How To Become The Star Of A Reality Show: A Script by Ronke Alao


Watching T.V is not one of my favorite things to do. There seems to be so much crap, (excuse my French), on T.V. these days that sorting the good from the terrible programs can be time-consuming. At the top of the list of programs I consider terrible include reality shows. Probably because I don’t see the reality in them. They are scripted,boring and lack entertainment value in my opinion.

The only kind of shows that I know of, worthy of being tagged “reality shows” are those I see in ‘danfo‘, (Lagos Commercial buses, usually Volkswagen brand) on a weekly basis. You want real life drama, comedy or thriller? Simply find your way into a danfo headed for Ikorodu (or some other place where the traffic is horrible and you can be sure of being in the same bus for at least two hours).

There’s so much to write about what goes on in this buses that I get tired just thinking about it. Sometimes the bus gets so noisy that I almost wish we could go back to the days when no one had mobile phones in Nigeria. If it’s not a bunch of people playing music loudly on their phones, then it’s someone talking too loudly on the phone, raising their voice and cursing the person at the other end of the phone out. Of course there is always that someone who lies through his teeth, (sorry guys but I think men top the chart for this behavior), about his location. “I am now at Mile 12”, he shouts on the phone, when he is in fact still at Ojota.

I remember sitting next to a lady once who was answering her phone and the next thing I knew, she stuck the phone in my ear and frantically said, “Sister, please say ‘hello’ “. With a confused look, I said a hello to the stranger on the other end of the phone. Apparently, the lady was talking to a guy who was probably her boyfriend or husband and she was trying to convince him that she was indeed in a commercial bus and not riding in a private car. I am so glad my husband never has to do that; he’s my hubby afterall, not a monitoring spirit!

Like many people, I have my preferred seat in the bus and it’s usually just by the window. This seat comes with its perks. For instance, I can easily buy my favorite roadtrip snack – yogurt – in the slow moving traffic. The one risk I have to be aware of when sitting by the window is that of having someone from the street snatch my Blackberry phone from my hands right across the window. This can be a serious concern when I attempt to capture an interesting image of something happening on the street with my phone.  I try to avoid the front seat because that usually means wearing the seat belt. I believe in wearing the belt as a safety measure but in most danfos, the belt is just something you throw around your neck to avoid being caught by LASTMA officials. They are usually faulty and I believe some can actually strangle you in event of an accident.

For guys who need a free lesson on how NOT to toast a babe, all you need do is watch the drama in these buses. What annoys me most is when I inform a guy that I’m married and he doesn’t quit pestering me. Then, he goes ahead to answer a call from someone whose name is stored as “Sweetheart” on his phone. It makes me want to punch him in the nose and ask, “Why are you so shameless?”, but then I don’t.

Most danfo drivers have personalities that bother around aggression. Well, maybe Lagosians are generally aggressive but these drivers get a daily overdose of it; especially those that ply Ikorodu road. They drive recklessly and seem to forget they actually have humans as passengers. Sometimes, my ride home looks like something out of an action movie where the driver weaves in and out of traffic, faces oncoming traffic and slams on the brakes like he just saw a ghost. In most cases, passengers try to put in a word of caution but I’ve had a few occasions where the driver drove quite decently but the passengers were disturbed by this and kept chanting, “Driver,what’s your problem? Can’t you face one-way? I thought you could drive rough like the rest of them o.”.

There are days when I don’t board a danfo. I sometimes get lucky and find a private car owner willing to give passengers a ride for a fee. A few of this drivers act just as badly as danfo drivers sometimes but for the most part, they are well-behaved. One of such well-behaved guys was one who gave me a ride from Ojota to Ikorodu. We were in pretty bad traffic and even though I was seated at the back seat, I could sense the driver was quite uncomfortable. My antenna ears picked something he mumbled about having used ‘MistMag’ with no relief. I immediately knew he had digestive issues. The moment we got to a gas station, he apologized to everyone in the car and said he had to use a restroom urgently. No one dared complain. This guy had just charged us N150 from Ojota to Ikorodu on a day when commercial buses were charging N300.  He returned in about ten minutes, looking very relieved and full of appreciation. “Thank you so much, sorry for keeping you waiting please, thanks a lot and God bless you…”. On and on he went like we had saved him from terrorists or something.

Recently, I have been thinking about how my attitude and demeanor changes when I am on the road. I realized how I was letting the aggression and craziness rub off on me. It used to be that I would watch the madness around me and not be a part of it. In fact, I enjoyed watching the show unfold and be somewhat inspired by it as an artist. Now, it seems I have joined in the mindless discussions that sometimes take place in the bus. I once caught myself using nasty words to describe a driver to his face and I immediately felt shame. ‘Ronke, you are better than this’, I thought to myself.

No, I am not ruled by my environment. I am governed by the Spirit of the most high God living on the inside of me. I choose to bless and not curse. This attitude sets me free to be the best photographer I can possibly be. It helps me release the creative energy that my heavenly daddy stuffed on the inside of me.

Life in Lagos buses, everyday is a different reality show whose entertainment value surpasses the shows on Television. Who needs T.V drama?Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Yours Truly,
Ronke Alao
Writer | Photographer | Poet

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