|Eko Atlantic 2035|
With a mega-economy dwarfing some developing countries, a population rivalling some nations in Europe, Lagos has become a mega intercultural melting pot with folks all over the world interacting, exchanging ideas and cohabiting in peace and unity. But it wasn't always this way. Let's explore how this came to be.
The name ‘Lagos’ is a colonial extraction from Portuguese settlers in the 15th century. Its name is a series of linguistic morphology of the phrase ‘Lago de Curamo’ which translates to ‘Lake of Curamo’. After a century or so, of battles, ethnic clashes and colonialism, the island of Lagos, on 5th of March 1862, was officially a colony outpost of the British Empire. From this port, the British released ‘Creole’ ex-slaves who became instrumental in employing the knowledge they gleaned from the Portuguese to develop the city. Beautiful European-style architecture is still prevalent in the city of Lagos today.
Pre-Independence, the British government ran it's administrative government from the city of Lagos, as the official capital of Nigeria. Because of this, the prevalent architecture the Creoles introduced, merged with the British style of building, thereby creating a well advanced infrastructural overlay that rivals some cities in Europe.
1960- onwards (Post independence)
On the 27th of May, 1967, the Nigerian government makes Lagos a state, creates thirteen Local Government Administrative Units, and Ikeja the state capital. However, sometime in December 1991, the Nigerian government moves the state capital to Abuja, as part of an effort to de-emphasize colonialism, and also introduce a formal planning of a city.
Lagos is the largest state economy in Africa, with an estimated GDP of $44 billion annually, accounting for ten percent of Nigeria's GDP. It is the economic hub of the country, boasting of most of Nigeria's tech startups, manufacturing industries, and of course, one of Africa's busiest ports — Apapa Port moving billions in tonnage everyday, accounting for 90% of Nigeria's foreign exchange.
Lagos is also a tourist hotbed, owing largely to it's relics of European infrastructure, culture and cuisine. One of it's iconic sites is its beach — Lekki beach — straddling the Atlantic ocean, attracts thousands to it's shores all year round and twice during the summer. Lagos is also home to the National Museum of Nigeria, the Central Mosque, the Glover Memorial Hall, the first catholic church in Nigeria — Christ's Church Cathedral (CMS) and the Oba's Palace (the monarchy of Lagos).
Tourists are also encouraged to visit the Tinubu Square, wherein the amalgamation ceremony of the Northern and Southern protectorate formed Nigeria in 1914 by the British.
Other notable places include Ikoyi, which is home to one of the largest golf courses in Africa. It also boasts of exotic apartment condos, high-rise buildings and luxury hotels of European standards.
Victoria Island houses a reconstructed beach (Bar beach), luxury nightclubs and luxury real estate. It's diversity, organization and infrastructure make it indistinguishable from an European district. It is at Victoria Island, that the proposed Eko Atlantic City is being built via landfill on the coastline of the Atlantic ocean. This phase of the city promises to be the frontier of African innovation and sophistication.
Away from the Island is the mainland that houses most of Lagosians. Places like Yaba, Surulere, Oshodi, and Mushin, are the less sophisticated and more gritty/grimy parts of the city. These districts are lively with a bubbling nightlife, considerably cheaper than it's counterpart in the Island (Victoria, Banana, and Ikoyi).
Lagos is the ancestral home of the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria, but it is a multicultural abode with millions of ethnic groups in Nigeria, living and working in the city. The Igbos are the most populated in the city, after the Yorubas but it is not pertinent as they all view themselves as Lagosians.
Lagosians are very industrious people. They are known for their entrepreneurial spirit, risk-taking, and thrill-seeking. It is this spirit of industry, adrenaline and adventure that has catapulted the city to it's stratospheric heights in terms of influence, development and advancement in Africa. It is Lagos that produced one of Africa's finest musicians in Ayodeji Balogun — popularly known as Wizkid, heralded as the second coming of Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti.
Hakeem Olajuwon, an NBA basketball hall of famer, also hails from the great city as many others. These people represent the overall excellence of Lagosians and Nigerians as a whole.
The Lagos food scene is quite distinctive given that it is a multicultural city. Yorùbá, Hausa and Igbo meals are commonplace, along with continental dishes. The most common meal tourists itch to get a taste of is the Jollof rice. Jollof rice is one of the city's biggest food exports in terms of demand and craze for it, which is amazing given that it is very simple dish. It basically consists of tomato sauce cooked with rice and assorted with chicken, meat, fish or even egg.
While Jollof rice seems to be the tourist favorite, Lagosians are enamoured by ‘Ewa Agoyin’ sauce. Ewa Agoyin is a pepper sauce that is used to eat meals like yam, rice or beans. It is very spicy, peppery and heavy in oil. It consists of blending onions, habanero pepper, bell peppers, Roma tomatoes, and frying the blend in palm oil (red oil). For the uninitiated, it is very hot, spicy and oily, but it is an acquired taste that has it's appeal, especially in the colder times of the year. When combined with beans, the meal is simply delicious, and is highly recommended to tourists. Other Lagos food favorites include Ofada stew which goes well with rice or yam, Efo Riro which is a vegetable soup that can be consumed alone or with Garri, and many others.
Lagos is a very vibrant, energetic city that is catapulting Africa to greater heights in terms of infrastructure, culture, organization and economy. It is not a perfect city, as people on different parts of the city have different standards of living (Islanders are upper middle class/upper class while mainlanders are lower middle class/working class). Nonetheless, the state government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu is making giant strides in developing the state and closing the gap between the upper class and the middle class.
So if you're a tourist and you're planning a trip to West Africa, Lagos has to be one of your destinations as it is one of the most visited cities, not just in Africa but in the globe.