We all know about Yaba left, the Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital located in Yaba. Eva rapped about it, there are numerous jokes about it and it has even become an official Nigerian slang term for craziness.
But what we don’t know about is a little thing called Yaba right.
If you drive from the Island to the Mainland via the third mainland bridge you would venture for about 8-10 minutes (depending on the traffic) before you hit a particular fork in the road.
If you go left you carry on your journey toward the main mainland but if you go right…you are headed downwards towards Yaba. But the problem with the fork aka Yaba right is that there is no road sign indicating where either side of the fork leads to.
That’s why white people cannot drive in Nigeria, and when I say white people I mean foreigners.
Just as I discussed in my last book How Intelligence Kills our road system just like our education system is created on a system of memorization … you either know or you don’t know … there is no logic to our road network. So someone from the outside will struggle to navigate our roads. Especially when you consider the fact that a road as critical as the third mainland bridge … the longest bridge in West Africa has key signs missing.
But how many of us living in Lagos realized that that sign was missing?
Even those that drive by there everyday don’t realize this. I know this for a fact because when I first observed this (after a long time of not noticing), I spent over an hour arguing with my co-workers who commuted every work day between the Island and Mainland. They insisted that there was a sign when in fact there was none. Subconsciously, they like many of us believed that a sign just had to be there because it never really affected us.
And that’s the thing, when things don’t hamper us we tend to forget how it affects others. Ask yourself this question, how many times have you gone to a building in Nigeria and thought about how disabled people get around?
If you are like me…the answer is NEVER.
It was not until I met the amazingly awesome Tosin Adesola of sami-ng.org who despite a dislocated hip and sickle cell is able to navigate around Lagos. But as she told me a couple of months ago, she goes about this with very great difficulty! Simply because our facilities are not designed with disabled people in mind. In our system she is white…a foreigner. Different from the majority.
The truth is that Nigeria is a long ways away from creating a nation that accommodates the minority, shoot we can’t even cater for the majority. But the core unit of a nation is us … you and I thinking beyond ourselves. It is an act that takes a conscious effort to remove ourselves from our comfort zone and see things from others perspective. It is an act as simple as noticing a missing Yaba Right sign.
PS: I last observed this missing sign about 1 month ago, so do let me know if (cough cough) a sign has been put up.
Okechukwu Ofili is an author, speaker, and blogger and a The Trent Elite Voice. Follow him on twitter, Facebook or subscribe to his blog for more honest talk and as @ofilispeaks on instagram for more sketches! To bring Ofili to your school or organization as a speaker simply go here. His third book How Intelligence Kills was published in December 2013, order it at http://bit.ly/intelligencekills.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.