WHEN YOU HAVE AWESOME FOOD ON ONE HAND AND BEAUTIFUL CASKETS ON THE OTHER
Written By Victor Uyanwanne
I live with my family in Lagos, a highly populated city in South Western Nigeria. Just like any other major city in the world, Lagos has its fair share of what some people have rightly described as the good, the bad and the ugly.
The city is full of all kinds of activities – social, economic, religious, political – that keep residents on their toes most of the time. As one notable media personality once said, “Everything happens here in Lagos.” And that’s not an exaggeration, if I may add!
Despite the well-known hustle and bustle that takes place here in Lasgidi, (colloquial name for Lagos), many people agree that the city is an interesting place to live in. As the indisputable economic base of West Africa, the city is blessed with enormous human and financial resources without which the story of the economic success of Nigeria would be incomplete.
Nigeria presently stands as the country with the biggest economy in Africa. Apart from the oil exploration down south which forms the single highest contributor to the nation’s export, most of the other economic activities that swell the nation’s GDP take place in Lagos.
The population of Lagos is enormous and so are the opportunities and the challenges. Having lived in the city for twenty years and still counting, I am already well familiar with the usual problems we have had to grapple with over the years. Unfortunately, some of these problems have refused to go away as one would wish.
From epileptic electricity supply across the State to the hectic traffic situations in strategic routes, from the menace of the ever-unrepentant ‘area boys” (street urchins) to the recurrent fuel scarcity, living in Lagos can be very stressful and full of fun at the same time. And it is better experienced than described, hence people always find good reasons to live in Lagos.
Talking about fuel scarcity, it was while in search of fuel for my car on one Sunday afternoon recently that I came across the ironic sight that inspired this article.
The Sunday was very wet. The rains had started in the morning while we were still having our morning Church service. It had continued for a while until it later subsided, creating a humid atmosphere that tamed the scorching hands of the Sun for the rest of the day.
I drove to a certain part of the buzzing city in search of PMS (premium motor spirit) for my car. It wasn’t too long before I came to realise that the essential commodity in question was not readily available in many of the usual filling stations around my residence. My search took me to a certain corner of town I have never really driven to in the past.
I had veered off the Federal Inter State expressway into an adjoining road with a view to negotiating an ‘under bridge’ short tunnel so as to get to the other side of town where I gathered petrol was available for sale. In the process, I ran into an unexpected traffic gridlock that gulped about an hour of my search-travel time.
Sitting quietly, listening to the radio in my car and waiting for the traffic to start moving fast again, I looked out of the window and saw something that completely got me thinking. Right to my right hand side of the road was located a mini shopping complex with various business outlets.
The neon signs within the complex beamed with beckoning smiles and displayed adverts, horizontally scrolling appropriate expressions to inform people of the type of available products or services. There was nothing unusual about this observation until I noticed that right beside a food cafeteria in the said complex was also located a glittering showroom displaying well-designed wooden coffins ready for purchase by people who have the dead to bury.
“What a sight!” I said quietly to myself as I stayed glued to the driver’s seat of my car. “What is the meaning of this?” Food on our side and caskets on the other – in the same place!
I do not know if it was by pure coincidence that brought those two unusual businesses together. But the sight certainly got me thinking. As I ruminated over it, a few sobering questions came nestling on my mind:
- What is the relationship between food and caskets that they had to be sold on the same premises?
- Is this a case of “eat all you can today because one day you die and be laid in a coffin like one of these?”
- Do they mean to say that it is only what you have in your stomach that you will carry into one of those caskets?
- Are the caskets a reminder that life is not all about food?
Those were questions on my mind still begging for answers. Does any have anything to say about this observation? Please share your thoughts.