When you hear Lagos what comes to mind? 6 lane expressways? Pedestrian bridges? Glittering sky scrapers? Huge hotels? Third mainland bridge? Fancy places? Or do you see traffic? Yellow buses, people rushing to God-knows-where? Slum communities?
You see, all of that is Lagos.
It feels like there is a thick black line dividing Lagosians in two, only a handful live within the demarcation in this megacity. There is the super rich and the outrageously poor, and no, its not the Island-mainland divide that disconnects people in Lagos, it is money, class, family, connections, education.
Lagos is like a huge magnet, drawing people from all over the country and due to that attraction Lagosians are in different levels: of wealth and class and literacy. The result is a huge disconnection between people, like black and white, the grey areas is almost not existent.
It’s always amazing to me each time I walk out of say Intercontinental hotel for an event and then I see the woman selling oranges under an umbrella, or the aboki hawking vegetables, they have no idea about the world I just stepped out from, but we are breathing the same air.
I enjoy talking to Okada riders and getting their views on issues is just amazing. While Ambode is talking Lekki Free Trade Zone and 4th Mainland bridge these guys are thinking local government tickets, police wahala, OPC, and how to get passengers. In the words of one I spoke to recently he said, ‘wetin concern me concern 4th mainland bridge?’
It is in this same Lagos where some people pay fees for their kids in foreign currencies that a community with over 140 kids below 11 are mostly out of school. It is in this Lagos, where rent, in some places, is in 6 figures that you find others sleeping under bridges. In Lagos where the common danfo bus is a metal death trap you see latest cars cruising, side by side. It is in this Lagos that has some of the most enterprising youths in the country, doing new things, despite all the challenges with the city that you’ll still see the idle young people doing nothing except abiding by God’s commandment to multiply and fill the earth.
People earn millions in the city, people also earn in hundreds. It is in Lagos you’ll meet people who works ‘online’ and those who sweep the road. It is in this city where you will see progressive people, free thinkers, and innovators that you’ll also see the ones holding tightly to 19th century traditions. It is in Lagos where you encounter people that speak with British, American and sometimes a confused mixture of both accents that some people cannot string a correct sentence together in simple English. The extremes go on and on, in every aspect of life. Lagos means different things to different people.
So, what do you see when you hear Lagos?