With a population of well over ten million Lagos is not only the biggest city in West Africa it is also completely congested. Lagosians are used to being stuck in traffic for hours at the time.
Lagos is a true Third World megalopolis, with a population of between 13-17 million stretching over 3.500 sq kms that encompass 4 main islands as well as the adjacent mainland.
Lagos’s swamps and mangrove forests made it the perfect protected spot for hunters and fishermen when they first settled here, and even inspired the Portuguese to name it Lagos – or lakes.
What was perfect for hunters is a nightmare for urban development and a population explosion has resulted in a sprawl of slums with no sanitation and intermittent electricity.
It’s not a cheap city and it has the highest crime rate in West Africa. Going out by yourself at night is not a good idea.
Taking the ferry is a great way to bypass the traffic on Falomo Bridge – one of the main arteries leading onto Lagos Island over 5 Cowrie Creek, whose name remains from a time when the crossing cost 5 cowrie shells.
Lagos is a city of markets. They are everywhere. There’s not a square or street that hasn’t got at least one stall and you can find pretty much anything here, including a whole lot of food!
Balogun Market is a good place to shop for Ankara fabric, a style not dissimilar to Javanese batik that was introduced by early Dutch traders. Named after its cheaper Turkish cousinAnkara is known as the traditional African cloth and is taken up by many trendy designer as a local statement.
Nigerians are not only snappy dressers, they just have that certain something, this country is filled with big personality. It comes as no surprise that one of its biggest industry banks on just that. Nollywood, as it is called, has just overtaken Hong Kong as the world’s third largest film producer. And I’ve got myself an appointment with one of the hottest directors in town.
Nollywood is big business in Lagos and although the budgets are a fraction of those enjoyed by its rivals the sheer quantity of films that are made here is impressive. Every year an estimated 2400 movies are produced here and some of the directors are making their mark internationally.