I Dey My House Wey Trailer Come Jam Me, or Navigating A Country Designed To Kill You

Jerry Chiemeke
6 min readAug 3, 2023

The 1990s and 2000s were replete with mid-budget movie franchises, some of these veering towards the realm of the hair-rising. Audiences screamed and yelled as Neve Campbell fended off serial killers in (at least) four instalments of Wes Craven’s slasher classic Scream, and the Saw films have been responsible for nightmares across continents, but one of the horror classics that stood out was Final Destination, partly because you could draw a line from the death sequences across its five instalments to the incredulity that sometimes accompanies superstitious African beliefs. The tropes for the films — memorably the first two — ran thus: the protagonist gets a sudden premonition and warns his acquaintances about a major disaster that is about to happen, said disaster is averted, but then the survivors are killed one by one in bizarre accidents caused by an unseen force creating complicated chains of cause and effect.

Image Credit: Goo Goo Cinema.

Distributed by New Line Cinema, Final Destination is based on a speculative screenplay written by American filmmaker Jeffrey Reddick, but even he wouldn’t have anticipated that the gruesomeness in his scripts pales compared to what currently plays out in Nigeria. Home to over 200 million people — a debatable figure, no thanks to our complicated relationship with documentation — the world’s most populous black nation is blessed with the spiciness of jollof rice, the infectiousness of Afrobeats, the charming maneaters that are Igbo women, and the escapist cinema that is Nollywood, but it’s also a place where anything, and by that I mean anything, could have your loved ones describing you in past tense.

For instance, you could be stepping out of your apartment on a windy Wednesday morning, taking a 30-minute break from your N750,000/month remote job, rushing across the street to buy pasta and asun from Iya Sikirat’s teenage daughter whose crush on you (reflected in the extra pieces of meat she hides at the bottom of the pack) you are well aware of, only for an aeroplane to lose its bearing in the sky and fall in your direction just before you say “the usual nau, eran meta.” When American singer-songwriter Dave Matthews and his band composed their bedroom anthem “Crash Into Me” in 1996, it’s improbable that the full force of a Boeing descending on a human body was one of the scenarios they had in mind.

Image Credit: Nairaland.

Worse still, you could be a young female doctor, assigned to a poorly-equipped hospital right after seeing out a gruelling eight-year sojourn in medical school, heading into an elevator to get food with your meagre wages, then falling ten floors to your demise amidst shattered glass and fractured bones. It’s tearful, really, to imagine what it would have been like in her final moments: the slow emergency response, the unavailability of first aid, the short but earnest whispers of “please I don’t want to die”, the reassurances from friends, the prayers, the final gasps, the resigned shutting of eyes while soaked in her own blood.

The late Diaso was due to finish her internship in two weeks. Image Credit: Everyday.Ng

What is more heartbreaking is that we have been here before, once, and again, and yet again: the negligence, the appeal to take action, the refusal, the levity, the casualty, the condolences, the half-hearted public statements, the victim-blaming, the short-lived outrage, and then repeat. There are no consequences for these things, and that is why every day we look over our shoulders like we are characters in a dystopian novel.

The average Nigerian is prayerful by default, but as the years roll by like stones under rushing water, the devoutness increases exponentially, no thanks to the workings of a country engineered to eat its young: you could be smiling to yourself under Ojuelegba Bridge after receiving a text from your fiancee and a truck could find its way off the rails, you could march to a church in Akure to worship the God you love and like Sonny Corleone your body could get riddled with bullets, you could go visit a business partner in Ikoyi and the corruption of a building contractor could send you under huge piles of rubble. If you were to run a poll to determine the most popular prayer point across Nigeria’s major religions, it would be something along the lines of “May we go out and return the same way we came.”

Image Credit: Vanguard.

My last seven weeks in Nigeria were fraught with a silent but hovering sense of anxiety. I travelled to Asaba by road, spent about three weeks with my family whom I knew wouldn’t be seeing me in a long time, and returned to Lagos by road to wait out the days before my flight to London. The rosary is not my favourite prayer device these days — I’d rather run my fingers along waist beads — but in those twelve cumulative hours spent on the Benin-Ore expressway, I rolled back the years as the Hail Marys went up the air from my lips. My final eighteen days in Lagos had me refusing to stay out beyond 6pm, attend any parties, or take public transport: I wasn’t necessarily superstitious, but I was not going to take any chances.

Image Credit: Bloomberg.

A few days ago, I got into a conversation with a female Rwandan lawyer and film critic with whom I became friends last year. On account of her brilliance, she had recently got into a master’s degree program(me) in the United States, but she was visibly disappointed by what she termed “false advertising by Western media”, and jokingly remarked that we “should go back home.” I was going to type “Return to where? That death trap?”, but I simply responded with a laughing emoji before we moved on to other subjects like my indifference to Beyonce’s music.

Between the acute loneliness, the mediocre food, the unpredictable weather and the crippling taxes, I wouldn’t say that life in Europe is perfect by a long shot, but I have settled into some sort of stability that I couldn’t have laid claim to ten months ago…and no, I’m not talking about the money. Those who argue that middle-class Nigerians migrate because of the money do so from a very limited perspective, especially when one terminal illness or accident is enough to go from N20 million to N650. I miss my family, I still mull over losing a wonderful woman to the distance, and I wish I could communicate with my brother Stephen way more often than I have, but at least I bask in the sheer certainty that when I board the Overground from Wembley Central to Watford Junction on a Tuesday morning, there will no long red bus from out of nowhere ramming into my side of the train.



Jerry Chiemeke

Writer-Journalist. Editor. Ex-Lawyer. Critically-acclaimed Author and Film Critic. Contact via chiemekejerry5@gmail.com