Yeye Dey Smell

The tall, frowning airline attendant popped open the overhead covers as she cat-walked the jumbo jet’s narrow aisle, and then released a visible aerosol into them. Phish, phish.

“What’s she doing?” Akwete asked, his brow as tight as a rumpled towel. He could smell it. It smelled like…an insecticide.

“Spraying the overhead,” Francis answered, looking nonplussed.


“You ask her.”

Getting no help from his friend, Akwete looked around for faces that telegraphed the same reaction he had. Everyone else acted as if nothing had transpired. Frustrated, he leaned into the aisle and raised his hand. “Ma’m.”

The British Nigerian Airline attendant paused. “Yes?” No smile.

“Why are you spraying the overhead?”

She slammed the overhead cover shut and then sashayed her way towards the rear of the plane.

Akwete leaned back on his seat and threw side glances as he processed the event he’d just witnessed. He turned to Francis “You see that? She ignored me.”

Francis shifted in his seat, subtly showing irritation with his friend’s preoccupation. “Welcome to my world. Listen. Maybe she’s trying to get rid of the onion smells. I’m not talking about vegetables. You know that some of these travellers don’t take their baths before they get on a plane.”

Sniff sniff. “I don’t smell anything sweet,” Akwete announced.

“My point,” Francis countered.

“Lagos weather will make you sweat. When you sweat you stink. That’s natural.”

“You’re being generous. Wear deodorant and you don’t have to. That’s all I’m saying.”

“If she’s going after the body odours then she should spray down, abi? Right?”

“Maybe the handbook says spray up. What does it matter?”

Cough cough.

“See? It matters. It’s making that little girl cough.”

“Maybe she has a cough.”

“Maybe she doesn’t.”

“How do you know? Her mother is right there sitting by her. She’s not complaining.”

“She is, Francis. She’s covering her face and giving the girl strange looks.” Akwete rose up.

“Where you dey go?” Francis asked, flashing a furrowed brow.

Akwete pointed. A male version of the spraying attendant patrolled the aisle, spraying the overheads above him as well. Akwete walked up to him and yanked the spray can out of his hand.

“What are you doing?” the tall, shaggy-haired attendant asked.

“What are you doing? This is a toxic aerosol you’re spraying in here.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Tell that to that little girl sitting there. She started coughing after you guys started spraying this thing.”

The attendant reached for the can and missed. “Sir, you need to take your seat.”

“Did you ask the passengers if they mind getting exposed to this? You guys would not do this if your passengers were English or American. Do Nigerians look like insects to you that you can spray this crap in here?”

“I’m calling security,” the pouty attendant announced as she brushed past Akwete and the male attendant.

“Call President Jonathan if you want. This is ridiculous.” Akwete turned to face the passengers. They looked like they’d be happy to throw him out the window of the plane if asked. Francis, looking like he’d rather be somewhere else, ducked behind the airline seat. Akwete continued, “My fellow Nigerians, how can you people sit there and allow these people to spray you like you’re infectious insects? I’m sure that when they checked our bags with scanners they would’ve seen those little buggers running around inside the bags, abi? Right? And this is supposed to be a Nigerian airline? We sit around and allow corrupt politicians to turn our great oil-producing nation into a generator-nation. And now we sit down compliantly in our own airline and allow foreigners to spray us like we’re cockroaches! My God!”

“Bobo, make you sit down. You’re embarrassing us!” a voice called out.

“Maybe na terrorist,” another voice called out from another part of the plane. She was the lady who covered her nose when the little girl coughed.

“Maybe na Osama Bin Laden send am! Wey security when we need am?”

“Ignorant woman,” a passenger hissed. “You no hear say Obama don kill Osama.”

“He no matter. Na Osama pikin send am!”

Come with me, sir,” a deep, raspy voice called behind Akwete.

Akwete turned around. A Nigerian security agent covered-up in a suit and sweat, glowered menacingly at Akwete. “Why should I come with you?”

“You’re disturbing the peace.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I bought my ticket, just like everyone else in this plane.”

“May I see your ticket, please?”

Akwete handed him his ticket.

“Where are you going?”

“Los Angeles. Stop-over in London.”

“What do you do in Los Angeles?”

“I live there and make a honest living.”

“Doing what, sir?”

“With due respect, sir. The issue is not what I do in Los Angeles but what this airline is subjecting its passengers to.”

“Come with me, sir.”

“I told you that I’m not leaving this plane. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Take him off the plane!” a voice cried out from behind him.

“Akwete! Na you?”

Akwete shifted his gaze and noticed DJ Koololo waddle his way towards him from the first class section of the plane. “Koolo, my broda. How you dey?” A slight commotion erupted in the plane. Passengers shoved each other to get a glimpse.

DJ Koololo parted the security detail like the Red Sea and then gave Akwete a bear hug. “I heard the attendants talking. I say let me come check this thing out myself. What’s going on?”

“Sir, Mr. Koololo,” the security agent began. “I’m sorry, sir. But he has to deplane. For security reasons.”

“Listen, Mr. Policeman. This man is clean. He’s my promoter in Los Angeles. I didn’t even know he was on the plane o. Eh?”

The security agent stood up a little straighter just as DJ Koololo politely turned away autograph seekers. “DJ, sorry, sir. I am following protocol. He has to come with me.”

“Then I’ll come with him,” DJ Koololo declared. “I am with my brother here. Let’s go.”

“I need to get my bag.” Akwete marched back towards his seat.

Francis came out of his crouch and wagged a scolding finger at Akwete. “I told you not to do it. You don’t listen. What’s in that water you people drink in Los Angeles, eh? The same thing happened to Fela. He used to be a gentleman before he went there.”

Akwete patted him fondly on his back. “Relax. I’ll be back.” Akwete followed DJ Koololo and the security personnel out of the plane.

“Your friend is in deep trouble, my friend,” a passenger told Francis. “Big trouble!”

Francis retreated back into his fetal position, and covered his ears with his earphones. “He’s not my friend.” The flight captain came on to apologize for the delay, while the spraying attendants resumed their spraying of the overheads.

Munites later Akwete and DJ Koololo strolled back into the plane, both sporting smiles as big as the River Niger. DJ Koololo signed autographs and led a couple of rabid fans in a rendition of one of his songs. Akwete walked over to Francis and hugged him.

“What happened?” Francis asked.

“I’m getting out of here, man.” Akwete answered as he gathered the rest of his belongings.

“Are they arresting you?”

“Arrest me ke? Na lie o. No be dis Akwete! I dey go first class, my broda, courtesy of Kool.”

Francis was speechless for a moment. “First…class?”

“They don’t do this spray nonsense there. I’ll see you in London, man.”

“Can I …” Francis started, but Akwete was gone before he finished. A few minutes later, Akwete reappeared to escort the coughing little girl and her uncle back into first class. Francis leaned back on his seat and searched around his immediate area for something he could complain loudly about.

41 thoughts on “Yeye Dey Smell” by howyoudey (@howyoudey)

  1. yeye dey smell, I liked the title, the grammar and the introduction, you addressed an issue and did it well in the simplest style… wonderful

  2. Mmmh,i dont know. Cool story,engaging. But so many unsaid things. What exactly were they spraying and why couldnt they simply answer his query? Small typos as well. But it was a good story.

  3. Loved the simple telling and the twist at the end.

    Well done!!!

  4. What I love the most is the fact that someone spoke up against that mess of spraying in some airlines…AirFrance, KLM and Lufthansa do that mess. Its both degrading and inhumane. The racism that has penetrated every level of our relationship with them…what about Africans paying almost double of what Asians pay when the distance to Asian countries is almost double of going to Nigeria. We gotta speak up more if you dont like a situation…its all mental slavery.

  5. @howyoudey now you’re talking, this is a beautiful piece. apart from the fact that it it crying out against something degrading and forthrightly wrong, it can hold its own water as a very creative piece. i must say that i like this piece very much. make that very very much.
    well done sire

  6. Thank you for the holler, Casey.

  7. Stan, I doubt that an irritated airline attendant would tell you what she’s spraying. She already shows her contempt for him and all the other passengers by spraying the thing in the first place. Typos: I have to be remember that my readers say “zed” and not “Zee.” Thanks for reading.

  8. Thank you, Isaac.

    1. Hi Howyoudey. To reply directly to comments, it is better to use the reply link under a particular post. That way the person responded to will get a notification of your thanks/question/reply, etc.

  9. I hear you, chetachi. Glad you read it.

  10. You’re welcome, xikay!

  11. Nice piece. I enjoyed it till the last dot.
    Though, I really want to know what they were spraying and why?
    A few typos too though the brilliancy of the story swept my attention away from them.

  12. Lol.

    But what is it exactly that they spray? Air freshener? That’s just demeaning.

    Nice piece.

  13. They announce they’ll be spraying insecticide from Nigeria because of the risk of malaria transmission. People with genuine complaints can often be pacified by being upgraded to forestall mutiny on the flight. Often as Nigerians, we are our own worst enemies. Despite a few errors,
    I enjoyed the way this story unfolded. Very well told.

  14. Hahahahaha…Nice one, and welcome back. U’ve been gone for quite a while.

  15. Raymond, my man. I went into the bush for a minute. Glad to be back. Looks like you held down the fort well while I was gone.

  16. Funny. Love the way you used the dialogue and the deviation into real life subjects in a humorous way. You put together a funny piece while maintaining reality. I also believe this was also a sort of expose of how Nigerians or africans are treated on airlines. However, some questions remained unanswered. I wonder if its deliberate or an oversight…

    Nice story

    1. Afronuts, nothing Westerners do is an oversight. That’s their genius.

  17. At first, I felt the story was a bit slow, with too much time being spent on discussing the spraying, but I like the way it livened up later. Good work!

    I didn’t buy the whole autograph seeking scene, though. I don’t think Nigerians have become that celebrity mad yet.

  18. This
    Whoa! As in…yeye dey smell true true! No be lie!
    Damn. A lotta times I wonder why we allow ourselves to be trodden on…by foreigners and our own people…in this insane country. Networks cheat us…musicians cheat us…the media cheats us…even I am cheating now by saying so much on one post.but you know what gets my goat the most? The ‘Na so e dey be’ attitude of my people.

    This is classic.

  19. You showed how we as a people like to roll over and be stepped on. Nice.

  20. i loved the beginning, the middle and the end. in fact i loved the whole thing. nice writing style
    Tola u’d be surprised that we av turned that celebrity mad in Nigeria o.was at the cinema the other day and saw lots of people queing up to get signed autographs from one guy i didnt even know. they were taking snapshots with him to

  21. You have pointed to an interesting occurrence during International flights. I do not know if this is true of local flights too. I like the twists and turns, and hope to read more from you.

    1. Thanks, africanrose.

  22. nice flow. dj kololo, lol..

    1. Thanks for reading, @Lulu.

  23. He who laugh last laugh best. Hehehehe. Nice story man

    1. Na so o! Thanks for reading, @Lancaster.

  24. I love this story. The nonsense Nigerians often tolerate because they won’t complain. And the treatment we get when we do.
    Well done

  25. I love this story. The nonsense Nigerians often tolerate because they won’t complain. And the treatment we get when we do.
    Well done.

  26. howudey, hi. didnt i ask if we should come together and make a movie? (when talking about nigerian movies some days ago)

    this is nice and funny without all the exageration. obvious humour at the end. well done.

    1. @funpen, I’m down, bro. Hit me with your ideas.

      1. well, we all know nija movies are just not it. heck, no matter hw good the actor is, the story line/silly predictable plots ruin the whole thing and dont even show case the real strenghts and weaknesses of our actors/actresses.

        so (if we could find a sponsor), im thinkinking a bunch of us could get together, come up with a workable story line, write the script find a good director and shoot it.

        ie do something besides complaining. i really long for a Nigerian film that just really does us justice.

        1. I hear you.

  27. Yeye dey really smell no b small. Guy how u dey na?

    1. I dey o. Thanks for reading, @Louis.

  28. I love ds story,can’t stop laughing…d last sentence is my best

    1. @obionyinye, thank you for reading.

  29. sambright (@sambrightomo)

    You have raised so many thoughts in this piece that can only come from an apt writer.It takes a literati to reveal the many motives in this.I must quickly add however that the title attracted me to the piece.I thought d content will be in pidgin.
    Well done still.

    1. @sambrightomo, thank you for your kind thoughts, and thank you for reading.

Leave a Reply