Eko At 50: My Lagos

Ever had a Love-Hate relationship before? The kind where you really hate someone (or in my case something) but you can’t help but love it as well. Yea, that’s the type of relationship I have with my beloved city Lagos.

The city of Lagos is the land of hope and dreams; there is something about this city that inspires. It’s the city of possibilities where everything thinkable is achievable; hope is rife in the air you can almost taste it. Eko is home to everyone: professionals, actors, singers, designers, business men, footballers, techies, creatives, misfits to name a few. It’s the city that never sleeps, the streets are mean, and everybody lives on the fast lane. Hustle is the game, getting that paper is the reward.

I’m a Lagos born and bred through and through, this city was all I knew until I went for my university education in Delta state. I am also one of the few Lagosians who prefer to live life on a slower pace, call me crazy or old fashioned, but I’m a small town girl at heart. So off I went to Abraka, a tiny town in Delta state where the University campus was located. It was a town so small that almost everybody knew everybody; a town where the only forms of recreation were bars a few sorry excuses for beaches and pools. The marketplace was a centrally located small expanse of land (you could literarily walk the whole market twelve times and not feel tired), some well stocked shops and a superstore that was termed a super market served the whole town.How amazing I said to myself, finally I get to live in a small town, goodbye city bright lights, loud horns from vehicles on the streets, city malls, theatres, real beaches, concerts, sky scrapers and everything GIDI.

But alas the five years I spent in Abraka saw me pining for home; I missed my city so much.  The stark contrast made me appreciate what I had been taking for granted; even the crazy Warri living that was somewhat akin to the Lagos life didn’t feel all that familiar to me. The phrase, There is no place like home, couldn’t have been truer in that regard.

I missed everything about Lagos; the daily struggle to wake by 4AM  in order to beat the morning rush, the crazy traffic which makes it almost impossible to have a life as all of your spare time is spent on the road is nearly enough to drive a sane man crazy. Then there’s the almighty yellow buses AKA danfo which is a necessary evil so to speak with the revered league of reckless danfo drivers and angry conductors,  a position so esteemed it is reserved only for those with a first class degree in JERK-ology.

With danfo buses comes all kinds of annoying danfo passengers some of whose favorite pastime is looking into your phone as though it holds the answers to their problems, and others who spend the whole trip tapping current and touching body parts they have no business touching. We also have the scheming marketers whose miracle products were always imported  from India, the preachers whose life mission is spending the bus ride converting as many souls as they can, and the brother seated beside you begging for phone number because he just found his missing rib.

It’s strange but I also missed the loud agberos always demanding money from conductors in a tough voice they all nailed to perfection tinged with special slangs only them could come up with. The Lastma officials and police officers always standing strategically at every other bus stop or roundabout dutifully doing their jobs which is to maintain law and order”

Oh how I missed the traffic hawkers, these guys are the real MVP, they have saved more lives than doctors in LUTH no kidding. I also missed hearing the strange stories of lost people in streets and bus tops asking for directions in a guise to trap people in some form of enchantment, and there were the beggars at under bridge Oshodi flashing pictures of sick people asking for alms to help save a family member in the hospital.

I have since questioned if I am truly a small town girl like I used to think, I wonder because all the things I hated about Gidi were the things I missed the most when I was away; I even found myself missing the monstrous markets (Idumota, Yaba, computer village and Alaba) which I absolutely hated because of how large they were. How is it that the things I hate about my city are the things I subtly love as well? It’s probably the bright lights, the tall buildings, the overflowing streets, the rich Gidi culture or the resilient spirit of the inhabitants that makes Eko. Whatever it is, I can’t help but love this city that has stood the test of time for 50 years.

Let’s hear it for Lagos; my city, the land of my birth, home to anyone with a pocketful of dreams, success story to many, the centre of excellence (and excellent traffic).

HAPPY 50TH anniversary Lasgidi. May your lights never dim, may the waters never run dry, and may we celebrate many more…

EKO ONI BAJE O.

Image: Noo Saro Wiwa 

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