Lagos..through a Londoner’s eyes
As the appeal of the Western World shrinks many British Nigerians are looking to Lagos as the next big place to be.
To many citizens of the chaotic metropolis that is Lagos, London is the land of milk and honey. London is the gift that keeps on giving: security, safety, healthcare and at the top on any Nigerian’s list, light! However, as Lagosians seem so keen on uprooting for London, many British Nigerians would quite happily take their place.
Many Nigerians find the idea of a mass exodus of British Nigerians to Lagos utterly absurd, however, to many Nigerians in Britain (specifically second generation young adults) the idea of returning to Lagos is very appealing. The reasons for this desire to return to their ‘homeland’ are vast. Firstly, and perhaps comically, many young British Nigerians do not view Lagos clearly. Their judgment is naively clouded by images of the Glo advert and Afrobeats songs about expensive boat clubs and champagne; of course, these images do correlate somewhat to Lagos living, but it is certainly not the full picture. Indeed, a privileged select few enjoy such a lavish lifestyle in their coveted Lagos Island postcode, however, in reality, the majority of Lagosians have a tougher experience.
However, this superficially pristine view of Lagos held by British Nigerians actually has deeper roots. Many of us feel profoundly connected to Africa on a personal and cultural level and with the recent economic boom in developing countries, such as Nigeria, we feel that our western expertise can be put to good use. As cities like Lagos enjoy economic success the Occidental World continues to get struck with a continuous stream of banking debacles. Is it really surprising that many in Britain may naively glorify Lagos as The New Promise Land after the Western World is failing so tragically? In fact, it has become somewhat of a new trend in Britain for second-generation immigrants to return to Africa. Most of these immigrants claim there are plentiful business opportunities in Nigeria compared to the shrinking economy of the West. Perhaps we can put this overly optimistic view of Lagos down to the fresh perspective of British Nigerians; we have never truly been bogged down with the hectic, and sometimes fatal Lagos life, therefore we view the city through a child’s eyes, full of hope, optimism and dreams.
The healthiest way to view Lagos is as a realist, being neither overly optimistic nor pessimistic. Lagos is a megacity in transition that is gradually making changes to be on par with the big players like New York and London. As glamorous as some of these changes may be, we must not be blind sighted by this new ‘sexy’ image of the city. There are still rudimentary issues the city must face, such as housing, crime and sanitation. As a result, it is dangerous to view Lagos too positively or too negatively; only when we decide to view the city from a realist’s perspective can we see it for what it really is, so as to transform it into the great megacity it can become.