Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Memorable Ride!

Good week everyone. Once again I hope everyone had a good weekend? Mine? Mine was good, albeit speckled with highs and lows from trying to coax my ancient but beloved Beth into going easy on her thirst for fuel during the fuel crises, to the joyful news of the grand entrance of a new nephew into this world. Welcome guv’nor, hope you can handle it!

Last week, I spent time whining about the challenges I went through last year. This week I’ll spend whining about the rest of the year …. not! I’ll dedicate this week to extolling God’s mercies on a rascally young brat like me. Hmm, Kalu, your own no go spoil o! I hope my kids don’t give me as many heart wrenches as I give my loving God and my loved ones. (If only my mum knew!)

It was earlier on this year when I was working on a movie set somewhere along Alpha Beach road in Lekki, Lagos. I’d parked my car at my friend’s, JB, house as the crew had come to pick me up for the day’s work. It turned out however, that for the sake of logistics, my scene would have to be the last scene as my venerable colleague, Uncle Olu Jacobs had a crowd scene to shoot at a church that served as a location. This meant that I had about two to three hours to kill. I immediately called JB to come pick me up. I specifically told him not to come with his car but to come with his newly acquired ‘touring’ bike.

JB, my very dear friend, is an avid lover of motorcycles, especially the racing kind. In his living room leans a relic of his hell raising days, an indistinguishable mishmash of plastic and rusting iron mercifully covered by a large tablecloth. A glossy calendar of various models of the classic Harley Davidson adorns a wall, an attestation of the undead embers of his passion for bikes. In the same living room equally with its pride of place sits his new bike, a grudging compromise and a symbol of hope for better things to come. It’s a budget Chinese replica of a Harley. I hesitate to name the make an model, fearing to invoke his ire, as he has preemptively sprayed it over with black spray paint. It’s an impressive display of chrome, plastic and steel complete with swooping lines of twin mufflers and handlebars. The rider’s seat and pillion are low slung giving it the classic look of a touring bike until one looks up the engine capacity on the manual, the obvious testament on the tank being obliterated by the ubiquitous spray paint. The heavy bike is powered by a 150cc engine which with the extra load of its rider is very much like powering a large Mercedes Benz limousine with a small Toyota hatchback engine.

My phone rang, heralding his arrival at the church gate where I had been waiting. Admonishing him on his tardiness and for making me wait, I gleefully hopped on the pillion and put my helmet on. It took some trouble moving off as the road was sandy and, I supposed, JB getting used to an extra weight on his bike. The bike struggled to find some traction on the loose sand and on finding some firm rock, finally took off and we were on our merry way. It was a sunny Saturday morning and the road was already abuzz with people going about their business. Children played under the tables of their mothers’ roadside stalls while customers haggled over prices of wares displayed. Hawkers milled about, some sashaying with their laden trays proudly borne on their sturdy necks, making one not sure what wares were being advertised. Young men and women, the colour and drive of any society, dominated the atmosphere, different motives in their footsteps. Observing the atmosphere, I took off my helmet, a considerable part of me wanting to be seen on this fine bike, a sharp contrast to days on an okada (commercial bike), rushing to get to an airport or escape from a taxi stuck in traffic. I hadn’t a care in the world, cruising along the road with my friend amidst playful banter until we got to the expressway at the end of the road.

The junction was a medley of commercial buses, motorbikes and conductors and commuters at the bus stop and all manner of vehicles zipping past on the expressway. I waved heartily back at some passers by who waved a greeting on recognizing me. With some difficulty owing to the bulk of our vehicle, we negotiated our way through the maze and finally got on the expressway. We got to the roundabout and did a u turn in the opposite direction and headed towards his house. Traffic had already built up due to a busy bus stop a short distance ahead and weaving our way through the columns of vehicles was hard going. The under powered bike struggled labouriously through gears and curses of embarrassment from us and blares of irritation from the much more nimble okadas behind us until we got past the bus stop. The road suddenly cleared as vehicles sped away from the busy stop and we made to do the same when our engine suddenly stalled right in the overtaking lane! In a wild panic I looked behind me and saw a huge sand laden misshapen ten wheeler truck trundling toward us. Even at a distance of about ten metres the bumper and grill loomed well above our heads. The windscreen was barely discernable so I waved frantically and screamed at JB to get us to the side of the road in the prayerful hope that the truck driver would at least spy my flailing arms and begin work on his brakes. We managed to get to the slow lane only to veer into the path of a flat nosed midsized commercial bus pulling out of the bus stop. My long arms and expressive face must have struck a chord with the otherwise typically impatient driver because he actually slowed down and let us pull over to the side of road before hurtling past us into the distance..

We rode home in silence; on my part because I didn’t want to spark off an argument while we were still on our journey. The rest of the journey was uneventful and suffice it to say that I never quite looked at that bike the same way after that day. While not a little shaken by the incident, I also realized how much God protects us every day from things we take for granted. This also gives us the impetus to live our lives to the fullest, work towards realizing our dreams the best way we can in the knowledge that someone has our backs at all times. Moral of the story: Beware dodgy bikes and even dodgier riders! Have an incident free week everyone!


  1. hey u... i once had this crazy idea of attending my wedding on a power bike and then we both ride off into the sunset...ok, that was over 5 years ago. and now, i wonder - a tux and a flowing gown, the roads and the 'ever in a hurry' drivers?...all i can see is...Brrrr! the tots are scarrry! those tots are far from me now.i think i'll opt for the car, it looks more apealing...
    and u are right, apreciating life usually comes from near experiences, apreciating God comes from knowing there's someone who's got our backs when we least expect it.
    As for ur kids...i think u should fall on ur knees and and start praying reeeeeeal HARD!cos...may the Lord help u!


  2. oh please don't Go on a bike next time ... could see he scene in my mind ...

  3. I'm ROTFL hard @ this...part of me wants 2 say; serves ur "show-off" self right...but d other understands what the scene must have looked and felt like, and so sympathises with u....thank God for little mercies that we overlook...and I'm sure glad you are alright...hope you made it back to location in good time...lol

  4. Sound like a naija flick to me..... cant wait to see u it.... Kalu okada is okada...oh yes... God has been faithful to us. I will personally train ur kids to be....... hahaha... take care

  5. I recently went on a biking trip in Abuja and it was loads of fun to me and i didnt care about getting hurt considering the fact that it was the first time i ever rode a bike by myself.
    I think the difference is the location because i would never dare ride a bike in lagos.
    Thank God you are safe and ok and that really tells us something about God's mercies.

  6. Kalu, thats what you get for having dodgy friends like JB. What sort of a name is JB anyway. Sounds dodgy all the way. Sorry JB, but couldnt resist writing this, You know i love you

  7. Mr. Kalu... very interesting but at the same time very delicate n scary.... plzz lagos is not the best place for bike ride. As far as am concerned... okada is still okada.. wit 155CC power engine or not... infact, u v to b extremly carefull. My last visit to Nigeria.. OMG! wanted to go crazy wit d okada people.. one bumped into me n broke my side mirror.. wanted to slap the hell out of him( but was an old man)... honestly i was so pissed... immediatelly he went straight on the floor... apologising.. ( felt bad for the old man). but anyway Mr Kalu.. u have got to be very carefully. please please i beg.. say hi to ur friend JB lol... funny indeed!!!

  8. You took off YOUR HELMET?!! If to sey I sabi your mama, I for report you sharp-sharp!

  9. Kalu Ikeagwu, Kalu Ikeagwu, Kalu Ikeagwu, How many times did I call you? Write a book! Write a book! WRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE A BOOK!!!!

  10. O Lawdy,had a real good laf,thank God ur ok:-)

  11. Nice writing style. I enjoyed reading this.
    Glad you are alive to tell the story too.

    Riding bikes on the expressway has its risks.

  12. lol...
    pretty apt narration!
    Thank God for mercies, great and small.
    when's the movie out?

  13. When you said you took off your helmet, I thot you were going to say Road Safety people arrested you sef. Serves you right for wanting to show off(kidding, kidding!)

    Wouldn't that have been a story for City People...esp after they discover that the bike was actually a cheap Chinese knock-off (Ouch!) (Nollywood star knocked down from fake bike!) God Forbid!

    Next time, stay away from dodgy bikes and show-boating friends. Much better to show off in a Prado :D