Sixty million people or more cannot be wrong. Here motion is an everlasting metaphor. The city practically exhales all the air supplied by the ocean tides. When you got to the city entrance, where the three sages had their fists bunched out, did you find any signboard saying, welcome to Lagos?
Ehen, so why complain? The needlessness of a welcome banner is a caveat in itself. It goes without saying that you are in Lagos on your account, at your own peril.
My wedlock with Lagos has been a difficult one. I was born in a sleepy town, Ado-Ekiti, before it became a state capital and flourished with a good measure of hotels and bars and pepper soup joints, before it became an artificial civil servants’ town that thrived on monthlies from the federation account.
Lagos became part of my reality after dad who had been away in lagos for about two years deemed it fit to take his family with him. So we heard lots of stuff about lagos to compel our childish inertia. Stories of long long bridges, exotic places , ice-cream in biscuit cones, beach fronts and chocolates. Ehen, tennis shoes.
I remember my little brother’s mien when we arrived at the toll gate where a mountainous heap of refuse gallantly stood as if to welcome us. He spoke in a Yoruba not quite purged of the Ekiti intone asking my mother if this, indeed, was the Lagos. My mum, fatigued from the journey, nodded yes.He drew a long hiss and said Lagos was not fine. His resolute disappointment is a memorable one and a recurring source of laughter in my family after about two decades.
So the small town born me came to Lagos for primary and secondary education. I darted out of it at my earliest convenience for a university education at Ile-Ife, a place which has influenced me immensely.
Two years after I bagged my degree, after my one year long sojourn to Eastern Nigeria in the guise of Youth Service, I drove down to Lagos , an eight hour stretched made longer by bad roads and worse road users.
Finally, Lagos. Lagos of sixty million people cannot be wrong. It was not like I had exactly left Lagos and had not visited it, no. It was more of a dubious home-coming for me, for I knew (still know) that at the earliest opportunity, I will leave the city. But the matrimony for now is convenient and that is something I have visited severally in my creative writing. I have written more about Lagos in this past year than ever, perhaps it is in an attempt to prepare myself for the dubious homecoming.
My forthcoming chapbook, Daybreak, has a lot of Lagos references, but as they say, nothing prepares you for Lagos, the city.
Enjoy this short verse,
Muyideen roamed into Berger from
A family compound with twin graves and stray goats,
Awe in his eyes;
Awe at the bustling city that
Soon sweeps his Ghana-Must-Go sack
Full of trivia like locust beans and a paper strip
Of crumpled Uncle Alaka’s residential address