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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Yellow Fever

When we moved to sub Saharan Africa, we knew we were coming to a place where we could be exposed to several different diseases and sicknesses.  The top ones being malaria, typhoid and yellow fever. When we moved here, we all had to get a series of vaccinations so we (hopefully) would never get any of these diseases.  Until yesterday, I didn't know there is  "yellow fever" that you really cannot avoid here in Lagos...

Fatai was driving me around the Falomo bridge roundabout trying to get on the bridge to head back to Victoria Island.  We were about four rows deep into chaotic traffic trying to find our way to the very narrow opening to enter the bridge when I heard a very loud banging sound on the back side of our car.  I thought it was an okada trying to weave in between the cars and misjudging his girth. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw a traffic police officer walking along the passenger side of the car.  My window remained rolled up....but I could hear him loud and clear.  At first he was yelling very loud in Yoruba...and I don't understand too much Yoruba, but his facial expressions and body language could clearly tell me he was very upset.  Then, he started yelling at Fatai in English that he didn't see him waving him to stop.  I looked around at all the chaotic traffic and thought this guy is really trying to control THIS????!!!!  Yeah, clearly he was having a bad day and then I kind of felt sorry for him...what a terrible job...standing in the crazy Lagos traffic and no one listening to you as buses zoom past your outstretched hand and okadas not minding any traffic rules.  I guess we were just the ones to get the brunt of his frustration.  And, as many altercations in Lagos end, the traffic officer stopped yelling and eventually waved us forward with a disgusted look on his face.

When I got home, I told Happiness about it.  She asked me if he was wearing an orange shirt. I said he was.  She told me I was just infected with Yellow Fever.  I said, "Yellow Fever??" and she said " Yes madame, Yellow Fever.  Those traffic police try to infect everyone with their yelling and arm waving."  I told her that was odd to call them yellow fever because their shirts are actually orange. She said that there was an Afro beat artist named FELA who coined the name yellow fever for the traffic police here in Lagos.  Happiness told me that since she was little that is what many Nigerians call these officers.  I found it a bit amusing that it took almost three years for me to be "infected" with yellow fever.  With all the craziness in this city, I would have thought it would have been sooner.:)

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