I felt cheated reading Cole's Every Day is for the Thief. I felt like it needed to be one-third longer. The story of a Nigerian returning home after living in New York City reads both as a love story to Lagos as well as the gossiping critique of a disappointed lover. Below are the highlights from my 2014 Reading List selection:
Aunty Folake explains what is going on. Policemen routinely stop
drivers of commercial vehicles at this spot to demand a bribe. The officer
being told off has drifted too close to his colleague’s domain. Such clustering
is bad for business: drivers get angry if they are charged twice. All this
takes place under a billboard that reads “Corruption Is Illegal: Do Not Give or
Accept Bribes.” And how much of the government’s money, I wonder, was siphoned
off by the contractor who landed the contract for those billboards?
Read more at location 150
The car ahead of us in traffic, a decrepit Peugeot 504, has a
sticker featuring a smiling face and the words “Relax! God is in control.” It
occurs to me that the barely concealed sense of panic that taints so many
interactions here is due precisely to the fact that nobody is in control, no
one is ultimately responsible for anything at all. Life in Nigeria, in Lagos in
particular, requires constant vigilance. It is entirely possible to put on a
happy face, but what no one can really do is relax.
Read more at location 1299
I want to take the little camera out of my pocket and capture the
scene. But I am afraid. Afraid that the carpenters, rapt in their meditative
task, will look up at me; afraid that I will bind to film what is intended only
for the memory, what is meant only for a sidelong glance followed by forgetting.