To what extent will Lagos entrepreneurs and business people go to ensure success in their day to day dealings? This question is even more pertinent now that the economy has contracted so severely and caused great hardship for many Lagos residents and entrepreneurs alike.
We will not pretend that we don’t’ know just how far people go for commercial gain in this part of the world. Still, it is always shocking to discover that people really do engage in all manner of antics for money, when their deeds are discovered and exposed.
So it was yesterday, that after tallying up sales at the University of Lagos, Akoka, New Hall buttery, the same seller had once again gone through almost two 50-kg bags of rice. Yet, her contemporaries were as usual, counting only a few ‘dericas’ (small measuring cups).
What was it that made students flock to Cici’s point of sale, leaving the other food sellers at her mercy? It had to be her unmatched cooking skills, everyone must have thought. Her striking good looks maybe? Or her people skills which just bordered on flirtation but never going beyond boundaries. Was it simply was her natural charm?Whatever it was, she had them coming back, no doubt causing her fellow food vendors severe bellyache in the process.
Jazz. Otoro, okpor, juju, African magic, charms…
…yes, charms were found behind a banner at her stall and pandemonium broke at New Hall! Finally, the secret to Cici’s success had been discovered. And it had nothing to do with her looks or even culinary skills. She was being accused of ‘jazzing’ her competitors, and her unsuspecting customers for their patronage.
The jazz news spread quickly. And so, the security personnel were called in to handle the matter. Cici the accused was taken away for questioning. Her comeuppance was here. Cici would be roundly punished for consulting the evil doers for gain, and for putting innocent lives at risk.
Now, anyone who has ever lived on a Nigerian university campus can imagine the sort of ‘punishment’ the enraged students would mete out to this ‘accused’. Maybe they would burn her equipment in the open? Strip her naked and disgrace her publicly; match her through campus to show the face of evil and warn others to desist from such acts?
Actually, no. None of the above. The otherwise fiery students of Unilag did no such thing. In fact, Cici’s business continued virtually unperturbed by the recent happenings. And while she wasn’t there physically – she was still writing her statement at the security post 6 hours later – her staff were doing brisk business feeding the very forgiving student population of Unilag.
But why exactly did the students respond in this uncharacteristically tame manner?
Well, there are 2 possible reasons. One, a competitor who was fed up with watching Cici outsell her on a daily basis planted the ‘otoro’ found at Cici’s stall. It is also possible that ALL the other vendors ganged up and decided to set Cici up. This way, no one person would take the blame and they would all feed fat off Cici’s downfall. While this may sound too much like an Agatha Christie mystery story, it is at least a possibility.
Of course, there is a second reason, which as Africans we cannot rule out – Cici’s jazz actually works, and continues to work even in absentia.
Whatever the case, it would be fascinating to find out what actually happened in New Hall on the 18th of May 2016. There are lessons for entrepreneurs to learn from the final verdict. And we will definitely be sharing those thoughts when available.
Signed with tongue firmly in cheek,