Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The L Word

I probably hadn’t seen a black man sweat so profusely since Kunta Kinte in ‘Roots’. Although this chap wasn’t in such a dire situation as the aforementioned character, he was evidently tense. I noticed as I was driving to work along the slow-moving morning traffic on 3rd Mainland Bridge that I happened to be behind this male learner in a small Japanese car. Even though I had observed that the guy was driving a bit too indecisively for a typical lagos motorist, it wasn’t until his car’s engine went off that I decided to swerve out of this sluggish lane. As I drove past the gentleman, I noticed that he had someone with him in the front passenger seat who was voicing out instructions and encouragement in apparently equal measure.
Looking through my rearview mirror shortly after, I observed that other drivers behind this ‘troubled’ line had started changing lanes also when it became clear to them that the occupant in the Nissan was in anywhere but a hurry.
I then started to think of my own days as a learner, and putting into perspective the fact that everyone on the bridge was probably in a similar state at the start of their driving career. I recollected dreading to ever have the ‘L’ sign at the back of any vehicle I was commandeering, for nothing but male ego’s sake.
Actually, my own learning experience behind the wheels wasn’t derived through conventional means. I didn’t attend any driving school/s or take lessons from my dad’s driver, as was the case with many experts today.In my case, I practically schooled myself by the age-old method:trial and error. Yes, I had stolen a car from home before, but only to get instant payback for it by scratching the side door as I was driving of the house gate. As time went by, my driving skills expectedly got better and better(less life-threatening, rather).I know many guys/girls who started driving in their early teen years while there are those who still don’t have the ‘liver’ to dare take sole control of the ‘almighty’ automobile, especially in a crazy country for driving such as ours.(To give an example, as at a few years ago, reputable movie director Spike Lee, still couldn’t drive due to his phobia for it).
I do feel though, as many would agree,that driving in Naija (especially in our mad Eko) is far from easy and those who can do it flawlessly here can certainly handle the wheels in any other part of the globe. In fact, even in Mars.Abi there’s sand there?

5 comments:

Tony said...

Driving in Lagos takes more than skill...it takes courage as well.If you are very good, that's TALENT. Call it acquired talent if u may. Anyone who can drive for 9 months in Lagos and not have some okada or danfo or another motorist bash him/her or vice versa, that person is a confirmed god on 4 wheels

Ally said...

Yes oh.. Got to love Lagos driving.. i remember when i started driving outside Nigeria, it took me like 3 months to take right turns into side streets without looking at my side mirror for okada.... even till today i still exhibit some of my bad driving skills learnt in Lagos... i still will never be able to stay in my lane in traffic... I have to bob and weave from lane to lane... often times with no advantage but the Lagos in me will never stop me from changing lanes in traffic.

Hector said...

The Nigerian driving situation should not be something to be proud of saying that if you can drive in Lagos you can drive in pluto....

People get drivers' Licenses in this country just like that without a driving test...some get it so they can use it as a means of identification in Banks to collect money. In London some time ago, I witnessed like 3 testimonies by worshippers in a church over the fact that they passed their driving tests....

If I was in Government in Nigeria, to sanitize the roads, I would revoke ALL drivers' licenses and insist that they all pass driving tests (practical and written - even in major languages)....It seems impossible with the level of litracy but that is a small hurdle to overcome....If people cant read, then why put street signs?

Bobby said...

Well I am still trying to pass the driving test in the UK after 3 attempts. My driving instructor says its down to the bad habits picked up over the years. I think that says it all...
Zimbabweans are allowed to exchange their licenses for British ones without doing the UK test - a straight swap.
Nigeria == Demonstration of craze in everyday life.
Enough said

TWayne said...

Driving in Lagos.... hmmnnn..... I LOVE IT!!! you learn to think not only for yourself but the million crazy motorists on the road as well. You learn to work fast and you must have sharp reflexes. I've been driving since I was like 16 (perfected on my 17th bday) but I still learn new things everyday.

Y'all wil be pleased to know that though I never went to driving school, I actually went for a test. If you call carrying the guy who approved the licenses on all his errands because he didn't have a driver a test... :-)

But I'm pleased to say though driving in Lagos is hectic, i am one of the few motorists who can drive and has actually driven without using the horn! I pride myself on that! THAT is a real skill!