You need a certain level of courage and dare-devilry to drive in Lagos. Everyone who gets behind the wheel on the streets of the populous city in Africa knows they need more than basic driving skills to navigate the puzzle Lagos roads represent. For the woman, it’s even dicier. Lagos roads are one place where your femininity is a disadvantage. Indeed, your first gaffe is daring to think you are capable of surviving the onslaught and mischief that is characteristic of Lagos roads; and that’s why you need a strategy.
You need a plan that ensures you do not drown or get submerged in the daily warfare that occurs among Lagos drivers, and that’s why I am writing piece. And, I should know…I have been an active Lagos driver for the past 12 years. So, if you are a lady who drives or intends to drive in Lagos at some point, here are a few tips that will help you have the semblance a happy experience. Let’s dive right in:
Be ready for war
I already gave a clue of this in the preceding paragraph. Lagos roads are not for the faint-hearted, and for a female driver, the circumstances are even direr. You need to know that many despise you just because you have a car and are gutsy enough to get on the road. It’s why any seeming or real faux pas on your path is treated like murder. You’ll be tested in many ways; by men and women alike. Yes, even your gender will not be kind to you sometimes, so you must be prepared. When you are insulted, you have three options: give it back in equal measure, laugh it off, or play deaf and dumb. I suspect that the latter two are more effective strategies.
Avoid female cops
As a woman driver on Lagos roads, you have numerous adversaries to contend with: commercial bus drivers, other private car drivers, frustrated pedestrians, and law enforcement agents. However, none are as capable of ruining your day like female police officers. For some reason, it is their belief that you are in some way responsible for their life struggles. A male driver may get away with running the traffic light, but if you as a female driver attempt to steer your car just so it’s well-aligned, you’ll be lucky to get away with an eye roll and a few derogatory remarks. On a day they are cranky, you’ll have to employ all your negotiation and emotional intelligence skills to leave with your car. No, the cold war between female cops and female drivers isn’t about to end soon. Understand this and know peace.
Know when to “abound” and “abase”
We have acknowledged that Lagos roads are a war zone for you and that you must do all you can to stand up for yourself at all times. Nonetheless, there are situations where you must choose your battles. Beat a retreat whenever you get into an altercation with what looks like a mob. So, exchanging words with five occupants of a car is a no-no when you are alone in the car, threatening police officers with a call to your husband or a highly placed relative can spell more trouble for you if you aren’t certain they’ll be available to turn things around in your favour. Conversely, if you are the wife or sister of military personnel or have a few area boys on your payroll, then, by all means, brag and argue your rights with whomever. It’s all about reading the situation well and identifying what will work at a particular time.
Acquire multiple personalities
On Lagos roads, you need to be smart, flexible, and streetwise all at once. Your uncanny ability to assess situations and mould yourself into the best-fit character that will serve you in the circumstances will determine if you end up the victor or the vanquished. Your demure, docile personality only translates to one thing on Lagos roads: fellow drivers and pedestrians alike will bully you. You cannot afford that, trust me. However, that calm and sweet nature will come in handy when you need help sweet-talking area boys or when you are stranded with a flat tyre or low battery in the middle of nowhere. With danfo drivers and other sundry self-acclaimed Kings of the road, you must channel your inner thug so they know you have the potential to be as crazy as they are, if not crazier. However, if you just had bodywork done or you drive a really nice car, it’s wise to steer clear of “road-dragging” situations.
Up your driving game
This may seem obvious, but it’s super important. The first step to making a success of your driving on Lagos roads is to perfect your driving skills. A lot of women do not know how to drive. It’s a simple truth. In Lagos of all places, you need the dexterity and at least one-tenth of the badassery of James Bond to enjoy your driving experience. It’s also the way to force other road users to regard you. The ability to change lanes seamlessly, parallel park, and reverse like a pro will earn you points with other road users who believe every woman is a learner.
And that’s it, folks! Practise the tips above and you’ll have a far less dreadful driving experience in the city of aquatic splendour.