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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Life in The Danfo Lane

Atoke

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I walked into the office this morning and someone (who has begged me to protect his identity) was drinking some strong smelling tea. His response to my raised eyebrow was “herbal tea! It’s medicinal”. The look on his face got me laughing crazily. “You sound like you’re trying to convince me… like those guys in the danfos and molues in Lagos”.

If you’ve ever used the public transport system in Lagos you would be familiar with these words “Ginseng powder! It will clear your bladder. If you want to give your wife well well… just drink it. It will make you strong gidigba. It will make your problems go away“. There is nothing that’s not sold in the bus: bleach, pot cleaner, medicated soap, drugs, alligator pepper. Honestly, I’m not making this up.

Just after secondary school, I got a job in the cash office of a gas marketing company so I’d take the early morning bus from Mile II to Wharf and the traders are there. The kind of aggressive marketing that takes place on commercial buses in Lagos can be taught as a course at the Lagos Business School. The only rivals to the aggressive marketers are the aggressive preachers. They would preach from CMS to Mile II, pausing intermittently to share fliers and glare at the unresponsive passengers.

Because, we’re traditionally religious, most people join in the praise and worship session. Sometimes, the preacher has extra tambourines to share to the newly acquired congregation. After the praise and worship session, the sermon will begin. The preacher could usually tell the people imbued with the spirit of the devil as they’re the ones staring out of the window (like yours truly). Actually, I liked to keep my eyes open to see if the preacher would pay his fare especially as the bus conductor (also imbued with the spirit of the devil) wouldn’t stop his job and join in the prayer.

Sometimes, the worship session in the bus comes with the preacher reading testimonies from the pamphlet (which he usually urges people to buy for JUST N20) – “Last week, my sister who had been long overdue for marriage called to inform me of her engagement and impending wedding in the next two weeks“. After reading a couple of testimonies and resounding AMENS to the prayers, a few more people will ask for copies of the pamphlet. They need to tap into the anointing in the paper.

Many times, the preacher doubles as a pharmacist and a herbal tea vendor, so their yelling doesn’t actually stop till you either get down at your stop or you guys get to your destination. Some of us are just thinking, “Somebody…. make it STOP! Please!”

I mean, sometimes you just want to get on your ride in peace without any kind of noise, music, preaching, and drama. I remember a time a  few years ago, we took the subway from Brooklyn towards Manhattan and some “Jah RastaFarai” guy was beating his conga and singing off key. It drove me crazy. As I was mumbling to my friend, he said “That guy looks like Majek Fashek sha”. I laughed so hard. Till we got off, I kept trying to see if it was really the Nigerian Reggae artiste, the noise he was making automatically took a back seat

Anyway guys, I shall love you and leave you for now. Please share your interesting public transport experiences and have a fabulous ginseng-free week ahead! 🙂

Peace, love & cupcakes!

Toodles!

P.s

I love this song by- “Stand” by Rascal Flatts! It resonates deep in the corner of my heart!

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

66 Comments

  1. Lila

    April 29, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Lol….Thanks Atoke for making my morning.

    • Purpleicious Babe

      April 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      yh…… loves this one..lol.

      lifeinstagesdoz.blogspot.co.uk/

  2. deep

    April 29, 2013 at 11:20 am

    One guy on the bus in London told my friend that her face looked like someone who liked eating isi ewu because she was fair in complexion. Just like that, from out of no where! lollll

    • adelegirl

      April 29, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Still laughing loud at this! Haba! Like how does being fair relate to an isi-ewu lover??? Pls, what was your friend’s response? How does one even respond to such a comment?

    • Abi

      April 29, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  3. dammy

    April 29, 2013 at 11:27 am

    nice one atoke

  4. Berry Dakara

    April 29, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Lol. I’ve done public transport in Nigeria maybe 5 times in my life, so I have no stories.

    Do they really have praise/worship sessions in the buses? How about they pray for the bus drivers to drive safely, and not like they have a death wish for themselves, passengers and other drivers. That would REALLY help!

    berrydakara.blogspot.com

  5. Dearie

    April 29, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Atoke got me laughing out loud with this one.

    The last time I took a molue – 2000 i think, i specifically warned mumsy but she felt it was cheaper (20naira to Oshodi). On getting inside, there was a preacher and a drug seller – both of them ‘advertising their wares’ at full throttle. To make matters worse, there were no extra seats so we had to stand – we stood from Alagomeji to Oshodi. Not long after, some dude got on board with a looooooonnnnng iron like instrument, by the time we got to Oshodi, the dude had poked my mum with the iron and her right leg was bleeding badly. Dude just said sorry and moved on. I burst into tears right there and told God to bless me so much that my mum wouldn’t have to experience such again.

    • Oyinmomo

      April 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      *Bear Hugs* Amen to your prayers!

    • Abana

      April 29, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      From you lips to God’s ears sweetie. AMEN!

  6. nwanyi na aga aga

    April 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Lol! if i start story Chi ga eji, chi ga abo.

  7. eniola

    April 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Love me more of Atoke’s write – ups. mwuaaaah!
    Was a very long time ago. A young woman had a baby who wouldn’t stop crying, all the way from Oshodi to AP Bus-stop where she alighted, other passengers kept yelling at her to breast feed the baby but she wouldn’t oblige. After she got off the bus, one old woman kept ranting about if she had gotten someone to second her thoughts (which she didn’t voice out), she would have taken the young woman to the police station, that the baby was probably kidnapped, because she saw no reason why she should be shy to breast feed her baby in public such as in the bus.

  8. Masked

    April 29, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    For us that still don’t have our own rides, thanks to bros Fash for BRT buses and the boldly written ”No Advert”, ”No Preaching” etc…..although there are still those who forget their earpiece at home and have to listen to the morning news esp iroyin 🙂

    • annonymous

      April 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      abi oooo. Listening to koko inu iwe iroyin lollll

  9. JADE

    April 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    LOL i have soo many experiences so lemme share this LONG one, i was doing my IT at Maryland n living with my sis at Jakande Lekki and it was that time they were repairing the roads so the traffic was always hell. Now we had been at this spot for like an hour and this particular baby had been crying since we left CMS,this old lady infront of me had been muttering and complaining and apparently she couldnt take it anymore so she yelled at d girl carrying the baby “gif am brezz,naim God make dt brezz wey dey ur chest, if na man now u go carry the two brezz pack for im mouth, shior” the girl studiously faced her front and after like another 2 mins, d mama brot our her breast grabbed d baby and tried to suckle the babe. the wailing intensified and another woman was like maybe na shit, check weda in shit, another guy said “ah no, una no no say pikin shit dey smell?inside dis bus wey nor dey move, breeze no dey blow abeg oh! the girl sha went ahead and opened the baby’s pampers lo and behold na shit and it smelled soooooooo baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad, we all came down from the vehicle and d woman did her business 🙁

    • t

      April 29, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      No way!!! Thanks for making me crack up so bad. LMAO. still van’t get over the “give am brezz” old lay.

    • The Real Madam the Madam

      April 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      CRYING!!! LMAO

    • Fifi

      April 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Lwkmd tooo funny

    • Purpleicious Babe

      April 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      ..looool.no way…
      n baby poo sabi stink….

      lifeinstagesdoz.blogspot.co.uk/

    • Lamide

      April 29, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      Lmao……na wa o. ….its really difficult moving ard with public transport esp in lagos

    • Lolo

      April 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HILARIOUS!!!

    • Erowo

      April 29, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      Lmao! This is soooooo hilarious!!!

    • MRA

      April 29, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Just had surgery; been laughing so hard my stitches hurt!

    • Lila

      April 29, 2013 at 11:07 pm

      LOL!!!!laughing so hard with tears running down my face…I swear we Lagosians have seen things!!!!!!!

    • x factor

      April 30, 2013 at 7:55 am

      Laugh wan thief my salvation…..haaha aha aha aha aha aha ah aaha aha

    • jcsgrl

      April 30, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      OH God! Why! I’m about to pass out on the floor…this is too freaking funny

    • Pd

      April 30, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      Lmao…….pack 2 brezz put for him mouth.

    • beforesheimplodes

      April 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      LMAO!!! WTH! Oh my days!

    • @temmytish

      April 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Roflmao. Omg! I cringed all through while reading this comment. I cannot even imagine myself in that bus. I might just pass out from disgust and depression that I had to use the bus in the first place. eeewww

    • Simya

      April 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      LMAO…I can’t stop laughing

    • bunmi

      August 5, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      if i can roll on the floor this minute, my bosses would have me chained asap cos the kind of laughter that came from me upon reading this eh just made my dayyyyyyyyyyyy. laff haff completely kill meeee

  10. Stelly

    April 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Lol! Atoke, I witnessed something similar this morning. I leave for work by 5:30 AM everyday and always look forward to catching my one hour of extra sleep in the LagBus before I get to CMS. So there I was in the bus this morning trying to nod off when one man started singing praise and worship at the top of his voice. I got really pissed cos I needed that few minutes of sleep before i get to the office. So the preacher asked everybody to close their eyes for prayer but i deliberately left my eyes open and was watching him. Next thing I heard was ‘You that lady keeping your eyes open,do you want to carry the evil spirits that are about to be cast out?’. I burst into laughter and kept laughing so hard that the man beside me asked me if i was alright. I told him I was and was just wondering how the preacher knew my eyes were open since his eyes were supposed to be closed too.

  11. Neo

    April 29, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    LMAO at imbued with the spirit of the devil.

    This danfo marketing/evangelism is everywhere oh. When i was doing my masters, there was this necessary evil bus that ran from my hostel to my classes, Bus 25!. Because it was one of those bendy buses with the 6 doors all sorts of characters got on without paying the fare. One day there was this man who ranted throughout the 30 minute journey about how the Queen was a free mason and how she killed one English soldier and how she had a plan to kill all of us, the man even had printed propaganda to support his claims. I quickly shifted before they will say i’m inciting dissaffection against her majesty.

    I remember when i moved to Lagos from PH and felt very silly saying “o wa oh” when we were close to my stop. I felt everyone would know i was one JJC from PH where we say “Bus stop dey oh” or my personal fave “Mash an (match am)” in warri.

    I’ve had the best adventures on danfo buses in Lagos sha, come to think of it.

  12. Anita......

    April 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    @Jade……Choiiiii!!!!…..chukwu okike.That must have been horrifying for you.Moi personally detests entering buses for several reasons….D jamming and squeezing of human bodies,the conductors screaming in ur face,the heat,the delay caused by d constant stopping to drop and pick passengers……after considering all these,i jejely enter BRT or take a cab if i can afford it.

  13. Gracie

    April 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    My own experience has a sad and annoying undertone. On one of my journey from Oshodi to Ijesha, a young man in his early 30s boarded with us (passengers) like he was heading the same route, just as the bus begin its slow motion, the young man began to prostrate on unbended knees pleading in “yoruba” dialect for alms, i was full of rage, a young man of his age should go and find something legit and commendable to do. When this guy noticed that his pleas did not get any where close to the passengers’ ears, he decided to employ the power of sight, he lifted up his left leg to show his predicament that needed an urgent treatment, a decaying leg, uuuhhhmmm! U need to see the “FORCED” cheerful giving attitude the passengers displayed. Though it still didn’t work for some people.

  14. JADE

    April 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    lol Anita, there was no BRT then oh and the bus was really tight, these semi coaster buses that carry 5 people on one row. it was a trying time oh but God pass them 🙂

  15. maday

    April 29, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    lol! good one atoke. i have had so much of all this danfo drama that now, i carry my earphones everywhere. once i enter a bus and someone is about to preach or advertise their wares, its me and my music till i am about to alight.

  16. Ada Nnewi

    April 29, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    LMAO! public transport is a different world on its own.. When the apapa traffic was at its height b4 uncle Fash *God bless him* intervened, I’d park my car in marina and take ferry to apapa, the regular 7.00 am ferry had a regular vendor who was not so forceful and not so bad at least, there was this day i forgot something in my car and had to go back so i ended up heading back to marina with the vendor that apparently does the afternoon shift….hmmmm.. this woman first started with stories of demons, witchcraft and wizards then proceeded to shake the ferry with her loud prayers while giving me the evil eye as i continued to listen to my music with my earphones while staring blankly at her..After her prayer to my surprise she begins to sell similar things to the morning vendor while using the scope that it aids some form of miraculous healing and her stock was selling like mad…the worst part of that day was that she was also on the ferry i had to take back to apapa 🙁 so i had to spend another 20 mins with her given me the *evil* eye..

  17. Ada Nnewi

    April 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    *giving me the *evil* eye

  18. the girl

    April 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    El Rufai bus… If you ever need free entertainment just board any of them, right from your take of point to your destination. You won’t be bore. It was in one of such trips I first discovered how ignorant some people are about things happening aropund them…. A drug marketer was convincing passengers on how effective his drugs are he went… Even Yaradua our president dey take am…a middle age man sitting at the back responded thus… Nawa oh so na Yaradua be our president now, I be think say na Abacha… I was like WTH???

  19. Sel

    April 29, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    In Ghana we call them ‘trotro’

  20. nikky

    April 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I can never forget this my particular experience. I was on a molue going from oshdi to obalende unfortunately for me I was sitting behind one of these vendors. He started with the usual praise and worship and it was just unbearable. All the sliver in this man’s mouth were directly raining on your’s truly and he smelled so bad. I figured it will be over after the praise and worship session but I was very mistaken. Can u believe that this ninja started talking about medicated soap and some kind of mouth wash that helps maintain healthy teeth and gives fresh breath and I was like what???? I guess he never used his product or maybe he had been out all night hustling, but whatever it was that man was ripe and had no business selling medicated soap.

    • ola

      April 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      U are very funny.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      April 29, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      lol…talk about hypocritical marketing!

  21. baby

    April 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    lmao…..very funny indeed. taking buses in this lagos have been a funny experience i tell you…what i hated most was the BO especially from the conductors armpit, mouth ordor and some ple farting and carrying their face like they don’t know what happened sef. then the conductor joining you with another passenger cos e no get change…my most unforgettable experience however was going to work oneday from yaba to obalende and on getting to the 3rd mainland bridge the bus caught fire. see scrambling and trying to jump out the window sef especially from those of us who were catching up on sleep and was caught unawares. and cos the driver packed by the edge someone missed falling into the lagoon..lol…..thank God my carless days are over but sometimes when am going to certain places and dont want the drama of driving or think i shld waste money on a cab i just get on a bus and watch all the drama unfold with a grin on my face….

  22. Yoruba Geh

    April 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    LOL!
    was traveling from Umuahia to Lagos after nysc…lo and behold this preacher entered and started preaching…he was standing in a 16 seater bus so i knew he will definitely come down but was wondering when!he sang,i didn’t join em o,he started preaching about the end time and how one of the buses he was supposed to preach in the previous day but they sent him out had an accident…
    at that point i became so uninterested!so i just put my head down…after preaching,he asked for offering for the ministry saying nothing is too small SMH!he eventually came down at Orlu!Imo state!am sure that offering will be his transport fare back to Umuahia

  23. Masked

    April 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    There was this other day my cuzn rushed home with a bottle of disinfectant in hand and we were all wondering if he fell inside the gutter, only for him to come and give us gist of how an agbero had being struggling to collect money from the conductor and they were screaming at each other and a girl beside him told the agbero to be careful and stop spitting on her and the agbero just turned and shouted ehn emi! and he just scratched huge phlegm from his throat and spat it on the girl’s body and the thing now splashed on him and the girl was just screaming and dared not do anything….i’m sure she would have soaked herself in izal if possible…eeewwww…..that has got to be the height.

    • Just me

      April 29, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      What!!!!! That’s crazy to say the least

  24. praisy

    April 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Jade, joo ma kpa mi, as in am really cracked!! choi. na wa o!

  25. La Belle

    April 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    awwww…….i love me some Rascal Flatts; My Wish

  26. AW

    April 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    My most memorable experience bus incident was in Abuja. I got on a bus with other passengers from Berger, we were on our way to Bwarri where the Nigerian law school is located ( this was before the law school got divided like national cake). We were a few minutes from Dutse, when we were asked to pay, a young man sitting at the back dipped his hand into his pocket to pay his fare. The next thing we knew, he started screaming that the bus driver should stop, he jumped down with the conductor, had a quick conversation with him and started running back to Berger. We were all surprised and wanted to know what the problem was. Alas! Someone who has asked for direction at Berger had stolen his “thing” and he only found out when he was asked to pay.

  27. AW

    April 29, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    *bus experience* *had asked*. My hand is moving faster than my brain 🙂

  28. bims

    April 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    hahahaaaa so funny about the aggressive marketing on danfos and molues.. so true. But aside from that tho, BN this is for you. Idk your “religious” views but just in case all i wanted to share with you is “please do not use CHRISTIANS as a yardstick for Christianity. Use Christ Himself. Bcos we are really sloppy examples and are broken vessels still been led by Christ”. This is coming from someone who went to church all her life but did not “GET IT” until a couple o’ yrs ago.
    Ok sweetheart, its all love from this end. I guess that’s ma preachin’ commercial bus version on BN 🙂

    • Purpleicious Babe

      April 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      i get u…. makes so much sense re.Christ been used instead of Christians.

  29. If u like no post am

    April 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Hahahahhahhahha. That’s one of the things I miss in Naija.I can be annoying atimes.

  30. If u like no post am

    April 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    ‘It can be annoying atimes’

  31. somebody

    April 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    LOL! I don’t have any tales from entering molues/danfos because I have no experience there but I LOVE those people that sing/play instruments on the train/subway stations in NYC. Love the soul music from the blakc brothers most especially. I don’t live there but whenever I visit, there’s always an act or two on the subway that just blows my mind. Love them for their hustle, much better than idly begging for money.

  32. Purpleicious Babe

    April 29, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Having read the comments, an experience came to mind. This happened a long time ago.. I am not sure I recall the bus st. (should ask my mum). I think I was seven yrs old or less, anyhoo I holidayed with a family friend in Ejibo, but I fell really sick. My mum came to visit and obviously knew I needed medical attention. Off we went but before we headed, I wanted my sandwiched bread and nicely tomato fried egg. My mum had that including her purse with her in one of those bags(thick nylon or so). We boarded the bus towards our route and when it was time to pay or she checked for her purse…My mum couldn’t find it, kia the bag had been nicely decorated with a blade and the purse was gone.
    While she was demonstrating all sorts of disappointments and rage, apparently my only concern was if my bread and egg had been stolen… Lol. I think i would rather have preferred if it was my bread and eggy that was stolen infact am sure I wished it was.

    It was a bittersweet experience, one which my mum learnt from and never forgot. I wonder why she didn’t just hold the purse instead of leaving it in that thick green carrier bag.. hmmm (must ask her).

    lifeinstagesdoz.blogspot.co.uk/

  33. Abiola

    April 29, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Dear Lord,
    Y’all just made my day! I have tears in my eyes…….
    I really thought I had bad experiences, but mehn nothing compared to all these stories.
    Mine is just the regular getting free flying spittle from them preachers, pretty annoying.
    On a serious note sha, I hope public transport in Lagos gets better at some point.

  34. whocares

    April 29, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    ok this is not so much a public transport experience, well it counts as my friend and i just got off the train.. some dude went up to her and said “hey, baby you look very hot, you look just like a coke bottle” … no lie, no lie. this man, actually had the gall to call my mocha skinned friend a coke bottle. LMAOOO. i know i should be incensed by the rascist reference, but i laughed so much i actually started crying. you gotta love ignorant people sometimes.

  35. jamilah

    April 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Danfo buses…Lagos style are so UNIQUE..from the way the conductors will throw insults at you to the URGENCY that they impose on passengers to alight from the bus….So a BIG shout out to my fellow Lagosians

  36. Abana

    April 29, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    My experience is slightly different. A while ago, I got on a bus and I remember I was supposed to get off at Cele bus stop. Some charlatan came got on the bus and started miss yarning so I put my ear phones on. Problem is I slept off. I slept off in a danfo at night. The bus went past Cele, went past Ijesha, went past Mile something and by the time I woke up, I didn’t even know where I was. I was so lucky, I got off the bus, took a taxi home. My mother was so angry. She looked like she was ready to flog me that day. She just kept screaming things about ritual and rape. She kept shouting Abana Adebiyi Oji-Jones, you are mega careless! Its the same way I slept off one day and found myself outside London because I forgot to wake up at my station. smh.

    • i know you want me

      April 30, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Wow.. you are damn lucky oo..that was so dangerous!

  37. Leaticia

    April 30, 2013 at 4:00 am

    Hahaha I know all too well what you are talking about. “Mix it with water it will cure AIDS, mix it with sprite it will cure Epilepsy…” Annoying bus vendors!!!

  38. impervious

    April 30, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Thinking fondly about the epic 25 bus! Lord Jesus that bus from oxford circus to stratford after a night of clubbing was a life changing experience…. Still better than the 29 on a Friday night. You haven’t had someone PISS on you a sing yet abi!

  39. Anonymous

    May 4, 2013 at 3:45 am

    Thank u so much Atoke for that song stand. That is the song I so needed to hear today wit all this final exam stress lol!!

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