Everywhere in Lagos

From 10 December until 18 December 2012, I wrote short Facebook posts around my daily experiences of living and working in Lagos. Here are those posts, collected and illustrated with Instagram images.

Photos by Emeka Okereke

I:

Lagos, the shining and perishable dream itself. Our bodies tattooed with scars of survival, every one of us trading our narratives of killability, every time we meet menace. It’s a hustle, or business-like nonchalance; it’s ambition or plain listlessness.

This evening, look at the unmoving traffic, and imagine it’s the sea, without waves.

The man who’ll walk all the way to Alausa/Secretariat, all the way home, no tricycle or motorcycle for transportation, knows the extent of his anger. As he curses the Governor that has banned motorcycles and made him walk.

He’ll vote in 2015, aged and wiser.

II:

We are not photographers, but it has become expedient to see. Past the crowded room, past the incessant brutalities of vain men, past the complaints that linger in our hearts because we are of this country. To see and see again is the task that has befallen us.

And beyond seeing, to record.

III:

Silent revolutions.

The first man says to the second man, we talk about this everyday, and yet see how unheard we are.

You are speaking too much grammar my friend, the second man replies.

The first man reverts to silence.

We, who have experimented with democracy, know the ambivalence that comes with resistance. What kind of government is this?!

Those idiots in power! One day God will judge all of them! Their children will pay for their sins!

And yet we speak and our voices are secrets of the marketplace. Everyone hears. But who is listening?

Between speaking and being heard there is an infinite silence.

The first man replies, if I am speaking too much grammar, that is all I have. If I complain, it is because I know no other expression. Tell me, what else I can do? Eh, tell me.

The other man reverts to silence.

IV:

[A first person speaks to a second person]

A: Facebook has democratized stupidity.

B: Shut up.

A: Facebook is the start of our attention deficiency.

B: Shut up.

A: Clicking a like button only confirms that we are half-hearted, pretentious addicts.

B: Shut up very much.

A: Too many posts since we joined Facebook and we have not said enough.

B: Your big mouth!

A: Someone said reading her twitter timeline gives her the feeling of trying to catch up while running.

B: So?

A: If you say you’re leaving Facebook to sidestep the mundane, you’re probably guilty of taking yourself too seriously.

B: Your first intelligent comment!

A: So we’ll just remain spontaneously expressive

B: Maybe.

[Silence]

B: One more thing…

A: What?

B: Share it!

V:

A very basic story about meeting the love of your life in a danfo bus.

Part-inspired by shameless longing for a partner, part-inspired by the knowledge that ladies play hard to get only because they know they can be gotten, and part-inspired by your imagination.

Imagination is knowing the right word with which to begin the conversation.

Here you are; talk to the lady.

VI:

Being driven, what do you make of the world?

This traffic is so serious, Jesus Christ! It was like this last month, and the driver took Ojota. That’s why I’m telling this man to follow Ojota, he will not hear.

The most important lie you’ll tell yourself is you’re in this city to reach your life’s goal.

The road is always hungry, always wanting more movement, yet brittle.

That’s the way you’ve become, every word an assault on the bus driver, his conductor. You are trapped in a moving-dead metal box, and not the driver, not his conductor are pampering you with soothing words. Words you need after your hustle.  So you assault them with words you can’t take back.

It is 11.30pm and you are yet to get to your house. Lagos is making us rehearse for an eternity of sleeplessness.

The president is in town. In the morning, as you left for work, you were costumed as a dignitary. Now you’re naked as a worm.

Because the most important lie you’ve told yourself is you’re in Lagos to reach life’s goal.

VII:

A makeshift cinema on a street shows mostly Hausa films. In the evenings, men sit in a half-circle facing a kiosk where there is a TV. Watching, commenting — being comrades. On their heads a halo of suspense.

[I want to go home and write…]

A man sitting in the dark outside the gate of a building with four floors. A cigarette is fastened to his fingers. He is unmoving as a stone; the night is steadily edging towards silence. When night is stealthily silent, the Underground awakens.

[I want to go home and…]

The door of a bus falling out while in transit, passengers screaming. Their cries lost in Lagos perpetual momentum. Two friends are yards away. They look back, then hurry on. No man for another man, God for us all.

[I want to go home…]

The same friends had seen a bus on fire, passengers safe-distances away, talk-shouting, hands on their waists. The friends were in a moving bus, Bariga to Yaba. Moving Bus passengers only watched in transiting kinship. Even shared suffering does not stay in one place. Tragedy has roots in the air. Alas.

[I want to go….]

A restaurant owned by a Lebanese immigrant. Two Nigerian ladies and two Lebanese men sitting on a table laughing, one man smoking. Pidgin and tobacco wafting into the air.

[I want to…]

The words on t-shirts: (i) I Facebooked your Mother; (ii) My money grows on trees like grass; (iii) Don’t tell my mummy; (iv) Nobody in my area has swagger like me

[I want…]

One Lagosian tweets: In-plain-sight tattoos are beginning to compete with earrings in Lagos.

[I….]

One man says, everywhere in Lagos I know.