Hey people! Let me tell you of a true life story that happened in October 2017.
It was a sunny afternoon, my brother and sister had just landed in Nigeria, as it was almost time for my brother’s convocation ceremony. I had the luxury of being able to pick them up as I was doing my psychiatry rotation in Ogun state, which isn’t so far from Lagos.
So! We were all happy and merry, on our way home, when my brother wanted to show me a funny video on his phone. Now, he was sitting in the passenger seat, and I was behind him. In an attempt to be able to stretch and show me the video, he partially undid his seatbelt for less than 5 seconds, before we drove into a LASTMA junction – and we were pulled over immediately.
For those who don’t know what LASTMA is, it stands for Lagos State Traffic Management Authority. Also known colloquially as yellow fever, as some of their staff members tend to constitute a nuisance aside from their main job and extort citizens wherever the occasion arises.
Once we were pulled to the side of the road and the officer got a sight of the luggage with the LHR – LOS tags on them, I literally saw his eyes glisten. He had hit the jackpot it seemed. He seized the car keys from our driver and said we will have to bail the vehicle from their office.
We began begging him, but my brother was using his British accent so the hole we were digging was getting deeper and deeper. I knew I had to do something drastic if I wanted to make it home today in our car.
That was when I got out of the car and followed the officer to the station, begging in the strongest Nigerian accent I could muster, but he was still being defiant that the car must be parked till further notice. It was a Friday and the graduation was the next day – earliest time it would have been released would be Monday.
It was at this moment that I channeled all the Nollywood I’ve ever watched, walked back to the main road where my car was parked, and began to cry. I wailed, arms above my head, screamed, prayed in Yoruba aloud and then I topped my performance by rolling on the ground, tears mixed in the sand on my face to form clumps of mud – it literally looked like I was losing my mind.
When the area boys that were around witnessed what was happening, they and the nearby stall owners went in a crowd to go and call the LASTMA staff to see what was happening and begged him to let us go. Upon meeting me on the ground, he was thoroughly embarrassed, he couldn’t even look me in the eyes! He told the area boys to tell me to stand up and gave them the keys to the car to give to me.
When I was standing he said “there’s no need to cry, ehn, sorry please just be going.” I maintained the shaky voice and trembling hands whilst collecting my keys and thanking him for his “kindness”. After getting into my car and driving a little distance, I wiped myself down and washed my face – my siblings thought I was actually serious and we’re stunned to see me come out of my character! 😂
Only God knows how much they would have tried to extort from us that day having seen we just came into the country! I’m proud of my theatrics to this day 😂😂😂
Till next time,
Dr. ETP xo