How to Take Public Transport In Western Nigeria

Welcome to South West Nigeria, aka Yorubaland where everyone loves amala ati ewedu and where everyone speaks Yoruba even if they understand (and speak) English perfectly. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration but better safe than sorry yeah?

This article is going to teach you some useful tips and phrases that can help if you decide to take public transportation in South Western Nigeria using Ibadan as a case study.

Yoruba people recognize only three tribes in Nigeria: Abokis (Hausas), and omo Igbo (Igbos), if you hail from somewhere like Delta or Calabar, you are automatically omo Igbo and if you hail from Kaduna or Plateau, you are automatically an Aboki. The Yoruba people don’t mean this as an insult as far as I can tell; they simply don’t really care.

To the task at hand; if you’re white (or light-skinned or Asian or Indian or anything ‘foreign’) and you can’t speak Yoruba, rest assured, you will be cheated. There is nothing anyone can do about that. Now the rest of you Nigerians and black people, read on.

  1. When going somewhere and aren’t sure of directions, please don’t just ask any Tomiwa, Deji or (H)Ariyo for directions as the Yoruba people are prone to exaggeration. Instead, go inside a roadside store, buy a bottle of coke (whether you are thirsty or not) or something worth at least that amount, and while you are drinking the coke or eating something, broach it very conversationally that you are going to such and such place and don’t know your way. Asking for directions without buying something won’t get you anywhere.
  2. When in a bus, make sure your phone/tablet is in your phone or bag and is on vibrate mode or silent. On no account should you bring it out during the journey.
  3. If you’re in a bus and you hear someone talking loudly about dollars or a business deal, stop at the next bus stop, you have probably boarded what is referred to as ‘one chance’ or ‘419 bus’. If your curiosity gets the better of you, you would most likely be scammed or robbed.
  4. When you come down from the bus, before you pay, check your pockets for your phone, card-holder and wallet BEFORE you pay the fare or before the bus zooms off (as sometimes you pay the fare while inside the bus).
  5. Always have loose change to pay the fare.
  6. Check your pockets if anyone ‘mistakenly’ bumps into you.

Useful phrases for public transportation

O wa /oh-wah/: Literally means ‘it’s here’ but colloquially means ‘stop’ or ‘I want to alight’ or ‘there is’.

M’ofe bole /moh feh boh-leh/ : Literally means ‘I want to come down’. Usually said to the bus conductor rather than the driver.

E sun /eh-soon/: ‘Shift’ might be said by a passenger who is trying to get you to shift so he/she can sit too

M’on bo /mohn boh/: ‘I am coming’ might be said by the conductor when you ask him for change

(E) jo /(Eh)-jor/: ‘Please’ the ‘eh’ sound is added when addressing elders or people of higher social status

Oshe /oh-shey/: ‘Thank you’ for peers or younger people

Eshe /eh-shey/: ‘Thank you’ for elders and those of higher social status or used to convey deep thanks

(e)joko /(eh)-joke-oh/: ‘Sit down’

Ki lon so /key-loan-saw/: ‘What did you say’

A bus plying the University of Ibadan-Roundabout route; commuter wants to stop at Leventis bus stop

Conductor: Enter pelu change o. Mi’i ni change rara o

Trans: Please make sure you have change for the fare. I don’t have any change at all.

You: Jo, hundred naira mo ni oh.

Trans: Please, I have a hundred naira note.

Conductor: Enter

*Bus moves for a while*

Conductor: Front seat, e fun mi l’owo

Trans: Those at the front, please give me money (pay the fare)

*You pay with N100 for a N80 fare*

You: Conductor how far? Change mi da?

Trans: Hello Conductor, can I get my change?

Conductor: E jo, mo’n bo

Trans: Please, I am coming.

Driver: Shey Leventis wa?

Trans: Is there anybody alighting at Leventis Bus Stop?

Commuter (You): Leventis wa

Trans: Yes, there is someone stopping there

Driver: Eh? Ki lon so?

Trans: What’s that? What did you say?

You: O wa *say this loudly*

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