Lagos Chronicles

The Tale of the Sweater.


Based on true events.

Isimey had this beautiful lemon green sweater, with short sleeves and buttons down the front. It was given to her by her aunt who had come visiting from the abroad two years ago. She loved the sweater so much because it had journeyed over seven mountains and seven seas just to get to her was soft against the skin and was a perfect shield against the cold as well as pesky air conditioners at public places where you had no control over them and more recently, at work. Well, nobody cares if you are freezing.

Isimey recently moved to Lagos and it has been one huge culture shock that keeps smacking her in the face every time she visits another part of Lagos, so much so that even after being in Lagos for months, she still gets smacked in the face almost every time she steps out of the house.

So on this fateful day, she needed to go get some stuff from a friend at Ikotun but could only go after work. At 5pm, she picked up her backpack and draped her sweater across her neck and set out on the journey to Ikotun from Ikeja, where she works. An hour thirty minutes later, she was at the last bus stop at Ikotun. Someone should have prepared her mind for what she would meet at Ikotun. The place was packed with people, buses and kekes everywhere, people shoving their wares in your face, guys pulling your hand to come check out their shoes as if the shoes will save your life.

People. Everywhere. To say it was chaos would be the understatement of the century. For a few seconds, Isimey couldn’t figure out how to navigate through this throng of people. She just kept moving forward because she had to find where to take a keke to Cele egbe and she would still need to take a bike from Cele egbe to get to her final destination. Talk about going to the end of the world. So she braced herself, held on to her backpack and started walking briskly, warding off the hand pulling her towards “fine fine jeans for sale”.

She got to a point where there was a cluster of kekes and asked, “Where I go see Cele Egbe?”

“Cross to the other side you go see keke. No enter bus o, na keke you go enter.” The driver said as if he knew she was a JJC. Sometimes, Isimey feels like they can smell the JJC on you or maybe you give off some signal that screams, “JJC alert!” So, sweater still draped on the shoulder and backpack held tightly, she headed towards the road. She crossed the lane for the oncoming cars and while she was standing on the pavement in the middle of the road, she felt her shoulder bare, like something had slipped off. Oh, my sweater! She thought and in that split second, she looked back thinking the sweater had fallen to the ground. To her surprise, it wasn’t on the ground. It’s a green sweater, if it was on the ground, she was bound to see it. She retraced her steps and crossed back the way she had come thinking she would find it. The sweater was nowhere to be found. She stood and was looking around but no sweater and no suspicious looking person around. Everyone was going about their business.

To avoid looking like she was lost, she just crossed back and kept her eyes on the road, clutching her backpack ever so tightly.  She didn’t understand it, couldn’t explain the disappearance of the sweater. It just vanished! She had heard about Lagos and had been a victim of a stolen phone at Oshodi; they had carefully unzipped her bag and taken out the phone barely three weeks after she got to Lagos. Her friends said it was the official “welcome to Lagos” treatment. But a sweater? She couldn’t understand why anybody would want to steal a sweater. She couldn’t help thinking how ridiculous and weird the whole idea of it sounded.

Isimey was sad she had lost her sweater. Her precious sweater. But she made it to her friend’s and got back home in one piece. And like a friend pointed out, “thank God that was the worst that happened.”



It’s a jungle out there.



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