Saturday, July 07, 2007

Dear TAN: Don't Be a Cab Driver in Nigeria in the 70s; Also, Edible Lamb Eyes!

I once started a neverending interview, but now we're switching to a "Dear TAN" feature. Send your questions/letters to theassimilatednegro [at] gmail [dot] com.

In this edition: Nigeria in the 70s sounds awesome!

Dear TAN,

Machetes are the new i-phones...

I lived in Nigeria in the early 70's and watched a traffic jam develop. Suddenly a cab driver exited his cab and attacked one of the other drivers stuck in the jam (as were we). He killed him there on the street in that moment. No one batted an eye. Not sure if he used a machete...oh well, doesn't matter...same idea.



Dear W,

That story is crazy.



Dear TAN,

Life is cheap in those countries -or it was then anyhow. Eventually, you sort of harden over too. I can remember being out with a bunch of wealthy westerners in India, in a cab, and then stepping over mothers with suckling infants to reach our restaurant. I had just had a baby and was acutely aware of how beautiful his bedroom was, with the nanny in attendance, in contrast to the baby in the street who was wallowing in filth at his mother's breast. We were new there. It doesn't break your heart as much after a while.

But Nigeria was the best. There was the 1 lane bridge that would have stalemated cars backed up for miles and hours. We packed a lunch every time we drove to Lagos because that bridge always ended up with 2 drivers who would NOT yield. Then there was the king who had lots of money and no sophistication. He installed johns in his living room (no water, not used) just because they were western and signified wealth. And don't get me started on the desiccated rat we received as a present. Or the lamb eyes we had to eat. One could go on and on but it is Saturday night. Must go drink.


  1. Anonymous7/08/2007

    Life is never cheap ...

    Your choice of language reveals a lot about your milleau.

    So sad.

  2. Those were the days, when people mattered more than money. Why, I'll bet that guy didn't even rob his victim. Nowadays people are only interested in killing you because of what you have. Back then it was more about who you were or what you did - if someone killed you, you at least had the satisfaction of knowing it was personal. Posts like this remind me what a materialistic, soulless world we live in these days.

  3. Dear W,
    I'm from Nigeria. Well, I was not alive in the 70's, but I can imagine the culture shock a 'westerner' such as you would experience. The bridge you are talking about is called Oshodi. The rat was probably not a gift. as for the lamb eyes... I can't help but get the impression from your post that you didn't much like it there. I did not much like it there, which is why I live here. But, when foreigners complain about Nigeria, I tell them this: "Choices. Life is all about choices, and you, in some way, shape, or form, chose to end up there."


  4. Nice blog!

    I'm only commenting because I don't want the terrorists to win.

    I'm, ya know, patriotic like that.

  5. Anonymous7/08/2007

    Hi - I am also from Nigeria and was alive and well in the 70s (in Nigeria)I get really irritated when people get upset if you criticise their country. Like I write comments about my experience in the US and people take it personally and come out with the "then dont come here" etc etc

    I have seen worse things on the streets of Nigeria such as dead bodies sometimes left for days until they finally melt into the tar along with dogs and assorted creatures of this world. As for rats well I have seen bigger ones in the streets of London but so what - if you saw a rat in Lagos fine. There are rats and it doesnt offend me. However lamb eyes are cultural - people eat different things. I wouldnt touch chitlins or pigs feet but I accept that for some this is their food and I think people should respect other peoples cultures which includes their food!

    Life IS unfortuantely cheap. Cheap on the streets of Lagos, on the streets of DC and New Orleans, Baghdad, Gaza and a host of places. Some people's lives are cheaper than others, such as Black people, poor people, women and children. No country has a monopoly of cheapness of people's lives whether in their countries or how they act in others.


  6. I lived in Jamaica (the West Indies, not Queens) during the '70's. It sounds remarkably similar to Nigeria, right down to the machetes.

    We didn't have bodies melting into the tar, but we did have the Orange Street Fire.

  7. Sokari,
    I've seen bodies in bits and pieces, scattered all over the highway by the passing cars. I'm well aware of the reality of Nigeria and other mind-sores in the world. my response was to the phrase "the lamb eye we had to eat". I was trying to find out if W had a gun to his/her head. Just wondering... =)



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