Yesterday I became a statistic as my friend so sadly pointed out. I was involved in my first okada accident. Now those who know me can testify that I’m quite the chicken. I can’t drive because even though I’ve been to driving school and can technically move a car, I lack the courage needed to tackle the mad drivers on lagos roads. I always had a personal cab man, Mr Amos. Mr Amos was a character! He drove me everywhere, never complained when I was late cos his prices were outrageous! My friends said he’d build a house with all the money he extorted from me but while I’m a chief haggler when it comes to shoes, clothes, food items etc, I’ve never been able to haggle where transportation was concerned. I hated standing on the roadside waiting for a cab and if a little extra would guarantee I got picked up from my house to wherever I was going, it was a price I was willing to pay. Mr Amos was an alakoba driver. He knew the secrets of all his clients. He always listened attentively to every phonecall made in his cab and every matter discussed between friends sitted unsuspectingly in his vehicle. After being my cab driver for a while, he knew that I went to Ikoyi on Wednesdays and Fridays and home on Saturdays. He always interrupted me when I called him, telling me he knew where he was taking me to and we both knew how much it’d cost. I’m sure he’d make a great driver for an aristo chic on the job. He talked however, and that was his flaw. He’d tell me about Lola who was cheating on her boyfriend with an Alhaji in V/I or Ngozi who was pregnant and had aborted it. I always wondered what he told the other girls about me.
Okadas were means of transportation that were a taboo in my house. We had all seen the horror stories and knew the statistics by heart. We also encountered them everyday on the roads and I often wondered that with the daily curses that were rained on them every day, it’d be foolhardy for them not to have a strong baba somewhere counteracting all the epes, buying baba a small white fowl every week would not be such a great fee for his services. And so it was an unspoken rule in my house that we were never to take okadas. I did disobey twice. The first time was as a result of a dare. My friend and cousin had dared me to take an okada down Charly boy’s street. I didn’t even make it half-way and when I was finally let off, i could barely walk cos my legs were jelly and my bladder was suddenly full to bursting! The second was on Adeniran-Ogunsanya and my cousin had said she wasn’t walking the whole length of the road. I had screamed ‘Blood of Jesus’ till the okada man parked and said he wasn’t going again. ‘I be devil?’ He shouted, obviously annoyed. I got down without a word and walked the rest of the way in silence.
I had no reason to get on okada again till 5 years later when I was posted to Akure for NYSC. Without a car you cannot survive not taking an okada in Akure because the commercial vehicles only ply the main roads. My friend Nonye insisted on teaching me how it was done and eventually I got over my fear. First I’d grab tightly the bar at the rear of the okada, all my senses focused on my right leg. My mantra would be ‘Don’t fall off and don’t let your leg touch the exhaust!’ I said it again and again and again but like all scary things in life I soon got used to it. I even got cocky! I would take an okada even when I could take a cab. I loved the wind in my face and no one knew me in Akure so all the lagos chic fronting was unnecessary! 😉 I even started receiving calls while on a bike and after a while would whip my blackberry out and ping away while zooming at top speed till the fateful day…
Yesterday changed my life!
I had run my saturday clinic as usual and the only remarkable thing on leaving the clinic was a beggar who insisted I gave him money and after giving him he said ‘God bless you!’
On a good day it wouldn’t have been such a big deal but after my ill-fated incident his face flashed before my eyes and I was glad I gave him money!
Call me superstitious but I grew up watching ‘Tales by moonlight’ and we all know what happened to the village girl who didn’t give the old woman water to drink from her calabash! So here I was, sitting on a bike, pinging my friend J and dreaming up what I was gonna have for lunch when all of a sudden there’s a crash, I think I saw it a split second before it happened and next thing I know, there are two bikes and four people on the ground, I included! I held on tight to my bb still confused not even aware that some tout had noticed the glittering studs on my phone. I got up, amidst people shouting and exclaiming. I could see the headlines for tomorow’s akure sun newspaper, ‘Doctor corper involved in okada accident and falls yakata for ground!’
I counted my body parts, checked for bleeding and crossed the road. That was when I noticed the tout following me, I put my phone in my pocket and as he stretched out his hand to relieve me of my valuables, I hit it quite hard! ‘Get away!’ I yelled! Anger welling up within me and masking my fear and the pain that I was just only becoming aware of! How dare he think he could steal my phone after I just survived my first okada accident? I stopped another okada as there truly was no other means of transportation to my house and left the scene of the accident as fast as I could. The drive home was a painful one. My butt hurt, my knees hurt, my arm stung! I half-believed I had internal bleeding but I was strangely calm. No tears, No racing pulse or at least I wasn’t aware of it, bb intact and the face of that begger still in my head! It was all very confusing though. I got home, took a pain reliever, examined myself in the nude, called up close family and friends so I could be fussed over and petted and remembered I bought bananas and started munching away.
My left butt’s still sore and I have refused to get out of bed so I’m not sure if my hips can still sway properly as they declared a strike soon after the incident. Can’t blame ’em, they’d rather sit pretty than walk like a man! I woke up this morning grateful for the gift of life but feeling like I’d wrestled with a giant and lost! 😦
I have become a statistic. Many people have lost their lives or have been severely deformed due to okada accidents. During the two months I spent working at the Surgical Accident and Emergency unit and the Neurosurgery unit in LUTH I saw enough horrors to last 2 lifetimes. I still may never have the liver to take an okada in Lasgidi but I’m a wiser Akure okada passenger! Please be careful when you are on an okada. Those okada drivers must surely have 9 lives or be on a continuous suicide mission but you have only one and I’m sure you love your life! If the driver is going too fast, ask him to slow down and try not to use your phone while on it so you are not distracted. Thank God for my mother’s prayers! I have a testimony today but a lot of people were not as lucky. Life is short, don’t end yours on a bike! May God protect us all. Have a lovely Sunday peeps! 😉 Xoxo