I have heard so many stories about how affordable food items are at the popular Mile 12 market in Lagos. So, I planned a shopping visit with a friend on a Saturday morning.
On arrival at the market, two alàbááru (Yoruba word for Porter) started to follow us. Later on, an argument ensued between them on who would carry our goods. After some minutes of shouting and arguing, they agreed to work together. The natural leader between them became our guide while the other was left to carry all the goods we bought and still, they both had to share the bill equally at the end of the day.
How did this happen?
Firstly, the natural leader was multi-lingual. He could speak Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, one of Akwa-ibom indigenous language fluently. He could communicate with almost everyone that sells in the market.
Secondly, he was courteous. It was almost unbelievable! He was sincere with his greetings, his manner of approach to the older women was respectful, calling them “mama“,to the young women was endearing while the men was cordial. From one stall to another, he had a touch point. Even with the street urchins, popularly called areaboys, he had a rapport. Everything we bought were taken to a loading point which they guarded for us at almost no cost.
Thirdly, his negotiation skills! We got better bargain on everything we purchased at the market.
And lastly, his closure. Despite the long hours we spent at the market, he never hopped from us to another customer. He started and finished the market rounds with us. Considering what we paid him and his sidekick, it was meager when compared to the service we were provided.
I must say, he left a lasting impression on us. One would have not expected such a wow experience from a local market.