It was early Saturday morning and Lagos was awake and bustling, my friend and I were on the move; off to waylay the ladies with their cache of fresh fish.
Unlike me the alien in Lagos, she understood this ritual perfectly. The earlier you leave home, the higher your chances of getting anything done in Lagos!
And fish pepper soup doesn’t come cheap. Whether like us you were cooking your fish at home or like many Nigerians you found yourself with a steaming, hot bowl in one of the many evening hang-outs, you paid a small premium.
Nonetheless, you found a way to hustle yourself some. And trust me, with some money in your pocket, good haggling skills and an easy smile, you will find fresh fish just right for your budget.
We arrived at the stall to set up our ambush and unbelievably, there was already a small party of people waiting. I was surprised at the mix of faces.
A young lady who worked in a bank and cooked fresh fish every Saturday as a treat for her husband, an older gentleman who was buying fish for his wife, a rather tense looking teenager who looked like he had just gotten out of bed and of course us-the two fresh fish disciples.
Suddenly, the atmosphere changed in an instant. Voices were raised, miraculously, a surge of bodies appeared from… everywhere. They had arrived.
Laden with blackened baskets bulging with their treasure of golden gills, the fish ladies quite calmly took their places behind the stalls and laid out their gleaming wares.
My friend looked at me. We just had a thousand Naira between us. Was there any real hope of outbidding the affluent looking madams who arrived in SUVs and big jeeps or the stern-faced market women who had come from the suburbs to stock up for the day?
As I waved the naira note in my hand, I realised this was going to take some special Lagos style haggling -I pushed my friend forward and prayed silently.
In the end, we didn`t get the biggest fish of the lot but in typical Nigerian style, we did not leave empty-handed; “Naija no dey carry last”!
The fresh fish fetish is alive and well and delightfully continues to wake up the senses of Nigerians at home and abroad.