That you might commonly find the mentally-challenged running destitute on Nigerian streets does not mean that psychiatric problems are treated with levity by society generally.
The issue of persons whose heads might have “turned” or “scattered” is real serious business among many of Nigeria’s tribes. Madness is such a forbidden topic among these tribes that it is such a great stigma for the family of the afflicted. Due diligence for possible history of insanity in a particular family is a priority for determining whether or not marriage proposals be followed through or aborted in a number of tribes. Add to this such acts as murder, suicide, rape and theft.
Unfortunately, while psychiatric matters may be serious issues in Nigeria, it is doubtful if practitioners of psychiatry enjoying a business boom, knowing the stigma attached to those undergoing psychiatric evaluation, observation or treatment. Nigeria, whatsoever the strides in the various spheres, the average person would not willingly consult a psychiatrist, not even a psychologist, for all it is worth. It is often a topic of avid debate and a favourite conclusion by discussants is that any person merely consulting a psychologist or psychiatrist be it voluntarily, under referral or involuntarily, is readily labeled a lunatic. A piece of news item that makes the round at supersonic speed, rubbishing not just the lives of not just the person directly concerned, but those of the other members of the family, and even the circle of friends or any other linked to particular party.
The tag of madness may not only be negative though, because it is often quite common to hear opponents in a face-off boast of madness to gain the advantage. In these instances, madness or craziness becomes a badge of honour. It is, therefore, not surprising hearing words such as these spewed out: “You think you are crazy, wait until I show you real madness.”
Strange? Two sides of a coin. Madness can both be a burden and a blessing. A burden when it is for real for the afflicted or the family and friends of the afflicted. A blessing for the adept who would adroitly use furiously-voiced claims of an intimidating degree of insanity to browbeat an opponent into submission, gaining a much-sought advantage.
And talking about the burden and blessing of madness draws the mind to the psycho ward called Lagos ports access roads. The zone is a burden that weighs heavily on those unfortunate enough to deal with the roads. On the Lagos ports access roads, trips that would normally not take about 10 minutes could easily turn into hours, as one stews in the ubiquitous gridlock.
Several efforts have been made, and continue to be made, towards resolving the Lagos ports access roads impasse. The madness of these efforts are that the more they are made, the more terrible the situation gets. But in this lurks the crazy reason for the mad nature of these roads. The blessings of the mad nature of the Lagos ports access roads have always been reaped and continue to be reaped by the army of real and fake-officials of local, state and Federal Governments that haunt the zone, ostensibly to help restore and maintain order on the roads.
While an age-long lack of expansion in existing infrastructure, particularly ports access roads, even in the face of ever rising traffic, is largely to be blamed for the great headache these roads are, the antics of the so-called Kings of the Road haulage trucks and their operators are critical factors in the equation.
Growing up in Surulere the nightmare-inducing sight of a powerfully-built fully-grown lunatic male in the full glory of his birthday suit haunted many a location in this relatively-sedate Lagos neighbourhood. Infamously known as King of the Road, it is not wrong comparing the depravity of Lagos ports access roads’ Kings of the Road to his.
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