I was having a rough morning that Tuesday. I had grudgingly uprooted myself from my damp mattress, no thanks to Lagos consistent power failure. I had spent the previous tossing and turning, that is, after taking a shower for the third time before I finally surrendered to sleep. I had awoken with a strong headache and a sense of uncertainty, what would the day bring? How would my day at my 9–5 job be? The past few months had not been exactly friendly either but I digress…

While ruminating on these things, I found myself swerving to the left, almost landing on a fellow passenger’s laps. And then again, right, almost falling off the moving bus if not saved by the conductor’s swift intervention. From my seat in the second row by the edge of the bus, I saw the driver’s lips move profusely uttering not-so-quiet curses. On my right, the conductor backs him up by uttering some curses of his own. While trying to settle, I sighted a jeep in front, still trying to find its balance.

Now out of my reverie, I caught the driver pointing five fingers at the other driver whose face was still hidden by his tinted window glasses. The driver muttered something about “how women want to do everything. If dem no sabi drive shebi dem go carry moto commot for road”. Beside me, again I hear the conductor say “dem no dey hear that one, if you talk now dem…” he was cut halfway by another almost hit, a result of the other driver’s bad judgment.

Now properly vexed, the conductor hits the side of the jeep and yelled: “Madam e yi wo yin so wun na (Madam, turn your steering to the other side). Ti e ba mo motor wa e sha joko sile! (Sit at home if you can’t drive!)”. I jokingly asked the conductor what made him think it was a woman driving if he hadn’t even confirmed it. “Na who else go dey drive slowly and jagajaga like learner if no be woman. Una dey drive like say you dey fear the steering” was his response.

To be honest, I wasn’t even shocked by his response. I mean, I’ve been hearing that from male drivers over the years, but that morning, I wasn’t just having it. “What do you mean women don’t know how to drive? What has driving got to do with gender? It is a skill that can be acquired by anyone of legal age!” I heard a man behind shout “Dem no dey hear! Na so so defend dem go dey defend themselves”, this caused laughter to erupt from other men and some women. I didn’t let them deter me from schooling them, “Over the years, I’m sure we’ve all seen how ‘well’ men have ‘handled’ the steering”. “Aunty no dey talk like that, even blind person go know say that woman dey drive that car…” It was the bus driver this time, but before he could complete his sentence, the jeep driver had hit a Korope (small bus) in front and a fight about to ensue.

Realizing their mistake, the driver of the jeep steps down from his car only to reveal… a MAN. I couldn’t help it, ladies and gentlemen, I burst into well-deserved laughter. The driver must be worse than a blind person then (no offense meant to the blind). “So na man dey drive that kain way?” the conductor asked. “E be like say na him wife teach am how to drive” the man behind responded. “Maybe woman dey beside am dey distract am” another man said. Really? I wasn’t having it “How about the fact that you people would rather make excuses to justify your claims rather than accepting you were wrong?” I was met with grave silence.

I turned to the conductor, “Between man and woman driver, which one plenty pass for Lagos?” a long pause, then, “That one go hard o. How I wan take know that one?” was his response, while he scratched the side of his head. I saw he had already figured what I was driving at so he wasn’t going to make it easy for me. I wasn’t going to be deterred either. Like I mentioned earlier, I had had enough of the sexist thing. “Let me help you, it’s actually easy you see. We do not need a calculator or an official statistic to reach an answer. Let’s begin this way; how many females are Danfo drivers? How about BRTs, Trailers, Koropes, and Keke Napeps? Let’s not forget motorcycles, private cars used for Bolt, Uber and other services, and even truck pushers. How many women drive their personal cars? Even if the equation is almost balanced in the case of personal cars, we cannot excuse other vehicle owners/users who are majorly men” the silence is even graver now.

“My point is if the majority of the road users are men (at least in Lagos) and we all can testify to the state of traffic in Lagos, where and how did we get the idea that women are poor drivers? The real problem is that we have been programmed to base almost everything on gender, including acquiring skills. A woman will be judged for not knowing how to cook while the man is spared because he is a man. If indeed men are better drivers then we shouldn’t be having as many road accidents as we do, neither should be spending long hours in traffic if the men were truly experts in the field”.

At this point, I was almost reaching my bus stop so I quickly added, “It is not our fault that we grew up learning these things, but if we don’t take responsibility and unlearn them, we would be wrong for passing down these archaic and toxic ideologies to our children and the younger generation. Let’s be open-minded, when we hear a thing, question it beyond all reasonable doubts, weigh it from all angles, else who would be living in the 1800s while in 2020. I hope the next time someone drives poorly, you do not jump to a conclusion. Remind yourself that driving is a skill that is acquired by both genders.

“Aunty lawyer, oya o we don reach your bus stop! I suppose leave the money for you but you too get sharp mouth. Thank you sha, now wey you explain am like that, I agree small. We go dey try small small”. I alighted from the bus somewhat fulfilled. To think I started out moody and filled with uncertainty, that experience was the highlight of my day. I was able to reorientate at least fourteen people; hopefully, they were convinced and will pass it on. One life at a time, they say, till we change the world.


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