While I was in Nigeria, I felt I was precocious. Back home, I was like one of the youngest in class and of course one of the ‘smartest’. Nothing seemed beyond my reach and in fact it was sometimes embarrassing revealing my age in order not to be labelled ‘too young’. On getting to the UK, I expected this to be the case, I expected to be a young prodigy, expected to be hailed as a genius at the very least- I was wrong, very wrong.
Over here, I am what we Nigerians would term ‘Agbaya’. In class, I am surrounded with very intelligent 20 or so year olds who know more than what some lecturers back in Nigeria can only dream about. I seriously began to reduce the numbers of my Intelligence Quotient when I saw what I was faced with. All at once, I came to the sad realization that schooling in Nigeria was a play-ground and a skirt-chasing arena. Imagine using words like post-modernism, existentialism, solipsism, cultural relativism, hegemony regularly and then you start to get an idea of what I am talking about. Imagine arguing with and reading works of people like Roland Barthes, Fredrick Nietzsche, Baudrillard, Lichtenberg and then you would begin to understand why my hair is growing faster and my brain expanding like an inflated balloon. This seriously was a rude shock from using words like shebi, oya, abi and arguing about Guinness, Arsenal and Man-U in class to suddenly delving into an intellectual world like this made me have a rethink. I immediately made plans of knocking some years off my age so that they wouldn’t start looking at me like Olodo Agabaya.
However, one thing that I was a trendsetter in was in the social scene. I remember when we were going for a class outing one Thursday night. While we were going, one of my classmates driving was bitterly complaining of what he termed as traffic which in this case was less than five minutes. I gave him an unbelieving look, laughing in my mind on how lucky they were over here. I swear, if I put this fella on 3rd mainland bridge traffic on a Friday Night, he would contemplate suicide by jumping into the ocean. I kind of felt nostalgic, missing the Lagos traffic. Most of my creative thinking was done inside Lagos traffic. I used to plan like a year advance of my life in traffic! I could watch half a season of Prison Break inside traffic!
As we continued, this same guy started complaining that the road around where we were going was bad. I braced myself hoping to see bad roads but to my surprise, the road he called bad, was smoother than a bald billionaire’s head. Imagine, if I dropped this guy on an average road in Lagos? Imagine if he had to drive without street-lights? During my stay here, I am yet to see a pot-hole. In Nigeria, the pot-holes were so much that I had an inbuilt GPDD (General Pothole Detecting Device) programmed in my brain. Needless to say, I pride myself on the fact on knowing where all the potholes in Lagos are located. Infact, the way the guy was driving was annoying and he claimed to have been driving for 4 years! Worse part was that all of them were driving like zombies. I missed my Lagos drivers; the dare-devil stunts we pull that would make Michael Schumacher blush in appreciation. I longed for the curses thrown on the roads, the tooting of horns and the million-per-second calculation our brain does in avoiding pot-holes, other drivers, pedestrians and of course the bloody and often lawless Okada riders.
Finally we arrived at the club and I had to use my passport to get in. They didn’t want under-age people to get in but when they saw my agbaya face, they let me in without objection. Once I got in, I noticed differences between clubbing in Nigeria and the UK. The first glaring one was the percentage of females that were drinking. In Nigeria, we guys for whatever reasons practically beg girls to take some alcohol which in most cases for whatever reason, they refuse citing that the only alcoholic drink they would contemplate drinking was the wallet sapping, milky, Baileys. Here, girls drink everything from beer to vodka and they do it until they literally drop. I noticed also the level of promiscuity here in clubs can be compared to that of Sodom & Gomorrah. It takes less than five minutes between a guy meeting a girl and getting accustomed to the machinations of her lips and tongue. I shuddered. I also noticed the music was not what I was accustomed to, they played a lot of garage music and techno and they all danced and bobbed their heads like wall geckos drunk on Shepe. I have never been a fan of Terry G but right then, I would have traded my Arsenal jersey to hear his music. After watching them a bit and after some pints descended into my nervous system, I decided to take law into my hands, by showing them how to rock the dance floor. Those who knew me in Nigeria heavily used to criticise my dancing style which bordered on the erotic but when I started moving those hips ‘African style’, giving them the Alanta and Yahoozee, all eyes fixed on me. I was like Michael Jackson when he was black without his gloves.
Like a magnet, they all started gathering around me and some even started emulating me. With my success on the dance floor, I silently imagined opening a dancing school based on my dance moves and making thousands of pounds off it. Imagine a school named- NIZZLE HOUSE OF DANCING. Ah! That would be nice. However, nothing beats clubbing in Lagos. I noticed that the guy who drove me didn’t drink much and he told me because he didn’t want to lose his license for drinking under the influence (DUI) because of the cops. I laughed. Laughed because, mid-night on Awolowo road on a Friday night was where you could see the highest congregation of drunk drivers in the world! Laughed because even in your intoxicated state, the Nigerian police wouldn’t penalize you, rather there are situations when we even give them alcohol too. Laughed because Nigeria is the only place I see hawkers selling can- beer in traffic to people that drive.
Laughing and bemused with my experiences that night, I left the club. It was odd because I was in a sea of white instead of usually being in the midst of my black brothers. All around me, I saw a lot of teenage drunks puking all around the corners; I saw some entering cabs ready for late morning trysts. I was alone (obviously, Miss Nizzle wouldn’t have it otherwise) and longed for more black, I decided to go to London not to see the Queen but long-seen relatives…