A Week in the Life is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject of today’s A Week in the Life is Saviour Uffort, a computer technician in Uyo who also sells Ewa Agoyin as a side hustle. He tells us about his struggles as a technician, how he started a side business cooking beans and why his Ewa Agoyin always bangs.
Every Monday, I wake up at 6 a.m. and do my home workouts: squats, push-ups and other bodyweight exercises. By 8 a.m., I’m done. Then I log on to Facebook and wear my motivational speaker hat: I post positive thoughts to inspire to perspire and aspire. It’s cheesy, but it gets the people going. I post photos of the gadgets I’m selling, including refurbished and UK-used iPhones and laptops.
By 9: 30 a.m., I shower, have breakfast and step out to chase my daily bread: repairing computers. Today, I had to pick up an HP 15 laptop at Abak Road, Uyo, bring it back to my home office and diagnose the problem. The sun was fucking hot, so when I stepped back into my room at 11:30, I was grateful to have escaped it.
By 12:30, I’d found the problem: the keyboard was fried and needed to be replaced. When I informed the owner of the problem and the cost, they said they’d get back to me. I knew they were talking to other technicians and considering cheaper alternatives because that’s something I would do. Nigeria is hard these days.
My business model is that people don’t have to come to my shop to get their laptops fixed. I save customers the stress and pick up the gadgets at no extra cost, make the diagnosis, repair and deliver them back to their doorstep.
But today, I wouldn’t just sit back and wait for the customer’s green light because I had other things to do. So I stepped out to face the sun again. I had a contract to install security cameras across town with a colleague who’s into computer networking in Ewet Housing Estate. As we rounded up around 5 p.m., the clouds started threatening rain, and wild winds blew.
Uyo’s rains are weird because sometimes, the weather changes right before it starts falling; other times, it can take hours after the winds to see the first drop of rain. I’d hoped today would be the latter, so I thought I might make a dash for it. But by the time I got to my bus stop, the rain started falling. Rain beat me shege, but I managed to hobble to my friend’s place to wait it out.
I finally got back home around 7:30 pm. All I wanted to do was drink something hot, press my phone and sleep off.
I woke up today groggy from yesterday’s wahala. But when the owner of the laptop called and told me to go ahead and change its keyboard. My mood lifted because, daily ₦2k secured!
While I was fixing the laptop, all I was thinking about was that this life chose me. When I was 11, my friend’s brick game broke. He was miserable because it was still new, but I later picked it up and opened it up with my dad’s screwdriver, curious to check why it wasn’t working. I found that it was just a single wire that cut, and once I taped it, the game came on. I was like, “Oh wow!” Then my journey to “destruction” started.
Nothing escaped my curious hands: DVD players, fans, TVs, radios, etc. And I got beaten a lot. The day I dismantled the TV, my father suspended me in the air with one hand and whipped me with his other hand. I thought he was Superman that day.
Back then, a neighbour owned a Pentium 4 desktop computer, and during the holidays, I used to go to his place to play computer games with the children in the neighbourhood. The man got tired of us, and one day he disconnected some plugs from the CPU’s motherboard before leaving the house so the neighbourhood kids would not be able to operate it.
When we arrived and tried to switch the computer on and it didn’t work, some kids left in disappointment. But me? I thought: since I’d messed with my parent’s appliances and fixed my friend’s brick game, I could give this a shot. So I opened the CPU and analysed the ports. I decided that two things would happen there: either I messed the system up, or I made it work. I worked on it for a while, trying to memorise how it was before I started working on the system in case I needed to unplug the cables and leave them as they were when I met them. After a few more minutes with no success, the remaining kids who’d stuck around gave up and left.
Me? I kept at it o. After like an hour, the computer finally came on. The feeling I had when I saw the monitor light up? That was the turning point for me. I didn’t call the rest of the children because I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my labour alone. I turned down the volume and played for hours until the owner returned. He was shocked that I could connect the computer and make it come on. “Etok Ifod,” he called me. Small witch.
That man is a hardware technician and has mentored me since then, all the way to adulthood.
By the time I turned 17, done with secondary school, I got a job as a cyber cafe attendant. But my curiosity took the better part of me and I understudied the head technician for a year, occasionally helping out with technical issues around the cafe for extra cash.
I went on to study Computer Science in university, but only learnt theory in school. My classmates quickly realised that academics in a Nigerian university wouldn’t do much for our careers. Some of my classmates went into software development, and some went into design. As a hands-on person, I chose computer hardware and networking. I underwent COMPTIA A+, N+ and CCNA training in 2018 and have been a hardware technician ever since. These days, I have dreams of leaving Nigeria and getting an advanced degree.
When I finished replacing the keyboard on the laptop, I realised I’d been smiling, just like when I fixed that brick game so many years ago.
Omo. Today was an awful day. Last week, I ordered a printer for a customer and shipped it from Lagos to Uyo via God is Good Logistics. When it arrived, I realised that one of its components was damaged. The client asked me to fix it because he needed it ASAP instead of waiting for GIGL to remedy the situation, as that would take a lot of time. I said, “No wahala.”
While repairing the printer, it discovered other faulty components. Imagine buying a printer for ₦125k with a profit margin of ₦5k, and then having to fix multiple problems. The client — a lawyer — started getting aggressive and threatened to get me arrested. So I gave the printer to a printer repairer to replace the parts. When I went to his shop at Ibom Plaza today, he told me that everything would cost ₦50k. I was devastated.
On my way home from Plaza, I saw one of my guys who’s a YouTuber. He was filming at the Plaza. Initially, I just wanted to walk past, go home and think about my life. But I decided to hail him. He called me over and we got talking. I found that our gist took my mind off my woes, so I offered to assist him with filming. I helped hold his tripod and gimbal and assisted with the angles and shots — I even got featured in the video. The banter was just what I needed, and my guy helped lift my mood.
I got home at around 9 p.m. and went straight to bed.
While my main hustle involves computers, I cook and sell Ewa Agoyin on the side. So this morning, before I start fixing computers, I advertise my side hustle on Facebook and Whatsapp and take orders ahead of Saturday when I will cook the Ewa and dispatch deliveries across Uyo.
I’m the best cook among my friends. Anytime they’re having a gathering and food is important, they just leave it to me. So one day in March 2021, one of my guys visited me and asked, “Yo, you fit run Ewa Agoyin unto business level?”
I never planned to run a food business because I knew it would be hard. I don’t know how regular food vendors do it every day. But when my guy asked me to start selling Ewa Agoyin, I told him no.
But the following week, this guy started bombarding me with photos and links of food on Instagram. I was like, “Why you dey do me this thing? You know say I like food?” But he continued, and I eventually gave in — but on one condition: I would only handle the cooking while he handled logistics and the business side.
The following week, we test ran the experiment. I’d never made Ewa Agoyin before. But I called my mum (who lives in Lagos), went to YouTube, read recipes and called an Ewa Agoyin vendor for advice.
Later, I shopped for ingredients and cooked my first Ewa Agoyin while my guy invited 15 people to the tasting. I was super scared, but when the reviews came, they were mad. Suddenly, people started demanding more of something that I only planned to do as a one-off. The thing entered my head. Not gonna lie.
In the following weeks, my guy and I designed fliers, did some marketing on Facebook, and laid out business plans. In our first week of going public, we received seven orders. When we delivered, they all loved their meals. It was then I started to believe that this thing could actually work.
By June 2021, I got a loan from my mum and bought a cooker and other appliances that would make our operations faster. We also bought food items in bulk and tweaked our recipe.
The next problem was branding. We didn’t know what to name the business, but during a brainstorming session, my partner said, “Sagoyin.” I was like, “Wetin be this? Why the ‘Sa’?” He said it was a play on my name and Agoyin. It was silly, but it stuck.
Nowadays, I take orders from Facebook and Whatsapp during the week, cook on Friday night/Saturday morning, and my partner delivers them on Saturday afternoon. I like our current model because I only cook once a week, and it also gives people something to look forward to for the weekend. It’s a side hustle, but I’d die if I had to do this every day. On average, we receive about 15-20 orders weekly. The week I got up to 32 orders, I almost passed out.
Last weekend, we had an order for a pack of Ewa Agoyin, and the customer loved it so much that he sent us a tip of ₦5k. It was wild! Imagine ordering a plate of less than ₦2k and giving us ₦5k on top. Omo, the thing sweet my belle die, and e dey ginger me for this weekend.
Today, I switched my focus to my main hustle and absolutely killed it. I repaired an old ass PC, an HP Elitebook. The system was dead when the client called me; he reported one problem: it wasn’t booting, but when I went to pick up the laptop, I suspected that when fixing it, I would find other issues. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so my instincts rarely lie.
At first, I wanted to turn down the job, but I decided to take on the challenge. It’d been a stressful week, and I wanted to end on a winning note. Also, I didn’t want my transport fare to waste. If I’d told the client about all the potential problems I suspected, they’d probably back out.
So I brought the laptop back home and spent hours researching and fixing all the problems. In the end, everything worked. The customer was ecstatic. I’d pretty much brought the laptop back from the dead.
My whole life is devoted to fixing things and making people happy: when people receive their repaired hardware or eat great-tasting meals, it brings me great joy.
By the time I finish other technical tasks, it’s 4 p.m, and it’s been one hell of a week. But it’s not over yet: tomorrow is Sagoyin Saturday Special. So I have to start cooking tonight if I’m to meet up.
I count the total orders Sagoyin has received — 21 this week — and make a list before going to the market by 5:30 pm. I return by 6:30 and stay in the kitchen until midnight because the preparation is in two stages, Friday night and Saturday morning.
Here’s how tomorrow will go: I’ll wake up by 5 a.m and pick up where I left off tonight. By 8 a.m-ish., I’ll be done, and by 8:30–9 a.m, I’ll send my partner out to deliver the orders. Me? I’ll clean up the kitchen and sleep till 4 p.m., when I’ll get up and go out to watch Manchester United break my heart.