I started taking public transport when I was in junior secondary school. I like to think that this was a positive, life-changing, enriching experience, but honestly, there are some things I wish I had not seen. Don't worry. After skimming this list, you'll understand.
So, if you have never ridden a public bus in Nigeria (danfo, molue, BRT, etc), here are ten things you could be missing (or not missing):
- Preaching: So, you missed a couple of bible studies or sunday services in church? Not to worry. The "public transport" preacher has got you covered. Usually standing throughout the entire bus ride, he usually starts with: "My fellow brothers and sisters ..." before launching into a full sermon. Whether you want to listen or not, he (it is usually a "he") will preach the word of God to you in a few minutes, and will even make an altar call. But sorry. There will be no praise and worship. You have to go to an actual church for that.
- Trade and Commerce: I am putting this mildly. There are people who will enter the bus looking like normal passengers, but within a few seconds, you will know what their real mission is, i.e. to sell something to you. Their wares range from rat poison (also known as "Ota pia-pia"), to non-NAFDAC approved drugs. As long as it is possible, they will try to sell it to you on the bus.
- Women breast feeding babies: Look, you really cannot blame these women. The bus rides are usually very long because of traffic, and the babies are hungry. Demand drives supply ... and well, you know the rest. Whether you want to see it or not, it is there. Men usually don't turn away sha ... *clears throat*
- Kissing: I have personally witnessed this myself. I saw them (a boy and a girl) going at it, at the very back of the bus. I sat beside them. The guy kinda covered his face with a face cap. Unfortunately, there were no camera phones back then, so I have no pictures. Your imagination will have to suffice for now :-) I'm not even sure they were doing it properly. Not that I would know ... *whistles and skips to next paragraph*
- Talking on the phone: I already covered this here. It goes without saying that Nigerians love yelling on the phone, and the public bus is a popular venue for the yelling.
- Unwarranted Advice: Now, because women usually are carrying their children from place to place, and buses can get hot and uncomfortable, babies and toddlers start to fuss and cry. If they are at the age where they are still drinking milk, fellow passengers will start advicing the mother with statements like: "Madam, e be like say dis pikin dey hungry. Oya give am breast na, abi na wetin you dey take am do!" It is at this point that # 3 occurs.
- Eating and Drinking: What can I say? People are hungry, and there are usually hawkers selling food. So, they buy food and eat. Pretty simple. Please don't confuse this with # 2. In this case, the traders are outside the bus. In # 2, the traders actually enter the bus and pretend to be passengers. There's a difference.
- Robberies: People get robbed on buses regularly. That goes without saying. Cell phones, jewellery, money, etc get taken. Be careful.
- Listening to Music: That is normal and to be expected. Some folks though seem to want you to listen to their music by force. Or damage their ear drums. I am not sure which. The music is so loud, you can hear it even if you're not seating beside the passenger.
- Annoying Habits: Farting, Picking your nose, Picking your teeth, Itching covered parts of the body. You get the picture.
I am yet to see anyone actually doing laundry (washing or ironing clothes) on the bus. Now, that would be something!
So, what strange things have you witnessed on public buses? Do share.