Walking in the Den of Thieves

Tales of a Lagos neighborhood

Strolling in the gritty interiors of Shomolu, a rather puerile suburb of Lagos is not the same as walking in other parts of the city.

For a state like Lagos that houses beautiful and picturesque communities on the Island and some parts of the mainland, the Shomolu town is a boisterous case study for a comprehensive discussion on where not to live in Lagos.

For instance, when you, as a stranger, are unfortunate to be moving in the repulsive enclaves and conclaves of Bajulaye, the notorious headquarters of hoodlums in Shomolu, one of two things is bound to happen; you either discover that your phone and wallet have gone missing, or you are physically 'obtained' by the jobless and reckless young men who assault passers-by with bold impunity.

As expected, some bias and judgmental indigenes of the Shomolu community will call for my head for putting pen to paper and standing up to speak the unblemished truth, without prejudice, fear and mincing words.

For the myriad of sentimental and doubting Thomases, if you must know, every assertion i make in the course of this write-up are not fictional constructions, rather they stemmed out of my experiences traversing that reprehensible part of the state.

On the two occasions that i was jinxed to be caught trekking on the confusing alleys of Bajulaye in the unfriendly sun on both occasions; i barely escaped with all of my belongings intact.

The first time was a physical confrontation by scarred and rough-looking guys who were undeniably local touts. We were ordered to dole out cash-our hard earned money- to them, for the mistake of entering into their hood and looking like strangers while trying to locate the men who were in possession of the phone I lost in the bus. Our street wisdom as then students of Lagos State University was our only escape plan. And luckily, it worked.

The second time, however, i was alone at the mercy of frustrated, hunger-pummeled, disillusioned, and jobless youths. Maybe as believed in the Yoruba cosmology, my 'mother's head' was my only saving grace.

After my twin experiences in the den of hoodlums (i have no apology whatsoever for this expression), i have continued to feel for the unlucky responsible people residing in that part of Lagos. They must have been subjected to all forms of dehumanizing treatments by their fellow indigenes, but who are much more hardened, unsympathetic and criminal-minded.

I think it’s about time the Lagos state Government took the Shomolu-Bajulaye anomalies seriously. The various market women and traders who have been involuntarily sentenced to residing in that part of the Lagos state geography, should be properly catered for. The Governor Ambode-anchored government should give the people's safety optimum priority. The fact that they live in that ignominious neighborhood is not enough to make them vulnerable and susceptible to dangerous and anti-social circumstances.

Atleast, that louche community is also engraved in the map of the state.

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