Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tunde on the bridge

What happens to vendors when they are not allowed to vend? They become fishermen!

At least that's what Tunde did. I met him today on my way to the Embassy to pick up some money. He used to sell religious books at the Obalende motor park nearby, until the vendors there were shut down by the prior governor of Lagos, seven years ago.

Even since, he stands every day on the bridge between Lagos and Victoria Islands, about 50 feet above the water, where the tide rushes through a narrow point. That thing in his hand is a net, which he throws down when he sees a school of fish swim by. It didn't seem like a very efficient method to me, but what do I know? He said that on some very good days he could catch up to 50 fish, which he could sell for about $35. In Lagos, that's a lot of money.

Today was a poor fishing day, though. I sat with Tunde for a couple hours, but we didn't see any fish, so I didn't get to see him in action. The water was too dirty, he said. Indeed it was -- all kinds of stuff was boiling up from the depths.

"You ever see any dead bodies float by?" I asked him. Maybe I've been watching too much Sopranos lately (available everywhere here on bootleg DVD).

Yes, over the years, he'd seen a few. "What do you do, call the police?" No way -- he figured they would only show up and question him, and it would look suspicious. So Tunde just watches the corpses float on by.

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