I am typing these lines somewhere in Ikeja, Lagos. I arrived on Sunday to attend the funeral ceremony of Funke’s mother.
Funke is Yombo Aderinto’s wife; and Yombo is my friend, from our days at Radio Nigeria, Ilorin, in the late 1970s. I stay in their house at Buena Park in California, everytime I am in the United States. So attending the funeral ceremony for Funke’s mother was an imperative for me, but it was also an opportunity to come to Lagos by road. And that is something I have not really done since 2002, when I worked as GM of KWTV, Ilorin. It was an opportunity to see places that I used to be so familiar with, in all those years of traversing this beautiful country of ours.
The Ilorin-Ibadan Expressway was started during the Obasanjo administration and the Ilorin-Ogbomosho and Ibadan-Oyo ends are ready, more or less, but the Ogbomosho-Oyo end is still to be done.
It means that many communities along the way remain as rustic as they always have been: Fiditi, Jobele and the smaller communities along the way seem lost in the problems of the past century.
And while there are visible agricultural potentials, especially the old and established production of fruits, there is not much that the aging population of these poor rural homesteads can do to become part of the processes of globalised Twenty-First Century capitalism.
I saw far more older people than young and there was no doubt in in my mind that most of the young have drifted into the urban areas, as students, apprentices in trades, working people and urban lumpen!
As we stopped over to eat Amala, Ewedu and goat meat at the edge of the Expressway in Oyo, the old tradition of stopping along these routes in years past came rushing back to memory.
There is a continuum of tradition that was comforting, except that these communities have become more crowded thus expressing the attraction they are for the rural hinterland around these urban areas.
There were the persistent beggars, mainly from Katsina, Zamfara and Borno, who I spent considerable time chatting with, much to the surprise of passengers in vehicles getting ready to resume their journey after experiencing the delightful food that we savoured too. We finally arrived in Lagos late evening, and the chaotic traffic situation as well as the effervescent energy of people only went to underline the fact that we were entering the entrails of Nigeria’s most vibrant economic/commercial Uber-city. Lagos has never stopped fascinating me; but its nightlife even more so!
Yombo’s cousin, Lawumi runs the nightclub, CRESCENDO, in the Ikeja GRA district of the city. We spent a major part of the night there, listening to and watching a live band play some of the best of old and new Nigerian music as well as savouring the grilled fish that was a specialty of the club.
The Lagos crowd just enjoys partying hard and loosening up after the hassle which characterises their week. Even the Sunday night show was no less crowded than say, the Saturday night.
Water logged city
By Monday afternoon, we were out again in search of food and you can bet that Lagos would always have a lot to enjoy. If there is a downside to this city that I have never been able to enjoy, it is the rainy season and its effect: water-logged roads (as this is a low-lying city), where people never remember to keep their drainages clean; the utterly chaotic traffic situation which make movement such a nightmare, and the incredulity of social existence in the midst of that chaos. The human spirit is truly strong and Lagos brings that close home. We eventually arrived on Tuesday Evening at a Living Faith Church premise at Iyana Ipaja, where the funeral prayer was held, after the horror of traffic at the close of the day’s work. The return journey to Ikeja was better and the tension was dissipated by the hot plates of fish and oxtail pepper soup that we tucked into, as we also watched the Champions League game between Juventus and Real Madrid. We will go to Ago Iwoye, Ogun State on Thursday, for the wake keeping and the internment on Friday morning, before I literally ‘re-mount’ my ‘Rocinante’ like Don Quixote, on the way back to Ilorin and Abuja. This is a lovely country to eternally re-discover and Lagos is such an important part of that journey, anytime!