Udoka, a village boy from the south eastern region of Nigeria travelled down west to look for greener pastures. He has lived all thirty years of his life in Umuagu village. Everyone down the east believed that Lagos was the commercial hub of Nigeria and that a lot of opportunities abound there. It is common to see men and women of the Igbo origin get involved in the trades of different sorts in Lagos.
Lagos is a small expanse of land surrounded by water. In the west is the Atlantic ocean and towards the hinterland lagoons, creeks, swamps and in some areas, rivers. This accounted for the number of fishermen who live around the waters in the mega city.
The city of Lagos is divided into two main parts by water. One the east is where is referred to as Lagos Island, where the high and mighty dwells. This part is industrialised and has the headquarters of most financial houses in it. The other part of Lagos is called the mainland. Here, there are slums, ghettos, with a high number of yellow buses used for commercial purposes. These yellow buses are called Danfo or Molué.
The journey from Umuagu to Lagos took over ten hours plus the delay caused by the potholes on many portions of the road. But they arrived Ojota with the inscription
You are in Lagos
For many people, this inscription is more like a warning than a welcome.
Every passenger was asked to alight from the old Mercedes Benz luxurious bus at Ojita. Udoka who was reaching Lagos for the first time was surprised to see many people moving here and there. That's to show that there are a lot of things he would learn here.
Like a man running away from his fears, Udoka has no plan on how to live in the city of Lagos. As he walked away from the park, he met a kinsman who was hawking sausage roll, gala (a popular brand of sausage roll), his name is Franklin. Udoka was surprised to see Franklin hawking.
I thought you work in a factory?
Udoka asked Franklin. Who was anyways, happy to see a man from his part of the country in Lagos. He responded.
Nna (Brother), anything to earn a living.
Most of the young boys from the east who reside in Lagos do this kind of business, save up money in a daily thrift and collect it at the end of the month.
He sat there with Franklin until he was done selling off all his wares to commuters during a traffic jam, which was a current occurrence in Lagos.
After the day's job, they both retired to Franklin's one room apartment, shared with three other squatters. Udoka found this way of life rather strange but he had no other option than to adapt. With the little money he had on him, he decided to keep aside some for transport fares for his job hunting adventures and the rest for personal upkeep.
The next morning, after asking for directions back home from Franklin, all the other boys had woken up very early in the morning to go about their different engagements.
He washed the shirt and knickers he travelled on yesterday and wore the next out. Udoka came with only these two clothes. Two shirts, two knickers, and two boxers. They were the latest he had as part of his preparation for coming to Lagos.
That morning, he boarded a bus from Onipanu heading to CMS, on the other part of Lagos.
The great trek began for Udoka, he walked from street to street, looking for where he would find a house to help work or a cook (chef). As he walked, he looked high into the sky, some tall building, the first time he was seeing them.
After trekking the street of Lagos Island and finding nothing, he returned back to the mainland where his friend Franklin lives.
This he did for a week. Every consecutive day he went out of the house but wasn't fruitful with his job search adventures.
On Sunday, all the boys prepared to go to church. It was their tradition. The mass doesn't take time. By 10 O'clock AM they should be back home. After which, they'd go to unwind at Bar Beach.
Udoka was having the fun of his life. He had never had this fair chance to live, thanks to the fact that he found his way down to Lagos.
The next day, which was a Monday, he went job hunting again. He is getting familiar with the streets now. Luckily he found one. Outside a giant gate was the inscription:
House Help and Cook Apply Within
Without much ado, he got closer to the gate and knocked. Then he moved back. No response came from within. Them, he tried again, as knocked a baritone voice spoke from behind the gate,
Na who dey there? (Who is there?)
Udoka, now sweating, responded.
Oga, na me, I dey find work. I for cook and wash. (Boss, it's me, I can do some cooking and washing)
The heavily built man spoke from behind the gate.
Wait there, make I go see Oga patapat. ( Hold on while I check up with the boss to know of the space is still available)
The gate man who Udoka later knew to Ahmadu went in to inquire from the owner of the property who he also works for if the advert for a cook and house help was still open.
Luckily, Udoka was asked to come in. Dr. Ifeanyi, a medical doctor who's father was an Igbo trader whose father left home many years ago, got married to a Brazilian lady, Monique and never went back to the east after he had successfully carved a niche for himself in the city of Lagos. Dr. Ifeanyi asked Udika so many questions and employed him when he was satisfied with his responses.
Udoka sought for permission to go bring his luggage from Onipanu and also inform his kinsman Franklin how fortune has fallen on him.
The journey back to Onipanu wasn't long. It is just across the third mainland bridge. When Udoka reached the one-room apartment, none of the boys was back from the day's hustle. He packed his remaining one shirt, knickers and boxers and waited for the boys to be back so that he would break the news of getting a "well paying" on the highbrow of Lagos.
The boys did return early in the evening and Udoka told Franklin with the other boys how he got the job. They were all happy for him. They asked for the address of the job place so that they could check up on his welfare anytime the need arises and then saw him off to the bus stop for him to board a bus to Lagos Island.
Udoka did very well at his job and Dr. Ifeanyi, who couldn't speak his mother tongue, was impressed at all the delicacies he prepared for him and his family. The village boy has grown to be a city boy.
The Dr. enrolled him in an evening cooking class to improve his act. Before the end of that year, Udoka started preparing continental and intercontinental dishes.
He saved up a lot of money during the ten months he spent that year with Dr. Ifeanyi and his family.
He sought and got permission from his boss to go spend the Christmas yuletide in his hometown.
It was a beautiful season for Udoka and his family. Udoka single handedly changed the roof of his father's house from thatch roof to zinc. Before he returned to Lagos, even though he had bought a lot of beverages and clothes for his parents and siblings, he have them money before returning to his duty post in Lagos.