Lagos life is one thrilling story!
Think about it. The average Lagosian is a storyteller. Even if you don’t admit it, this city forces its narratives on you. Drive around town with windows wound up? Well, there’s one bold individual in traffic that’ll likely knock on your window seeking attention. Go about on foot? Chances are you’ll be approached by all shades of people seeking attention using different tactics. Ride in a commercial bus? The self-acclaimed men of God and drug peddlers are right in your face. Wait at the bus stop? Behold the stranger who gently taps you to say hello with a follow up cliché about his incomplete fare. Usually, there is a call to action for these Lagos stories. The result is you end up telling stories too in response to some of these never-ending requests.
Everyday Lagos life is a multi-faceted genre set in different parts and situations. So, how does one approach these situations that often leave us feeling helpless and overwhelmed? Recently, I started taking to Twitter to use a hashtag I’d stumbled on called DanfoDiaries. It offers a sweet escape. Between changing buses on my regular commute, I could do dozens of tweets and even draft stories like this using the Evernote app. Through this creative use of my energy, I find peace, my nerves are calm and I arrive at my destination in good mood. What exactly interests me about these dramas?
Personally, I derive humour in: the energy that Lagosians muster to exchange tantrums with each other even very late at night, the sheer mastery of words prompting people to donate to religious causes or buy unregistered cure-it-all potions in cramped buses, the beer-parlour styled conversations with unverifiable facts at newspaper stands, the hide and seek game involving commercial motorists, registered and unregistered law enforcement officials to mention a few. I could go on and on about my everyday experience but since taking a conscious approach of owning and repurposing these narratives, I’ve found nuggets of inspiration and ironically, sanity. After all, it’s a question of perception.
Yet, there is nothing particularly new about my approach. We are all constantly living the stories. While it can seem like nothing, repurposing these narratives imply making sense of our experiences in ways that are appealing to the self or others. There are some interesting analogies to buttress my point. Standup comedians often share rib-cracking jokes derived from everyday stories affecting the average Lagosian. While I wouldn’t normally smile through the grueling situations in real life, I react differently while watching them on TV or live events. Creatively, these comedians have taken the same experiences many go through and repackaged them for entertainment, which translate to financial benefits and expands their industry while offering comic-relieving health benefits to the audience. That’s inspiring!
Furthermore, it goes beyond TV what we make of these narratives. Teju Cole’s piece on Naija Playlists is one of my favourites . Tagged, One Night in Lasgidi, It beautifully captures a social perspective of Lagos with a touch of music. Another is a recent piece I came across; Andrew Esiebo’s photo story on Barbershops across West-Africa inspired by his experience with a barber around Dodan Barracks, Lagos. Across borders, think of how Hollywood turns real life experiences mainly but not limited to America’s into stories for movies, books and other media.
Thus, if there’s anything as close to a scientific approach on how our everyday experiences can be repurposed, then it’s one that we can consciously borrow from the foregoing analogies. It could be a contribution to a publication, movie script, game or anything. They represent powerful illustrations of our stories and reinforce what can be made of them. Perhaps, you too can find sanity in the process of doing that.
So, what’s your story?
Photo Credit: Foto.com.ng