A Lagos Story Shitta's very own 'Batman'

He doesn't wear a cape or mask because that's too mainstream. His name is...

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Shitta is famous for its military-era housing project play

Shitta is famous for its military-era housing project

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He doesn't wear a cape or mask because that's too mainstream. Shitta is stuck with him as Gotham is stuck with batman.

He doesn't go around with a name befitting for the headlines, he doesn't hide his identity. He wears his name like Guaranty Trust Bank wears the colour orange.

His name, as he is not-so-fondly called, is Uncle Taju.

Some people nickname Shitta "Shytown", the same way people call Lagos "Gidi". But in all honesty, there's nothing remotely shy about Shitta.

At its heart is Medube, the Skunk [Cannabis sativa + Cannabis indica] capital of Surulere, where all shyness dies.

On a very normal Shitta evening, the place is live with loud music from several stores contesting who has the loudest speakers.

There's lots of chairs for customers to sit and grab a bottle or two of strong stuff. The mix of cigarette and skunk smoke hangs in the air as a thick smoke, like a spirit overing over them.

But today, Shitta is not as live as it was a few months ago.

The story goes that a politician trying to win over the people of Shitta dropped a sum of money for the youth.

The story puts the number at a million naira. Considering how hard it is for people to work out a proper "sharing formular", terror was unleashed.

Few bodies dropped never to rise. The fear was evenly shared.

Enter the six-foot-plus Uncle Taju. He's a policeman with only one mission; restoring order. Many will add "by any means necessary".

I remember once walking through Medube. Some guys were seated there, lamenting over a previous raid. "Taju lo paa now" which translates to "Taju killed him", he said almost as easily he pulled on the blunt in his hand.

A slow Sunday morning in Medube play

A slow Sunday morning in Medube

 

More bodies dropped, never to rise, but order was restored. Which begs the question, is he Batman, or Bane, or both?

Considering his methods, including allegations of extortion and intimidation, many will say he's not that much of a hero.

What is certain is that he has brought order and an uneasy calm to Shitta. He's the new boogeyman, the type you scare your children and debtors with.

The urban legend of Uncle Taju is not going anywhere any time soon.

I'll leave you with a few lines from a poem by Olajide Ojedokun:

 

"The pounding heart

The looming fear

The gnashing teeth

The praying lips

The night is now upon you

With its entourage of beauty

And splendour

A voice tells you to stay

The other says nay

You look around

It doesn't scare you.

Hmmm

Run Shitta

Brother Taju is coming."

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