There are many beautiful things about Lagos: the night life, the reflection of light on the ocean at night, the serenity – at night also – , street art, the architecture, both old and new. This is the Lagos that is sold to unsuspecting visitors but there’s the real Lagos, the one with traumatising sights.
There are things you see in this Lagos and wish you could un-see, images that play in your head at the end of the day. You just ask yourself how did my eyes see this?
Once I was travelling – because it is a journey – to the island from the mainland. We were in heavy traffic on the 3rd Mainland Bridge when the bus conductor said something in Yoruba which I didn’t get but everyone else did and they laughed, so I waited to see. Do you know that this boy came down from the bus, crossed to the other side, removed his shorts and defecated? Just like that. I was the only person in shock. Then he started using his hands to give out change, no brother, you can keep the change this time. Another time, my friend saw someone peeing through the rails of a pedestrian bridge.
There is a car wash across my bus stop, whenever I get down, I quickly cross to the other side. Why? The men that work there take their baths after work, fully nude with a water-hose. Not that it is too dark to see them, this happens between 6:30 and 7:00pm; they just turn their black asses towards the road and shower without a care in the world. I am not even going to talk about the urinating by the roadside, that one is a nationwide disease. Before, I would cross to the other side of the road when I see a man urinating on the side I was walking on, now? I will walk pass, shey you want to show us your thing? Let us see na.
Then there’s the issue with beggars. I am not talking about able bodied people begging, it’s the disabled ones. It hurts every time I see a full bodied paralySed man, with rubber tied to his elbows and knees, crawling on the crowd , or a blind person, or a mentally challenged person, especially the women (who are either pregnant or with toddlers) , or someone with acid burns. The helplessness of the whole situation is just painful and the sight very traumatising.
Like every mega city, Lagos has its slums. Once I visited Makoko, a riverine community. I have seen something like it in Warri before but nothing prepared me for Makoko. The black water and refuse dumps everywhere; it did not look like a place human beings should live in , but people, happy smiling, thriving people live in Makoko. They have their floating school, churches, and markets. When I cross the bridge now, I look out for Makoko, I know people are there.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep because of something I saw during the day. Now, I just keep my head low, and try not to see, look only were my legs are going. It has helped a little, but for how long can I ignore Lagos? By shutting out the ugly I also shut out the beautiful. How do you cope with the sights of Lagos?