In Nigeria living in a face me I face you (tenement building) is common, especially in states like Lagos , Oyo, and other south western states in the country. Tenement Buildings fondly referred to face me I face you or face me I slap you or face to face offer residential accommodation to majority of those living in the slum neighbourhoods in the country. For those looking to rent a face me I face you house in Ajah – sorry is your case.
A Face me I face you house is a house that is made up of single room apartments (or a room & “parlour”) with all the tenants sharing common areas like kitchen, bathroom, and toilet.
A common feature of most face me I face you house is that they are often arranged in two rows with each row facing each other. They are usually arranged in 12 rooms with 6 rooms on each row. A landlord who’s considerate enough may have one bathroom, one kitchen and one toilet on each row. This means, tenants on the right wing of the building share the amenities on the right wing and others on the left share their amenities together.
However, in most some cases, a 12 room house may have only, one kitchen, one bathroom and toilet.Considering that each room may be occupied by as many as five or six people (e.g a family of five or six), you can imagine the struggle these folks go through every day, especially during weekdays when everyone is in a rush to go to work, school, or business.
In cities likeLagos, residents of face me I face house you are usually made of people from different tribes, different religious background and different personalities.
It’s not uncommon to find a family of four or five living in a single room in this kind of apartment with several other familes with almost the same number or even more.
Sense of community
There’s always this sense of community in face me I face you neighbourhoods. Everyone knows each other and they are also in each other’s businesses.
Different kind of personalities you’ll find in a face me I face you house
The Nosy one: usually the housewife or the neighbourhood hairdresser.The all seeing eye of the neighbourhood. She sees and hears all gist and she has the tea on every tenant
The Educated: fondly called the ‘Akowe’. He is speaks very good English and he’s very knowledgeable. Kids in the neighbourhood bring their homework to him
Madam No Nonsese aka the trouble maker: everyone has learnt to put her in her place, you dare not cross her part if you don’t want trouble.
The Chief Tenant: This is the tenant who has the longest occupancy in the house. He has spent a decade or more and knows the history of the house (and even the whole neighbourhood) like the back of his palm
The Advocate: Call him the “spirit of ALUTA”, you would not be wrong. He stands up for the rights of other tenants and others in the neighbourhood. He has to be convinced on any cause before he agrees to it.
The Akagum: this character likes to enjoy all the amenities but tries to avoid paying the bills. He/she won’t contribute to the electricity bills or any kind of levy at all.
The Borower: one will begin to wonder if this person actually brought anything when moving in. From salt to maggi, vegetable oil and palm oil , this person knows no limit.
Na Condition bring me here: This person is also referred to as the loner; this character keeps to his or her own. This character used to live in a better area before he/she ran into some financial problems.