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The Cry of an Oshodi Boy

 I dragged my feet as I walked past Oshodi market. It was past 9pm and I was still on the road. It is dangerous to be in certain places at such times in Lagos, as you may either fall victim of pickpockets, armed robbers, rapists or notorious boys if you mistakenly find yourself in certain corners as a young girl.

I held my bag firmly as if my life depended on it. I have always walked fast in such situations. I walk so fast because I learnt from a video that deliberately walking fast in dangerous situations can help in a violent situation in an environment. I don’t know if this is true but I practice it.

Interestingly, you can get a lot of cheap fairly used clothes, shoes, handbags, under wears, and belts to buy at strategic places like; Mushin, Ikeja Along, and Yaba during odd hours, precisely, from 7pm-10:30pm. These places are usually crowded like a market place every night. Tonight, I had just escaped the Ikeja night market’s rush and now I’m at Oshodi.

Although there is usually no special night market for fairly used things at Oshodi, traders still hang around the roadside to sell their wares. This ranges from fruits to cacatin cream and a host of others. As I passed by one of the traders- precisely a boy selling okra. what I heard got me thinking for a while before I could proceed with my journey home. He was ringing a bell consistently and he was shouting “kopo lo ju ole, fifty naira”. Meaning it is not cheap to a thief, it’s fifty naira.

I was baffled with this new dimension of marketing. This is the first time I was hearing such. So I proceeded a little and stylishly waited as I looked back if I heard the wrong thing or if the boy actually made that statement. He said it again, and again, and again, in about five minutes. I knew my ears weren’t deceiving me. I was perplexed,  I moved on. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t dreaming. The boy’s attitude got me bothered for days because to me I would never buy from him, even if I needed okra. I consider his advertisement technique rather annoying and rude.

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I thought of the story from the boy’s perspective to him, he was doing the right thing and the best thing was for him to market his mother’s wares, even if it is only to put food on their table for himself  and his siblings that night. Maybe it was from his pain and agony that he spoke. He wanted to sell all and get all the money. He looked like a boy of twelve but spoke like he was fifteen.

I realised that I had been wrong all through. I scolded myself for being so insensitive to the spirit behind the boy’s motivation. I know it happens to us all at times we tend to judge without first considering others. He is an Oshodi boy, a skillful marketer, behind whose voice was tears, sorrow, and pain playing out as laughter and as a jovial, annoying, and insulting marketing language “kopo loju ole”. I later smiled knew he didn’t mean it.

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