In a suburban area of the city of Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa, in a ‘slum’ popularly known as Abule , reside two random strangers, Michael “Mike-O” Oyelade and Timiebi “Timmy Tha Creator” Edafe, connected by their unpleasant background and experiences. Having had the most humbling of beginnings, they have come to the “big city” to take a shot at being successful. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to The Hustler Diaries.
Michael’s parents are based in the old historical city of Abeokuta, where his mom works as a school teacher, and his dad is a retired government employee. The only surviving child, Michael comes from a place of being under pressure to be “something” in life. His parents see themselves as underachievers and have made it their mission to live their desired dreams vicariously through their son.
As for Timmy, named after his maternal grandfather, who hailed from the Delta state, he was born in Benin city to a mother who was never married to his father, and as such, had little contact and even less of a relationship, with him. The middle child of three, Timmy is the only male and is seen as the one child who should become successful and transform the fortune of his family.
Timmy barely knew his father, apart from the fact that he was a “regular customer” of his mom’s during her time as a sex worker. He kept the man’s last name as a way to always remember that he did have a father.
Both young men in their mid 20s, Mike and Timmy share a passion for music and the arts. Mike, is a smalltime DJ who also likes to dabble into music production, and Timmy on the other hand, is a digital and graphics artist, who also raps occasionally and has a high affinity for Trap music.
********** ************ ************* ***********
Abule, aptly named, is the typical example of a proper slum: rough roads, defective buildings, abandoned vehicles, and a general ambience of regression. Many of the streets barely had any signposts, and were all connected to one another.
There are public smoking joints, beer joints, and practically every corner on the streets, is a gambling center. In the heart of this slum, is its most popular neighborhood, known as ‘Ilegbegbe‘ which is a predominantly Yoruba neighborhood, and is ironically peaceful and devoid of violence except on rare occasions.
One of such occasions, is this particular Friday night, on which the community is holding its monthly “carnival”. The carnival is usually characterized by specially made streetlights, loud music, and heavy smoking and drinking. Everyone is welcome to ‘rock’ at the carnival as long as they are streetwise and are not troublesome.
The night is going accordingly, and Mike-O has just mounted the DJ’s deck, momentarily filling in for the main DJ who is taking a break. Timmy is also somewhere close by, drinking a mix of alcoholic beverages from his red cup. As the music plays loudly, and people on the streets are lost in their frenzied ‘dance-athon’, two loud pops tear through the atmosphere of gyration, instantly snapping everyone back to reality.
Following a third pop, it becomes clear that the sounds everybody has just heard, are the unpleasantly familiar sounds of gunfire. A scene of wild stampede immediately replaces the ambience of good vibes as people try to take cover to avoid being hit. Mike-O jumps off the stage, landing hard on the floor and hurting his arm in the process. Timmy is knocked over by a group of muscled young men clad in all black outfits, and bandanas.
After the dust settles, witnesses still on the scene gather round a young man who is lying in the streets, writhing in pain and whimpering in Yoruba “Won ti get mi, e s’aanu mi e jo”, translation of which is “I’ve been hit, please help me out”. People in the background can be heard wailing, with some already saying with tears, in Yoruba “Ah o ma see o. Ikunle abiyamo” (generally that means “what a pity”).
Not long after, two men run up on the scene, one of them being a local vigilante. They help the gunshot victim off the floor, and into a small Toyota Camry waiting nearby. The car drives off, presumably to a hospital. By this time everyone on the scene knows who the victim is, and what it means for the community. The son of the “Baale”, or Chief traditional leader, of Abule, has been shot. And things are about to go further south.