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|
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.|
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 )