How I Almost Became A Blind Photographer


You never know how precious your eyes are until you come close to losing them or at least losing your sight even if the eyes remain in their sockets. Last week, I had reason to be grateful for the gift of sight.  It was like any other Monday at the office; busy as ever. The work day soon ended and my colleagues and I headed home. I got to Ojota and boarded a bus heading to Ikorodu as usual.

The ride was uneventful for the most part or at least till we got past Mile 12. From then on, the traffic was a nightmare, two lanes had been turned to four by impatient motorists and the super-impatient ones had crossed the median to face oncoming traffic; a phenomenon commonly referred to as “passing one-way”. As terrible as it sounds, this isn’t unusual on that road. It’s disorganized chaos that people who ply that road have grown accustomed to.

Suddenly, I heard a loud thump on the bus and wondered what it was. Looking out the window, I saw the most ridiculous thing ever; LASTMA officials picking stones and throwing  at vehicles on the wrong side of the road. Even though I understood that it was wrong for people to face oncoming traffic on that road, (and it is very unsafe too), I didn’t see the wisdom in law enforcement officers throwing stones at innocent passengers.

A few minutes passed as the journey continued. I decided to call my husband and let him know that I was almost at the bus-stop. Just as I finished speaking with him and ended the call, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt something hit my right eye real hard and felt water pour all over me. With one hand over my eye and my head bowed, I could hear my self screaming, “Yee, yee! My eyes”. I could hear the guy sitted on my left side saying, “Sister sorry o”. My mind was in a daze as I struggled to make sense of what just happened and also cope with the pain of something hitting my eye with such force.

At this point, I could hear the lady sitting by my right hand side, asking if I was okay. I asked her what just happened and she explained to me that it was LASTMA officials who threw pure water satchets at the bus. That was when I realized, what hit me was a satchet of pure water and it hit my eye with such force that it busted.

On getting home, I narrated the ordeal to my husband who was almost as irritated and pained as I was. I assured him I was okay and started showing him some of the pictures from our photo shoot the week before. While we both admired the pictures, I felt something streaming out of my nostrils, it was blood! Bright red blood was streaming out of my nose! My alarmed husband rushed to get me toilet paper to contain the bleeding.

My husband watched with concern written all over his face while I applied pressure to my nose area with blood-soaked tissue paper, assuring him that I’d be just fine. Well, after a few minutes of waiting for the blood to cease and it didn’t, I got a bit scared myself and told him I needed to lie on a flat surface. Off to bed I went. The bleeding subsided shortly after I got in bed.

As I laid in bed, I thought of the nameless, faceless guy whose “bullet” hit me and caused me all these harm. If I felt anything for him at that moment, it sure wasn’t love. What could a passenger like me have done to stop a lawless bus driver from flouting the law? What kind of city hires confused human beings (like the ones I had encountered that night), to enforce traffic laws?

The next day, I set out to work as early as usual, way before sunrise. It was later in the morning that I realized that my right eye was quite sensitive to light. It was fine as long as I stayed indoors but hurt really bad the moment I came out in broad daylight. This went on for two more days before my eye felt a bit normal.

Thinking back at the whole episode (after the emotions of anger and frustration had diffused), I, Ronke Alao, thought of how fortunate I was. Imagine if the LASTMA fellow had chosen a stone as his weapon that day and it hit my eye, doing real damage to it? I’d love to make a name for myself as a photographer but not as a one-eyed photographer. We as photographers tend to gush over our expensive gadgets and the new lens released into the market that is meant to see better than the human eye. As much as we value these expensive equipment, let’s always remember that we are blessed with the most precious “lens” of all, that can’t be ordered on a website: our very EYES.

 

LAGOS: Why I LOVE & HATE This City


As I drafted these words at 7.56pm on Friday , somewhere between Ojota and Ketu; I thought of how my week had been busy, fun, interesting and plain crazy all at the same time. It was a week that had two days declared as public holidays but I still had to show up for work on those two days. Two of my colleagues were allowed to stay home and enjoy the holiday while three  came to work. I was so jealous of those that stayed home. Sometimes I think my boss makes me work harder just because I am a woman. Giving you examples that illustrate my point is easy but I choose not to digress.

One of the most bizarre things I witnessed this week was on Ikorodu road, (you must be tired of reading my Ikorodu road stories by now but it’s too much craziness not to write about), as usual. I was in a bus heading home and the driver wanted to get on the express from the service lane but wasn’t patient. The traffic was pretty much “bumper to bumper” and the bus driver had blocked a private car. It was a big mess. The driver was asked to back up a little bit but he wouldn’t budge. Next thing we knew, the guy driving the private car got  out of the car with a horsewhip and whipped my bus driver!

I was shocked out of my mind and I don’t know where I got the guts to speak from but I started shouting almost uncontrollably. “Ha! What rubbish is this? Driver, please reverse o! This man must be an animal. Let’s get away from this spot”. I shouted amidst the driver’s cries. I was too shocked at the jungle justice being displayed by the man with the horsewhip. I was even more shocked to note that the other passengers didn’t seem to care much. ‘Why is Lagos so lawless and cold? And to think there are people leaving their villages in droves to come to this crazy city’, I thought to myself.

As we drove on, the driver talked and laughed about how the whip didn’t really hurt him and I felt like punching him in the head.

As much as I resumed at the office on the public holidays, I still had fun on Tuesday. That’s because my husband and I had a photo shoot. My colleague, Samuel, had found out that my hubby and I had not had a photo session since we got married so he asked that he take pictures of us and I couldn’t say no to such an offer. It was so much fun for me and a lot more fun for my husband  He couldn’t stop talking about it all day. For those longing to have a visual image of who the GREAT Ronke Alao is, attached are 2 clues to help you out.Ronke Alao 2 Ronke Alao

Another newsworthy development is the fact that I am no longer the only female intern at eloPhotos. Yes, I now have company in the person of  Damilola. Damilola is a 500level medical student who is making good use of her time while ASUU and the Federal government figure out a way to make up and stop bickering at each other. She is honing her photography skills and just when you think that is all this pretty, slim and attractive lady is doing; you find out she is also taking piano lessons.

You should know by now that I like her a lot. I admire her quest for knowledge and her interest in the arts. There is more to her life than bulky medical textbooks and dissecting cadavers. If you are wondering if she is single, come see me “in-camera” with your consultation fees. That’s not stuff I can discuss on a blog.

Now, for a list of things I am grateful for. I am grateful for the opportunity to be an intern at eloPhotos; for working with a boss that doesn’t mind exposing his own mistakes so you can learn not to make the same; grateful for God’s protection on the roads despite the antics of crazy bus drivers; glad I am learning how important record-keeping is in a business like this and learnt enough for my boss to call me the “Financial Controller“.

If you’ve been in the photography business for a while or you are just venturing into it and the idea of keeping a statement of income and expenses scares you, fear not. If you think promoting your business on social media simply means throwing a few pictures on your facebook page, think again. If you would like to stand out and make a name for yourself in this industry, would you be willing to do WHATEVERITTAKES? If so, register for the workshop taking place in different cities across Nigeria starting October 23rd. You owe it to your children, (born and unborn) to attend. CLICK HERE for more details.

Reporting LIVE from eloPhotos,
Ronke Alao