If you want to learn six tips for surviving Lagos, you’re in the right place. You see, there are usually three sides to a place or story. There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m sure you’ve heard tons of cool stories about Lagos.
Your folks probably labeled it the “City of opportunities.” Interestingly, whoever said those words to you was right. I mean, where else are you going to get a City that allows you to whip up a roadside kiosk, decorate it with your wares and never have to worry about paying the exorbitant shop rent?
Or better still, how else will you not go to jail for converting a Toyota Sienna into a mini shop, driving it down to Yaba Market to display and sell your wares to cut the cost of running a small-scale business? But you see, Lagos is not entirely a fairytale. The opportunities it presents are like two sides of a coin.
One part of the coin harbors all the good opportunities to improve the quality of your life. However, the flip side comes with “shege” that can drag your freshly laundered whites through all the muddy streets in Lagos until it turns purple! But never fear; your Lagos fairy godmother is here. Think of this as the novice guide to surviving the craziness in Lagos. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
1. Become Sunday Dagboru, aka Be Crazy.
Okay, so Sunday Dagboru is a Yoruba Movie Anecdote about a hooligan named after the movie. Now, I’m not asking you to terrorize your neighbors as he did. All I’m saying is to emulate Sunday’s craziness. If you ask a Lagosian, they’ll tell you that you can’t always be prim and proper.
That’ll send off the wrong signal because most Lagosians are bullies and constantly seek ways to take advantage of a seeming “novice” or “prim and proper” human. So, you’ll need this Sunday Dagboru alter ego to protect yourself from being cheated or bullied.
Sharks are everywhere, and they’ll devour you when they smell blood. Don’t let them have their fill. Switch things up occasionally, and dump your clean English for beta pidgin- preferably the “Warri” variant.
2. Nose mask and Creativity- for the Lagos traffic.
Lagos is synonymous with crazy, sometimes irrelevant traffic. If you work a 9-5, you’d be better off leaving your house for work by 5 am, and here’s why. When you leave by 5 am, you could get to work before 9 am.
However, if you leave by 5:30 or 6 am, you might arrive at your place of work by 9:30 or 10 am. How? I have no idea. All I know is that the City never sleeps and you can count on the roads to always be traffic-infested. Seriously, Lagos Traffic has no respect for time or seasons.
Nevertheless, if you get caught in traffic, you’ll need your nose mask and a dose of creativity to entertain yourself- especially if you take public transportation. Trust me, the nose mask is not an “oversabi” thing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re heading to work or checking out some of the best tourist attractions in Lagos with a friend, you’ll bump into people. You’ll also possibly share a seat on the bus with someone whose body is drowning in a pool of body odor.
If you’re big on good smells, think of the nose mask as the guardian angel that protects you from terrible body odor. Then, you can read a book or do something creative on your journey to and from work. Trust me; you could spend hours on the way home- even if it is ideally supposed to be thirty minutes journey.
3. Be Alert.
Although the population in Lagos keeps increasing, the land mass stays the same. That’s why you’d go to Balogun Market or Lagos Island, and a couple of random strangers would raid your personal space, all in the name of trying to get to the other side of the road. But be careful, though.
While some genuinely bump into you as they hurry off to an unknown destination, others are just hoodlums trying to rob you by getting too close. They could go as far as hitting you with a “charm” or “juju” that temporarily steals your consciousness so they’d have enough time to rob you before you snap back into reality.
It would help if you were security conscious and did not walk alone at night. With heightened insecurity, you’d be sensitive enough to sniff out danger and possibly avoid getting into weird situations where you could become a victim of any sort. Stay safe out there, kids.
4. Become an FBI Agent.
This is very necessary for anything you want to do in Lagos. For instance, if you applied for a job and got an interview, get excited but run your security checks. Ask around. Thankfully, it’s a digital world, so google can help you verify the company’s validity. Aside from that, you want to be sure that the company has a great work culture.
But that’s not all. When it comes to the dating scene, you’ll have to become an undercover agent too. I understand that there are many handsome men and beautiful ladies in Lagos. But the last thing you want is to be a victim of romance fraud. Honestly, na that one dey pain pass. So, dig into the person’s life before you start to catch feelings. Don’t let them use your head- at all!
Do your research and ask the important questions to unravel their personality and intentions. If you’re not comfortable visiting the person, feel free to only hang out with them in public spaces. Just be alert and do your findings before you get too knee-deep. It’s an excellent way to save yourself from trauma. Also, pray- to God, to Allah, or to Buddha.
You know how they say your network is your net worth? It turns out that it’s true. Lagos is the City of Opportunities. But trust me, you’ll only tap into those great opportunities based on your network. When it comes to getting a job, you can get job offers on indeed and other job-hunting platforms.
But sometimes, all you need to get your dream job with the fat paycheck you want is to have great skills and the right people in your circle. That way, they’d recommend you for positions that probably never got listed on indeed or Jobberman.
How do you build your network when you’re new in Lagos? Simply attend events that are relevant to your career industry. Talk to people, relate, be active on social media, build a brand for yourself, make friends with credible people, etc., and offer value.
6. Cook up a storm- occasionally.
I’ll tell you this for free; buying food in Lagos is not sustainable. Unless you are rich and can afford breakfast, lunch, and dinner from luxurious restaurants, spend your money on foodstuff. You can buy foodstuff at Spar or a traditional market. Then cook. You can get into the act of meal prepping to eliminate the burden of cooking daily.
My point is, cooking your food saves you money. Worried that you’re a terrible cook? Don’t worry; YouTube would guide you. There are so many Nigerian cooking channels that’ll guide you and help you improve your cooking skills in the process. After a while, you’ll get so good that you might even consider opening a restaurant as a side business. However, if you can afford to buy food all the time, by all means, opt for that option. Do what you’re comfortable with.
Now that you know the six tips for surviving the Lagos Craziness, you can preserve yourself on these streets. I’m not going to dissuade you from living in Lagos. In fact, you should live in Lagos. It’s the perfect blend of beauty and chaos. A great man once said that if you can successfully live in Lagos, you can live in any part of the world, and I agree.
Lagos is a place that everyone needs to experience. In time, you’ll get used to the craziness of the state. Just drink water, do your research and mind your business. I promise you; it will be one hell of a ride.