Sunday, March 10, 2013

(Some) MIghTy African experiences from Lagos

I've been to Lagos 3 times in the last 15 months. But I haven't told you that on this blog. You know how Ghana and Nigeria are, it's a sibling rivalry in every sense of the word. I would say "Nigeria is Ghana's small brother who has many more children". Ato Eze would say "Nigeria is the oga in the neighbourhood". I first went to Las Gidi in December 7-9 2011, March 14-18 2012 and February 19-22 2013. Many things happened there but these are the juiciest stories.

When I first went to Lagos, I was looking forward to experiencing too many Lagos parties. "Ain't no party like a Lagos party,  cos when Lagos party, we bother nobody". Let's say in all my nights there, I am yet to experience a Lagos party that will allow Ato Eze to have a good debate with Richard Nshuti Mayanja on Lagos being a better party city than Kampala is. My Naija people will say I have not been hanging with the right people. Well, if I have to know the right people to have a jolly good time in Lagos that will make other African cities jealous, then Lagos isn't such a great place to party.

I have to tell you about all the celebs I've met during my Lagos trips. I met Genevieve Nnaji at the Youtube Nigeria launch, she was so inconspicuous that most people never noticed she was there. She was not dressed for the occasion. I met the Naija Boyz who represented since they were YouTube sensation and that launch was emceed by Basketmouth, who I had actually seen perform live in Johannesburg a month earlier. Darey, MoEazy, Tiwa Savage were all there. I saw Tiwa later at the Industry Nite and took pics with her, Naeto C, and Don Jazzy, etc. I met at other Kenny Saint Brown, Crystals (an upcoming band), and if you count Jason Njoku of Iroko and Nollywood Love fame, he too. I also out-oliver-twisted the Backyard Crew, lie lie!

One of my goals when I was going to Lagos to ride an okada. The way I successfully did this is a story in itself. I had visited the Wennovation Hub near Oba Akran to see the startups and folks there. On my way back to Ikoyi to meet a friend, I saw the legendary Lagos traffic first hand. If the cars had just parked and threw a roadside party, they would have fuelled the Lagos party fire. Anyway, the taxi I had taken broke down somewhere on the route so I had to alight. I was in a hurry to go meet a Stanford colleague. I think I tried bargaining with a couple of taxis but when I saw the traffic ahead of me, it dawned on me. "This will be a great time to take an Okada!" So I negotiated a rate and got onto the back. Throughout the ride, I was trying to take the best possible picture so I could put it on this blog. The okada used the 3rd Mainland Bridge and the way we were bypassing the traffic was phenomenal. These okada drivers can weave through the narrowest nooks and crannies! I felt like I was on the okada for more than 23.4 minutes. I arrived at the restaurant to meet the absence of Aisha. When I told her I had taken an okada, she was shockprised. "Those things are dangerous, I would be so scared to take them". Not the MIghTy African (looking for blog material). Too bad Governor Fashola has banned okadas in Las Gidi. So now no one can do gidi-gidi in the Lagos traffic. What a bummer! It's crazy how Fashola successfully banned okadas in a town where they were so ubiquitous. Rumor has it that he's gonna introduce or is behind some new means of transport that would directly replace the okada business. Hmm. I hope this involves more of those three-legged cars. Those keke-marwas are just so cool jare!

Since I am such a foodian, I had to try the local food. Aisha took me to a great Suya joint and I had my full, full of chicken. My friend Wende also took to another joint on a certain Sunday, this time I had some beef. This last time in February, we had some more chicken suya at a joint really close to Bar Beach towers. I am not such a taste connoisseur so I can't tell how great Suya is. All I know is, if you are a meat lover, you should have Suya when you are in Lagos. If you are a fish lover, ask for Point And Kill while there. Better still, go to this join called Metro Bar in Ikeja and get that as well as Asun (barbecued goat meat). For "Point and Kill", they show some lively fish dancing in water, and then you point to the one you wanna devour, they go kill it and bring it to you. When was the last time you ate meat in the restaurant that you knew? Last killer be you :-)

I had eaten eba many times courtesy of my Naija friends at Stanford. I had the pleasure of also eating Naija dishes including my fave moin moin in Oakland too. I was sure to try something new in Lagos. A colleague took me to a restaurant that had many local dishes. I settled on Eba, Semolina, and Ofe Onugbu aka Bitterleaf soup. Ayooluwaato Eze is used to that soup from his father's side but I forced myself to enjoy that concoction. That soup is bitter papa! My friend had said it was healthy. Why does healthy food have to be so unappealing? Whose brilliant idea was that? Anyway, this restaurant, they had Vimto! That made me say "More vim!" I quickly bought that. My fave drink to have in Lagos is the Chapman. They have similar drinks to what we have in Ghana too. Like I do in many Ghanaian restaurants, my first drink of choice at each Lagos restaurant was "palm wine". None of them could deliver, such sadness.

While in Lagos during the Social Media Week, I took the chance to visit the Shrine in Ikeja. I knew it as the place that Fela Kuti built and where Felabration takes place. As an added bonus, Femi Kuti performs there regularly. I have seen Femi perform once in Boston and Seun perform once in San Francisco. They are bundles of energy, I love their music. The Shrine is a tourist attraction, given what we saw there. There are many paintings that signify Fela's music, thoughts and influences. We had some "asun" there too. Too bad, the band had finished playing though. The funniest sign is the one about "Drugs are not allowed in the Shrine". Am not sure why I find that so hard to believe.

One night on my second trip (March 2012) when I was looking to prove Lagos' party reputation, I ended up at Eko Hotel & Suites. It was then that I remembered that my friend Lydia Forson would be there for the premiere of "Phone Swap". I entered to look for my Ghanaian sista but unfortunately the premiere was over. Eko Hotel is pretty impressive, no wonder I had heard of countless events happening there. The folks working the premiere stopped to talk to me as they were packing up and after a great conversation, I had bought "The Figurine". I was excited to finally buy this award-winning Nollywood movie. For some reason, I haven't watched it yet. I'm gonna go search through all my stuff. What, you think I'm gonna search for it now? Yes, I just remembered I have the movie but lemme finish this blog post first.

Talking about finishing the blog post, I should have written this whole thing in Pidgin. No, I am not about to edit all I have written above here. Stay tuned, I will write a full blog post in Pidgin. Oya, make una wait now. I say, ego come jare. If you no fit wait, go Lagos go ride Okada. What? Una think say them ban that thing true true? Go Warri then Surulere go see. Them go tell you say khaki no be leather. I no go fit wait go Lagos again. Next time, I for spend weekend for there then enjoy Lagos proper!
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