Writer and reporter Famous Phamous shares his experience in the hands of a frustrated Lagos Mob
In a very long gaze over a shrunk moment, I looked death in the face, deep into its dark, drab and dirty eyeballs but it flinched and shied away. In that moment, my spirit divorced my senses and my heart eloped with my emotions. Standing yet I was lying flat face-down.
That death is a journey, it’s not a lie. It’s just some truth tellers saying what they know not. On Monday, the 3rd of August, 2015, I had a true awe gust. I traveled to two worlds without leaving my place.
I had first hand, the undiluted taste of the concoction called death. Not a sip but a gulp. I wined with my ancestors but my progeny wouldn’t stop beckoning on me.
My name is Famous Phamous and this is my story…
I’m a writer. A reporter for not just the first but the foremost campus-oriented, youth-focused weekly newspaper in Nigeria; iCampus Newspaper, and I have a responsibility flanking my sides to provide editorial content that serve the two purposes of information and reformation.
In retrospect, earlier in March this year, I had a rather unfortunate encounter with the men in black , who by a reason of mix-up, practiced panel beating using my flesh as specimen. Like a hobo, I could only do my best by talking my way out of their anti-tender iron hands. They walked. With impunity and I talked. Without immunity but vindictive.
After about one hundred and fifty days, history repeated itself. This time, I was again a bystander, unconnected with the business of the men in black, actually of many colours this time; who paid an august visit in August to the nocturnal street traders of popular Ikeja Along/Under the bridge bus/train station.
Goods worth hundreds of thousands were either confiscated or utterly demolished by horde of men in varying uniforms who carried out a clean sweep op against the defenseless civilians going about their hustle for livelihood. An everyday lifestyle pertinent to the Lagos Metropolis where traders camp around strategic points of massive human contacts – men and women returning or going to work – to market their products or services, as the case may be.
Consequently, chaos was the order. Everyone wailing and weeping as they watched either their loved ones and goods being carted away or their goods only. The latter was better and great fortune, for them. With the remnants trampled and tables destroyed. Goods plundered, emotions tumbled, lives shaken, hopes dashed, dreams shattered, virtues tainted, businesses closed and sources of earning a living blocked, I strode approaching the locale and my heart took the steering from my head.
I stood there shocked, shaken and shut up. Speechless and helpless. Instantly, the memories of the panel beating I underwent in March gripped the man inside me. I took no action or reaction. None was available.
Then it happened.
I saw an old woman whose bag of corn had been destroyed and I felt Mr compassion pushed me at the back of my head and my feet, lips, voice and every other part of me responded. “I’m a writer, I could lend this woman a voice to cry with by directing her tears in black and white in between drawn lines”, I had thought.
Next I approached a few complainants who were obviously victims of the horrible ordeal and in minutes, I had a vox pop. Me and my colleague, Ada, were no more bystanders but sympathizer. Empathisers.
Like a glorified Hollywood movie, everything happened so fast I was on the run. Behind me was an angry mob. A collection of angry, heartbroken, mistreated, bereaved and hungry mob took after me shouting… “thief! thief!”
Like a billow, I was encompassed by floods of people all ready to transfer the disappointments, loss and rancour of their spoilt evening on my soft skin.
At that moment, when they caught up with me, I tried to speak, to explain, but my mouth was numb. I was dumb. I heard lots of mutterings. Scaring, no deadly suggestions like ‘bring tyre’, ‘tie am’ and ad infinitum. My fear graduated to advanced trepidation. ‘Rough handling’ was a prayer for me but it was nothing compared. Every member of the crowd wanted a piece of Me.
In deciding on what to do with me, a police Angel, and old woman came to claim ownership of me.
She declared I was her esteemed customer and that I was no thief. Of course I’m no thief.
In the end, with her voice and those of her disciples, I was excused and they gave me up. Of course, not without exploiting any and every valuable I had on me. I didn’t write this article from the otherworld. I still cannot entirely wrap my mind around ‘how’ I survived last night but I know now, for personal reality, what the dictionary cannot define better: a miracle! It was great miracle.
Finally, while I’m alive and gratefully so, my heart still goes out to the voiceless common people whose psychological, emotional, financial, and physical states cannot remain the same. I feel your pain. I share from your oppression and I wish you speeding recovery. All is well.