I met Scoppy for the first time after Secondary school, when I came to take care of my grandmother in Lagos Island. I was still a sporting freshman in Lagos life and was always bewildered at how things functioned in the highly disordered Island life. Scoppy (a tweak of the area boy name Scorpion) is one person that embodied the perfect description of a local guy that lives in the area, and carried out any act possible as survival tactic. He could be a gateman on one hand, and a manned gate (thug) on the other. He could be a petrol station attendant as well as an oil entrepreneur selling petrol in jerry cans. Interestingly, he could also function as a local government tax collector, while also working as a bus conductor. In his varying roles in Island society, it is his night life that gives me the wonder about how such guys survive in Lagos Island. Scoppy wanted nothing out of life, but to sleep, make money, eat, drink, smoke, and womanize. Whatever could afford him these ‘luxuries’, he would fully engage. He once landed in some sweet deal that got him a foreign currency. I was happy for him, even though I had no idea where he got his big break from. I was courteously hoping he would change is mind and change his life. But no! Scoppy went to Federal Palace Hotel and blew away his riches in less than a month and was back on the streets buying rice and stew from Mama Bunmi.
His story is perhaps a speck of dust in the innumerable company of hustlers and bustlers in Lagos struggling to make ends meet for varying reasons. If we never heard about these stories, then the 3Part BBC2 Docudrama – “Welcome to Lagos” has indeed given us much ado about something. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised about any of those stories and if any emotion was squeezed outta me, then it was empathy from a sense of deep resonation. If one doesn’t live in Lagos, then ignorance is excused. But if you live in Eko and you travel the Third Mainland Bridge, you oh man art inexcusable above all things. Have you never asked yourself what on earth people are doing living in houses built on water stilts? I guess you are one of those Lagosians who have seen so much that you are unperturbed by anything out of the ordinary. It is only in Lagos that you find a cat with horns and everyone will simply look, smile, and walk on. Lagosians don’t ask questions because it seems we have been given the intoxicating tonic of social numbness. Even when we ask questions, it is to serve as an aside to a busy day before we delve back into the rumble and tumble of Lagos living.