) list and appoint a colleague as mercenary to dispatch the birthday bounty to this special group of people who are usually across different teams and sometimes, in another building entirely.

Everyone else, who of course cannot easily be shielded from the news that the birthday celebrant has skipped over them in their generosity spree is left to grapple with their new found knowledge of their importance (or lack thereof) to the celebrant.

Of course, inevitably (since I was no manager), most of the time, I was in the category of unimportant masses whom, if they were lucky, would get a tiny piece of sponge cake which has more icing than actual cake. Left with no choice but to look with envy at those special beings who happen to fall into today's celebrant's VIP list.

The worst of these times for me was when I actually felt betrayed by not having been put on the celebrant's VIP list. You know, those people who you think you actually have a good relationship with and if there were to be any such categorization as this, then you would definitely fall into their good books.

One example which happened earlier this year (2017) was particularly painful, so much so as to ruin most of my productivity for the rest of the day with surging emotions of anger. In my team of three or four developers, each member except me got a pack of small chops and a can of soft drink. The celebrant happened to be a member of the product management team with whom I used to work closely until recently when a change in my duties meant that we had very little work in common.

All that my lizard brain could interpret from this exclusion was that she didn't consider me as having contributed any noteworthy part to her achieving her career goals in the organization. My more reasonable side tried to convince me that this was probably just an innocent oversight. But no, this lizard was not having any of that palliative bullshit.

I got really mad because I felt that I deserved some of this birthday love for all the past times we had worked together to achieve some organizational goal. In fact, the only reason I didn't confront the celebrant that day was that I felt it was distasteful to question someone's intentions on their special day. After all, it's not like they actually owe me anything.


Being fully aware of how bad it makes me feel when I'm skipped over to receive a birthday bounty (especially when I think I deserve it), my stance was to just not share anything at all on my own birthday. For me, it's better that no one feels special and that everyone considers me a stingy mofo than to make some feel special and then alienate the rest of the unimportant masses.

As you can imagine, I had to argue this stance with my immediate team members severally.

My colleagues' argument You partake in the bounty of other (immediate) team members. Why then would you decide to go missing when it's your turn to pay it forward? How would you feel if, on a team member's birthday, you do not receive a bounty while every other team member does? This is what we're going to do to you if you refuse to declare a bounty on your own birthday.

My counter-argument You realize that at no point did I move to convince any other team member to declare a bounty? They did it of their own free will and I'm only happy to share out of their generosity. However, I think the magnanimity of it is eliminated if it becomes mandatory.

Like, what is the freaking point of buying food for everyone in the team if, in the ideal scenario, you would still get the favour back when other people pay it forward by sharing their bounties within the same team on their own birthday? We could as well just keep our monies to ourselves and buy ourselves a special meal every once in a while.
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21 July 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

Yoruba boy first time living outside Lagos (in Enugu) FAQs

When did you move to Enugu?

I moved to Enugu on Friday, June 16, 2017. I travelled to Enugu on a very short (under 1hr) flight with Airpeace. I landed in Enugu at around 8:30 WAT.

Why did you move to Enugu?

I got a new job. A job that is much closer to my dream job than my old job was. That's it. Oh yeah, getting a job outside of Lagos was actually also a dream come true.

I've lived in Lagos all my life:
  • Primary school: Bosby, Ilasamaja, Mushin, Lagos
  • High school: FGCL, Ijanikin
  • University: UNILAG
  • NYSC Camp: Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos camp
  • NYSC PPA: Orile-Agege LCDA, Agege, Lagos
Need I say more? 

I resumed my new job as a Software developer at Chatdesk on Monday, 19th June, 2017. I've already spent a full month at the new job, but it hardly feels like it.

How is Enugu?

  • Great
  • The landscape is constantly undulating. Yes. The hills of Enugu. I should get me a bicycle soon for proper enjoyment of the steep hills
  • The good roads are not overburdened and I've not seen a traffic jam that is more than 20 cars long since I arrived here (and that's an exception). Also, there are usable footpaths on most of the roads I've seen, hence more pedestrian-safe than Lagos
  • I live in Independence layout, a very clean and serene and well-planned part of Enugu with a concentration of modern houses. I would describe it as the Lekki equivalent of Enugu except it's better. Most of the streets are tarred and the area is not flood-prone. Also, the views are much better because of the hilly nature of the landscape

Nice Friday morning view in Enugu

DISCLAIMER: In all fairness, I hear Enugu is really large and what I've seen is a tip of the iceberg. I keep wondering where the ugly/regular houses are located because since I moved here, all I've seen are pretty and well-planned neighbourhoods and estates.

Are you happy with the move?

Yes. I unarguably am. Of course, no one has really asked me this question (apart from my mum). So I'm just answering it here to show off my awesome new life. Okay, it might not be that awesome, but compared to my shitty existence in Lagos, this is a huge leap which I am beyond grateful for. 

First of all, every day is TGIF for me. I have unbound flexibility with my work hours. I can wake up whenever I want and can sleep whenever I want. As if that was not good enough, I currently stay at the staff quarters of the company which is in the same house as the office. Interestingly, I hardly ever sleep for more than 6-hours per night in spite of the flexibility. My phone alarm clock app is up for grabs; any takers?

I have pounded yam for breakfast regularly; no fear of falling asleep at work
I now regularly have pounded yam for breakfast; no fear of falling asleep at work

Let me reveal the not so fun and games part of my new found freedom though. Now, I have little excuse not to achieve some of my lifelong dreams like building more muscles, completing intensive MOOCs to build up my skills and completing my pet projects. I've registered at a really-well equipped gym a ten-minute drive away from home (Lilburn fitness, close to the Enugu airport), so I'd say I'm on the right track. I always tell myself the phrase, "six packs in six months", just for fun.

Also, I managed to achieve a feat that would never have been possible with the cut-throat life I left behind in Lagos. I currently have a 30+ day streaking learning French on Duolingo. The trick (if I can call it that) is really simple. I wake up, I head to the balcony, whip out my phone and make a go for the French challenges; no questions asked. It's slowly revealed itself as a rewarding and mentally awakening way to start the day, so I don't even need any discipline to do it anymore at this point. #GoodRoutines #CueActionReward

If not bragging rights, then what do we live for? Showing off my stellar Duolingo French stats
If not bragging rights, then what do we live for? Showing off my stellar Duolingo French stats

Furthermore, I now manage to do some form of exercise at least, once in two days. My running is now more consistent, even if that means one part of my body or the other always has an ache. Not to worry, I'm relatively comfortable with pain, due to my pimples pressing days. Who knows, I might start training for a marathon at this rate.


Hafiz at the end of Umuawulu street adjoining Port Harcourt - Enugu Expressway
Hafiz at the end of Umuawulu street adjoining Port Harcourt - Enugu Expressway during a Friday morning run
My work at Chatdesk is also adequately challenging, purposeful and rewarding.


What do you miss about Lagos?

  • Nights out at Element House
  • The beaches
  • UNILAG
  • Truppr
  • My car
  • A HANDFUL of friends
  • My family (just because)
  • Constant FOMO. Five tech events happen every weekend and you have to make the hard decision of which one to attend. Now, I can happily skim through the events portion of TechCabal's daily newsletter knowing I can't attend anyway :D

What are some places you have been to in Enugu?

Eat out: Roots restaurant and Cafe
Shopping: Roban Stores, Shoprite
Gym: Lilburn Gym, Liberty Gym (Liberty estates)
Night life: Top rank Hotel, Arriba Entertainment centre (Voodoo lounge)
Sports: Okpara square, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium

Frankly, my life here is pretty boring; by general benchmarks, just as many people in Lagos had warned. But I'm okay. Despite all the resources to hang out and socialise in Lagos, my life was still boring anyway. Most weekends, I would voluntarily go to the office most Saturdays and Sundays, versus spending it chilling with friends somewhere cool. So, let's not blame it on Enugu. The problem really is me.

When next are we seeing you?

I don't know. I'm pretty fine here and I'm glad to have a breather away from the only place where I've lived all of my life. I don't miss Lagos well enough to want to be there again anytime soon. Good riddance, birth city!

Have you found yellow omo ibo?

NO!



And please, can you remind me of when you crossed my acquaintance-zone to friend-zone which is the only place from which you're permitted to be asking such a question AFAIC? Amebo.
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9 July 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

I pulled a fast one on my employer

By mid-March, I had all the documents I needed for my trip to Salt Lake City, US, coming up in May. My US visa (valid for two years) was ready and that's pretty much the most difficult piece of travel credential to secure. Earlier on in the year, I'd been selected by my managers who were proud of my work on the USSD banking to be part of a 5-man delegation to the US. The trip was for an IT training, which would empower the staff (us) to provide better technical support for a certain portion of the company's network infrastructure.

However, by this time, I was at the point where I just knew it was time to go. I was fed up with the state of things and was hungry for a career and life reboot. At the times when I was most unhappy about my work situation and felt like walking out right away, I would console myself with the story that I was only waiting around for the upcoming freebie trip to God's own country. Come to think of it, my first trip ever out of Africa was also sponsored by this company. That was back in September 2016; a 3-day trip to Dubai for a card fraud management training (now, I feel bad).

To exacerbate things, I secured a place in another company in April, just a couple of weeks before the trip. In the time between, I considered many a time whether or not to inform my current employer of my impending resignation before the trip. If I mentioned it before the trip, of course, I risked losing a rare opportunity to see the US for the first time. If I did not and returned from the US trip, only to quit right after, I risked earning myself a reputation of a cunning jackass. My managers would surely be disappointed by my borderline shady conduct; like I took advantage of their goodwill. After all, there were hundreds of other 'loyal' staff who would twerk in exchange for my place on the delegation.

Of course, being a simple human whose first instinct is to look out for himself, it did not take long for me to settle on a tenable justification for keeping mum about my new offer until after the trip. I told myself that sending me on this trip was the least my employer could do to appreciate my brilliant work over the past one year; that I deserved it. For several months prior, every day, I would observe the regular growth in returns that was being powered by my work and compare it with my salary which remained at the same paltry sum it had been since I joined the company over a year ago. To make matters worse, according to HR policy, the earliest time I could have expected a (non-guaranteed) promotion was all the way in 2018, or maybe 2019. I didn't really care as I was damn sure I wasn't sticking around for another year on my current pay grade. Goddamit!

Betrayal (Attribution: https://us.123rf.com/)

I hoped that I wouldn't be asked to sign a bond to remain with the company for a certain period of time, after the trip (or otherwise pay a refund), as is sometimes the case in these scenarios. You know, everyone likes to protect their investment and knows how volatile staff can be. Fortunately, that did not happen. But I even if it did happen, I would have gone ahead to sign it, with the intention of paying the refund if the amount was not outrageous by my judgement. I really wanted this! Who knew when next I'd have the chance to travel on a platter of gold like this?

It wasn't long before the long anticipated May rolled by. The prior few weeks had been pretty stressful at work. So there could have been no better time to get a break from work. As the day got closer, I received congratulations and constant reminders from my colleagues about how fortunate I was. Some told me that they had prepared a list of stuff I was going to bring back for them from the US. I told them to send it to my email, but no one did. Of course, I made sure to inform not even one of my colleagues about my impending resignation. No, no way I was missing out on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

My trip to the US was all I could wish for and more. My hosts in the US were very kind people who went out of their way to help us enjoy a wide variety of experiences in the short time we were there (one week). For that, I'm truly grateful to my last employer for the opportunity. Irrespective of whether I thought I deserved it or not, there is nothing I could have done if I'd not been nominated for the trip. I definitely did not win the reward by being the most hardworking or exemplary staff of the company anyway.

This one-week all-expense-paid stay in Utah, US from 7th to 14th May 2017 was easily one of the best periods of my life ever. I felt liberated and every day saw me wake up happy and excited to go put some exploration idea in motion. I came away from the trip with a resolve to travel out of my home country more often, just for the sake of departing from the familiar. My budget now contains a sizeable allocation to travel. I've been writing about my experience in Salt Lake City, Utah, US.

I resumed work at the office just two days after my return to Lagos. And that same day, I overcame my shame-fueled inhibition and informed my boss that I would be leaving the company in short order. There was no point delaying the communication. It's not like if I had waited a couple of weeks after the trip to do this, it would've been much less of a betrayal than it was. My direct manager was an understanding man, having moved through several companies himself. He took the news in stride.

If I had the chance to go back in time, I wouldn't change a thing about my decision to bail just after enjoying an expensive privilege from my employer; all situations being what they were. My self-justification that I deserved this compensation for my non-commensurate remuneration was stronger than the guilt I felt from pulling a fast one on my employer. There were four other people on the same training anyway, so the company definitely was not missing out on much, as far as the knowledge/skill acquired on the trip is concerned.

What do you think? What would you do if you found yourself in my shoes tomorrow? Should I have taken a more morally justifiable course of action? I'd like to read from you.
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2 July 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

Transfer money between Nigerian bank accounts for free

Or cheaper than your bank would charge anyway ;)

Before May 2017, the average charge for inter-bank funds transfers across Nigerian banks was 100 Naira per transaction. However, the CBN recently issued an edict to all Nigerian banks which stipulates that from May 1 2017, commercial banks are to charge exactly 50 Naira for funds transfers to other local banks.

CBN 50 Naira charge specification for Electronic Funds transfer within Nigeria (Commercial banks)
CBN charge specification for Electronic Funds transfer within Nigeria (Commercial banks)

Interestingly, while the CBN guide separates the charges for inter-bank and intra-bank transfer for micro-finance banks, there's no such distinction for commercial banks. Hence, it seems to be at the individual bank's discretion to decide the charge (or lack thereof) for intra-bank transactions.

CBN charge specification for Electronic Funds transfer within Nigeria (MFBs)
CBN charge specification for Electronic Funds transfer within Nigeria (MFBs)

In spite of the bank-wide reduction in electronic transfer charges, there are still cheaper ways to transfer money between Nigerian bank accounts without using a bank-controlled channel. I share the details of the ones I'm aware of at the moment below.

Kudi.ai (Kudi-dot-ai, a payment chatbot)

Buying airtime from the kudi.ai chatbot
Buying airtime from the kudi.ai chatbot

Essentially, you can do electronic transfer from your Nigerian bank account by chatting with a robot; that's it. You can use any of the following options to interact with the chatbot:

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Skype Messenger
  • Telegram (who uses that in Nigeria?)
  • Web via browser (https://chat.kudi.ai)

Just visit https://www.kudi.ai to begin. 'Kudi' is a Hausa word which translates to 'money'. Maybe one day, I will vex and go and build my own Owo.ai too :D [rushes to go check if owo.ai domain name has been claimed]


Yes! Now I have all I need to give kudi.ai a run for its money

FUN FACT: Did you know that the .ai TLD (top-level domain) is for Anguilla?

Kudi.ai will also allow you do the other usual electronic transactions like buying airtime and paying utility bills. As at the time of writing this article, the only payment option available for use on kudi.ai is the ATM card linked to your bank account. So far, I've been able to use my GTB Naira Mastercard and my Fidelity Verve card successfully on Kudi.ai.

I won't be surprised though, if when this really gains transaction, Nigerian banks started blocking their cards from working on kudi.ai as a way to slow transaction income leakage. I think that would be a huge blow from the banks in the epic Bank vs. FinTech battles.

If this happens, it won't be the first time a Nigerian bank pulled that kind of move. Back in 2013/2104 when Interswitch Quickteller gained a lot of traction, it did not take long for GTBank to restrict their customers' usage of Quickteller for electronic transfers. Of course, this meant that the customer had only one option to transfer money out of their GTBank account; use a GTBank-controlled channel (online/mobile/USSD/branch).

ThriveSend

Thrivesend charges 45 Naira only for local bank transfers. Just like Kudi, the only payment option available is your ATM card . As long as that remains the case, services like this only survive as long as each Nigerian bank allows its card to work on the platform. Sad.


Is there a CBN edict that would prevent a bank from doing this? I'm curious.

Sorry Thrive mayte; but haven't you heard of Kudi.ai yet?
Es sir; but haven't you heard of Kudi.ai yet?


Conclusion

I can empathize with the strong inhibition many Nigerians have towards sharing their card information online with third parties. However, from my experience of using my debit card online for the past 5 years and having never been a victim of any online fraud, I would say it's pretty safe to use your card online in Nigeria. Below are some precautions I take to mitigate the risk of card fraud on my Nigerian bank accounts:

  • I ensure the merchant's website and/or payment platform is fairly reputable and that they are SSL-secured (Have 'https' in the URL)
  • I don't keep my life savings in an account which is linked to any of my cards

Happy free transfer through Kudi.ai; while stocks last. Also, feel free to act on that impulse to transfer some coffee money to me for providing you with this juicy information. Yes, I had to take coffee to stay up to rewrite this article after losing the initial draft to a careless page refresh :'( :'(

Off topic: Zoto recharge versus USSD recharge

Talking about sharing card details with third parties reminds me of a time when I tried to get my friend to sign up to Zoto app. Signing up requires entering your card details into the app and doing an OTP/token verification against your bank. For one, my friend was wary about using his card on yet another 'Nigerian' app. Also, the trouble was apparently not worth it, considering the existence of very seamless USSD recharge which everyone in Nigeria who has an ATM card account today can potentially access.

So, that my friend, is how I missed a golden opportunity to win free 1000 Naira airtime (Zoto referral reward) for me (and my friend). Obviously, even 1000 Naira free airtime was not enough motivation for my friend to join the Zoto app. I can only imagine what the fate of Zoto would be when their airtime-sharing spree comes to an end. The odds are just against a mobile app if the same service it offers is easily accessible over USSD.

Zoto recharge vs. USSD recharge; odds are against Zoto
Zoto recharge vs. USSD recharge; odds are against Zoto


P.S.

If you know of any cheap or free electronic transfer method within Nigeria which is not listed here, kindly share the details in the comments section below. After due verification, the article will be updated accordingly.
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1 July 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

Durosoke by Olamide - Lyrics in English

DUROSOKE - Rap song by Olamide - English translation (English in bold)
------------------------------------------------------------

INTRO
Take it outside; Basket

Take it inside; Koroba 
Take it inside, Basket


Olamide rapper Image
Olamide
(By Emily Nkanga (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

HOOK
Dem be feeling us 
They were admiring us

And now them they famz just to be with us 
And now, they're feigning familiarity just to be with us

A lówó, a lẹ́nu, a dẹ̀ mọ̀'yàn o
We have money, we are influential, we know important people

A jayé orí wa, ko dẹ̀ kan'yan o, yeh
We enjoy our lives, and it doesn't concern anyone

See the money now

We weigh, we no dey count the money now
We weigh the money, we don't count it any longer

We fully loaded ready on this now

The moneneneneni running out, yeh
Jargon


CHORUS
Sé kó wálẹ̀; kó dúró sókè 
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ̀; kó dúró sókè
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ̀; kó dúró sókè
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ̀; kó dúró sókè
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò; kó dúró sóke ò ò ò
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò; kó dúró sóke ò ò ò
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò; kó dúró sóke ò ò ò
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò; kó dúró sóke ò ò ò
Should it come down? Let it stay up


TRACK 1
**repeated coughs**
Bahdo, baddest guy ever liveth
Great guy, the greatest guy who ever lived

Édímastà lọmọ o, kò ń ṣe prífẹ̀t
He is a headmaster, he's not a prefect

School wo ló ti wá náà, OSÚ àb'Ífẹ̀?
What school did she come from; Ogun State University or University of Ife

Àbí Bábcọ̀ck, kílódé t'ọ́n bìf e
Or is it Babcock University? Why are they hating on her?

Mosúnmọ́lá, ṣo mọ lọ́lípọ̀p lá
Mosunmola, do you know how to lick a lollipop?

Òwun tún dà, òwun tún rè, óyá Tọ́lá
Where is she now? Here she is. Tola, it's time

Kílón ṣe ẹ́ ná, yé ma fimí pọ́p kọ́là
What is wrong with you; stop taking my attention for granted

Ó fẹ́ máa p'ajá lọ́bọ fún mi, ṣé mo kọlà
She wants to deceive me, do I look stupid to you?

JJC kọ́ l'àwọn eléyìí, ọ̀gá'dé
These ones are not novices, young man

ÚNÌLAG ò jìnà sí lé'wa, gbàgbé
UNILAG is not far from our house, forget it

Mo ti rọ́mọ, mo ti rọ́mọ yakpa
I have seen pretty chicks, I have seen so many pretty chicks

Awúsá, fúlàní, yíbò àti tákpà
From the Hausa, Fulani and Tapa tribes

Àwọn ọmọ mi, àwọn ọmọ mi ń'Lọ́ńdọ̀n
My pretty chicks, my pretty chicks in London

Àwọn ọmọ mi l'Ámẹ́ríkà, àwọn stúbbọ̀rn
My pretty chicks in America; the stubborn ones

Àwọn t'ọ́n ma ń twẹ̀rk, lórí YóúTubè
Those ones who twerk on YouTube

I know you love me, I love you too

Stórì yíì ti fẹ́ ma lọ́, má ṣe báyìí now
This story is getting complicated; please don't act this way

Ìgbà wo lo dé to fẹ́ máa lọ, má ṣe báyìí now
When did you just arrive that you're getting ready to leave; please don't do this

Oò rọ́kọ̀, oò rọ́kọ̀ ta ṣí wọlé
Can't you see; can't you see the big cars we came in

Ojú e ló mọ́ọ ṣe, wàá r'áwọn ọmọ ta ma ṣí lọlé
You will witness in awe, the calibre of chicks we will go home with

Wọ́n fọwọ́ pa ọ́ lára, ò ń dún míyáwu
You're getting fondled and you are meowing

Ṣ'ọ́lóńgbò ni ọ́ ni, o sì wá ń wò mí l'ójú báwun
Are you a cat? See the way you're staring me down


HOOK
Dem be feeling us
They were admiring us

And now them they famz just to be with us
And now, they're feigning familiarity just to be with us

A lówó, a lẹ́nu, a dẹ̀ mọ̀'yàn o
We have money, we are influential, we know important people

A jayé orí wa, ko dẹ̀ kan'yan o, yeh
We enjoy our lives, and it doesn't concern anyone

See the money now

We weigh, we no dey count the money now
We weigh the money, we don't count it any longer

We fully loaded ready on this now

The moneneneneni running out, yeh
Jargon


CHORUS
Sé kó wálẹ̀; kó dúró sókè
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ̀; kó dúró sókè
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ̀; kó dúró sókè
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ̀; kó dúró sókè
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò; kó dúró sóke ò ò ò
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò; kó dúró sóke ò ò ò
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò; kó dúró sóke ò ò ò
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò; kó dúró sóke ò ò ò
Should it come down? Let it stay up


TRACK 2
Óyá, ẹ ká wọ́'lẹ̀ fún pásítọ̀, ẹ ká wọ́'lẹ̀, ẹ ká wọ́'lẹ̀
Listen up! Drop your hands for the pastor. Drop your hands, drop your hands

Baddest guy ever liveth, hun, òṣé
The greatest guy who ever lived; thank you

Ìpadàbọ̀ ab'ìjàwàrà bí ẹkùn; eh
The return of the lead warrior like a lion

Mo fẹ́ ẹ́ńtá thè placè, óyá ṣ'ílẹ̀kùn; yéè
I want to enter the place; open the door!

Ex-boyfriend ẹ ń ran'jú, òwun náà ń bọ̀ *laughs*
Your ex-boyfriend is getting visibly angry; he is approaching me

Mo dẹ̀ mọ̀'yàn o *laughs*, hmm, Ọlọ́run ń gbọ́
I know important people, hmm, I cross my heart

Mo lè ní kán soó mọ́lẹ̀, kán táyì ẹ̀
I can command them to tie him to the ground, to bind him in ropes

Mo lè ní kán paá láró, kán dáyì ẹ
I can command them to rub him with dye; to dye him

Ṣe b'ọ́n ń báa sọ́ ń'sìnyí, ó ń forí lalẹ̀
They're wooing her politely now, but she's not cooperating

Ó da náà, lálẹ̀yí, á forí balẹ̀
It's okay. This night, she will bow

Wòó; ẹ bámiṣí àwọn ọmọ wólè
Hey! Help me release the chicks

Àwọn ọmọ Cọ́vẹ́nánt, àwọn ọmọ North Amẹ́ríká unì gan ò ní pẹ́ lánd
The Covenant University chicks. Even the North-American-University chicks are about to land

Àwọn ọmọ mi, àwọn ọmọ t'ọ́n blọ́ọ́dy
My chicks, my bloody chicks

Àwọn ọmọ t'ọ́n Ṣhínasà, t'ọ́n tún Ṣhíkọ̀dí
My chicks, the likes of Chinasa and Chikodi

I can't shout, ọ̀rọ́ pọ̀ nínú ìwé kọ́bọ̀
I can't shout; there are too many words in the book of Kobos

Bọ̀dí no be firewood, mi ò dẹ̀ ń ṣe rọ́bọ̀t
The temptations of the flesh are strong and I'm not a robot

Kí ní ti ẹ̀ mọ ń ṣ'èyin ọmọ èkó yìí gan
What is the problem with you Lagos chicks

O sì ń se bí ẹní pé ò rí mi látẹ̀ẹ̀kan
And you're pretending you don't know I've been here all this while

Aní kó rèbàdíì rẹ, o sì wá ń ṣ'akọ
We asked you to shake your derriere, and now, you're strutting and ignoring us

O sì wá ń ṣebí ẹni pé o ò mọ'rú orin tá n kọ
Now, you're pretending not to know the kind of music we sing

Kí ní ń ṣe ẹ́, àb'ọ́ ń gbọ́ Mafadó
What's wrong with you; or don't you hear of Mafado?

O ò ń gbọ́ Vice càrtẹlì, o sì wá ń bragadó; yéébà
Don't you hear about Vice Cartel? And you're still bragging at us!

Àbí ṣọ́ọ̀ṣì dípá laìfù lò ń lọ ni
Or are you a member of the Deeper Life church?

Ọ ọ̀ dá'yàn mọ̀, ṣhíọ̀; ọ ọ̀ mọ bàdóò, shíọ
You don't know important people, shame; you don't know the great guy, shame


HOOK
Dem be feeling us *laughs*
They were admiring us

And now them they famz just to be with us; mi'ì gbọ́
And now, they're feigning familiarity just to be with us; I can't hear you

A lówó, a lẹ́nu, a dẹ̀ mọ̀'yàn o; you say?
We have money, we are influential, we know important people; say what?

A jayé orí wa, ko dẹ̀ kan'yan o, yeh; okay, take it up now
We enjoy our lives, and it doesn't concern anyone; okay take it up now

See the money now; you say?

We weigh, we no dey count the money now; mi'ì gbọ́
We weigh the money, we don't count it any longer; I can't hear you

We fully loaded ready on this now; yéébà

The moneneneneni running out, yeh
Jargon


CHORUS
Sé kó wálẹ̀ (yéébà);  kó dúró sókè (yéébà)
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ̀ (yéébà);  kó dúró sókè (yéébà)
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ̀ (yéébà);  kó dúró sókè (yéébà)
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ̀ (yéébà);  kó dúró sókè (yéébà)
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò (yéébà); kó dúró sóke ò ò ò (yéébà)
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò (yéébà); kó dúró sóke ò ò ò (yéébà)
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò (yéébà); kó dúró sóke ò ò ò (yéébà)
Should it come down? Let it stay up

Sé kó wálẹ ò (yéébà); kó dúró sóke ò ò ò (yéébà)
Should it come down? Let it stay up

OUTRO
Mi ò gbọ́
I can't hear you

If you can't put your hands up, you disappear

Bahdo, baddest guy ever liveth
Great guy, the greatest guy who ever lived

You exit this territory, sharp sharp
You exit this territory immediately

Baddest guy ever liveth is in the building
The greatest guy who ever lived is in the building

Bahdo!
The great guy

Kó dúró sókè, kí ló ń jẹ́ kó wálẹ̀
Let it stay up; what nonsense do you mean by "let it come down"

Bahdo!
The great guy

Ah, they don know
Ah. Now they know!
Read More

17 June 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

Uber's Lagos/Nigeria steeply degraded service quality plus my armchair recommendations

Last Thursday (today is Saturday), I took an Uber from First Bank headquarters in Marina Lagos to my mum's place, close to NYSC camp, Iyana Ipaja/Agege. The car was nice but that was the only nice thing about the entire taxi booking. Oh, I forgot the extremely cheap price of the ride (more on that later). It took over 40 minutes from booking time for the Uber which took me home to arrive. Let me tell you how this happened.

At 4:15 pm, I booked an Uber for 4:25 because I was busy registering my new GLO sim at a road-side shop in Marina. Not long after I booked the ride, some driver accepted it and I assumed he was close by and would soon be on his way to my location. Time was running fast, and because I was busy hurrying up the SIM guy so I'll be ready when the Uber arrives, I didn't bother to check the Uber's location.

It was after the SIM registration was done that I looked at the map and realised that this guy was all the way at Western Avenue in Surulere. He knew this, yet, he did not cancel for over what I would estimate to be 15 minutes. I called the Uber driver as soon as I realised his location which was about 15 minutes away. You won't imagine his response.

Uber driver: I can't come oh! I'm in Surulere; Marina is too far away from here.

Hafiz: Okay. Then cancel the ride already! **why did I even need to make this call?**

Uber driver: I can't cancel it oh! They've sent me message that I've cancelled too many rides today already

At this point, my temper rose to boiling point and I think I tried in the calmest voice I could muster to convince him to cancel the ride one last time before dropping the call. I ended the call, brought up the app and saw that he still had not cancelled the ride. Obviously, there was no point waiting for this bitch any longer. I was the one who had to travel over 30 kilometres from Lagos Island to Agege; not him.

I cancelled the ride, despite the warning that I would be charged 1000 Naira for cancelling over 5 minutes after he accepted. 1000 Naira was charged to my account instantly. I also, instantly, went to the View Trips menu, a part of the app I've become all too conversant with since Uber drastically dropped their fares early May, in response to rival, Taxify. With the drop in fares came an almost instantaneous drop in service quality. I guess when there's little incentive for the drivers to be nice, this is what you get.

I selected the freshly cancelled trip, asked for a refund and stated the reason as [driver asked me to cancel]. I wish I had known it was there all this while. I would not have wasted my time and airtime calling that fucktard to get him to cancel. As soon as I chose that option, Uber refunded my 1000 Naira without skipping a beat. How come they trust the customer so much? What if I was actually being dishonest and cancelled because [I was just testing the app o].

I requested a ride all over again and this time, it was satisfying to see that the Uber was nearby, on Broad Street. To cut the long story short, the guy took over 15 minutes to get to where I was; much longer than I expected, given his initial location. Instead of meeting me on Marina Road where I told him I was, he went to park in front of First Bank headquarters gate. Of course, the security men had started harassing him to [GO AND TURN AROUND] before I saw him. As soon as I saw him, I started begging the security men from 50 feet away with a hand gesture as I hurried towards his car. Once there, I jumped into the backseat and off we went.

It had been a stressful afternoon and I was cranky and fagged out. The people at CSCS  had kept me waiting for almost an hour just to print my stock statement of account. It was thanks to them that I was still on the freaking island at rush hour (4 pm+). Lagos rush hour traffic is top 3 on my personal most hated list.

Apart from being tired, I was also heavy. I had just downed a bowl of 200 Naira Amala and 6 pieces of beef and inu eran (cow innards) at the CocaCola amala joint (buka) opposite First Bank headquarters. I had descended heavily upon the food because it was my first meal of the day. In fact, so famished was I before the meal that I couldn't bear to spend one minute to catch up with a friend I ran into, just outside the buka.

I just collapsed into the owner's corner, turned on my Bluedio headphones and pretended that the car was driverless. The driver was not my type (not charismatic enough), so being the shitty discriminating and stereotyping human that I am, I wasn't interested in talking to him beyond the scope of the transaction. I guess the person that introduced him to Uber must have told him it's good to be nice to customers (the reviews). Because after haplessly blaring his Christian music from the car stereo, he asked me 5 minutes into the ride what I wanted on the radio. Just to say something, even though I didn't need the radio, I asked him to put it on 93.7 FM and immediately went on to wear my headphones and assume a prone position on the backseat. I was ready to take off into dreamland.

I had a good one hour nap in my Thursday evening Lagos Uber. By the time I woke up, we were at Maryland. I couldn't go back to sleep, so I sat back upright. I noticed his driving was really rough; so rough I felt carsick from the regular rocking. I put on my seatbelt to mitigate the rocking. I felt there was no point trying to talk sense into this one.

When we got to Ikeja, he told me that he still has to go to school today and that if he had known I was coming all this way, he would not have accepted the ride. I think he said earlier that he only accepted the ride because [and I don't like cancelling customers o].

I'm not sure I said much in response. What was he trying to achieve; guilt trip me? I'd lost all of my fucks for the day; sorry. I just wanted to get home after what was a stressful and marginally productive day. I must have responded lackadaisically to him, if at all.

When we were within 20 minutes of my place, he suggested that I take an Okada for the rest of the journey. This time, I totally ignored him. As in, I didn't even know I can be like that. The only other thing I could have done was to scold him for this behaviour and start an argument, but I had no energy left for that. When he saw I was mute, he went on to ask me how long till we get to my place. I told him 15 minutes, which is fairly accurate. I responded because I'm a really nice guy at my core.

He rode on the regained attention to talk more about his plight and how he would never have come here, had he known the traffic was this much. He would later apologise for saying this, a couple of times. But as they say, words cannot be unsaid.

Perhaps, to rouse some empathy in me for him, he told me how he had missed school last week and how because of this [cursed] trip, he was on the verge of repeating the same thing this week. I looked at him and I could relate to his efforts towards making a better life for himself (shit; you won't believe that I never looked at this man's face directly for even one second of this trip? I don't know what he looks like in real life).

I showed my empathy, not by asking him to drop me here, but by saying: "I hope you find a passenger on your way out of my place". I was done struggling for the day and that meant that I had absolutely no will to come down from my comfy position in this ride till I reached my destination.

Give or take, 15 minutes later, the Uber arrived right in front of my house. For most of the last 30 minutes of the trip, I had to endure this man's hissing, ranting to himself about how he'd made a mistake accepting this trip, and apologising to me about what he had said about accepting this trip. But I honestly could not care less, as long as I got home safe and sound.

And get home, I did. He ended the trip right in front of my house. I thanked him as I slowly stepped out of the silver Hyundai Elantra, looking back on my seat to ensure I wasn't leaving anything of value behind. I felt a huge wave of relief to be home at last. What a horrible experience to have just one day before leaving Lagos. Fuck you, Lagos city!

Little did I know my troubles for the day were not over yet.

Overcharged by Uber

After I settled in at home, I checked on the email receipt and was shocked to see a bill of 5450 Naira. Okay, the ride had been extra long (150 minutes) and the distance was over 30 kilometres. Those factors notwithstanding, even when Uber was still Uber (more expensive but of much better service standards), the ride would still not have been this costly. Haba! When I saw that the distance travelled on the receipt was 81km, I was sure there was definitely a problem here.

I quickly logged on to Uber website and reviewed the trip. The GPS route was totally incongruent as I'd suspected. It was all over the place, drawing routes in the middle of the ocean where no car dares venture. For a moment, I feared that the driver might have taken me on merry-go-rounds while I was fast asleep. Silly me; inside this Lagos? There was no way we would have gotten home within 150 minutes during rush hour if he had actually driven through 81 kilometres as the map stated. Time to get my money back!

I filed a complaint about the charge. Within three hours, an Uber representative had responded. I like how Uber acts very fast and is always more biased towards the customer than the driver in their judgements. My fare was reviewed (based on estimates) down to 2150 Naira (a whopping 3300 Naira discount).

My Uber fare was drastically reduced due to a GPS issue
My Uber fare was drastically reduced due to a GPS issue

Jesus wept! And I wept. I wept for my driver called Abodunrin because he truly suffered for me beyond getting this meagre payout.I would happily have paid him up to 3500 for all of the trouble he went through for me this unfortunate evening.

For the next few minutes after seeing this email, I could not help but feel sorry for this man. Because I knew he must have seen the initial fare and praised God, only to later open up his phone to see that he had lost over 3000 Naira to a dispute which this ungrateful customer right here, won and which he (the driver) had no say in?

Next, I tried to calculate how much he'd take home out of this 2150 Naira.
  • Uber takes one-fifth of the money which brings it down to 1720 Naira. 
  • He probably spent about three litres of fuel on this trip (we're down to 1285 Naira with at 145 Naira per litre)
  • I will assume that the rest is split halfway between him and the car owner. That leaves our hapless Uber driver, Abodunrin with approximately 600 Naira (less than $2) for a 2-hour, 30-minute trip. For comparison, a month ago, I took an Uber for 5 minutes in Salt Lake City and was charged $6 (approximately the same price in Naira as this trip at current exchange rates). Chaieh, o ja mi lara jeh.

A 5-minute Salt Lake City Uber cost me the same as a 150-minute Lagos, Nigeria Uber :'(

Wherever you are Abodunrin, I feel so sorry for what happened last Thursday. You literally worked for nothing. Of course, I have the option of calling you to send me your account number so I can transfer some money to you. But no, I'll pass. No comments.

So, in this scenario, I'd say Uber won, I came second and the driver and car owner definitely lost. The operators are set up to always lose with the current fare setup. I have some armchair consultant recommendations for Uber. I think they should consider them to make the Uber Lagos experience better for everyone that has been negatively impacted by the recent competition-motivated fare reduction. After all, the Taxify whom you people want to nip in the bud has now reviewed their fare reduction upwards.

An armchair consultant's recommendations for Uber Nigeria

  • Allow drivers see passenger location before accepting the ride This would reduce the number of incidences of ride cancellation by drivers. I cannot count how many freaking minutes of my life have been wasted in the past few weeks due to having my ride cancelled by Uber drivers a little too late. The worst of them won't even do anything. They'll just accept the ride and wait at the same location on the map endlessly, until you call them after noticing 5 to 10 minutes after, that the car is stationary.
  • Allow drivers see passenger destination once the ride is accepted so they can cancel quickly When I realised that Uber drivers are blind to my destination until the start of the ride, I was really shocked. It might make sense in other climes but I don't think this works for Lagos or Nigeria as a whole. Why should you coerce someone to take a trip that they believe does not work for them, in the name of reducing discrimination? If someone feels coerced into making a trip, their resultant disgruntlement is definitely going to affect customer service negatively. I believe that within a decent time frame, one would actually find a driver who actually wants to go in each passenger's direction. For the ones living in Sango Otta and working in Ajah, well, take Kabukabu. The baba with a dilapidated Kabukabu also has to eat. Kumbaya, kumbaya.
  • Don't penalise drivers for cancelling within five minutes of accepting a ride, or for declining a ride request
  • Penalise drivers and reward customers for rides cancelled by the driver later than 5 minutes from acceptance time
  • Please do market research and settle on a more optimal price for Lagos You're not helping the customer by making them suffer before finding a driver, putting them through poor disgruntled service (it's only logical that only the low-quality people would stick around with the meagre rewards of operating an Uber after the hefty price drop of May. I mean, just look at my experience up there. I'm happy that the ride did not cost me much, but that's where my happiness ends. Everything else about that ride was shit), and making them feel guilty after a ride for taking advantage of a poor driver who must not have much of a choice to still be on Uber.
Phew. This was longer than I expected. Peace out!
Read More

12 June 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

Bicycling in Salt Lake City with GreenBike - Salt Lake City's BCycle chapter

This article is part of my Lagos, Nigeria to Salt Lake City (SLC after this point), Utah, US series. Here's a list of all articles in my Lagos to Salt Lake City series. I promise you'll love every bit of it.

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I woke up to the voice of Michael, my roommate at the Crystal Inn hotel at about 2 am Tuesday. He was communicating with his colleagues in Lagos where it was 9 am at the time; you know getting some work stuff tidied up.

After some ten minutes of trying to go back to sleep, I gave up. My feet hit the ground, I threw on my GAP NYC hoodie and the new pair of sweatpants I bought from the nearby Walmart on Monday evening. Just before stepping out, I informed Michael I was going out to look around.

I spent some thirty minutes exploring the hitherto unexplored parts of the hotel. In this time, I discovered the gym, the sauna, the spa pool and the swimming pool; the hotel's full suite of recreational facility. Once I had had my fill of wandering the classically styled hotel interior, I decided to venture into the yonder. 

The yonder had had me for barely five minutes when I realized things were too cold for comfort. I had covered just about 300 feet along the footpath by the 500-South road in front of the hotel. So hard did the cold hit me that I had to run back all the way to the hotel. I could definitely do with a little more clothing if I was going to explore the area this time of the day.

Dressed up for a cold midnight walk in downtown, Salt Lake City
Dressed up for a cold midnight walk in downtown, Salt Lake City
Back in my room, I threw on my woolen head-warmer, woolen gloves and ditched my flip flops for socks and sneakers. This time I was definitely prepared for the worst the midnight chill had to give. I placed my Bluedio headphones above my head-warmer, turned on the music and hit the road one more time. On my way out, I literally ran into an old lady in the hotel reception who was having a discussion with the reception staff. She turned around to look at me, and once face-to-face with me, she said just one thing: "You look nice"! I was flattered and replied with a wide grin and "thanks".

Discovering GreenBike

Not many other people were on the roads apart from me. Oh, on my walk I noticed a diner which is just right beside Crystal Inn hotel. I could see into the diner and I swear, with the number of people in there, you wouldn't believe it was 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. 

I walked more or less aimlessly, making turns based on purely instinctual triggers, regulated by good judgement that I had not taken too many turns to lose my sense of direction. On my walk, I passed by the Marriot Hotel and some place called "Janitor's closet". I could not figure out what kind of business is done at the "Janitor's closet".


Picture from a cold midnight walk in downtown Salt Lake City
Picture from a cold midnight walk in downtown Salt Lake City

After going full circle around the block on the opposite side of the road as Crystal Inn hotel, it was almost time for me to end my walk. At this point, I took the time out to check out a nearby (to the hotel) bike shop which I had noticed on our way back from Walmart the previous evening. Of course, it was closed (4 a.m.). Nonetheless, I went closer and looked in through the glass to see what they had. In my mind, I was definitely going to return to patronize the bike shop later in the day. But fate had another plan.

I was standing at the pedestrian light closest to the bike shop, waiting for the walk signal when I noticed an array of green bicycles, stacked side-by-side on the other side of the road. Immediately, I remembered that yesterday when I'd mentioned my interest in biking to our hosts, Matt (host team member) had mentioned GreenBike. So this was it!

Becoming a GreenBike member

On walk, I crossed over to the other side of the road and walked the few feet to the front of Sheraton Salt Lake City hotel where the bike station stood. The station holds about 20 electronic bike docking stands. Each stand locks one bike in place and is connected to the central computer which has a touch-screen GUI (graphical user interface).

The GreenBike station at Sheraton Salt Lake City
The GreenBike station in-front-of Sheraton Salt Lake City

Through the central computer's GUI, I found that one can:
  • register as a new member of GreenBike
  • checkout a bike as an existing member of GreenBike and
  • checkout a bike as an existing member of BCycle in another city. BCycle is the company behind the bike-sharing technology used in several cities across the world. GreenBike is the Salt Lake City episode of the BCycle network
I started to register as a new member but after selecting the $7 for 24 hours plan, I realized that I needed a credit card to finalize the subscription. I did not have my card on me, so I had to walk the few hundred feet back to my hotel to get it.

Salt Lake City GreenBike central computer
Sheraton Salt Lake City GreenBike station central computer

Fortunately, I decided to check out GreenBike online after getting my debit card from my second floor room (first floor in Nigeria). I used the free cybercafe at the hotel lobby to access the website and discovered a more affordable $15 for 4 days (24 hours a day) plan which was not on the station computer. I quickly paid for the plan. Here, I also found out that the bike must be checked in every thirty minutes to avoid extra charges ($5 per additional hour after thirty minutes from check-in time).

Checking out my first GreenBike

My walk from Crystal Inn Hotel to Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel
My walk from Crystal Inn Hotel to Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel

By the time I set out to check out my first bike, it was dawn already. After covering the short distance between my Crystal Inn hotel and the Sheraton hotel whose front hosts the GreenBike station, I proceeded to check out my bike of choice. The process is easy-as-pie and is outlined thus:
  • Make your pick from the bikes available at the station
  • Make a mental note of the number pasted on the side of the bicycle's dock. You will need to enter this into the station's central computer shortly

Lucky Bike 20 at Sheraton Salt Lake City GreenBike station
Lucky Bike 20 at Sheraton Salt Lake City GreenBike station
  • Proceed to the central computer and select "Check out Bike (as existing member)"
  • Select "Credit card" check-out option. There's the option to check out bike via code sent by SMS to your registration phone number. This didn't work for me; neither did it for Rusty from this post. So, I would just assume that the SMS checkout feature is buggy.
  • Insert your registration "credit card" (my card was a debit card) into the station computer as prompted; head first. The head is the left side of the card; or the side from which you start reading information printed on the front of the card
  • Remove it after a couple of seconds. This was the least intuitive step for me though. Because there's no instruction to remove your card after a few seconds. The screen just remains with the same "insert card" instruction, until you remove the credit card. Coming from an ATM/POS usage background, I didn't think I'd be expected to intuitively take a step without the computer instructing me to. I guess it's probably intuitive for the Americans, since they're used to swiping
  • If your card was read successfully (I got "Card read error" quite a number of times), you'll be asked to select a bike from the available bikes. The available bikes are represented as blue circles with the number written in white within the circle. The empty docking stands have red circles. Select a bike by tapping the previously memorized number on the screen
  • Your choice bike will be released within two seconds of selecting the number. The computer instructs you that your bike is ready and begins a 30-second countdown for you to remove your bike from its dock. To aid you with locating your bike in the array of 20 docks, there would be a flashing white light on top of your docking stand. Walk to the dock and pull your GreenBike out of it
You are now ready to take on your inaugural GreenBike ride.

My first GreenBike ride

Well. It should go unsaid that after checking out my first bike, I went on my first bicycle ride in downtown Salt Lake City. It was short, since I was overly concerned about not missing the 30-minute single checkout limit. The other things I recall from the first ride are as follows:
  • I.... almost got hit by a car due to my inability to interpret one particularly confusing traffic instruction correctly. However, I made sure not to repeat that mistake because later that day, I asked Stan (the chief host) to clarify the instruction to me while beside him in his jeep, en route the Lucky 13 bar and grill

Final thoughts

Even though I wish this was a thing in Lagos, I don't see how it can work due to the following reasons:
  • Badly configured roads with little consideration for non-automobile road users. Examples of consideration for other road users which Lagos sorely lacks are:
    • bike lanes, 
    • pedestrian crossing lights, 
    • biking laws (Salt Lake city has bicycle laws which I took my time to read carefully after my first ride), 
    • ubiquitous footpaths. Riding a bicycle on any Lagos road that is not a dirt road is unfortunately, a death wish.
  • Crazy, unruly and inconsiderate drivers
  • Huge potential for the stations to be constantly plundered by vandals
A summary of my GreenBike powered trips around downtown Salt Lake City
A summary of my GreenBike powered trips around downtown Salt Lake City
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27 May 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

Getting set for the Salt Lake City trip one day before take off

This article is part of my Lagos, Nigeria to Salt Lake City (SLC after this point), Utah, US series. Here's a list of all articles in my Lagos to Salt Lake City series. I promise you'll love every bit of it.

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I did not start preparing for the Salt Lake city trip until two days before departure (Thursday). The previous weekend which was the ideal time to have gotten myself together, I had to travel out of Lagos. I felt like such a mess since I had so much to do in very little time. I'd just confirmed a day before (Wednesday) from a member of my trip group that I would need winter clothing for the low temperatures in SLC. Meanwhile, winter had been over for up to two months already.

I scanned my memory for anyone who could have winter clothing I could borrow and came up with a few names. However, by the end of that Thursday, there was no luck with any of my leads. I had to buy a jacket the next day unfailingly, or risk getting a chill upon arrival in SLC at 11pm.

From the temperature history I'd seen on Google, the night temperature could be as much as 5 degrees Celsius lower than the day temperature. The minimum night temperature I saw was 12 degrees Celsius. Of course that was scary. Considering that the 18 degree AC in my office is sometimes a little too much to handle for me.

My online search for winter jackets at the start of the week had led me to a guy, Kenneth. Kenneth had several listings for winter jackets and other winter clothing on Jiji and some other Nigerian product listing sites. He was definitely the go-to guy now since I had no other option in sight.

The next day (Friday), I left work at 2 p.m. so I could catch up on lost preparation time. On the bright side, I already had my finances settled at this time. My dollar debit card was enabled for magnetic stripe transactions in the US and loaded with $600. I also had $300 cash at hand. It was honestly not as stressful as I'd imagined to get financially set. My Fidelity dollar debit card was issued in a matter of minutes and my personal travel allowance was also processed in under thirty minutes, as soon as I presented all of my travel documents. Naira:Dollar rate at this time was 360:1.

I met Kenneth at the Yaba market on Friday evening after a phone call to his Jiji listing number. He took me straight to a shop where he and his cohorts immediately proceeded to bombard me with choices, pulling out one fairly-used jacket after the other for my assessment.

After going through six different jackets, I finally settled with a blue jacket (5000 Naira) that was to my taste. I also picked up a black pair of gloves and a grey head-warmer (1000 Naira each). If I had yielded to the pressure from these talented Igbo salesmen, I would also have purchased an extra jacket and a muffler which I definitely wouldn't have needed.

Back at home, I washed the head-warmer and gloves and spread them in-front-of my rechargeable standing fan to dry. The sun was down already and I didn't have time to spread them out next day since I had to be at the airport for 11:00. Of course, I'd have washed the jacket too if I had time on my hands because I'd rather do without that smell characteristic of imported fairly-used clothes.

Next, I gathered all the stuff I was gonna take with me on the trip and put them into two large plastic bags. I was gonna have to head to Mum's place early next morning to get her luggage bag, so my luggage could be more compact and secure.

Once I was set luggage-wise, I felt a genuine sense of satisfaction. By now, it was 8 pm and there wasn't much I had left to do for the day. I decided to go hangout at nearby UNILAG for a while before going to bed. I also invited my younger sister, Sayo who lives nearby to come with me. This would be our first hangout in ages, even though we live within 5 kilometers of each other. If I suck at keeping in touch, then she's twice as bad, so this is not that much of a big deal.

When I asked her to "come with me for a hangout at UNILAG" over the phone, she said, "thank you". Clearly, this initiative was one she was happy about and thankful for. I probably rescued her from a boring Friday night. The kind where you're stuck in hot-humid darkness while nursing imaginations of how much TGIF fun everyone else is having.

After giving her a first-time tour of UNILAG's scenic, but ominously dark, deserted and crab-infested (this spooked her out) lagoon front, we settled to a snack of Suya and cold Zobo in my car. The night weather was cool. Also, it was pretty quiet where I parked close to the campus back gate; the school was on vacation at the time. I don't think there's many other better ways I could have spent that night.

Before going to bed, I ensured all my travel documents were in one envelope. Then I placed the envelope securely in my carry-on postman bag. The ill luck of forgetting my international passport on the day of my US visa interview was not gonna befall me one more time.There wasn't that much preparation to do after all. I had only one week to spend in the US anyway. One week! ** tears **
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21 May 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

A healthy, altruistic Sunday evening walk turned dangerous in Onike Yaba Lagos

I feel lucky to be back home this Sunday evening with no harm done to me and with all my possessions intact. And I'm starting to seriously consider enrolling in some self-defense training because I know I might not be as lucky as I was today in future.

Whenever someone in my network gets attacked by robbers, I always feel fortunate about the fact that I've never been assaulted in all my time in Lagos, let alone robbed. The worst nuisance I had experienced on Lagos roads was obstinate beggars and maybe, nasty bus conductors. Other than that, I've been okay. Alas, fate decided that today was to be the end of my lucky streak.

Around 6 pm, I stepped out of the house where I'd been all day to have my first meal of the day. My destination was White House buka at Sabo, Yaba. I boarded an Okada whose route to Sabo went through the Onike area of Yaba. During this Okada journey, I made brief eye contact with one peculiar character. He's a raggedy old man who hawks mopsticks around the Onike-Sabo-Alagomeji area of Yaba.

The first time I noticed him in the area was some two years ago when I lived and worked in Yaba. Seeing him every single day on the way to/back from work, doing the same apparently fruitless activity in his old age touched me deeply. So deeply that I actually considered eking out some living space for him in my then en-suite room. In the end, though, my kindness did not make it beyond my heart. Despite the persistent urge to do so, I failed to reach out to the man until I moved out of Yaba after quitting my job.

Today, over two years later, he's still in the same 'trade'; same apparently unrewarding trade. From the look of things, the trade has not improved his life to any degree. Quite poignant, if you ask me (watch this video on my favourite YouTube channel to learn how to pronounce the word, "poignant").

We made eye contact in the brief moment that my Okada stopped just in front of him for traffic. I fumbled through the right pocket of my shorts for the 100 Naira notes the Okada man had given me for change. But before I found them, it was time to move. However, I made up my mind that I was going to have my first interaction with this old man today.


Approaching the old mopstick selling man after lunch at White House
Approaching the old mopstick selling man after lunch at White House

After downing my jollof rice, meat and water at White House, I retraced my steps back to the Birrel avenue junction where the old man sat behind the barracks fence (blue dot in above image). I walked up to him and as soon as I was close enough, I asked him how many mopsticks he had sold today. He sprung up excitedly from his seating position, regarding me as Oga (or something of the sort).

I guess he didn't get my question even after I repeated it two more times. Because he went on to tell me the price of the two categories of mopsticks he carries: 500 Naira for the small one and 700 Naira for the big one. I asked him to show me the small one and the big one for conversation's sake. He pointed them out to me in his stack of about a dozen mopsticks + broomsticks. I failed to see any significant difference though; maybe because I wasn't paying attention. I handed him two of the three 100 Naira notes I had on me and continued on my way towards my house. Of course, the old man was very thankful for my kindness.

Setting out of White House, I had planned to join a bus going to Abule Ijesha (nearest bus-stop to my house) once I was done with the old man. But it required me to walk backwards again to get to Sabo, the bus park. Since I had ample energy in me and a bit of free time on my hands, I took on the task of completing the approximately 2-kilometre distance back home on foot.

I was midway on Barikisu Iyede street when this scrawny looking young man with dreads called me from the other side of the road. He seemed to be greeting me like someone I knew. After a quick scan, however, I concluded that I had never met him. Nonetheless, I responded and waved back at him. This seemed to have excited him, judging from his body language, as he beckoned me to wait for him while he prepared to cross the road over to my side. I kept walking.

Before long, he was beside me on the edge of the road. He stopped me with a call and I obliged; I turned to face him, not wary of any danger. I thought worst case, he wants to share a pity story and ride on the back to ask for alms. As soon as we were face-to-face, I said, "How may I help you"? The rest of the conversation between us ensued as follows:

Him: "Bros, I'm just greeting you now".

Me: "Ok, that's fine. I already answered you now. Is there anything else I can do for you"?

He moves closer, touches my bare shoulder (I was wearing a tank top) a couple of times in an overly friendly gesture. This makes me feel very uncomfortable so I take two steps back, telling him with a straight face and stern voice: "Hey! Don't touch me. You don't know me"!

Him: "Bros. You be my guy o. Na why I say make I tell you say next time, make you no wear this kind colour again".

For a second, I look down at my tank top to confirm it wasn't camo or any other conspicuous colour associated with some occult group. It wasn't, so I was really confused at this point. Just when I was going to reply him, perhaps to ask for clarification, I saw in my peripheral vision, another young man cross over from the other side of the road to join us.

As soon as he was on our side of the road, the first thing he said was, ""Bros. How far! Do you know who I am"? At this point, I was sure this pair of guys were hoodlums and were up to no good. They'd had my attention for an entire minute and not said anything of import. Without as much as another word, I made an about turn and continued on my way home, in my regular brisk but confident pace. I definitely was not going to let this little threat rid me of my confidence. A quick look over my right shoulder a few seconds after let me know that I was being followed.

A map of Barikisu Iyede street, adjoining University road
A map of Barikisu Iyede street, adjoining University road

I'd say the malicious pair followed me for about 4 minutes before branching off the long stretch of road that Barikisu Iyede is. My hope was in getting to the police truck which is usually stationed on University road, just by the end of this street. During my walk, I was busy imagining how painful a stab wound could be and wondering if I'd still be able to defend myself after such an injury.

I was close to the NSPRI guest house (see the green spot in above map) when I looked back over my shoulders after about two minutes of ignoring the guys. I noticed the pair had disappeared from behind me. A second later, I saw them in the distance (see two red dots in above image), just as they were disappearing into Adesina street. Fantastic I thought, I got them off my back. A wave of relief hit me.

Any recommendations for effective self-defense training, so my heart rate won't go as high as it did yesterday due to my biology preparing me for the worst outcome? I'd be happy to hear from you.
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