The Half Gist On Lagos Buses – Josh Journal
My third least favorite thing about Public Transport in Lagos, after the time-wasting and absence of shock absorbers, is half gist.
For those of you who have the luxury of driving your own car or having a private car pick you up, you most likely have no idea how frustrating half gist can be.
You leave your house or office, with no intention of being an amebo. All you want to do is get to your destination in peace and one piece.
At the back of your mind, you hope the vehicle doesn’t stop halfway. In the front of your mind, you hope the conductor is not having a bad day. As for the driver, all you can do is hope his papers are complete. And his senses too.
All of that does not matter as you can’t verify them before getting on the bus. If you have the luxury of eyeing the body of the bus before entering, other commuters don’t care.
The longer you take to ascertain the roadworthiness of a bus, the less likely you are to get a seat on that bus.
Finally, you are on the bus. At least this one doesn’t look like it is about to tear your clothes. And the mouth of the conductor wasn’t really smelling too.
As you sit, you are already uncomfortable with the flimsy amount of foam used to cushion the wood turned into a seat. The backrest is also jarring into your back.
As soon as the bus moves from the bus stop, the conversation resumes around you.
The guy in the front with the driver is shouting.
From the back, you can hear a loud voice booming a response. One mama is chipping in her response.
The whole bus burst into laughter as she gives the government or a pastor, imam, musician, actor, famous baby mama, or another celebrity a tongue lashing that is hall of Fame worthy.
You agree or disagree with what was just said, but you can’t yet jump in.
You only heard half gist, you don’t know where they started from. Thanks to rumors, blogs, soft sell magazines, and radio presenters that deal in petty traders gossip, you know what they are talking about.
Yet you cannot jump in because you don’t know who is on what side, which side is winning, or whose turn it is to talk.
A common consequence of jumping into half gist is that you could easily become the center of attention.
For saying the wrong word, people will turn whatever frustration they have bottled up against the driver, conductor, agbéró, their spouse, children, parents, in-laws, the local government councilor, governor, and president on you.
Your best bet is to keep quiet and listen to the half gist from wherever you joined. If the opportunity to join in presents itself, feel free to join in.
But do that at your own discretion. Believe me, you don’t want them to wrap up the half gist and make you a full gist.
Sometimes, you choose to keep quiet and observe, then someone would turn to you and loudly ask for your opinion.
Please, proceed with caution. They will not say they were the ones that asked for your thoughts, they will drag you like an I-better-pass-my-neighbor generator.
Every once in a while, there is that one fellow that got in a couple of bus stops after you. They have heard even less of the half gist than you did.
Before they are even seated, they already jump right into the conversation.
If the person is extremely funny or intelligent, they can easily get away with this.
But if the person makes a false landing, you can be sure that journey is going to be a nightmare for them. They’ll get dragged like a cow being forced to walk from Lagos to Ibadan.
When Lagos-based artists talk about being inspired by or in the traffic in Lagos, it is often these conversations they are referring to.
If you want to have a true feel of the pulse of Lagos, these buses are the surest and fastest way to go about it.
Animated, angry, happy, excited, disappointed, totally ignorant, religious fanatic, football club die-hard fan, political analyst, tribal bigot, the funniest fellow you ever met, a walking dictionary, encyclopedia, and thesaurus all rolled into one, the history buff, the one who witnessed or knows someone that witnessed every event in history, the one who can sleep through a storm, all these and more are the people you should expect to meet on a Lagos bus.
As much as I dislike half gist, my journey is always better when the bus is rocking.
It is peak entertainment, yet a time to soak in knowledge, both the plausible and the incredulous.
If you are a creative and your creative juice is running out, you really need to get on a Lagos bus.