Why Does Superman Wear A Cape And Why Do We Have Roundabouts In #Nigeria

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Why Does Superman Wear A Cape? Nobody knows. Not even him. He doesn’t need the cape to fly and unlike Batman he does need it to glide. Maybe he uses it as a head wrap or perhaps a blanket to sleep at night…who knows.

I mean the cape does not give him any super powers or any particular advantages. In fact he can function well without the cape but yet he wears it! That red flowing cape that drives engineers crazy!

Especially when they realize that Superman can actually jump higher and fly faster without all the unnecessary drag caused from his cape flapping around in the wind and colliding with all kinds of air molecules … faster than a speeding bullet? Yeah right … more like dumber than a speeding bullet!

The red flowing cape that his enemies use against him on several occasions to fling, strangle and slam him all around Metropolis. Just check out this 2013 Man Of Steel fight scene where General Zod’s loyalists kick Superman’s behind by using his underwear cape against him.

As you can see from the end, even Disney Incredibles know better! And that is that capes are a no no for any serious super heroes. But yet Superman wears it…

Maybe because he is so freaking strong that he does not realize all the disadvantages of having a cape. I mean he defeated Doomsday see video and even beat the Flash in a race see video so why take off the cape? Maybe it’s because he has always worn one? And that might actually be it, because all fiction aside…a lot of our businesses are like Superman with his useless cape.

We have systems just like he has his red cape, we don’t know why they are there or what purpose they serve, all we know is that it has been there from the start so why change it. Even when the illogicality hits us straight in the face we just stick with the red capes not realizing how much they slow us down. How much they hamper us.

If you have ever been to the Atlanta International Airport (I have been but it was a sad experience I almost missed my flight and my luggage did not make it to Nigeria), you will notice something peculiar. It consists of 7 concourses, concourse A, B, C, D, E, F and … not G. The next concourse is actually T, not only that but concourse T comes before concourse A. Which makes no sense at all, but why the illogicality? Why not make concourse “T” concourse “A” and re-arrange all the others to follow a logical A-B-C-D-E-F-G order? 

The answer is as complex as Superman’s Cape. The illogical naming of the Atlanta concourses is a thing of legacy as described by David Zweig in his awesome book Invisibles: The Power Of Anonymous Work In An Age Of Self-Promotion. In the book, David inquired from Jorge Cortes the assistant director of Design Planning and Development at the Atlanta International Airport. Here is a summary of his findings:

“I later emailed … to get an explanation for why ‘T’ was first used and why it still in use now. Alas, the reasoning behind it is so layered and opaque, all I can say is succinctly is that it’s the result of repeated airport redesigns, additions and renamings dating back to 1980!”

Notice those words “repeated,” “layered,” “opaque” and “1980.”

All of them relate to that one thing that kills businesses and organizations, red cape systems that have become established simply because they were used repeatedly in the past and are now so enmeshed in layers and layers of opaque bureaucracy that is hard … almost impossible to remove … to change. So the company just flies along with the status quo, too un-bothered to realize or acknowledge the detriments of an illogical legacy systems.

But the red tape cape phenomenon is not just limited to Atlanta…it affects us here in Nigeria.

superman cäpe scarf insta

One of our many red capes are roundabouts.

We build roundabouts all over the country especially in Lagos. Despite the fact that it has clearly not worked in controlling traffic. I mean just check out Falomo at rush hour or one of the many Lekki roundabouts and you will understand the problem with roundabouts! But who dares get rid of the roundabouts? No one!

It is ingrained in our system, likely from the British who gave it to us in the early 1900’s. And boy have wee held on tight to it. Building roundabouts everywhere even when the evidence shows that it makes no sense to do so. I mean just consider the roundabout at Allen Avenue!

Where do I start?

Growing up Allen Avenue was the hit spot, the Adeola Odeku of the Main Land. But today due to population explosion Allen Avenue is packed … so packed that a permanent concrete barrier has been placed to prevent cars from making u-turns in the middle of Allen Avenue. In fact the only way you can turn is via two roundabouts at either end of Allen.

The more interesting roundabout of the two is the one close to Adeniyi Jones.

But before I start, let me explain that a roundabout is meant to function independent of traffic wardens. But this is Nigeria where the roundabouts get so congested that we need traffic wardens … not 1 but several of them. But what makes this particular roundabout crazily “red cape” unique is the fact that it has traffic lights in it! I have never seen a round about with traffic lights in it. The first time I entered that roundabout I was confused … I thought it was prank or some sort of joke. But it was real!

Why build a round about with traffic lights in it? What’s the point? Why not just remove the roundabout and replace it with a fully functional junction with traffic lights. And why do we still build roundabouts! The answer is simply this…just like superman’s cape, like the concourse “T” at the Atlanta International Airport and like many others things hampering businesses, it happens because of legacy, because that’s the way people have done it in the past.

Great leaders, great entrepreneurs are the ones bold enough, crazy enough to question the red capes and take them out of their organizations … because we like Superman don’t need capes to fly!

superman cape insta

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twitterWritten and Illustrated By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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Author: Ofili

Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
Follow him on Twitter
Stalk him on Instagram
Read his crazy titled books on konga or okadabooks
Feed his children at…no wait he has no kids…. 

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18 comments on “Why Does Superman Wear A Cape And Why Do We Have Roundabouts In #Nigeria

  1. It is the “na so we dey do am” syndrome. I remember when I started learning to sew, the lady teaching me said there were some measurements that were assumed ( armhole, shoulder width, distance between hip and the halfcut…) As a mathematician I was confused. I mean humans come in different shapes and sizes. Why do I assume measurements for someone? She said “na so dem dey do am”. Suffice to say she never made a perfect outfit. She’lI adjust and adjust till both tailor and customer were frustrated. I learnt from someone else who taught me to measure everything and to the glory of God all dresses I make DO NOT need adjustments. Very important to know the WHY before getting infected with “na so dem dey do am”.

  2. alegtony on said:

    Love the superman analogy. And he really looked good at the end without the cape!

    Guess we can look good in this country without most of the things we carry that pull us down.

  3. Babade on said:

    Lovely. That’s why I often ask ‘why?’ when given instructions so I can understand the rationale. Interesting article.

  4. Miz tee on said:

    This post reminds me of a story I read some time ago.

    Eight monkeys were put in a room. In the
    middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

    Each time a monkey tries to climb the
    ladder, all the monkeys are sprayed with
    ice water, which makes them miserable.
    Soon enough, whenever a monkey
    attempts to climb the ladder, all of the
    other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed,
    set upon him and beat him up. Soon, none
    of the eight monkeys ever attempts to
    climb the ladder.

    One of the original monkeys is then
    removed, and a new monkey is put in the
    room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder,
    he wonders why none of the other
    monkeys are doing the obvious. But
    undaunted, he immediately begins to climb
    the ladder.
    All the other monkeys fall upon him and
    beat him silly. He has no idea why.
    However, he no longer attempts to climb
    the ladder.

    A second original monkey is removed and
    replaced. The newcomer again attempts to
    climb the ladder, but all the other monkeys
    hammer the crap out of him.
    This includes the previous new monkey,
    who, grateful that he’s not on the receiving
    end this time, participates in the beating
    because all the other monkeys are doing it.
    However, he has no idea why he’s
    attacking the new monkey.

    One by one, all the original monkeys are
    replaced. Eight new monkeys are now in
    the room. None of them have ever been
    sprayed with ice water. None of them
    attempt to climb the ladder. All of them will
    enthusiastically beat up any new monkey
    who tries, without having any idea why.

    And that is how traditions, religions and
    systems get established and followed.

    • Ayodele on said:

      Hey Ofili! Nice great article as always!
      I really got lost and carried away with the super hero’s analogy from the whole point of your article! Especially when you mentioned the Incredibles which apparently is a favourite of mine(…I even rate it higher than some movies!).
      Also @Miz Tee made a very good analogy of how Nigeria system is based upon! I think its a brilliant model of Nigeria!

    • Kelechi on said:

      Interesting analogy there. Sad too. I should ask more “annoying” and “stupid” questions now. As against accepting the norm, which is “monkey behavior”. Hehehe

  5. keiskwerd on said:

    So I recently journeyed into a new town Kaduna and the first thing that hit me was the amount of round abouts I had passed….so many that when I even decided to Start taking pictures I got 6 in 5 mins…… In my own town the red capes know no bounds. Like some1 once told me: ‘abeg, it has always been like that..its not in my time it would change’.

  6. akin on said:

    It’s his uniform. You probably don’t need to wear your underwear but you do. If he does not use the cape, he might as well fly around naked.

  7. Interesting one, Ofili. It is important to examine the underlying reasons behind some of these red cape policies in order to be able to combat them effectively. It is true that we just mouth, ‘it’s-always-been-done-this-way’ as our reason for our continuous antiquated approach to issues. High time some red capes come off so that we can take flight without unnecessary encumbrances.
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  8. DameDera on said:

    Very interesting analogy to superman’s cape. I too agree with the idea that aspects of our country’s policies and systems tend to be redundant with unclear reasons to why they’re still in place. It may have to do with our tendency to oversabi, do things for show, and simply not ask “why?”

    It’s funny because aside from the roundabouts, this notion has been ingrained in our culture as well, holding us back from progressing at the rate we should be by now. Great leaders and citizens of a nation should always strive to challenge the status quo, ask why, suggest practical solutions… And not always siddon dey look.

  9. Chris Jay on said:

    Edifying article. Your intro and build got me commenting for the first time (always been a keen observer). The article touches not just on Nigeria as a whole but on an individual basis – our lives. I bet if we questioned why things are ‘always’ done in a certain way, we’d be sure to live more productive and fulfilling lives.

    P:S – admire your style of writing, keep up the admirable work.

  10. dammy on said:

    A brilliant one, i personally do like this write up, I so dislike routines and same old ways and attitudes, especially when a better or new way can be discovered. More grease to ur elbow

  11. Kelechi on said:

    Great article. Well written as always.

    When you ask questions, they say you are slow or stupid or unreasonable.

    It takes courage to question the norm.

    And this article encourages us to.

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