Odd Jobs: Interview With a Nigerian Garment Fixer
Travel Interviews: Lola Akinmade meets a guy in Lagos who'll fix the shirt right off your back
11.19.10 | 9:36 AM ET
Meet Mikailu. He’s the answer to any unexpected wardrobe malfunctions you may encounter while strolling around Lagos. Skillfully balancing a worn-out Singer sewing machine on his left shoulder, he treks for miles, clicking his metal scissors loudly to let potential customers know he’s nearby. He’s known as a roaming garment fixer, or according to the Yoruba tribe, “Ejika ni shop,” which means “My Shoulder is My Shop.”
World Hum: How old are you?
Mikailu: I am 30.
How long have you been doing this?
For seven years now.
What exactly do you do?
I fix any tears. From trousers to dresses. I fix zippers and buttons too. I charge 20 Naira for repairing the tear and if I have to sew new zippers or buttons, I charge 100 Naira [less than $1].
So how much do you make in one day?
On a good day, I can make anywhere between 1,500 Naira to 2,000 Naira [roughly $10 per day].
And how far do you walk in a day?
I start from Jakande, walk all the way to Ajah and back [roughly 20 kilometers one way along Lagos’ Lekki Expressway].
Do you work for someone?
Ha. No! I work for myself. I bought my machine five years ago for 5,000 Naira. Now, it costs 7,000 Naira and I am happy I bought it then.
Are you married?
Yes. And I have five children too.