I am a snob.
I do not say this with pride. In fact there’s a bit of sheepishness tinged with shame in that confession.
For someone who claims to be reasonably well-traveled and open-minded or as we call in these days – “woke”, I’m under-exposed to the most important country of all…mine.
There’s a certain arrogance that comes with being a Lagosian. I claim this title of Lagosian and have claimed it for over twenty-something years. [I dare anyone to challenge me]
My parents were born and raised in Lagos as was I. I grew up in Surulere – Aborisade first then Lawanson. Moved to the ‘island’ when I was 10. I say island with slight derision because when my parents got their property they were tricked into believing our part of town was also the island. By the time the roundabouts came, I knew better. We were closer to Ijebu-Ode than Lekki.
Anyway, back to the arrogance of us Lagosians. We brag about our hustle like other cities don’t know what strife is.
We hate the traffic but we love it.
It’s unexplainable. This toxic love for this somewhat toxic city.
Yet there’s a slight derision in our tones when we speak with the new immigrants….Those who weren’t born or raised in Éko. We compare our night life to theirs as if that was something to brag about. Ibadan especially is the butt of our jokes.
Did you know that most Lagosians have never traveled outside of Lagos?
I decided this year to try something new…Instead of vacationing outside the country, I wanted to see more of Nigeria.
My first port of call was Abeokuta. I remember seeing a Slot outlet and exclaiming “Oh they have Slot here”.
I had to bite my tongue after saying that. This was a city in its own right not some backwater slum.
Abeokuta was beautiful.
They were everywhere.
I was intrigued by the people. Aged women with tribal marks across their cheeks that told stories my hands alone could not write. I watched their veiny hands wring water out of clothes and pull adiré out of hot dye pots.
It was in Abeokuta that I tasted kpekere for the first time in maybe 17 years. I called it kpekere, my travel companions called it kokoro. I bought 400 Naira’s worth. This was eight pieces. And I finished every one.
Kaduna of all places!!!!! Who would have thunk it?!
Here’s what I’ve come to realize about the northern states.
- Breathing is difficult for me here. The air is dry yet it’s humid. I went for an early morning run and I was breathing through my mouth the entire time.
- The people however are interesting. I don’t know if it’s the novelty of them or it’s the mystery behind the Hausa that rolls off their tongues like melodious music.
- I am fascinated by their landscape. If I’d thought Abeokuta had rocks…Abuja and Kaduna put it to shame.
Zuma rock made me want to go rock climbing. Gurara falls reminded me that there was more to life than the loud and incessant honking of car horns and city noise.
It was amazing to be able to take a walk at night through the streets of Abuja without fear of being mobbed. To take a taxi over long distances at ridiculous fares of 300 naira to 500 naira. Drop for that matter o!!
Where can you get such fares in Lagos?
I’m aware that not all parts of Abuja are this serene. This is also not my first visit to the Capital, however it’s the first time I’ve seriously considered living anywhere but Lagos.
Lagos is a bubble. There’s a world outside waiting to be explored. What are you waiting for?