In Lagos, in a place called Aguda, in the evening, we would buy fried egg sandwiches from street traders. Most of them were from the north, dignified Fulani or Hausa men, whom we always just called ‘mallah’. We’d always greet them by saying ‘sanu’ or ‘sanu de malla’ or ‘sanu de ike’, or something like that. Then we’d sit on a bench and wait our turn. It was open air, lit by a crude lamp consisting of a re-purposed tin kerosene reservoir and a flaming wick.
The cook would start by beating a mixture of eggs, chopped tomatoes, chili pepper, and onions. Once this was on the fire, he’d pour you tea from a massive kettle, sweetened with white sugar and Condensed Milk. This would be sipped solemnly by everyone waiting. Then he’d take a bun of white bread, slash it with a knife of dubious origin, and fill it with the fried egg. Then you’d hand over your money and decide whether to sit down and eat it or take it home.
There was so little talk that the place had an aura of peace. Why would you want to go anywhere else?