Saturday, July 20, 2013

Learning more about Lagos, the state of

I had gone to, or err... travelled to, Ikeja from VI and upon arrival, I was seeing all these "Welcome to Lagos" signboards. So I wondered and then it finally dawned on me that Lagos was actually a state. We know it as the biggest city in Africa, but Lagos is also the name of a state. Did you know Ikeja was the capital of Lagos State? I didn't know until this week, my fifth time in Lagos. I am beginning to know more about Lagos. Ayooluwaato Eze is becoming more comfortable with his true home.

While in Lagos, a friend took me on a small driveby tour of Ikeja. I had been to Ikeja a couple of times before, once to go chill and party when I had "point and kill" for the first time. The second time, I visited the Shrine. I need to go check out Computer Village the next time though. In Ikeja, we drove past the Ikeja mall which had a Shoprite and looked pretty big, bigger than the Accra Mall. We'd see what West Hills Mall does when it arrives. The Lagos mainland has places like Ikeja, Surulere, and Ebute Metta. Ebute Metta was popularized by Banky W's song but it also has 200 year old buildings.

I also learnt that Lagos doesn't really have a mayor but has a governor who is hugely famous now and very popular, Governor Babatunde Fashola. He's the kind of statesman we need leading many political spheres around the continent. He successfully banned okadas, and making major infrastructural improvements and setting Lagos to be better. He turned many spaces under bridges (which had previously been haven for armed robbers) into parks and green spaces and places where kids can play. Fashola was the chief of staff during Bola Tinobu's regime. He's done a great job.

Lagos (state) also has many islands. I would have called these places suburbs but with the realization that Lagos is technically bigger than a city, I'd have to call these towns. They are two places I know best in Lagos as of today. These two popular places are Victoria Island and Ikoyi. They are separated by the Lagos lagoon. I stayed at the Radission once in Lagos. I didn't enjoy it as much there - the lights went off more often than usual and the water was yellowish a couple of times. The Falomo bridge is one of the roadways connecting them. Getting used to it.

The previous time I was in Lagos, my friend Eki gave me a little tour of VI and Ikoyi. It was in the evening so I didn't see too much. We went by Bola's hous on Bourdillon road. Technically, Alexander and Gerard roads roll into Bourdillon, making up what is 'Bourdillon estate'.Turns out many of my Stanford Nigerian friends had homes there. Posh people. :-) But even in the times of Ikoyi and VI, there are islands and there are eye-lands. Take the estate called Banana island for instance. The richest ogas live there. Mike Adenuga, the man behind the success of GLO or Mr. Dantata, a well accomplished construction magnate. I know Dantata's kid. Yeah. Adenuga's house is like an estate. I learnt about the exclusive St. Saviours Primary school in Ikoyi. It's one of the hardest to get into.

I'm impressed with how street names are used well and widely in Lagos. Most taxi drivers could tell which streets are were. The signage is there to help them. They use a fair amount of landmarks as well. Even then, they know which streets these major landmarks are on. With the infrastructure that exists now and the development arisen from the growing population, it's tough to tell what a rural area looks like in Lagos. That's also why Lagos the state is Lagos the city. You can't really pinpoint the cities in the state. It's not like picking Port Harcourt out of River State. Lagos state is one big metropolitan and cosmopolitan landmass. It's like non other. It's Las Gidi!
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