Lagos Of My Dream
As a child, I never had thoughts of a better place like Lagos. It was my dream land. A place where I had believed and still believe that anything financially was and is possible. It was a place that harbor vertically all my elder siblings. As a growing child, I had idolized Lagos in my heart. I had concluded that it was Lagos or no were else. I never had the site of the city but I was told by my mum that I have been there for some one and half year. Though I was a kid and had no memory of that at all.
Who Wouldn’t love the city of Lagos after the constant stories we keep hearing about it. Each time my elder Sister comes homes for her August visit, she comes with her bag packed full of okrika ( second hand clothes) Though it was sold wherever I was, but there was something special about that which my elder sister brings from Lagos. I couldn’t tell and still can’t tell what was special but it was and indeed very very special.
In 2005 when I had to visit Lagos though not in a manner I needed to but I was to come for my elder sister’s wedding. I could not sleep all night because I was going to visit my dream land. Infact that was one of the few long journeys I have ever embarked on that I never slept on my way even though I had a night vigil for my said journey to my land of hope and promise. That eve to my elder sister’s wedding, I had a few thoughts about the atmosphere at which the people of the Israelites must have felt when they were told that they will be moving from Egypt to their promised land. I felt that atmosphere around me that night. Well, the journey to Lagos was not really funny because we have to take through a very remote village avoiding “go slow” ( Traffic Jam) All the same, I never had any reason to feel bad at all. I was having the best journey of my life as far as I was concerned.
Arriving in Lagos from the Ancient City Of Benin Kingdom where I had no children or Money worries since I was only coming to grace an occasion, I was shockingly overwhelmed by the degree of want and the demands made of me. I adapted slowly to the lushly complex as my friend would put it. Adopt to an unwarranted ecosystem of financial and social responsibilities. That was my first welcomed gesture to a land I had thought was a place where all men plunges, tills the soil for its own. From my view of Lagos that very first day, I remembered Margaret Thatcher’s words were she said, there was nothing like society or social connection. Lagos beat my imagination negatively because at that time, it was a land of infrastructure in a fragmented place. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing at all. Was this the Lagos I had dreamed of? Nah. Well, I still had this bubbling in me that Lagos was the place my destiny was placed. Though at that time, Lagos was a place where no public water system was functioning, Lagos a place at that time was an unpredictably city where the triumph of stealing and societal degradeness was more like your daily companion yet it was a place where anyone can just make it.
One time, a friend of mine who had spent entirely his whole life time in Lagos called it the New York City of Africa. New York City where he (Nicholas) had not been. A foreigner once supported his claim when he said that same phrase in a televised programme. In Lagos you get to see the extent of your privileges and its fragility.
For those of us who studied the social sciences would have come across the book written by Thomas Hobbes “Leviathan” which was written during the British Civil war. A particular statement fits the city of Lagos I met in 2005. Thomas Hobbes Argued that “in the absence of central autocratic control, states were doomed to exist in a state of perpetual conflict pitting all against all” My very good brother-friend Onaiwu Chris would say “in state of huga morga” Well whatever the case maybe, Lagos was seating in a place where it looked as though it completely lacked a central autocratic control. Because it resulted in a very frightening end process where there was an absence of checks on people’s behavior. As Michael Peel puts it, Lagos is a place that reminds you constantly of the impermanence of all human crafted structures from the governmental position to the buildings. But there was one thing that tripped me during my short stay in Lagos. It was the fact that no matter your area of making money, be it a teacher, trader, okada rider etc, you just have to realize that you must act quickly and decisively at all given time else express go leave you.
Though I stayed for few days, I did see the many wonders of a city where you have to be on your toes at all times. Now I see the reason the then head of state Lt Col Gowon told his minister for works, Lt Olusegun Obasanjo that Lagos being the Capital territory of Nigeria is failing and that it should be moved somewhere else. And Abuja came into the party. Well, there may be issues with how life is with Lagos, but it’s a place where you come and don’t go back the same way you came. It has all it takes to bring out the best in you. You come to Lagos it brings out that hustling spirit out of you.
I love Lagos, a place that have been described and been seen by entire Nation as a no man’s land. If you dispute that fact, you can check the number of non Lagosians in the Lagos state house of ASSEMBLY you will understand it better.
My friend Nicholas told me that in Lagos you can live under the bridge and build a house in your village where you actually hail from if you know your way in Lagos o. Had my doubts on that statement but not after I visited the city for that short time. On my way back from Lagos, I sat all through in the car thinking of my dreamed land Lagos where I knew I was destined to make a difference both to the city and to my life. My final thoughts on this pride place of my heart was this “ Lagos finest and bittersweet quality is just a believe and a huge pyramid to humans ability to function and survive no matter what condition you find yourself even in the most dire circumstances which are naturally forbidding to the human nature.