Whispers of Yaba [An Ode]

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

My daily commute goes through Yaba and almost every time i am enthralled by these old iconic buildings and the secret stories they carry. So, when i had a month gap in between an old and a new job i went around Yaba, taking pictures of these beautiful old things.

Bending, Breaking Bricks and Sticks

Beautiful, old broken thing

Once upon a moment in time, you tall, you mighty

Look now, bending curves, broken bricks, strained sticks

I would hate to see you crushed to dust

You mighty old frail thing

It's a reach but the architectural design of this building reminds me of the Colosseum in Rome. I think it may be the curve and the arch. I feel nostalgia when I drive by this building, because it has the markings of a once big great thing. The Uber driver who took me around mentioned something about it being a cinema once, a very popular one. I wouldn't be surprised. I would hate to see this building go completely, I am uncannily attached to it. It looks like it’s halfway through a demolition. I truly would hate to see it go. I wonder what stories it holds.

Oke Ona - House Upon The Hill

"Oke Ona" literally translates to a 'road upon the hill' and this building, so magnificent years after, must have truly been so during its prime. I think its description truly captures its aspirational nature. It's a one-storey with a singular balcony facing the street. Imagine the reverence it commanded decades ago. I think it was deliberately designed extravagant for its time to make a statement, and I wouldn't be surprised if this building was built during the colonial era and occupied by the white colonial masters at the time.

Look at me, upon the hill, i command the street

I have your fear, admiration, and hope wrapped in one

I am beautiful, intimidating and commanding.

Number, 256.

Agbo Ile - Iyawo Merin ati abo

His father had four wives and one concubine but he was an illiterate farmer. He didn't know any better. He swore he would only marry one wife and would be nothing like his father. He saw what the politics of polygamy did to his siblings, and mothers. It was the respectable thing to do as a learned man; marry one woman.

He later married two wives. His first wife grew old too quickly and didn't know how to read but he liked the way she revered him, and his second wife was a young ambitious teacher who didn't know better, and he liked the way she stood up to him.

He had a point to prove, as a learned man. He was nothing like his father. He was a lot like his father. He warned his son, with more words than his father warned him, but the same message. More wives, more problems.

His son married one wife and had three children outside his marriage that he would never know about, from nights he only faintly remembered. They all lived in this house after he died. This happened inside my head.

Empty Veranda - Take 1

Who will love you now that you are old and grey?

Remember when I tried to come in ages ago and you shut your gates.

Nobody loves you now. Your halls are empty and filled with dust.

Maybe one day, someone will come along and make you whole.

An office building, shopping complex, or a duplex with a large compound.

Become a home again, become whole again.

David - No 43, Brooklyn

I was trying to capture the building behind and as he saw me whip out my camera, he smiled and struck a pose with two bottles of Pepsi in his hand and a million more in his cart.

Agbon Magbe - It Never Runs Dry

Do you know this was once a bank? It was called Agbon-Magbe Bank. Agbon Magbe is a concept of continuous taking without the source running dry.

That's what it means. "Agbon" loosely translates to keep taking/packing, and "magbe" - never runs dry. I hear the bank went bankrupt. It is quite ironic. I also hear it evolved into the current "Wema Bank"

Bunga - Hollow

Bunmi was trying to get home before it went dark because bad things had been happening around town. As she ran, the sweat from her feet caused her to slip and her white and blue rubber flip-flops snapped and cut. She landed face down on the un-tarred ground. She had a bruise on her knee, with sand at the edges sticking to the fresh blood. She may have bit her lip too, she could taste the salt in her mouth. She stood up, dusted her skirt and limped all the way home.

All the way into the bungalow. It was already night time.

Her mother was worried.

Cabinet Maker and Building Contractor

They make cabinets. They aren't just carpenters. There's a sort of honor to this building, like the owner was/is a proud cabinet maker. I can hear her say, "I am not a carpenter, I make quality cabinets and I am a building contractor".

Missing Lights

Do you ever wonder how back in the day this sign must have glowed in the dark? I can see the lights on the sign flicker in my mind, with that stringing sound static makes as electricity rushes through.

I would love to know more about the stories of these buildings, if anyone knows please let me know.

With Love,



Recent Posts

See All

  Glossy White Pumps

Navigating Leadership as an African Woman