Ernest Muhammed is an excavator and wheel loader machine operator. He is diverse and also a salon owner. The name “Ernest” has been the compass of his life.
He’s an inquisitive person with great love for music. He shared his life experiences with us, and despite the state of the economy, Ernest Muhammed is one among billions that remains optimistic about the future.
Interview with Ernest Muhammed:
What’s your philosophy about life?
In anything I do, I try to be serious and truthful because of my name. I do things earnestly. My name affects me often. It comes to mind before I take any action with questions like “what’s your name”, “what’s the reason you bear Ernest”.
What are you a sucker for?
I like fashion and I love music, but I cannot sing. I like listening to music. This is because I like listening more rather than talking. Music led to me owning a salon.
Growing up, there was this salon close to my house. I usually sit there and pass time listening to music. I’m always there, and we became friends with the salon owner.
Whenever he’s out to freshen up, he leaves me to the salon. I’m always the only one when he’s out. Then I begin to develop interest in cutting people’s hair. I sometimes pray a child comes in to cut his or her hair. And my wishes do come true. They come and I do my best to cut their hair before the actual salon artist returns.
Most times, he returns to find me doing it so he tends to finish it up. Overtime, I decided to invest in owning a salon. Owning a hairstyling business wasn’t because of the hair, but the music I play while activities are going on.
I’ve grown to enjoy cutting people’s hair now. I feel really happy when I do it. Not for money or any other thing, but the happiness that comes naturally.
Before now, where were you Ernest?
It’s been over 2 decades since I started. That was after high school in 2000. That very year, I left my parents taking a path to becoming my own man. I didn’t want to live with them anymore. So, I went out and rented an apartment in Lagos, Ajegunle. I like to learn.
During that period, my brother was working at Apapa Port. Since, there wasn’t enough money to further my education, I reached out to him that I wanted to work. I hustle on my own daily. Then I got an offloading job at the port. We were like small machines. When ships arrived at the port, we offloaded the goods one after the other.
I was among those employed to offload sugar in bags. There was a contract attached to it.
“How much were they paying me per month?” (He asked while Afrobeat was playing in the background). $17.06 (then he laughed). I continued working regardless. There were many big machines in the company. I develop interest in operating the big machines. I told my brother about it.
My brother spoke to someone in his network, a Dangote Group’s staff so I could start learning the wheel loader machine. So I began working day and night. I sleep in the refinery. When workers taking night shifts resume, I continue working and learning how the wheel loader works. Did that for 2 years and became a full-time operator. The wheel loader is like an excavator. It carries sand.
When ships sailing from other countries reach the Papa Port, the crane operator offloads goods (sugar) into trailers. As they get empty, the wheel loader is employed to gather the remains of the sugar, then the crane offloads again. It’s also used for road construction.
It wasn’t easy. I suffered a lot, but remained focused. I put a lot of effort before becoming good at it. I worked for three years, then I moved to learning the excavator, and later the floor plate machine. We worked everywhere with those machines. I knew everywhere in Lagos working with Indians and Lebanese among others. Mostly, I do contract jobs with foreigners for usually 6 to 12 months.
Now, it’s been the salon for me. Getting gigs from contractors is now difficult considering the pandemic. The lockdown was hell. I had to improvise to get rechargeable clippers and light bulbs.
How did the economy affect your relationship?
Currently, I’m single. Relationship didn’t really go well for me. There are many things money answers in a relationship. Unnecessary argument, will be equally avoided. There’s so much fun with love and money.
What do you envision from here?
I have other investment plans. I don’t see myself spending much time here. I hope contracts will still come my way. I know where I came from, and I know where I am going to.
Thank you, for talking to us 🙂
By Elijah Christopher
Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.