“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 this week’s “A Week in the Life” sells gadgets at Computer Village. He tells us about the chaos of the Village and how he manages to stay faithful in a market infamous for dishonesty.
I sell phones, laptops and accessories in the Lagos Computer Village. My week starts on Sunday night because business almost never stops — na them dey rush us.
From 6 p.m. until around midnight, I respond to messages from people making inquiries. When I receive payment for an order, I verify it and schedule delivery for Monday morning or whenever they need it. Doing so on Sunday nights makes my already busy Mondays more bearable.
I wake up by 5 a.m. every Monday morning to get ready for the week. By 6 a.m, I leave Ogba and head out to my shop in Computer Village, Ikeja. Depending on the traffic situation, I can get to my shop by 7:30 or around 8 a.m. Resumption time is 9 a.m. but I like to arrive early so I can get a head start. Also, the orders from the previous night need to be dispatched as early as possible. If I waited until 9 a.m. to resume, stress would kill me.
I get most of my orders from social media and Whatsapp, from first-time customers and a network I’ve built over the years.
By 12 p.m., I take a two-hour break to either nap, stroll around the Village or go see my girlfriend who lives close by. I head back to the shop at 2 p.m. and keep selling until 6 or 7 p.m. when I close and head home. Sometimes, people keep coming after 6,especially those who have office jobs, and I have to attend to them.
At 7 p.m., I turn off my data, put my phone on silent and place it in my backpack because the way home is dangerous at night. I also put any cash I have into the bag and hold it as if my life depended on it — I’ve been a victim of pick-pocketing before.
Due to Monday’s rush-hour traffic, it takes two or three hours to get home. I have dinner, respond to more inquiries and take more orders until sleep calls.
Computer Village is wild gan! If you lose guard, you go collect. But even with all the warnings, some people are either too naive or don’t hear word. I saved someone from being duped today.
If you’ve ever been to Computer Village, you know that it’s very easy to get scammed. Everyone knows about buying a phone only to find out that there’s fufu inside, right? That’s old news. The reigning one these days is taking the panel of an older model of a phone and wrapping it on a new model to dupe unsuspecting customers. They can cover the panel of an iPhone XR in an iPhone 13 casing.
A woman came to my shop and asked to buy a London-used iPhone 13. The market price of such a phone is ₦430k. She complained that it was too much and went elsewhere. Soon after, she called me and started cussing me out. She called me a thief just because she felt my price was too high. After all, she found someone to sell it to her for almost half my fee.
After she’d finished ranting, I told her it was unnecessary. She could have either told me she wasn’t buying or given me the “I’ll get back to you” line and ghosted. There was no need for her to insult me. She hung up and forwarded a message to me on WhatsApp. Someone was willing to sell it to her at ₦250k.
I did a double-take and asked her if that vendor was in Computer Village. I told her it was impossible for someone to sell an iPhone 13 for so cheap, even if it had faults. She kept arguing, and then, she sent me a photo of the phone. I took one look and knew it was a scam. But she refused to believe me. According to her, I just wanted to chop her money.
I’d have collected my “L” and kept it moving o, but I decided to get her to ask the vendor about the phone. I told her to tell them a fellow vendor was asking. The vendor admitted that it was an iPhone XR in an iPhone 13 case.
She started wondering why they didn’t tell her from the beginning. In Computer Village? Where almost everybody is hustling by hook or crook? Plis dear!
I don’t take disrespect lightly, so after that conversation, I deleted her number along with the Whatsapp conversation. I was angry.
In Computer Village, every day, new drama. Everybody thinks they’re smart — not just traders; even customers do dishonest shit. But me I sha know how to give close marking.
Today at the shop, these three guys came to buy laptops and behaved strangely. I know there are customers who can’t make up their minds, but these ones rubbed me off the wrong way.
I closed the door and stood by it, making sure all three guys were inside. As they kept asking for laptops, dropping them and asking for more, me I knew it was “format”. I promptly texted my shop assistant to watch them closely and ensure she returned every laptop to the show glass as soon as they dropped it so that we won’t hear stories that touch. The guys got frustrated and left eventually. Awon oloshi.
Editor’s pick: The Zikoko Guide to Surviving Computer Village
The first rule of Computer Village is to never follow anybody you don’t know. Those boys and men who prowl the streets, who don’t have shops, avoid them. The best thing is to have a trusted plug or get a referral. Even if you don’t know where you’re going, you must never show it. Find a proper shop and do your business; never trust a stranger.
People fall victim every day. Like today, I went to get a spare part from a colleague and found somebody sitting in his doorway. After some time, people at the shop noticed he wasn’t doing anything, so we asked him to leave if he didn’t have any business there.
The guy (let’s call him Bayo) told us he was waiting for someone. Who? He mentioned someone nobody had heard about. We suspected foul play and asked what happened. This man told us he needed to change his screen, so when he got to the Village, someone approached him and said he could fix it. But first, Bayo had to give him ₦15k to buy a new screen as he was just an engineer. When he was done, Bayo would complete the payment for workmanship.
The man brought Bayo to the shop and told him to wait, but hours later, neither screen nor “engineer” was anywhere to be found. We just told Bayo, “Your phone don go. Sha dey go house.”
We taunted him sha, because that’s how we do. How you go follow person wey you no know like zombie? At least, whenever he hears gist about Computer Village, he too will have a story to tell.
In Computer Village, everybody minds their business. If you see someone getting duped, mind your business. Most times, it’s their greed that’s getting the better of them. Unless you want to put yourself in trouble, just keep it moving.
Sometimes, a deal goes bad and the customer returns. Maybe they were sold something that didn’t last as long as expected or developed a fault. They’re not coming back peacefully; they’re coming back with “Indaboski”. Unless I know the seller and can vouch for them, in which case I’ll step in and try to resolve the conflict, but if I don’t know them? As I see the angry customer starting go cause a scene, I’ll just do “eyes right”.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to be a straightforward person. When I started this business in 2013, I was lucky to be handheld by the kindest vendor, and his values have stayed with me.
So even though Computer Village is infamous for deception, I choose to keep my customers happy because nothing matters to me more than peace of mind. I treat everyone as if they’re my only customer, and it has worked for me so far. I get a significant amount of referrals weekly.
Thankfully, my customers treat me the same way.
If you enjoyed this “A Week in the Life”, check out: A Week in the Life of a Computer Technician Selling Ewa Agoyin on the Side