Blogs > Cliopatria > By Popular Demand -- Meet the Vulcanizer

Dec 23, 2004 3:21 pm


By Popular Demand -- Meet the Vulcanizer



I have to say that I'm surprised by the response to the Tire-Changing Nigerian Style post -- but no more so than I am impressed with Manan Ahmed's own charming description of Uncle Billa the Tire Walla.

To add a face to the story, here is a photo I took a couple of years ago of the neighborhood vulcanizer who works in the neighborhood where my wife's family lives in Lagos, Nigeria. He is, like many Vulcanizers, a pleasant and easy-going guy. I love the fact that his work station is mounted on an old wheel rim -- functional and representative at the same time.



He is flanked, on each side, by Okadas , which deserve a post all their own at some point (and, eventually, a chapter in the someday-to-be-written book on West African Car Culture -- or perhaps I should say road culture??). For the moment, suffice it to say that the Okada's are Nigerian motorcycle taxis. They get their name from a Nigerian commercial airline. So, they are 'fast like jet planes.' They are also notoriously dangerous, with the drivers being both reviled and admired as representatives of modern urban youth. You can see an"Okada Man" peeking over the bike in the left-hand side of the photo.

On the occasions when I would use an Okada to get around Lagos, it never failed to be a source of great amusement for anybody who saw me go by. Pointing, laughter, and good natured yells of"Oyibo! (white person) Stay off Okada! TOO DANGEROUS!" were not uncommon.

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