Monday, October 2, 2023

SPICE Diaries: ‘Danfo’ Saving Lives Since 1900s…

Iyana-Ipaja, Sango, Agbado, Ijaiye, enter with your N100 change!

The loud alarm of the conductor jolted me back to reality. I had waited exactly 3 minutes, seeming like forever under this scorching sun and this saving grace came along. Looking at my pocket, it wasn’t Uber-friendly, so what would I have done? No worries, my ‘Danfo’ would cost me just N100.


On boarding the bus, I took a seat beside a middle aged woman, who was lost in her thoughts as she breast fed her infant. The conductor finally had a seat as the last passenger completed the bus, a mechanic in such a hurry to meet up with his spear parts dealer. As the conductor collected the naira notes from each passenger, occasionally whistling calling out the usual “oga, madam, your money,” passengers passed their fare to him. I watched the conductor straighten the rumpled naira notes passed to him, before adding it to the neatly arrange currency he had made. I watched him count the cash with such gentleness, like one who knew and appreciated the value of what he had in his hands, something you could only see in a danfo. I took out my phone for ‘what’s happening live’ on Twitter. The hashtag that greeted me was #danfoban. This was a move by the Lagos state government to ban ‘Danfo’ for a new model of air-conditioned buses that would commute Lagosians to their destinations.

My heart leapt for joy… Alas! This happiness was short-lived by a thought that prodded my mind, ‘would these new buses ply even the unmotorable parts of Lagos?’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lover of change (positive change) and innovations but then, even with the stress and bustle characterized with living in Lagos, we can’t underestimate the fact that ‘Danfos’ are rugged, they will take you anywhere in Lagos; even to the most deplorable areas…(y’all know what I mean?)


Then I wondered, how many modern buses would cater for Lagosians? Will it be up to a minimum of 5 million buses, to save the increasing masses that rely on ‘Danfo’ every second?

Lest I forget,  as a ‘confirmed’ Lagosian, I know for a fact that my fellow Lagosians don’t like to queue for long to take a bus hence, ‘Danfos’ have been saving our impatience since the 1900’s…

It is also interesting to note that the yellow and black colours of the Lagos ‘Danfo’ are a part of the city’s identity, influencing fashion trends, pop culture and so much more.

maki oh
Maki Oh Lagos-Inspired Design Campaign, Fall 2017

maki oh pic
Maki Oh Lagos-Inspired Design Campaign, Fall 2017

Well, like the popular maxim, “nothing lasts forever” so might be ‘Danfos’ which are already on their way to becoming ‘endangered species’  like their previous counterpart, ‘Molue’.


The impact of the Lagos danfo in the lives of hustlers of all ages and cultures can never be downplayed. for everyone who started from the routes before making it big in  Lasgidi, the danfo experience has played an important role in their success stories. the danfo experience shows the city in a whole different light, showing the busiest city in Nigeria from an entirely artistic point of view. no air conditioned modern transport scheme can ever measure up to the danfo experience.

Lagos has been a pool of inspiration for fashion designers and a key component is definitely the ‘danfo’ buses.

Mai Atafo's Collections at The South Africa Menswear Week #LexusSAMW.
Mai Atafo’s Collections at The South Africa Menswear Week #LexusSAMW.

For me, I have resolved to take pictures of ‘Danfos’ I come across because you might not know when you would want to relive the amazing nostalgic moments of what Lagos used to be.

by ‘Toyosi Salami – Lifestyle Contributor, Spice TV

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