There comes a time in every Ajebutter’s life when you have to realize that uber is not a sustainable lifestyle and your parents and their drivers will not be there to save you from Lagos. I don’t know about you sha, maybe your own Ajebutter is different, but my reality has been checked. I’m now one of them. Omo ni ile. Daughter of the soil. No bus stop or Danfo driver can gainsay me.
It’s funny when I think only a few years back. My uncle used to tell me that I need to learn to get around in Lagos. I was like Nah, I’m not going to be in this country by the time I graduate. LOL! I can imagine God was just looking at me then. Like, see this one.
So yes, I had to figure it out. By fire and by force. It is only by the grace of God that they didn’t announce me as missing on NTA. I would have been doomed because who watches NTA anyways?
I’m a really nice person you know, and I can’t bear to leave you to suffer the way I did. So let me give you a quick run down about what you need to know about public transportation in Lagos. So here are 5 easy and crucial tips to staying sane in Lagos Danfo buses.
1.When is the best time to go out by public transportation in Lagos?
Never! There is never a good time brother or sister Ajebutter. Just put your butter in your front pocket (if you put it in the back pocket, they will steal it) and enter the bus.
Danfo buses are especially annoying in the dry season. You know why? People stink. Like literally, there’s no number of face masks that can save you. And no you can not wear a face mask. Where do you think you are?
The worst thing that can happen during the dry season is if you happen to sit by the door, where the conductor is hanging from. The way breeze will blow fresh body odour into your nose. I’m telling you, you eyes will water.
Oooh but that might actually not be so bad. I once sat down in between two market women. One was carrying this potent smelling dry fish in her laps, the other was fat and sweating and smelled like a wet rag. Which way would you turn your nose? Up?
Don’t get me wrong. Danfo in the rainy season is just as bad. Just less smelly. God bless you, you enter a bus with a leaky roof or windows that don’t close. You might as well just walk in the rain.
I wish I could deliver some good news here, this is the reality. If you are entering danfo, there’s no silver lining.
2. Prepare to Usain Bolt
So you think that you will stroll to a bus stop, wave your hand and a chariot will arrive in front of you and stairs will be provided for you to climb on. Please I actually want you to try it and let me know how long people take to laugh at you.
My friend, you better run like your life depends on it. If you fall down, get back up and keep running.
Run with sense sha. Because if you fall, the conductor will not stop to tell you sorry. He might even insult you on top. One time, I was rushing to enter a bus and I tripped into a deep puddle of water. By the time I eventually got into the bus -after staining my white wash jeans- the conductor told me “Omo mommy, Owo Mi da” meaning “mom’s girl, where’s my money”. This puddle incident brings me to my next tip.
3. Don’t wear any clothes you care about
Unless you are not averse to crying in public, wear only absolute rags. All maybe well, till you get on the chair and a nail rips your clothes.
If you are thinking of going out, slaying in with your face beat and looking glam, don’t. Don’t do it. Take an uber or stay at home. If it’s hot, you will sweat all over yourself. If it’s raining, the rain will sweat all over you.
Seriously, you have been warned. I can’t tell you how many clothes I’ve lost to this Danfo hustle. Always remember to look at the seat before sit down. Don’t touch anything you are unsure of. I’ve sat on shit before. Not even exaggerating. Real human faeces.
4 Don’t just walk the walk, talk the talk
You can also call this part “Danfo etiquette and the Yoruba language” because yes, there’s a certain composure expected of you in the chaotic danfo situation.
First of all, you must remember that danfo bus conductors simple do not have the time to pronounce the name of your bus stop in full. Don’t expect to hear Oshodi, Jibowu, Ikeja, Mile 12, Eko Hotel or Bar Beach. There are abbrev-ed pronunciations, no bus stop with more than 4 consonants is pronounced fully. So prepare your ears for Oshod’, Jibo’, ‘keja, My 12, Onipa’, Eko’otel and Ba’bish.
You also expected to learn Yoruba. And learn it well. Because the conductor will not ask you any question in English. I mean, you are in Lagos, so you HAVE to learn the language, or die trying. The closest alternative to Yoruba is pidgin and my dear if they speak pidgin to you, you better speak pidgin back, okay? It’s simple etiquette.
This should go without saying, but let me just say it: there is no room for British accents and all that wanna-gonna stuff inside the yellow and black sardine cans. The one is for your uber driver. In fact, keep your interaction with the driver and conditional to a 3 sentences minimum. All you need to talk about is where you’re going, how much your change is and where you are coming down. That’s all. If you wanna have a chit chat, you are gonna be met with a lot of confused stares.
Because I’m so nice, I’ve prepared a few phrases and words you will need to learn. So here you go;
The Danfo bus lexicon
- Owo da leyin – Because you are seating at the back, your name is now leyin. Please give the conductor his money.
- Owo da waju – You are seating in front, your name is now iwaju. Give the conductor his money to avoid quarrel.
- E bami sumo – Please move your behind to the left corner so another person can squeeze beside you.
- O wa – Your bus stop is in sight. Shout this loudly, or enjoy a tour of Lagos.
- O wole – I’m getting into the bus, please match brake
- O bole – I want to come down and I can not fly, so please match brake
- Waso – 50 naira
5 May your ears rest in peace
Not a fan of loud noises? Well, you will be tried and tested in these danfo streets. God bless you, you enter one of those ones that backfire. Ha! Your eardrums will be a distant memory.
Even if the bus is in top condition, guess what, your bus driver is a Pasuma fan… Or whatever fuji rubbish they’re listening to these days. If that doesn’t happen, you’ll definitely get the traveling preacher or sales man, pedaling magic in a bottle for 100 naira. The cure for cancer has been discovered in Lagos and it’s only 500 naira.
Maybe, just maybe you don’t experience any of this. You will still get to those bus stops where touts are banging doors and breaking side mirrors all in the name of collecting 20 naira.
Make peace with it, you will loose all sense of hearing.
Other Tips to Remember
-Keep your 1000 naira at home: Hell hath no fury like a bus conductor presented with a 1000 naira note. If he doesn’t have any change, prepare for any eventuality. You might find yourself walking on an expressway. Or the conductor will “marry” you with another 1000 naira wielder, go and consummate the union.
– When you are approaching your bus stop, let the conductor know. Say it loudly or it will be like rapture. May you not be left behind.
-Those fancy looking bus stops with their names on it, they are merely suggestions. Most buses don’t stop there. Most of them are deserted. Unless you are just looking for shade, the real bus stop is usually another 5 minutes walk away from there.
-Stay woke: Never ever sleep in a danfo bus. If you do, you risk missing your bus stop, losing your possessions and even some body parts.