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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Lagos - the city of a 1001 dreams (part 1)

I miss Lagos. The Lagos I miss no longer exists but the slightly faded damsel  who has replaced the ‘Eko’ of my dreams is still my home. England, the land of my birth is a great country, and I have lived here over half of my life, but Eko is the place that holds my heart.

How can I describe the love-affair I have going with this city? I see all her flaws, her ugliness, her shoddiness, the corruption destroying her from the inside out, the vast inequalities of wealth, with the mega-rich served by the dirt poor.

Eko, a city where ££million homes are a couple of miles from shanty huts with holes in the roofs; where the rich fly to the West for regular medical check-ups while the poor die in creaky hospitals with no drugs; middle-class families have a stable of 2 – 3 cars while their maids who work 18hr days, 6 days a week might never have a car all their lives.  A city that has lost its moral core where university girls sell themselves for a new Blackberry phone and phone credit while Churches sprout on every corner, where no-one EVER asks questions how anyone makes their money - Drug dealers dance side-by-side with hardworking bankers.

Eko, the city of a luxurious life-style - Europeans who have never lived in Africa find it difficult to understand when I say it’s not unusual for middle-class families to have a driver, a maid, a cook and maybe a gardener.

Lagos throbs and blares with a Zillion environment-destroying diesel generators and loud street-parties that can go on until the wee hours. Eko, the undisputed melting pot of Nigeria where members of every Nigerian tribe live together cheek by jowl united by Pidgin, our common lingua-franca. 

Lagosians are so openly ‘religious’ and so ‘tolerant’ that Mosques are built next to Churches, Muslims marry Christians, but this cloak of religious practice is mainly lip-service as most will flee to juju doctors when unexplained events happen.

This is my Lagos.

Despite her flaws, every time I step out of what surely must be the crappiest airport in the world, Muritala Mohammed Airport, love for this city grips my heart.

Eko is that sexy, seductive, beautiful, greedy, money-grubbing, demanding mistress you know only wants you for your money but you keep going back for more as you just can’t get her out of your head.

Eko, the city of my dreams.


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