who am i?

"I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself." - CS Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

Monday, December 12, 2011

Las gidi oni baje o...


http://27.media.tumblr.com

 I think Lagos is a beautiful place, and then sometimes I think it’s just ugly and I want out. I just want to be able to drive to the airport without being apprehensive about traffic and missing my flight. I want to be able to just drive, and not crawl through traffic most of the time, drive and not have a headache from being sane for not just me, but the other lunatics driving on the road. 
I drive into Lekki, thankful that I live there and not somewhere else, that’s until I turn into some street on the way to the dry cleaners and the car gets battered by the horror of the road, flooded with water from bad drainage.(you would think Phase 1 with it's ridiculously expensive living would save you some of these troubles). Then i head out and I'm hit with sights of poverty in some areas. People living under bridges and those living in the slums. From the luxury of Queens drive, Park view, Bourdillon and Banana Island in Ikoyi to the hustle of Ajegunle. There’s just this mixture of beauty and ugliness, two extremes that sometimes feels unreal.


I can get lost in my little world of brunch at cactus, theater at terra, cinemas, fancy clothes and sometimes driving around in an aced car, or the joy and pain of red cabs. I don’t have to wake up in the A.M's to try to beat the traffic on third mainland bridge like some people do, all because they have to get to work early, and then walking into their homes just before midnight, because there was some hold up, some robbery, something that caused a five hour standstill traffic.
I get to attend polo games when I can. I’ve got friends and friends of friends who own boats; we ride in some luxury boat to their beach houses, and have fun. Always one wedding carnival or the other that transports us to a world outside Lagos. Its fun… it’s the Lagos I choose to know, the Lagos I choose to enjoy. The Lagos that is beautiful. The Lagos of Bella naija, not that of Linda Ikeji.(Have you noticed how Linda Ikeji dishes a healthy portion of both the good and bad of this city, while Bella Naija is sort of like the fairy tale version of Lagos?)
Chevron estate lekki



Makoko slums(estate) Lagos. source:http://image.guardian.co.uk
But same time in my little comfort zone…  I have been confronted in traffic by hoodlums, hitting the window and demanding for my phone and stuff with menacing looks that promise to devour me if i don't corporate, near robbery experiences. Orchestrated by people who live in the ugliness of this city, people who have been bombarded with more ugliness than beauty. I have driven out of the house in the afternoon only to be turned back because a major robbery was taking place in a bank close by, with shootouts between robbers and the police. I have been scared off certain places for a period when robbers chose to rob in style by going into  choice hangout spots some years ago.
in the slums. source:http://www.bbc.co.uk
                          Far from the slums

See, even in the beauty I choose to seclude myself in, I can’t even hide from the ugliness around. I have a good meal, have a bed and a room to myself, and then I drive to ajah… to see my tailor Baba Gana. A sweet old man, with a stack of designer gears with labels stacked on his table, one of those dresses would pay his rent for the year. Dresses that would be used for events he can't even imagine exists. He stays in his one room with his wife and children, he complains about the toilet everyone in the 'yard' share. He’s old and sweet and good at adjusting the clothes we buy that need to be nipped and tucked to fit right… at that moment, I’m transported to his world, to the ugliness around and outside my place of comfort. Everyday different luxury cars come over to him and the children in the compound are excited and amused, you would think we were in some village far from civilization... 
Some children taken to school in chauffeur driven exotic cars, while others walk to school and get knocked off as they cross some road to get to school in patched up uniforms.
Ajose Adeogun: My car's one of the victims here.
Nigeria's Next top model.
Outside the explosive music scenes, fashion shows and red carpet events… there’s always something to look at with bitterness and think about how messed up the town is. The rain pours and we pray there's no flooding and our cars and homes are safe(even on the 'beautiful' side we live). We are confronted by overheated cars on third mainland bridge, cars that fail under the pressure of a killer traffic. Bus drivers with brains in their butts, lastma officials who harass for no legal reason. Area boys drive us out of the beautiful beaches close to us, so we have to resort to the private confines of la campaign Tropicana and other private beaches or rely on the generosity of those with beach houses. But we live all the same, we don’t move out of lagos because we can’t stand some of the things it throws at us.
Prostitutes lining the streets of V/I. We look past them, past the ugliness of what these girls are reduced to because it's a fixture we're used to seeing. And so we drive through the ugly fixture of Adeyemo alakija to the beauty of a nice ice cream meal at ice cream factory. Ugly stories of kidnapping, rituals and disappearances. Of boyfriends murdering girlfriends and buildings collapsing. But the fact that these ugly things rear their heads at us doesn't stop us from enjoying the beauty when we can, and while we can. Lagos is a big cooking pot with all the ugly spices blended in with the nice aroma of basil, rosemary, thyme et co to make a great meal.
apartment building somewhere on the mainland

Apartment building in Ikoyi. source:http://bola2008.files.wordpress.com

I went on a chopper ride once, when caverton offered the air tour services. I wanted to do something different. Be away from Lagos but be in Lagos… if it makes sense. Being up there was great, just the pilot, my friend and i, not chatting, but taking it all in. There was an overall perspective… the beauty and the ugliness, everything was blended in, and Lagos was just a beautiful, peaceful place. From up, the ugliness is swallowed by the beauty. Surrounded by savannahs and the blue of the ocean and nice architectural buildings(ok, i don't know how to paint pictures that well). I mean seriously, from up there all the good and beauty we sometimes miss in our daily hustle and anger over some ugly situations overshadowed the ugliness, and crime and traffic and cheating, and fake girls and everything. It was just one fine city that I loved.
Life’s got its ugly and beautiful moments, sometimes we miss the beauty because we’re trying so hard to protect ourselves against the ugly. But the fact that there’s so much ugliness around doesn’t mean we would be better off not living. As beautiful as life is, we can't escape it's ugliness, it's like that stroke of color we need to make the picture complete.
If only we had the vantage point of God, he who seats on the throne, just like I could see from that chopper, we would understand that all is well indeed. He sees the overall picture, he knows what his plans are, plans of good for us. If we could see what God sees from up there, then we would embrace life, even when the ugliness creeps into our beauty. The ugliness can't be compared with the overall beauty of all that he gives to us, all that our life is about. So align yourself with him, and know that everything will be alright. Because Life is good indeed, especially with God on your side.
(I was going to do a photo post on the beautiful and ugly sides of Lagos, but you'll have to do with this :p )

9 comments :

  1. Lagos has lots of ugly people. Not physical appearance but their hearts are.

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  2. I think you did a great job still. Sometimes there's really nothing much one can do but be kind and generous as is in your hands.

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  3. Thanks for this iNyamu. My first visit to your blog and you speak to my heart with this piece. Just when all I see around me is ugliness; when I'm truly weary and want to give up, the Lord, my Lord that is always right on time, leads me to your blog for the encouragement I need. Thank you. Blessings.

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  4. Every Picture tells a different story,its the same the world over

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  5. the good-the bad-the ugly
    love me my eko......

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  6. You captured the essence of the good and the bad side of Lagos. But in all this we never let the ugliness overwhelm us

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  7. If only Naija were different. If only our primary motivation as Christians is being our brother's keeper. I understand and appreciate the beauty but I wish we were more driven as a people to do charitable works. It will ease some of the burden and pain.

    I was responding to your tithes post but I don't think my comment went through, I just got too weary to try again.

    Tbh, if the drive and relentless arguments for tithes was for it to allievate the suffering instead of the teeny weeny percentage that goes towards such works, we will be a better reflection of Christ.

    I love that scripture you quoted in the post about being bounced (Matt 25) but do bear with me and carry on reading to Matt 25:31-45.

    What he used to separate the goats from the sheep was works on behalf of the needy. Living in our little islands and oasis dwelling on me me me instead of being outward looking is what a lot of us are inclined to do but may God help us.

    I think the saddest part is the mind games our churches play. In the bible each person administered his tithe (according to God's word) towards the levite, widows, orphans, strangers etc cos they were the vulnerable groups in their midst.

    Today, if you don't take it and hand it over in Church you will be told you are a robber. Infact, some people's widowed mum will need a life saving operation but they must give the money in church or else their hearts will be palpitating and they'll feel they've fallen from Grace leaving mumsy stranded.

    Let me ask a simple question, the MOG have a pulpit from which to argue for 'giving' to them and their own churches, WHO will speak up for the poor and needy like Jesus did?

    They have no platform and are directly in competition for the very same funds/sustenance the churches argue for...and the churches have clamped tight on the pockets.

    On that day it's Matt 25:31-45.

    If the churches either used a large percentage of the funds for charitable works or 'allowed' people to solve the problems of the needy in their immediate circles of influence, Naija will be rejuvenated.

    The problem is, once people have finished giving in Church, they have no 'excess funds' to meet other such needs. Instead we have become so legalistic like the Pharisees forgeting justice & mercy. No vex abeg, it's a long epistle I know :)

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  8. @Ade, a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly hearts. I'd like to think that the good prevails.

    @Myne, thank you. We do the little we can, to give beauty to those drenched in the ugliness.

    @anon God is awesome, and i'm glad he used this to speak to you. Bless you.

    @Didi, yeah, i could use this for the world, just wanted to pick the little part of the world i live in to bring it home.

    @okeoghene no we don't, we let beauty triumph over ugliness.


    @anon i think i get where you're coming from, Christianity is all encompassing, not limited to paying tithes et co. I believe in giving tithes, and i believe in showing compassion to the needy, what i don't believe is sharing your tithe between the needy and God. everyone has their thoughts on that, that's why the bible says to 'work out your own salvation' what your spirit leads you to do, do it.(I try to avoid arguments when it comes to first fruits, offerings n tithes.) I know a couple of churches who have ministries dedicated to meeting needs of the needy and welfare departments too. Some people and churches are doing what they can. Jesus knew what he was saying when he said we will always have the poor and needy among us.
    "As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." luke 21:1-4

    (giving him offerings/tithes is a sign of worship... he commended the poor widow for giving) it becomes a problem when we make it legalistic.

    as for charity and all, most people do the little they can. Hopefully we'll do more.

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  9. I really respect your position on tithes. As for me, I have no problems splitting mine.

    The old testament people weren't considered to be robbing God when they gave a part of it to the needy according to God's commands.

    One can't be too legalistic if not we'll have to begin measuring grain & sheep as He was very specific on what could be considered tithe (wage earners didn't tithe at the time).

    I'm happy splitting it but then that's my opinion. Like you said each person work out your own salvation..

    We are blessed to be able to give even more that the 10% unlike some others. For them it will mean being unable to pay their rent or allow mama to go without that life saving operation etc.

    Love your blog, I like the way you carry the readers along as you ponder life and share your experiences.

    p.s. About the poor being always with us; yes Jesus said that to emphasis His physical presence at the time. Now he's 'absent' physically, pour the oil from your alabaster box on the needy or sell it and help the poor as the apostle suggested. Jesus said when we give to His brothers, we actually give to Him i.e. Matt 25:40.

    That's the answer right there, we love Him so much we want to give Him our best, His representatives are the UGLY we see all around us. We might not be able to solve every need but that one person you help matters so much to Him.

    We are the answer to someone's prayers whether in feeding, clothing, healing the broken etc

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