NATIONAL BÀSÈJÉ BEHAVIOR
It’s a sad Friday for me. Nobody died, but a good part of my childhood has been snatched from me. I’m really hurt and I wish I could have a sit down with the perpetrators of this dastardly act. It’s so sad to see how fickle and uninterested we are as a nation towards history.
I have been in and out of Lagos for a while over the past year, and in all honesty, I miss the Lagos life. If you want to know how much obsession I have with Lagos, you could check my blog out iconsnest.com or watch this video where we dolled out our “Ode to Lagos”. I’m one of the believers that the art of Lagos is not yet tapped to it’s full potential (I might write about this in another post). Don’t let us get carried away, I’m really angry.
So I was to meet up with a friend at Maryland today. I always look forward to going to Maryland because my Primary school (Maryland Convent Private School) is at the the heart of Maryland, the brown and cream structure brings a lot of memories, St Agnes church which is the mother church of my primary school has a very nice structure that does a little magic to my eyes, it has been that way from my childhood, but what I love most about Maryland is the monument of three people, lifting the Nigerian map up as a symbol of unity. Anytime Maryland was mentioned, that is usually the first thing that comes to my mind. While I was younger, I used to admire the monument and even made some very ugly sketches of it at some point.
Alas, I got to Maryland today and I couldn’t find it. The monument was gone. You might not understand my anger, but as I sat inside the Mr Biggs located in the Mobil filling station, I looked at the replacement of my favorite monument with so much disdain. I’m sorry, I loathe the art… So sorry!
There’s a big problem in Nigeria, and we don’t seem to see it. WE LACK IDENTITY!
The Lagos Architectural scene for an instance is a big mess. As an Architect, I totally understand that every city and every aspiring mega city has to be actively involved in the ever evolving architectural experience, especially in this age of modern architecture, but I don’t think serious cities lose their identity while at it. In Lagos especially, we have a Bàsèjé spirit working alongside the government. Pull everything down to welcome new “foreign” things. As a lover of history of architecture and seeing how detailed the architectural movements evolved, it is so sad that we are destroying the Brazilian architecture style that was brought in post slave trade which sprawled all over the city of Lagos. Most of these buildings have been replaced with high rise buildings, residential apartments and what have you. The post colonial architecture of the British too, has kind of fizzled out and is less seen these days.
This is why I am angry, let me explain with an Igbo quote I saw in Chinua Achebe’s last book, There was a country “a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body.”
If we keep cleaning the trails of history, how do we expect the generations coming to find a path? How do they know of what was?
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” — George Santayana