Against All Odds

True story of a Lagos Cabbie

Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa
15 min readJan 17, 2022


I am standing on the road shoulder on a busy Lagos street street. The traffic stretches out turning a curve away from sight. Getting out of the gridlocked was the only thing on my mind.

Ubers were getting ridiculously expensive (especially in traffic) so I decided to take a cab. Danfos were not an option. Little did I know that by the time I would get home later that night, I would no longer be the same person standing on the side of that busy road.

Photo by Dami Akinbode on Unsplash

After a couple of attempts, I found a cab that fit my definition of decent. It was a brand new 2011 Kia Rio with the branded colours of the new Lagos Metro Cabs. We didn’t waste time with the negotiations — I was going to a notoriously treacherous part of Lagos (traffic-wise) and the cabbie (I later found out) was closing for the day, headed in the same direction.

My first observation as I strapped myself in was how clean the car interior was. There was a newspaper stuck in the median compartment. There was also a bunch of bananas there. After a few minutes of silence, I broke the wall.

“Your car is well taken care of. I don’t see that often. Do you own it, or does it belong to the Lagos Metro?”

Like a spark in dry grass in hamarttan, my question burnt rapidly through our civil defences, and set the tone for a long conversation that condensed the 2-hour travel time into what felt like a few minutes. The driver looked like he was in his late forties. He had an oily-dark complexion and wore uneven beards that clung to his face like termites. Somewhere in his checkerboard of a beard was a wart that appeared in no hurry to leave.

The man, who I later got to know as Wasiu, wore the livery of the Lagos Metro. His life’s story is worth all the extra minutes I spent documenting it here for the world to read. In what I can recollect from our brief but worded interaction, I will tell the story of this admirable man, interspersed with elements of place and time to give it context. I hope you learn as much from his story as I did in the unforgettable two hours I spent listening to him.

The Beginning

Alhaji Bello, Wasiu’s father had been a prominent mechanic in Kano State before starting his own mechanic…



Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa

Architect. Writer. Aspiring Immortal