By Obi Odenigbo
Like pretty much every other ambitious kid growing up in Nigeria; Lagos and Abuja were the dream destinations within the country. Call us vain; but we would have done anything to settle in these cities even if it meant staying with distant relatives we branded uncles and aunts.
I eventually lived in both cities and fulfilled the half-dream and half-obligation for people trying to do big things. It is in many regards; the Nigerian dream. But looking back; was it worth it?
Here are five simple reasons I think you should absolutely not live in Lagos. I will enunciate my Abuja arguments in a different article
- Noise Pollution: Lagos is arguably the loudest, most deafening city in all of Africa- if not the world. This is especially true if you live in the mainland area. The noise from churches and street preachers wake you up angry and deflated. The sluggish traffic and blazing horns traumatizes your already messed up head and it is not uncommon to see people trading curses and foul words with fellow commuters and the ubiquitous conductors. And when you get home; the madness continues with the innumerable generators working on your last nerve.
- Living with your Uncle/Aunt is not worth it: Feeling out of place, depressed, getting underpaid, acting like you love the kids, doing house chores, being subservient and swallowing insults are some of the phrases familiar with young people who have moved to Lagos. Need I say more?
- It is dangerous to internalize the attitude that tomake it you have to make and spend money like your peers. First of all; most of my successful peers were successful because they worked for an already successful dad or mom or uncle. The others were into shady deals and things a timid kid like me would never dream of doing. Living a life where you try to measure up to others should not push you to leave your comfortable home in Anambra or Delta for the noisy city of Lagos.
- Oh, you need to run over to First Bank and maybe stop for Brunch at Mr Biggs right across town or run some other perfectly minor errand?OK, see you in four hours.
- Glaring Inequality: Of all cities I have lived in; there hasn’t been one as unequal as Lagos. Don’t get me wrong; there are a million unequal cities in the world; but in Lagos; the beautiful third mainland bridge demarcates the very rich from the poor. On one side; the islanders- and on the other- the mainlanders. The Islanders are regarded as the big rollers. And every kid my back then who lived in the mainland wished they could afford to live in any of the towns on the Island.
- The Vanity Craze: There is no doubt that the American culture of being “Cool” has metamorphosed to every country with access to Hollywood. Wealth, swag, affluence, and living large have become more important among young people than hard work, dedication, sacrifice and “being real”. Lagos racks up this pressure to new levels. Kids who left Enugu humble and docile live in Lagos for one year and change the swing and bend in their steps.
- It is not relaxing to come “home” to Lagos.Because again, Lagos is busy and buzzing and always on. Normally that is a good thing if you’re just visiting; not home.
- The insane Obas and Xenophobic comments. For some reason, some indigenous tribe see themselves as entitled to Lagos’ resources and believe every other person should be grateful for their benevolence in letting them live here. For some reason; you always feel like a tourist or visitor in Lagos as every other moment; college-graduated illiterates remind you it isn’t really your home.
- Lagos can be a crutch.Yes, your music career is stalled. Yes, your art remains unknown. Yeah, you’ve yet to be published or your startup is only hype. But you live in Lagos, and that makes you better than the people who don’t (or so you reassure yourself). Where you live is not an accomplishment.
- Some of the most amazing people I know live in Lagos. That doesn’t mean I (or you) have to. Visit them and go home.
I know that most of you will scorn at this article and ignore me. I ignored me too J. I heard these things before I moved to Lagos. But I thought It’s Lagos- all the big cats live there… I figured it was all worth it. Now I’ve reconsidered. I hope you’ll do the same-but I understand and appreciate that you probably won’t. It’s one of those things that we need to see for ourselves.
I don’t consider my time there a failure. I genuinely love Lagos. Or at least the idea of it, I’m just so glad I don’t live there.
By Obi Odenigbo
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