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 DUANTE’S GUIDE TO GETTING BY IN LAGOS

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JulianAmici
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PostSubject: DUANTE’S GUIDE TO GETTING BY IN LAGOS   Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:41 pm

A quick and dirty guide for any mates visiting Lagos.

Important Terms and Local Insults
Buka—A neighborhood bar/restaurant, occasionally open air or with only three walls, where the locals gather to drink palm wine and conduct business. Great place to pick up the Three W’s: work, wine, or women.
Cherubium—Local slang for a child brothel.
Danfo—A bus. Kind of. Look like hell but remarkably safe to use.
Hawala: An African banking system, absolutely wonderful for out-of-towners.
Okada: Lagosian motorbike, modified to squeeze through traffic, often used as taxis by the daring or foolhardy.
Olorisha, Dibia: Priests and priestesses, sometimes Awakened, always powerful and well respected.
Oyibos: foreigner (a.k.a., “rich and gullible” or “easy target”)
Sasabonsam: African ghouls with long skinny arms and legs that remind me of those daddy-long-leg spiders back home.
Top Ten Tips
1. Get an introduction to a local hawala as soon as you arrive. Trustworthy bankers, good contacts, and honest
fixers.
2. Get a lot of the local currency—you’ll need it to pay off the gangs.
3. You will get scammed. Try not to lose all your money the first time out.
4. Don’t take payment in Nigerian currency or “electronic cred” from locals. Ask for hawala credit vouchers, uncut diamonds, or even gold.
5. Be careful drinking the local water. Bring your own pocket filtration system or buy the bagged “sterile” water at the markets.
6. Try the local food; it’s very tasty, with lots of spices and hot peppers. There’s very little soy in existence; instead, most locals survive on cassava roots, yams, or rice. Just watch out for food washed in the local water.
7. Don’t depend on the wireless grid. It can go from strong to non-existent with the evening commute. If you need to do some wireless biz, best bet is to head to a local “Hot Spot” where there’s 24 hr grid coverage.
8. Don’t go into the slums.
9. If you have to go into the slums, carry big guns. Lots of big guns.
10. Never accept a dinner invitation from a sasabonsam.

FAST FACTS
Quote :
Take these figures with a barrel of salt, ‘kay?
> Honesty
Population of Lagos: 20 million, maybe more, maybe less
Area: 3,500 square kilometers, give or take a few hundred more (lagoons cover about 25 percent of the total area)
Predominate Tribes: Yoruba (35%), Igbo (15%),
Awori (5%), Egun (5%)
Metatypes:
Human: 60%
Ork: 20%
Dwarf: 8%
Elf: 5%
Troll: 2%
Other: 5%
Currency Exchange Rate: 20 Naira (coinage) to 1 nuyen

_________________
"Be strong and do as you will. The swords of others will set you your limits." (Marauders of Gor, p.10)

After the lights go out on you/After your worthless life is through/I will remember how you scream
I can't afford to care/I can't afford to care ("Lights Out" Breaking Benjamin)


Last edited by JulianAmici on Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: DUANTE’S GUIDE TO GETTING BY IN LAGOS   Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:43 pm

LAGOS TIMELINE
1958 —First oil shipped from Nigeria.
1991—Nigerian government finishes building Abuja. The country’s capital is moved to the new city, abandoning Lagos to the sprawling slums. Government and
corporate investment in the city slows to a trickle.
2007—The nationalistic group known as MEANS begins attacking corporate oil investors and facilities, causing a widespread withdrawal from the area by
foreign corporations.
2011—VITAS 1 sweeps through Africa. The death toll is between 50 and 75 percent of the continent’s population. In Lagos, it’s believed that over 75 percent of the population, approximately ten to twenty million people, dies.
2011—The city is still under siege from VITAS when the Awakening occurs. The first signs of the Awakening are when the tribal shamans suddenly become able to
cure victims of VITAS through their traditional medicine and prayers.
2015—Radical climate, environmental, and geological changes across Africa are attributed to the Awakening. Entire cities disappear as jungles and the savannah
spread across sub-Saharan Africa.
2022—Riots rock the city as VITAS II sweeps through, killing a quarter of the residents. Several sections of the city burn.
2030—Ghoul nation of Asamando is founded by Thema Laula. Lagos becomes a major hub in the underground trade route across Africa to Asamando.
2039—Global race riots burn through Africa. In Lagos, priests of Obatala provide shelter to thousands of metahumans and summon spirits to quell riots.
2040—The Azanian alliance forms, composed of Cape Republic, Oranje-Vrystaat, Trans-Swazi Federation, and Zulu Nation. The Azanians grow to be one of the most powerful countries in Africa and soon dominate South Africa.
2043—Multiple branches of the Universal Brotherhood open across Africa. In Lagos, rampant corruption, thefts, and armed robberies against the charity and its brotherhood force most of the branches to close.
2061—As SURGE spreads through the city, the people of Lagos attribute it to another outbreak of VITAS. Thousands of changelings are attacked and killed.
2061, November 1st—Ancestor spirits appear all over the city, warning of the “Return of the Dead.” Shedim outbreaks across the city cause widespread destruction. Even more people flow into the city as they attempt to escape shedim infestations in Interior Africa.
2063—A pipeline connecting Lagos to the Niger Delta oil fields is completed with cooperation of several of the Kingdoms of Nigera. War breaks out almost immediately.
2068—The Seven King War ends when Oni Adegoke makes a deal with Global Sandstorm for military support.

_________________
"Be strong and do as you will. The swords of others will set you your limits." (Marauders of Gor, p.10)

After the lights go out on you/After your worthless life is through/I will remember how you scream
I can't afford to care/I can't afford to care ("Lights Out" Breaking Benjamin)
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PostSubject: LANGUAGES   Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:46 pm

LANGUAGES
You can’t navigate Lagos without running afoul of the tangled web of languages and dialects that crisscross the sprawl. With over a hundred languages, communication can be challenging even between sprawl residents, and it can be a nightmare for travelers and oyibos—particularly when there are practically no linguasofts on the market.
Most Lagosians speak a pidgin language woven from English, Yoruba, Igbo, Awori, Hausa, and French. It forms a cityspeak of sorts, although unlike any you’ll find anywhere else in the world. Newcomers to the city oft en manage to communicate through gestures and expression, and most oyibos can do the same.
Unfortunately, this pidgin has never been translated to linguasoft . Many of the guides who roam the city speak some English or French, so chances are you’ll be able to communicate with your guide. Aft er the mixed cityspeak of the sprawl, Yoruba is the second most common language, followed by Igbo and Awori.
Quote :
Of course, if you don’t want your guide to cheat you mercilessly, I’d suggest learning some basic Yoruba right away.
> Honesty
Quote :
Horizon is supposedly working on intelligent language software that can analyze a language in real-time and provide a translation after a short wait. It’s fairly experimental. I’ve heard that Singularity has a few off-the-books labs in Lagos to test it out. Apparently, Tam Reyes considers the environment there to be the perfect testing ground. More than a few other software corps would like a peek at their research.
> Dr. Spin
Quote :
I speak Yoruba and Igbo fairly well, and know enough Awori to get by. Most mercs who work Africa learn Yoruba, since it is pretty common across the West Coast and interior.
> Black Mamba
Quote :
Wow, Mamba, you’re quite the intellectual. Tell me, do you actually ever use those languages, or do you still prefer to do your negotiating with your gun?
> Ma’fan
Quote :
Agwo sutukwa gi onu.
> Black Mamba
Quote :
Ahem. Don’t mean to get in the middle of you two ladies, but Mamba, do you speak Lingala? Or know anyone who does?
> Elijah
Quote :
Yeah. Took a job escorting a shaman from Cairo back to Kinshasa-Brazzaville. He taught me a bit. You want to learn some, I can help. For a price.
> Black Mamba

_________________
"Be strong and do as you will. The swords of others will set you your limits." (Marauders of Gor, p.10)

After the lights go out on you/After your worthless life is through/I will remember how you scream
I can't afford to care/I can't afford to care ("Lights Out" Breaking Benjamin)
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PostSubject: THE INFORMAL ECONOMY   Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:23 pm

THE INFORMAL ECONOMY
Lagos is a city of great wealth and staggering poverty. Corps, gang-lords, and tribal kings make nuyen hand over fist, trading in the abundant gold, blood diamonds, oil, telesma, mined minerals, precious hardwoods, and valuable agricultural commodities, or exploiting the abundant cheap labor and lack of worker protection laws. Meanwhile, the Lagosians work as indentured slaves in textile, processed food, pharmaceutical, cheap electronics, cosmetics, or even soap factories. Others work as scavengers for the recycling plants, factory-line drones, minor cogs in small, gang-operated sweatshops, lumberjacks, hunters, biofuel harvesters, or jungle burners. Th en there’s the tens of thousands of Lagosians who go it alone, entrepreneurs attempting to provide a variety of services and goods to the sprawl citizens.
Lagos runs on money, and by money I mean cash. Unlike most sprawls, where you can pay for anything and everything electronically and never see or hold a single physical nuyen note, even the most basic daily functions in Lagos require physical money of some sort. When you arrive at the airport, you’ll be met by officers with their hands outstretched. Pay ‘em and you’ll be fi ne. Don’t pay them and suddenly your baggage is over the weight limit (never mind that the airline had no problem fl ying it in) or your papers are out of order (again, never mind that there’s no government around that requires a passport or papers). It’s simply your first introduction to the “Informal Economy.”
You’re in luck, though. Chances are, the offi cers who meet you on the tarmac are able to accept an electronic transfer. The airport has a fairly stable wireless network, and most of the officials there carry commlinks and have earned enough to allow them to establish a nice off -shore bank account.
Quote :
“Officials.” Heh.
> Duante
Quote :
Sounds better than, “Armed and dangerous thugs of whichever kingpin is controlling the airport this week.”
> Honesty
Quote :
True. Easier to write, too.
> Duante
Since it’s very doubtful that you’ll have been able to acquire any of the local currency—naira—before arriving in Lagos, you’ll want to stop before you leave the airport proper at a Hawala booth or at one of the banking stalls. They’re easy to find—just look for the swarms of armed guards surrounding them. You’ll have to pay a guard to enter the booth or stall.
Quote :
About twenty nuyen will get you a polite introduction.
> Duante
Once inside, you’ll meet with the Hawala or the banker. What happens depends on which method you use. A Hawala will only provide you with credit chips or tokens if someone in his network vouches for you.
If you have an introduction or a voucher for a Lagosian Hawala, you can withdraw your funds in naira (the local paper and coin currency) or take it in credit chips. Most Hawala have actual, physical, chips—plastic chips with their clan symbol on it, small shells or stones etched with their symbol, even small carved bones.
Each Hawala has his own credit chip type and symbol, which is universally recognized across the sprawl. Chip values are always displayed upfront (and broadcast, in those areas with wireless capabilities). Again, the system is based on honesty and trust, so it is accepted as a matter of course that any who deal with the Hawala will receive the same rates, hence the open display of values.
Once you present your credit voucher to the Hawala or transfer certified funds to his account (I’m going to assume you’ve arrived with a voucher or electronic funds, rather than a bag of gold dust or a few barrels of oil in your luggage), the Hawala will give you some—or all, if you prefer—of your funds in the currency of your choice. If you’re redeeming a voucher from another Hawala, there’s no additional fee; if you’re making an initial deposit, you’ll pay his percentage—again, it will be posted. There’s no discrimination based on your meta-type, gender, religion, making it the first, last, and only place in Lagos you’ll encounter such equitable treatment.
Quote :
As a side, if you choose credit chips, anyone inside or out of the sprawl will accept them. They circulate like real currency, and someone with a credit chip (or shell or bone or what have you) can take it to the issuing Hawala at any time to redeem it or deposit it for a transfer elsewhere.
> Duante
Quote :
I’ve heard of Hawala systems, but haven’t had a chance to use one yet. Tell me, if they’re dealing with such, ah, primitive currency, how do they ensure their etched shells or stones aren’t copied, forcing them into bankruptcy or dropping the value?
> Mr. Bonds
Quote :
No one copies a Hawala’s symbol.
> Black Mamba
Quote :
I find that hard to believe.
> Mr. Bonds
Quote :
Believe it. There’s two reasons. One, it’s generally held that the Hawala’s clan’s symbol has mystical power; that, for example, the etched leopard on the shell will materialize and attack any thief, or that it might haunt the thief’s dreams, driving him to madness until he confesses his crime. Bad luck will haunt the thief, his family will sicken, his skin will erupt in boils, his home will flood—you get the point.
> Am-mut
Quote :
Curse of the pharaoh’s gold. Got it.
> Elijah
Quote :
The second reason is more practical. There are very powerful people who entrust their earnings to the Hawala system. They don’t like it when their money suddenly loses its value. People who try to cheat the system die. Painfully.
> Black Mamba
Banking stalls also make you pay a small fee to enter. Inside, you can exchange your funds for naira. Th e banker will take a cut, of course, and how much they take depends on your negotiation skills and their perception of how much they can soak you. They don’t require anyone to vouch for you. They’ll accept a certified credit transfer, registered credsticks, corporate scrip—pretty much any widely accepted currency. In exchange, you’ll get paper or coin naira, which you can use across Lagos and in many of the Kingdoms of Nigeria.
In a banker’s stall, I’d encourage you to check the coins you receive. They should be solid metal, not wood. Also, to warn you, while you can change nuyen into naira, you generally cannot change it back at a similar rate of exchange. Most bankers will tell you that naira is too easy to counterfeit and too unstable to change back into nuyen (of course, they only tell you that after your initial exchange).
Quote :
You can weigh the coins, if you like, to check if they’re solid metal, but I prefer the bite test. The cheaper metal plated coins will dent if you chomp down on ‘em, but the solid coins won’t.
> Chiemeka
Quote :
And you should never, ever do that in front of a Hawala. Never.
> Honesty
Because each Nigerian kingdom issues its own naira, it can get confusing to track the values. Especially since the ruling kings change more frequently than the weather and new kings often attempt to solidify their power by producing tons of new currency for their supporters. For practical purposes, the citizens of the sprawl will accept naira from any kingdom. The paper naira is easy to forge, and periodic flooding of the market by forging groups, gangs, or even the kingdoms themselves makes it a very unstable currency. For small transactions, coins are more trusted and accepted than paper currency, since they contain actual metal. They come in denominations up to one hundred naira. Most people prefer a Hawala’s chip, though. This means that naira oft en has a practical value much less then its equivalency in nuyen or on a Hawala chip. The whole system can be tricky to follow so I’d suggest hiring a reliable guide who can help you with the intricacies.
Of course, that means you have to fi nd an honest guide—good luck with that.
Ok, so you’ve arrived in Lagos, paid at least two bribes—er, fees—and gotten some hard currency. Now you’ll see what I mean when I say Lagos runs on money. You go outside the airport complex (you’ll have to pay someone to carry your luggage, no doubt, or pay every empty-handed “porter” you come across to leave you alone. It’s cheaper just to pay one). A young child or teen will offer to get you a cab or an okada (a motorcycle cab). You’ll have to pay him or her a naira for the help, of course.
You’ll pay the cab or okada driver. You’ll most likely have to pay multiple tolls along the road—at roadblocks or checkpoints between rival gang territories—and chances are, you’ll get pulled over by a traffic-control officer or an Area Boy and have to pay a fee (for reckless driving, making a wrong turn, driving on the
sidewalk, whatever they can come up with). Most drivers will pay the fee for you, but only because your transportation costs have those fees built in. You’ll hand over more money to enter a market, you’ll to pay a fee for electricity, a fee for sanitation, a fee for garbage disposal, a fee for water. Each fee will be collected
by someone different.
Quote :
Mind you, most of these services you pay for don’t actually exist. Your sanitation fee is simply paid to the man who’s sitting outside the latrines (toilet paper is not included). You can always go shit in the street for free, of course, and many do. Your electricity is similar. You may only get one or two hours a day of power, but someone comes by to collect anyway. If you don’t pay, the lines are cut to your home. Then you have to pay someone to come fix them. Everyone in Lagos has their hand held out, not to beg, but to demand their share of your wealth. They don’t consider it stealing. They simply are charging you for the privilege to live in one of the filthiest, most decayed, and utterly corrupted sprawls on earth.
> Black Mamba
Quote :
There’s a fine line between stealing your money and demanding it as part of life in Lagos. For most oyibos, that line is hard to find. Locals have learned to live with it. If there’s ever a place where you want to keep your eyes and ears open, then Lagos is it. Even in the safer areas and markets, you’ll find thugs demanding their toll. Ancestors help you if you are unable to pay.
> Honesty
Quote :
That’s in most areas, markets or public streets, during the daylight hours, places where there’s a crowd and, for lack of better word, enforcers around. In the empty back alleys or at night, when most Lagosians are huddling in their molding, decrepit homes, the real predators come out. But they generally won’t mug you. They’ll take your money, take your clothes, and take you to sell as sasabonsam food or slave labor. Waste not, want not.
> Black Mamba
Most of the local gangs or power-holders utilize the everpresent Area Boys to collect their fees. In turn, the Area Boys turn over a percentage (often 90 percent or more) of their earnings to their lieutenants, who turn over a percentage to their captains, who turn over a percentage to their boss-man, who … well, you get the point. Everyone pays, and all that naira flows upstream to the few powerful and wealthy people who suck the city dry. The entire economy is based on this system and has been for over a century. There are frequent shakeups in the upper echelons, which occasionally fall to the street level, but for the most part, the average
Lagosian doesn’t mind the system. After all, they are too busy trying to figure out a way to get a cut of the profit themselves to complain. And if the system changed, they’d lose their dreams of someday making it rich themselves.
Quote :
There are a few ways to get around the leeches. When my unit has to operate in Lagos, none of my mercs are allowed out of our compound except as a full unit. The locals tend to avoid groups of very heavily armed mercs who travel together. For the ones that don’t avoid you, you have a decision—what costs more, bribes or bullet? If they’ve already talked to you, they’re not going to be intimidated no matter what, so you need to either pay up or put them down. Personally, I hate traveling there, since invariably you end up faced with kids armed with heavy weapons. If I don’t think a merc in my unit can handle shooting an eight-year old, I don’t let him come to Lagos.
> Picador

_________________
"Be strong and do as you will. The swords of others will set you your limits." (Marauders of Gor, p.10)

After the lights go out on you/After your worthless life is through/I will remember how you scream
I can't afford to care/I can't afford to care ("Lights Out" Breaking Benjamin)
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