The only time I disconnect from all the hustles and bustles of life is when I am airborne. I take time to read and perhaps meditate. So was my trip from Dar es Salaam to Lagos, Nigeria last week. Though it was tiring since we had started our journey earlier, it was so relaxing just to sit and let my mind wander.
We also stopped over at Cotonou, Benin the birthplace of African voodoo to refuel before continuing with our journey. We then headed to Lagos, which lies in southwestern Nigeria, on the Atlantic coast in the Gulf of Guinea, west of the Niger River delta.
From aerial view, Lagos is a beautiful metropolis made of islands separated by creeks. So we arrived in Lagos late afternoon and found our host – Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) staff waiting for us at Murtala Muhammed International Airport located in Ikeja, Lagos.
I made it to the list of TEF African Journalism Fellowship after a rigorous selection process and managed to meet some Tanzanian entrepreneurs who were traveling to attend the third TEF Entrepreneurship Forum at the Nigerian Law School in Lagos.
TEF is a showcase of innovation and entrepreneurial potential that exists in Africa, which brings together thousands of entrepreneurs and other ecosystem stakeholders from across Africa.
Coincidentally we could easily identify each other since we were wearing Tanzanian T-shirts or having tri-colour scarfs bearing the beautiful national colours.
We were then driven from Ikeja to Ikoyi, an upmarket area in Victoria Island where we passed through Third Mainland Bridge, which connects Lagos Island to the mainland. It is also known as Ibrahim Babangida Bridge and was the longest bridge in Africa until 1996 when the construction of 6th October Bridge was completed in Cairo.
Almond nut trees and palm trees line up the streets of Lagos giving it lush green beauty. We couldn’t but help notice magnificent skyscrapers, good road network an indicator to the economic strength of Lagos.
The expensive cars that people drive on the streets of Lagos also testify to Nigerians love for finer things in life and opulence. On the second day we were driven through the city on our way to the United Bank of Africa (UBA) headquarters where Tony Elumelu, the philanthropist and founder of TEF who is also the chairman of UBA and the top bank officials were meeting the African journalists fellows.
We were taken through the history of UBA and its footprints across africa and beyond. We saw some beautiful buildings among them is UBA house in Marina road, a landmark which many people in Lagos recognise and falls in the list of some of the tallest buildings in Nigeria.
As we left UBA house, across the road, we could see people haggling outside Balogun Market but we did not get the chance to get inside and buy a thing or two since it was getting dark but could not help but notice colourful African fabrics.
On our last day, we visited Eko Hotel, an ultra-luxurious Lagos landmark. The hotel spreads three buildings on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and its rooftop bar gives one a spectacular view of Lagos – the city that never sleeps and Kuramo lagoon. This makes Victoria Island the main evening attraction for its good nightlife and Nigerian music.
The food can be so peppery in Lagos such that you can’t help but whizz your nose and snort to the annoyance of your fellow diners. Well, you can blame Nigerian cooks for their delicious meals. Menus feature peppered rice and even more peppered sauce though I also got a lifetime chance to taste fufu. Oh, it is so delicious. Most of the population live on the mainland, and most industries are located there too but the island scenery is breathtaking if you ask me.
Nigerians are very good looking, warm and hospitable people. In fact I am beginning to think that Nollywood makes us believe that they are too rude which is not the case. They were speaking very good English as opposed to the pidgin, which is usually used in most of the Nollywood movies that we are used to.
When it comes to dressing, I gave it to Nigerians. Both men and women in Lagos have adopted the taste of luxury fashion and pride themselves in good dressing. And aren’t we going to give it to Nigerians for the good music too? If you ask me if I want to visit Lagos again. My answer will be yes.