The tenement house which is popularly called face-me-i-face-you or face-me-i-slap-you is a common housing system in Lagos.
The rooms are lined up opposite each other. The house has a general kitchen with one or two bathroom and toilet that is used by all occupants. This type of housing is largely occupied by lower and middle class people in Lagos.
In a face-me-I-face-you house, This are the 5 types of people you will meet.
As much as there is a large room for interaction in a face-me-I-face-you house in Lagos due to proximity of rooms and facilities, you’re still likely to come across a neighbour who thinks he is staying in a flat. He is not interested in mingling with any other neighbour. The loner just wants to do things on his own. He might decide to carve a space for himself in the general kitchen and if it was possible, he would erect his own toilet and bathroom. Trust other neighbours to see him as “over proud”
That’s the neighbour who thinks his middle name is ‘Oshiomole’ and feels it is his right to champion the cause of all other occupants. The unionist will definitely argue during a tenants’ meeting and question the landlord on why the tenants have to contribute money to repair the roof if its leaking. The unionist wants to know why the bill for electricity has increased and possibly ask the landlord to help paint his room because the walls look unattractive.
A face-me-I-face-you apartment tries to establish co-operation but a miser is likely to exist. The miser wants to enjoy all the benefit the house has to offer but isn’t interested in paying for it. Tell him to provide some money so you can get fuel for the generator and he would refuse but would be the first person to bring his phone and request to charge his phone. To add insult to injury, he is the reason the electric cable has been disconnected by NEPA because he has not paid his bills.
The Chief Tenant
The chief tenant is the tenant who has spent the most period of years in the house after the landlord, of course. The chief tenant therefore feels he deserves the same respect accorded to the landlord. He is eager to provided unsolicited historical accounts of tenants who have come and gone. The chief tenant is likely to have a cordial relationship with the landlord so you don’t want to mess with him.
The Educated neighbour doesn’t mean he is the only educated neighbour in the apartment but he’s likely to be the one who communicates in English even when he knows every other person in the house speaks Yoruba for example. The Educated is referred to as ‘Alakowe” by the Yoruba-speaking Lagosians. The Alakowe is likely to warn you not to converse in ‘vernacular’ with his children so don’t dare. He is a doctor, teacher, lawyer, counselor, etc. to other tenants who thinks because he educated, then he is automatically a problem solver. You’re not on the same level with him if you can’t speak English well so look before you leap!
If you live in a face-me-I-face-you apartment, which category do you belong to?