Sunday, 2 February 2014

My Third Impression of the Nigerian City that Never Goes to Sleep

For some reasons I have not blogged in a while. I apologize.

However, I have been been out to see a part of Nigeria that strikes me interestingly each time, Lasgidi- Lagos State.

As a growing child I believed that Lagosians were a different race in Nigeria- I still do. They always seemed to me to be faster, more social and more in-the-middle of things than any other group of Nigerians I knew at the time. Regardless of their tribe, they always passed as one and the same people because, more often than not, they had a good grasp of the yoruba language and had slightly silky hair.

There are so many statistics on Lagos State and its density. Nonetheless, Lasgidi unveiled herself to me in a rather confetti fashion, strip after strip.

I first visited Lagos over a year ago. I spent just a night. But in that one night, I learnt that Lagos was more than just the yoruba and speed. She is such a big place with everyone always on the move and working very hard- even the pick pockets at the bus stops.

The second time I got there, I learnt that even with the speed, Lagosians knew how to have a good time. And also that they are very forward with whatever their hopes and expectations are. Loveable.

But the third time I got to Lagos, I got the shocker of my life. The single story of Lagos holds that Lagos is so wild a place and has so many petty criminals. It also holds that when you are in Lagos you have to 'shine-ya-eye.' I was ready for all these- or so I thought. Unfortunately, I was about to break out from the shell of the single story.

Miles away from home, I encountered yet another facet of this peculiar race of Nigerians.

I learnt of a certain middle aged woman who comes out to the street at about 10:00pm to sell her wares of bananas, groundnuts and fairly used shoes, between that time and 4:00am in the morning. I met with my age long friend who now is a graduate trainee.  He leaves for work on Monday and may not return home-to the main land- till saturday because his office is on the island and his closing time will leave him with 3 hours of distance and bad traffic- if he is lucky. My brother, an entrepreneur- photography, has to work all round the clock to meet the demands of the market. His friends have to break through several markets, taking advantage of the opportunity of demand and the blessing of supply. Upcoming artistes starting as early as 5:00am to walk from place to place selling their debut albums.  In all, there is hardly ever a dull moment in Lasgidi. Here, people hardly ever go to sleep. There is always something happening at every time of the day.  At least either something is being sold or being bought. Inspite of this, there will always be the peaceful and enchanted Freedom Park where inspiration and nature curls through the breeze and tickles so subtly that you fall in love afresh with every visit.

Lasgidi may not have the most gifted people in Nigeria, but she definitely has the most forward, spontaneous, inspiring, resilient, supportive and interesting. In Lasgidi, relationships and good will are very strong values that thrive. Here I learnt that love isn't just a text message, love is actually sacrifice, humility, humour and quality time.

People in Lagos are always so time conscious but are often humbled by the unpredictable traffic jams that seem to jump out unexpectedly at almost any time of the day.

Another great spice of Lagos, is that she is a land of miracles. Stuff just happens and there is just no other word to define them with. You run into amazing strangers who are so kind and polite to you. The bus conductors are so polite. The shop owners are always happy to give directions. The drivers are always so careful not to violate traffic regulations....

Lagosians, generally, are wonderful people to be with. The men are hardworking and fatherly, the women are amazingly motherly. I realised that I don't have to go to the Lekki to fall in love with Lasgidi. The mainland is an amazingly fresh experience. The kids are taught humility from the scratch in their homes. Here Africa is alive.

It is such a large place, yet if you ask the right people the right questions, hardly will you get missing.

Another strong point is Lasgidi is that their prices are sweet. You just want to shop till you drop, especially when it comes to electronics and books.

Despite all the gist I had internalised initially, I have come to embrace the third impression of this Nigerian City that never goes to sleep. A place where you can accidentally run into Genevive Nnaji, Mr. Ibu and Olu Jacobs at the airport. A place where love can disappoint you but give way to better love. A place where brotherhood comes alive flushing with intensity. A place where men spicen up as they age and women are ever so hospitable. Here creativity never runs dry. A place of boundless of opportunities and swift individuals who are ever taking the world by storm. A place where millionaires stand out not for their affluence but the quality of their mind and the warmth of their friendship.

I do not pride Lasgidi as heaven on earth, but it is indeed a deeply remarkable place.

God willing, I shall have more opportunities to visit Lasgidi in the future and have a better taste of her. But she has left an indelible glint in my heart and I pray that this, like Lasgidi, never goes to sleep. God bless Lagos and the wonderful individuals therein.

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