Welcome to Lagos - one of the greatest cities on earth
It has often been said that if you can make it in Lagos, you can survive anywhere. Explore Nigeria's buzzing capital with journalist and activist Chioma Agwuegbo and find out: would you make it in Lagos? Read More
Welcome to Lagos, dear friend.
Lagos, faster than any of the race cars in the Need for Speed franchise, is the land where your eyes must remain open while you walk, work, play, and even sleep. Lagos, the capital of Nigeria until the December 12, 1991, is now the capital of all things entertainment – literary, fine and performance arts – business, sports, and everything else that makes up a capital city – sans the seat of government.
From Terra Kulture to the Muson Center, Freedom Park to The Afrika Shrine: The talent is boundless, audiences never satisfied, and the atmosphere electric. Even magical sometimes.
But Lagos is also about traffic of legendary proportions, and I had a personal experience I will never forget. Four years ago I flew into Lagos to audition for a presenter role with a TV station that has now been relegated to folklore status. I must have done well because I was asked to come in the next day to negotiate a contract with starting dates and all the rest.
The taxi ride back to the hotel after the audition was pleasant up to a point, never mind that the air conditioning in the car, one of the reasons I was charged almost twice the normal fare, mysteriously stopped working minutes into the drive. “Madam we don already gree price before I carry you o”, the cabbie argued when I asked that he reduce the fare because I wouldn’t be getting the service I had paid for.
The pricing/air-conditioning turned out to be the least of my troubles. Against the accepted logic that movement from the mainland to the island at that time of night would be easy because traffic would be headed the opposite direction, we got stuck in a jam. Just my luck: a truck had overturned on our side of the road.
I got to my hotel that night at 11.45 pm, exhausted, drenched in sweat, and with very wet eyes from being stuck in the smoke of the cars for hours. At that point, I couldn’t imagine myself living in a place with that much traffic. And although I would have loved to do the job, I didn’t go back to the TV station. I caught the first flight out of Lagos the next morning, kissing my job and dreams of working in the city goodbye.
Your eyes must remain open while you walk, work, play, and even sleep.
Not everyone chickens out in the face of hindrances to work and leisure though. As a matter of fact, it has often been said that if you can make it in Lagos, you can survive anywhere.
And I’m not talking about the bourgeois, the 1% that live in sprawling mansions or serviced flats in Ikoyi, Lekki, and islands named after funny shaped fruits. Not the people with rents and leases so outrageous they are charged in foreign currency, much like the foreign-named streets on which they are built. Not the people for whom Lagos is Victoria Island, Parkview, and Dolphin; whose weekly schedules involve a spot of golf, private parties on private yachts, and helicopter rides to beat the morning rush. It is from these people that Polo Avenue, Porsche, and Polo make millions of naira in profits every year.
No. I’m talking about the people in whom the indefatigable ‘spirit of Lagos’ permanently resides. The people who wake up at the crack of dawn and keep striving, running multiple businesses or hawking their wares in traffic (people say there are very few things you cannot buy in Lagos traffic).
I’m talking about the people who party on a Friday night (and there is no party on earth like a Lagos party) because they understand that life is short, and there must be an outlet for all the stress the daily hustle brings.
Welcome to Lagos my dear friend, one of the greatest cities on earth.
I’m talking about the people who party on a Friday because they understand that life is short.
This Generation is different
I’m a part of what you might call the generation of today, a part of the 68% of the 170 million Nigerians that is ‘young’.
I am a hardworking entrepreneur on the one hand, and an employee on the other. There are millions of others like me. Some have founded social enterprises and devote the 24 hours they have each day to making sure that the next man has a better quality of life.
Don’t you want to get to know them?
Here’s a great overview on what’s being created in the busy streets of Nigeria’s capital by its young tech entrepreneurs: