Orifunke Lawal

Ever heard of antonyms? That’s what ‘Gidi’ and ‘broke’ sound like to any correct Lagosian. You can’t be afford being broke in Lagos, it is a disaster! A tornado! A hurricane!!! I kid, but seriously, you do not want to be broke in Lagos.

Missed the previous episodes of The Lagos Series? Read them here:
What Lagos Means | The Lagos Series, Week 2
Lagos Yoruba Demons | The Lagos Series, Week 1



Unfortunately at some point, ‘broke’ would glitter in your ‘Gidi’ diaries. The real test of your ‘gidiness’ is in how well you manage your brokenness amidst the daily chaos and how smart you cover up your tracks while doing that.


But please let me warn you!! Don’t be broke in Lagos!!! Do not be broke in Lagos!!! If you ever get broke, BE SMART!!! Here’s a helpful list of what you shouldn’t do when you’re broke by the way.


That’s how this fine, fresh boy I call friend left his house that day o, starch-ironed shirt, crisp trousers, and well-polished shoes. Now, lemme epp your imagination; imagine that ‘tush’ guy with clean punk cut, highly professional look- ehn ehn.



The guy enter eatery order food, only to discover that money flew from his pocket – whether he forgot his purse at home or ‘the owners’ obtained it, he wasn’t sure. But bottom line, no cash!


The babe attending to him was already microwaving food and smiling like my guy will give her the “keep the change’ line.



My guy did a few pocket checks; you know the movie part where suddenly your pocket flies under your shoe. Film trick was becoming real, na so my guy carry phone, dey form


“Eeerrrmmmm, where are you now? I am already at the eatery. Have you entered, can you see me? Okay, lemme come out so you can see me. I am wearing a white shirt…” blah, blah, blah…


As hin dey talk, hin dey comot the place, na so smart child waka comot before slap and hot stew land hin head


In Lagos when you are broke, being cute cannot save your ass, RUN!!


Don’t judge us mehn, anyway na way in Lagos. The hustle is real.


And one quick piece of advice, if you are broke and you know it, don’t mess with the conductors of those yellow buses, some in white buses can still reason with you (don’t ever quote me, abeg) but most of the yellow buses are “Eru Iku” (slaves of death). Those guys don’t send you one bit. They spit on you, squeeze you, sit on you if care is not taken and eventually get you intoxicated on residual ‘omi gutter’ stenches. Beht if you joke with their ten naira, you are in for it.


That day, one of my guys, Yinka, had used his last card to get to Ogba from Gbagada and was hoping there would be a miracle when he got to his destination so he could get back home. But on this day, his miracle was on sabbatical leave, didn’t show or appear o and worse still, he didn’t know anyone where he went.


Being the proud, well-groomed child that he is, baba carry face, went to Koko Bus-stop, entered a bus and got down at Anthony and started to do pity-face for the conductor and speak incoherent Yoruba and pidgin mixed in one – just call it ‘yorubapigin’.



After many pleas from the impatient commuters, the conductor freed my guy but not without a huge chunk of curses. Oh! I have not told you about the first grade ‘Isale-Eko’ curses that can make you rethink if your destiny was aligned sef. Chai!!! These curses come with blows and slaps as bodyguards. Don’t mess with these guys o.



Sometimes I can’t even blame Lagosians for the constant rush, straight faces and inhumane behaviours. One has to be really strong to survive on these streets. Your ‘shepeterian’ level needs intermittent shots of adrenaline. You can’t afford to be underdosed on “ginga” and ‘hustle’. If you are, you will crack and once you crack it is just a matter of time before you split open.



The thought of being cashless in a land where money exchanges hands without sighting the faces of men is devastating enough; the drama that follows when caught by unforeseen circumstances can lead to depression. And you know what is funny,


Lagos owes you nothing but you owe it being tough, after which ‘Gidi owes you everything!! Yes o everything, including association with men who think you are forever indebted to them – they swindle you at the slightest opportunity, stay with you through hard times only to walk away with things you fought for. And the corporate thieves that hunt a broke life.



My dear, being broke in Lagos isn’t an ailment, it’s just in the moment, it usually passes as quickly as it comes. However, don’t be surprised when you find some people whose constant way of life has become being broke. Being broke is how they make a living; they are the ones you would meet at Agege bus stop today, Iyana-Ipaja tomorrow, Berger next tomorrow at bus stops and strategic people-crowded places. They have, over time, perfected the art of retelling their stories and perfecting their acts to gain your pity. See, we would come back to this gist; this is just a forewarning. For you, the Sane, Prim and Proper, being broke is a disaster, for a select Gidi few, it’s a way of life. Deal with it!


My friend, before they come for my head, abeg, let me recline from the day’s hustle and travel back to somewhere other than Lagos where smiling faces tell the tales of the quests which we have travailed. Meanwhile, have you ever been broke in Lagos? Biko share, lemme laugh…


Gidi – Lagos
Gidiness – How much of a tough Lagosian you are.
Shepeterian – Well, Let’s just say an unruly fellow
Omo dada – Good child
Ginga – High level of excitement
Hustle – Intense hustle
Yorubapidgin – A barbaric mix of Yoruba and pidgin languages
Isale –Eko – A popular suburb of Lagos city
Eru Iku – Slaves of death
Omi gutter – A concoction of alcohol and hard drugs


WRITTEN BY: WEMIMO ADEJUWON, A pharmacist and a Writer.


ALL GIFs gotten from GIPHY.


Missed the previous episodes of The Lagos Series? Read them here:

What Lagos Means | The Lagos Series, Week 2

Lagos Yoruba Demons | The Lagos Series, Week 1


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The Lagos Series is a project which aims at sharing an enlightening, entertaining and inspiring narrative of Lagos in both written and visual media.

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