CULTURE OF HASTE: Nigeria’s north versus south

It was a sunny morning. I had just woken up. Looking at my time, it was past 7 o’clock in the morning. I stretched, thanking God for making me see another beautiful day.

Coming out of my apartment, shouts of ‘inakwana,’ meaning Good morning, and ‘anta shilafia,’ meaning how was your night? Rented the air. A quiet morning in Minna city, Hausa language-speaking, north-central Nigeria, I was impressed.

People took turns greeting, women doing chores and children dashing to school. It is a good thing that communal life exists in many parts of northern Nigeria.

Compared to southern Nigeria, where virtually everyone is in a hurry, I was taken aback by the easy going lifestyle of Minna residents in northern Nigeria.

images 1Coming to Minna wasn’t intentional. It was the national youth service corps mandate and I had to obey the clarion call. In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, every university graduate is mandated by law to serve the country for 1 year before the age of 30.

I had just left the training camp and needed to make sure I was among the first set of graduates to report at my place of posting

I hurriedly took my bath. I opted for a simple sandal as against a shoe. I didn’t want the foot wear to be the reason I couldn’t catch a bus and make it to the office on time.

Stepping out onto the streets, almost everything I saw was the opposite of what I was used to, people were warm and friendly. The first person I asked for direction actually helped me out.

Where I was coming from, most people would ignore you. Hmmm! asking for direction on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital of over 10 million inhabitants.You are on your own; you had better ask your house colleague before you leave your house.

I had to use a cab, there was no bus. No danfo buses, Lagos trademark vehicles for mass transit. And yes I didn’t have to run after Minna cab. I just waved and the driver stopped. I entered the cab along with four other passengers.index 3

On the way, I kept looking around trying to familiarize myself with places and then it struck me like lightening. There was no rush. Traders conduct their business with ease. Civil servants and professional workers went about their business. No hustle and bustle that characterizes southern cities like Lagos.

There was no traffic jam. Drivers appear to obey traffic signs. No one had to push past another angrily, as though they had stolen something of theirs. Or hurt a child or someone elderly.

And then it got me thinking, does it mean that Minna inhabitants are less productive than Lagos inhabitants. The answer is no.

Minna can boast of professionals of all shades including bankers, teachers, lecturers, lawyers, doctors, traders and farmers. But her population is estimated to be roughly 500, 000. A large number of locals are predominantly farmers.

As a matter of fact, most crops including yam, potatoe and guinea corn sold in Lagos are grown in Minna. There are many successful farmers and all shades of businessmen in Minna.

Why then are people in Lagos in a hurry than their Minna counterpart? Is it the population size? It is true that the population in Lagos dwarfs that of Minna.

But then some of the infrastructures existing in Lagos are not present in Minna and so the question remains.

Well I think the reason behind this is the problem of culture. Over the years, either knowingly or not, Lagosians (and other Nigerians as well) has been indoctrinated into the cult of ‘no time’. And so they hurry about whatever they do.

But I think the inhabitants of Minna has got the better understanding that it’s not how fast the job gets done that brings recommendation, rather it’s how well.

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