The Initiation: What it means to cut your hand in Nigeria (Pt.2)

I stepped out of my car and went back into the bank premises, watching the security guard suspiciously as I walked past him and into the trap door (Note to self – bring garlic to work tomorrow). I don’t recall seeing trap doors in any of the UK banks I worked at but Β here I was standing in one, with this corny ‘elevator music’ playing overhead. The trap door started to close behind me when I suddenly got an unexpected surprise.

‘Please step back and remove metal object’, said a patronizing, computerized female voice as the glass door in front of me stayed shut and the one behind me started to open again. Count Dracula was waiting behind me and beckoning me to come out.

24‘Sir, are you with a mobile phone?’

‘Yes’, and I brought out my Nokia 7260 to show him.

‘Okay, give it to me.’

‘Excuse me?’ What was it with this dude? First he wanted me to cut my hand (for blood) and now he wanted my phone (to make free calls?).

‘Don’t worry I’ll give it back to you when you enter the trap door’.

I kept silent and grudgingly took a leap of faith towards the metal-detector. This time there was no computer voice as the trap door started to close behind me. However there was one familiar but frantic human voice alerting me to take my phone. I turned back and saw him stretch his hand forward for me to take my phone within 3 inches of the trap door chopping his fingers off – talk about an adrenaline moment! I hesitated as my brain kept screaming to me, ‘DON’T CUT YOUR HAND!’ ‘DON’T CUT YOUR HAND!’ I wish I could tell you that the intro countdown tune to the US hit series ’24’ was playing during this high-octane action scene but instead it was that depressing elevator music, remember? With one inch of space left to go I stupidly bravely snatched my phone from the security guard before the trap door shut – I made it! (phew).

The glass door in front of me opened and I walked into the banking hall with a confident bounce; after all, I just meddled with a vampire and emerged from the trap door of doom with all my fingers intact. I introduced myself to the customer service officer and I was directed upstairs to the regional cluster team whom I was meant to work with. One of them, a friendly young man, welcomed me and introduced himself. It wasn’t long before he asked where I used to work and how I was finding life in Lagos. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to ask a burning question.

‘Has that security guard downstairs ever asked you to cut your hand?’

‘Cut my hand? I don’t understand.’

‘Do you drive to work?’


‘Oh, maybe that’s why. Well when I drove in and I was trying to park he asked me to cut my hand so…’

Before I could finish he was laughing like a deranged chipmunk. I too like a good joke but I must have missed my punchline. I swallowed the humble pie and asked what was so funny.

‘When he asked you to cut your hand he wanted to you turn your steering wheel at an angle. It’s just something Nigerians are used to saying.’

I blurted a brief, timid laugh and decided that perhaps telling him my vampire theory wasn’t going to be such a good idea.

~ The End ~

13 thoughts on “The Initiation: What it means to cut your hand in Nigeria (Pt.2)

  1. Loool!
    Before you enter the trap door, you bring out your cell phones and hold them over your head with hands raised high. Somehow this allows the trap door to open at the other end like “open sesame” πŸ™‚

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