Travelogue ~ Hilux, Bullion, and the Devil ~ Hajara Wodu

You see, that Friday morning, I was on a road trip to Lagos alongside eleven professional colleagues, in an Eighteen-seater bus branded "Department of Sports and Human Kinetics, Kwara State University, Malete", on the Ilorin-Ogbomoso Federal Highway. I like to take back seats when I am almost sure I would sleep during the trip.

For some funny reasons I am confident aren't unconnected with the national shame that are our roads, I get worked up nights before road trips, especially if long, ruminating about how much headache I would have to deal with, wishing I did not have to go, and ultimately praying for some magic to get the to-fro trip over with, even before it begins, so that eventually, I would hardly get any sleep. Only I was on the last row of seats in this bus of discuss, snoozing off and coming back on at intervals.

As we had miles to cover, our driver was quite out to beat time- expectedly so, because there's an annoying thing with group trips; one or two direct descendants of the evil spirit of nonchalance will always wake up at the agreed take-off time, then stroll in an hour and a half later with faces you just want to slap - but two Kilometres after the small community of Ote, along the same route, I woke up seconds after our bus had noticeably slowed its pace.

Our driver had driven to a catch-up level with a Police Hilux filled with armed, alert policemen with faces rougher than sandpaper. Upon sighting us, they had ordered him, with prying eyes and quick gestures made with their guns, to a slow-down-and-keep-a-clear-distance, so he had to stay on the lane other than theirs, cautiously moving. Everyone in our bus went quiet, fright fast permeating through their faces, and I wondered…

Closely trailed by the Hilux, as we soon saw, was a Bullion Van, so it all made sense, security. For all they knew, we could all be robbers in our seemingly-harmless bus, but no chances were to be taken, so they had all eyes in our skin.

Their movement was anything except hurried, and this was not good for us. Actually, whatever was good or bad for us was not their cuppa, long as they were on that road. At that point I had stopped wondering. I was chuckling instead. For over fifteen minutes, they had us where they wanted us: at a clear, monitored distance. I refused to change my lounging-here position though, even as everyone else had long sat up and remained still, their hearts in their mouths, afraid to look sideways or lock eyes with the men, the entire time. I may have been identified as the kingpin at some point. Felt cool.

It was becoming boring. They must have become thoroughly satisfied with our pass mark of compliance, when one of them made the move-on-but-do-it-slowly sign at our driver. We had been cleared as not armed robbers disguised as members of academia, so carefully he drove on past them, maintaining the same lane, and then a few seconds following, the emergency statues of the famous Oyo Museum came back to life with sighs of relief. They had been scared shitless the entire time.

Our driver is an old guy, but he's my padi. Padis play any time anywhere, my own emergency time to play rushed in on the spot, so I called my padi's name loud enough for him to hear…



"Let's play a game. Truth or da.."

I had not finished the sentence, when at that instance, the entire bus erupted into a confused church and mosque all at once.

"Ni oruko Jeeeeeeesuuuu!!!" (In Jesus name)
"Ni agbara eje Jeeesuuuu!!!" (The strength of the Blood of Jesus)

"AwuSubillayi Mina Setani rajimi" 1000 times per minute (We seek refuge from Satan and his antics)

"Father we commit this daughter of yours that the devil is about to use, into your divine hands this minute"

"Father do this for us for we are all your children"

"Father spare us from gun fumigation because there's a daughter of yours at the back seat of this bus who is about to make it happen. Let the devil stay behind us. This is no pun, Father."

(Chanting of) "La-yila Illalah, Muhammadu Rosulu layi"

I looked on at the prayer warriors as the driver sped on, covering a considerable distance away from the Hilux and the Bullion Van, to beat time to Lagos.

"Thank you Father for you're worthy. Only the devil did not pray, but Father you have shown yourself yet again", said the last warrior to sheath his prayer sword.

I wondered what all the emergency prayers by the emergency statues of just minutes before, were for, so I asked.  "Warrapun?"

They all eyed me. Hian!

When we got to Ogbomoso junction, the driver was asked to stop so boiled maize would be bought for everyone to nibble on before we got to where food was sold. I wasn't interested in the maize, so I said I'd pass.

Then went the comments.

"If it is to play game with armed Hilux now, daring the driver to switch lanes and double cross Bullion Van, so that they will fumigate us like weed, the devil in this bus will be interested"

"We have known this rascal too long. We don't want to know this devil again abeg. Let her go and enter bus to Lagos"

"Omo k'omo!" (Evil child)

And I wondered. I didn't understand it. They spoiled my moment with my padi. I was not the one with guns at alert to fire o, yet I was the devil to be cast and bound. Nigerians, always looking in the wrong places. They messed up the State-and-Capital game I wanted to play with my padi. Now how is this particular game connected to Hilux and Bullion Van, eh?