Now, when I speak of growing up in Lagos, I’m not referring to the “Island kids” who grew up eating cornflakes and knowing all the American actors and going for summer holidays ‘overseas’, throwing around words like “Harrods”, “Walmart”, and “McDonalds”, and being driven in chauffeured, air-conditioned cars. I’m talking about the vast majority of Lagos mainland kids who grew up eating agege bread, watching tales by moonlight on NTA, jumping rickety buses (danfos and molues, anyone?) and shopping in open markets like Tejuosho. (Oh, and by the way, Tejuosho market has been rebuilt into a mega shopping complex, all posh looking and gleaming. You might want to visit.)
Did you think I wrote this to criticize Lagos and its quirks? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but that’s going to be for another day when I’ve been enraged enough by its ills to want to vent. I love Lagos. I love the hustling spirit of its inhabitants, I love the fact that anyone who plays his cards right can make it in Lagos. I love the cultural mix, I love the small bukas that sell great tasting food, I love the fact that you can get almost anything(I mean this literally) on the streets of Lagos. I love that expression, that expression of hope permanently etched on the faces of its inhabitants. That expression that says “I may not be where I want to be today, but I’ll get there someday soon!
The truth about growing up in Lagos and generally living in this city is this: in the end, its all about choice. You do not choose to be born in the slums of Mushin, or in the posh buildings on Victoria Island, but you choose what to make of yourself. Impossibility is nothing.