From Manchester to ‘alabaru’ in Mile 12, ‘Iya Yellow’ tells her story

She would have preferred to be practising what she was trained as, live in comfort and face the camera without asking for her face to be blurred or her real name not be revealed. But Iya Yellow fell into hard times. Still, she’s not lying on her back, wallowing in self-pity.

“The downfall of a man is not the end of his life, I will rise again. I have a strong belief,” she told The Guardian in April.

She is fairly popular among porters in the produce section of Mile 12 Market in Lagos. But not many of her colleagues know how she journeyed from City College Manchester, in the United Kingdom, to be a porter, or alabaru, as they are called in the Yoruba Language spoken in southwest Nigeria.

Iya Yellow graduated from City College Manchester (the institution merged with Manchester College of Arts and Technology in 2008) where she studied budgetary and money management in catering in 1999. She had graduated from Obare Vocational Centre for Catering and Hotel Management in Ketu, Lagos, Nigeria in 1979. She returned to Nigeria on January 12, 2000, to continue her profession.

She started and ran a small-scale catering and hospitality business for 15 years after returning to Nigeria and thought of expansion. So, she took a loan of ₦500,000 from Accion Microfinance Bank in Lagos to expand her business.

A small part of the fund was expended on her last child’s university education. She was duped of the rest and subsequently went bankrupt.

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