It seems like commercial bikes have come to stay on our roads in Nigeria; they are at most time the quickest means of transportation within towns and cities, especially in times of ‘mad’ traffic. They weave in and around traffic with so much skill, speed and finesse to make Hollywood action scenes look like ‘child’s play’. But despite the fact that they are preferred especially in emergencies, Okada riders come under fire because of their daredevil manner of riding. Many have had broken limbs, and others unfortunately have lost their lives as a result of Okada-related accidents.
Riding on okadas could be fun especially if the rider is chatty and interesting. Those guys have the latest news in town and by the way, we all know their prowess at ‘cussing’ and ‘out-cussing’ anybody from motorists to pedestrians to even fellow okada riders. Many of us have had different experiences while on an okada ride, ranging from funny to downright annoying. For me, two incidents stand out and trust me, they were not funny. First incident: I was on this okada, on a pothole-less road and all of a sudden, the bike was falling to the ground. At this point I think I should point out that, we were on a straight road o, not negotiating a bend or a u-turn. It was all so surprisingly funny in an uncanny way. That road was usually busy, but I thank God because at that particular time, there were no vehicles coming in front or behind. Needless to say, I fell to the ground (and in slow motion too) and grazed my right knee. Thankfully I was wearing a pair of jeans trousers; otherwise the injuries could have been worse. As I fell to the ground, I screamed “Jesus!!!” (as we all do in such situations, lol), got up, picked up my purse, whose contents were splattered on the tarred road, looked up and behind me in case a vehicle was coming, crossed the road, ‘dusted’ my body, accepted like 50 ‘Sorries’ and 150 ‘Dohhhs’ (Niger Delta form of ‘Pele’ and ‘Sannu’), hopped on the SAME bike and zoomed off.
Well, it could have been worse. The other time, and this one happened in Ouidah, Benin Republic. I was on a bike or ‘Zim’ as they are called over there. It was raining and I was going back home. My French wasn’t…(okay I’ll admit that it still isn’t) good and the rider hadn’t understood what I’d said as per directions and he took me round the town. At first, I was okay because I wasn’t in a hurry and he was taking me to places I never knew were part of the town. But then it started to get annoying after a while because the rain was falling hard and he looked like he honestly didn’t know where he was going to. He couldn’t understand me, and I couldn’t understand him. I began to panic. And then as we were riding on one of those roads I earlier thought looked familiar but ended up not being at all, I saw a big tree by the side of the road falling onto the road. It looked and felt like a scene right out of a movie. And as it happened, the tree fell on us as we got to it. Even though the tree fell slowly, everything happened really fast and the Zim guy had no time to avoid it.
Well, the tree fell on us and we fell to the ground. I was already overwhelmed with everything that had been happening prior to that, that the tree falling was like the last straw. I was just laughing and thinking to myself,”So this had to happen, on top of everything?? Come on!!!” Again, I walked to the side of the road and the people who had gathered were examining us in case we had any injuries. I was quite livid by then and told the guy to jump on the damn bike. Finally, we managed to get someone that understood both English and French, and he explained to him, where I was going. Hmmm, I finally got home and noticed my big toe was bleeding from a cut.
At the end of the day, I thanked God because it could have been a lot worse. The road wasn’t busy for starters, and that tree could have killed us (or me!) or done some serious bodily damage, if for example it had more leaf-less branches than actual leaves. But the leaves gave us a cushiony feeling and at the end of the day, it was all good. TO GOD BE THE GLORY.
(To be Continued)