Where are the Omolankes?
I went to the market recently and after I concluded my shopping, the loads were so many and heavy, I knew I couldn’t possibly carry them all to the car-park on my own without breaking a bone. I needed help and I needed it fast. As I looked around, with help seemingly coming from nowhere, I suddenly remembered Omolankes. I eagerly looked around hoping to spot one but I didn’t. Oh my Omolanke pushers…how I wish you were still around.
If you’ve ever lived in Lagos, the term ‘Omolanke’ won’t be strange to you. For those of you who are not familiar with the word, ‘Omolanke’ is a term used for the young men who go about the market with carts. Their duties ranged from carrying heavy load from one point to another, to fetching water for homes, carrying dirt from some homes to a central point of disposal, and generally rendering assistance to people who needed to carry weighty objects; for a fee of course.
Although, I was visiting Lagos after so many years of absence, I was surprised that I saw Omolanke nowhere at all. I would have thought some would still be around. They had seemed like an institution so long ago; seemed like they were here to stay. But alas, they were now missing in action.
After I stretched my neck to its breaking point looking in the distance for a few minutes, I finally got one ‘Omolanke’ to help me with my load to the car-park. It made me wonder how Lagosians manage to get their heavy purchases out of the market. In previous years, I would not have waited for that long to get one, they would have swarmed around me the minute it was apparent I was through with what I was doing. Was it the particular market I went to that lacked services like these or are Omolankes actually ‘gone with the wind?’ Are they extinct?