Èko o fẹ́ràn rẹ́

Lagos Does NOT ❤ You

You cannot logically explain or convincingly elucidate what you love about Lagos; many have failed to justify why the city they love so much still inflicts so much pain on them. The only explanation I can give is that you, like them are just another hopeless romantic. I asked my colleague once to recommend a gym and he looked beffududled. He said “Oga, why you need gym? Life for Lagos na gym”. He was right, Lagos is the gym instructor of life — Lagos does NOT you

Many know deep down that there is no truth or conviction in their “Lagos love stories”. They may love Lagos only because they do not have a choice. Lagos has held them hostage. Their villages and hamlets want them back but just like a desperate lover in an abusive relationship, they cling on to the fantasy. Their hearts hold on firmly even when their heads whisper to them — Lagos does not you

Just like New York, there is no love lost between Lagos and myself. I am not particularly enamored with Lagos and Lagos could not even be bothered acknowledge my existence. When I wrote a post on Facebook last year that I don’t ❤ New York, I was almost crucified by New Yorkers and Big Apple addicts. It was then vindicating, refreshing and educating to read a post on Medium titled “New York doesn’t love you”. I felt compelled to write a similar post about the only other city that I know has such strong feelings. New York may be fondly called the Big Apple; Lagos is not an apple. Lagos is “The Big Agbalumo”, icky, sticky and wet —“Lagos does NOT you”.

Lagos does not care if you are rich or poor, it treats everyone with detachment and indifference. It is the birthplace of everything quintessentially Nigerian. It is not a melting pot, it is a reverse furnace that removes all purity and corrupts you. Lagos corrupts and Lagos corrupts absolutely — “Lagos does NOT you”.

The saying “Eko for show” is used to describe the flamboyance of the city and the penchant of fellow “Lagos inmates” for exhibitionism. In reality, the only thing Lagos really shows is life in living, un-photoshopped clarity. It does not make any pretensions and does not beg you to come to it. Lagos actually warns you when you get to the city limits by telling you — “This is Lagos”. There should have been another caution sign saying; “Lagos does NOT you”

Dreams are what brings a lot of people to Lagos originally. One day the dreams stop and living starts. You never know exactly the moment your dreams die, you still believe you have them but the reality is that you continue to tango with Lagos, you dance and you adapt. You think the music you dance to is the music of your dreams but it is actually the music Lagos uses to seduce you before you are finally violated. Living starts when you instinctively adapt to the downside and realize that it can only get better. Yes, you are right; but you may also be wrong — “This is Lagos” and Lagos only fucks with you and your dreams — “Lagos does NOT you”.

Business in Lagos is done under conditions that cannot be replicated anywhere in the Universe. I have run a business in a location for 4 years now that has cumulatively had public electricity for about 30 days. According to Jason Njoku — “Building with a Lagosian’s way of life in mind builds you a kinda mutant company”. Startups don’t grow or scale in Lagos, they mutate and morph into unrecognizable creatures. Lagos business takes no prisoners, you mutate or you die. Lagos is like the witch that gives birth to its young in the morning and eats them for dinner. “Lagos does NOT you”.

Drama is everywhere in Lagos, “area boys”, bus conductors, hawkers, “agberos” and even the Police. Drama is constant and fast paced and the dramatis personae are also sometimes unexpected. It could be that pretty well dressed lady relieving you of your phone while she flirts or the little harmless looking boy who urges you in traffic to donate to his “family support fund” while at the other end of a snub nosed revolver. The “JJC” or “Johnny Just Come” gets amused and sometimes unwittingly and generously offer the contents of their pockets to fund the performance. Shit happens but Lagos moves on. “This is Lagos” — “Lagos does NOT you”.

There is no weekend like the Lagos weekend, sometimes it seems that Lagosians live for the weekend. The excitement starts on Friday afternoon and depending on faith, the weekend can start or end in worship. In between Friday and Sunday is debauchery and spending on a scale that frightens the the uninitiated. You wake up with the hangover after the Lagos party and Lagos fucks you up again for another week. It is not personal, it is just simple. You are its bitch and — “Lagos does NOT you”.

I hear Santa Claus does not come to Lagos, he was never welcome. Maybe he came and he may have been arrested by the Police for trespassing. He may now be languishing in some police cell at Panti or Area F, who knows? Very few people remain in Lagos for Christmas and public holidays. The “inmates” make their escape en-masse at the slightest opportunity. They seem to vaporize into thin air then materialize afterwards to continue the grind. These are the same people who will swear by “Gidi” and proclaim “Gidi for Life!”. STFU y’all! We know your secret — “Lagos does NOT you”.

I was born in Benin and grew up there. I cannot recollect my very first visit to Lagos but I remember being very excited as a kid whenever we had to go because it meant traveling on a plane. Eventually as an adult, it meant traveling by bus or by car, it was no longer exciting because Lagos had taken my innocence and trampled on it. The sign on the 3 masquerades at Ojota warns you when you arrive- “This is Lagos”. There should have been another caution sign saying — “Lagos does NOT you”.

My last visit to Lagos was traumatic, I had a near fatal accident. While in the car bleeding and clinging to life, I saw the traffic moving on and people barely giving me second glances. They knew I was another victim of Lagos and for them life goes on. Shit happens and Lagos shows no mercy. Even while in surgery, I kept on wondering about Lagos traffic and why it happens. I concluded that it was because Lagosians really do not like themselves.

They all claim to Love Lagos but Lagos is not the buildings or the Lagoon, Lagos is not even the hustle or the nightlife. Lagos IS the people of Lagos.

Maybe the only person who does truly love Lagos is Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola. Maybe the only way he can achieve his goal of Eko oni baje is to make Lagosians actually begin to love each other.

“Lagos does NOT you” but you can love each other. The secret to beating Lagos at its game is loving the Humans of Lagos.

Special thanks to the blog — “This is Lagos” for the images of Lagos

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.