Just cruising down the Ibadan – Lagos expressway at 120+ km/h when traffic from the other lane of the dual carriageway suddenly joins ours:
Welcome to Nigeria! This bizarre (but somehow functional) experience came to summarize my general feeling about Nigeria when I spent a few days working there last week. It’s something tragically comic, like, “How can this possibly be normal?”
I had intended to write about my experiences — watching Chinese tourists passing wads of US dollars to airport officials, airport security asking for “some Naira” from my pocket during frisking, the unavailability of any coffee except Nescafé, etc — but when I started thinking about it all I realized it was actually just tragic.
Last weekend I had my phone — an LG Nexus 4 — stolen on a matatu in town (a City Hoppa bus on the Ngong Road → Nairobi route). It must have happened as I was getting off at Kenyatta Ave / Koinange street, as I had it in my hands just before then, but had put it into my bag before alighting. I wanted to go tell Safaricom to block the IMEI so that the phone couldn’t be used on their network, and apparently they won’t do that unless you file a police report.
This is what happened when I went to the Central Police Station to report the theft.
TL;DR: it was an very unpleasant experience; somehow they manage to make you feel like a criminal for being the victim of a crime… (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
Today, while driving up Wayaki Way to work, I saw a matatu driver reach out his window and wedge a folded up 50 shilling note under his door handle; he was anticipating being stopped at the semi-regular police traffic stop near Mountain View (about 10 kilometers outside of Nairobi).
As I imagine it’s quite hard to picture, I took a few minutes to recreate the scenario in the Sarit Center parking lot…
50 Kenyan Shillings is only about 75 US cents, but if you imagine that the cops stop hundreds of people in a day… wow. And that’s only at that ONE check point, out of hundreds of other ones operating on any given day in Kenya.