Lagos is no doubt a concentration of individuals with different stories. HAPPENINGS MAGAZINE caught up with Ashiru Awolu, a fruit seller in Victoria Island, and he shared his story on how he came to start the business of fruit selling, his challenges and dreams. Correspondence by Kikelomo Onigbanjo and Odunayo Adeneye:
Happenings Magazine: Personal Details
Ashiru: I am Ashiru Awolu from Kano State. I just got to Lagos about 10 days ago. I was formerly in Lagos before but I had to go back to supervise my farm. I have a farm in the village and I grow rice and corn. I do not have any educational qualification except Islamiyya in my village in Kano. I am really scared of being unemployed and broke.
Happenings Magazine: Since when did you start this business?
Ashiru: I started last week. When I was formerly in Lagos, I was a bike rider in the market, that was where I learnt how to speak Pidgin English. I had to leave riding bikes because it was not safe anymore. That was why my brother brought me here to assist him in selling fruits. He goes to buy the fruits from the market, my own is to cut and sell them.
Happenings Magazine: How have sales been?
Ashiru: Well, sales have been very slow. I think the reason is because fruits are seasonal. I just joined my brother. I am hoping to take over this business when my brother travels. He is going next year
Happenings Magazine: Do you finish selling everything in a day?
Ashiru: No I don’t. I leave everything till the next day. We air our wares when we are not able to finish selling.
Happenings Magazine: Have you ever been harassed by law enforcement agents?
Ashiru: Yes I have. What I do is to hide my market from them and pretend as if I’m just strolling around (general laughter)
Happenings Magazine: Are you married?
Ashiru: No, I am not married. I had a girlfriend in my village but due to some circumstances involving her parents I could not marry her again. I was planning to marry her last year. I hope to find another girl someday, but for now, I am not ready to get married. The thing is, I am in the city now, and I cannot marry all these city girls. They will drain my pocket.
Happenings Magazine: Which kind of business would you like to do?
Ashiru: I have not really figured out the type of business I want to do. Like I said, I am an apprentice here. Maybe when I take over from my brother I will know the kind of business I want to do alongside this.
Happenings Magazine: How is this economy affecting you?
Ashiru: I am really affected, but I still believe in this government. The President is not God; he can only try. The system has already been bad even before he came on board.
Happenings Magazine: How do you unwind?
Ashiru: Well the only way I unwind is to buy a very big chicken and eat. Sometimes I buy rice or beans and I eat with the chicken. If I have money, I top it with a bottle of malt and sometimes pure water. That is the only enjoyment I know.
Happenings Magazine: Thank you for your time
Ashiru: You are welcome.