I have discovered that Lagos (Nigeria and Africa’s most populous city) is so far the only place that can accommodate my madness. Many times I have raised my voice or yelled at different instances while in Kenya, and some people took it for rudeness but I am sorry I am my mother’s daughter and that’s just how we express frustration. Everybody yells and shouts in Lagos, so naturally I felt welcomed to Nigeria during my two-week stay. I never liked the careless hooting. It caused me constant headaches and endless thoughts as to why not one Lagos driver can just chill.
I’ve deduced that everyone’s tone is higher than normal in Lagos because first – the surrounding is almost always noisy – in comparison to Kenya. There is a constant rumbling sound of generators and spiking air off their fumes. You have to shout louder on phone for the person on the other side to hear you because the network is mostly jammed.
The general madness level in Lagos is about six times the madness in Nairobi. Numbers make a perfect case study to set the background of this case scenario. If you put all East African cities together: Lagos only is still king in numbers, as of 2015 statistics. While Lagos boasts a population of over 20 Million, the population in Nairobi is approximately at 6.5 Million; Kampala a little over 2 Million; Dar Es Salaam a little over 4 Million and Kigali a little over 1 Million. They collectively don’t even sum up to 20 Million – yet we haven’t even counted the rest of the Nigerian states. This is a big reason why Nigeria is the giant of African music at the moment – their numbers patronise the rest of Africa.
Straight from the airport, driving around Lagos mainland and island is such a fresh experience! Bez, Falz, Yemi Alade, P Square, M.I, 2 Face Idibia, Seyi, Tiwa Savage and Wizkid, among several artistes, are on countless billboards adverts or on as brand ambassadors. The few non-Nigerian artistes who I saw on billboards included Adelle, Avril, Bien and Vanessa Mdee.
It saddens me that many Kenyan corporates and brands are still yet to see the full value of artistes. They would rather have models or comedians on billboards and their adverts or campaigns and not music stars. I have nothing against models or comedians; I am only saying that there is a big opportunity for Kenyan corporates to marry their brands with that of artistes.
This is my next phase of projects in the works.
Traffic in Lagos is also on a different level. The distance between the mainland and island will take you approximately thirty minutes with moving traffic. The journey around the island was always beautiful to me. I don’t live in a coastal or port city so please let me be. There are three main bridges linking Lagos Mainland to the Island. The Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge is such a babe! The 1.36 km cable-strayed bridge links Lekki with Ikoyi – these are the rich people and celebrity estates.
I visit MTV Offices and Nigerian media Mogul Olisa Adibua at his home, both in Ikoyi. Houses in Ikoyi, to be specific Parkview Estate are quite something. The road is so perfect with the estate street roads made of tiny little pebbles. Some of the grandiose mansions are painted in white and gold – no generators noise here. I was so impressed yet astounded at an affluent view of Lagos. Some parts of the city are so polluted by generator’s fumes and noise – let’s not even talk about places where there’s never power.
The world doesn’t expect a giant economy like Nigeria to be as crippled when it comes to power so while in Lagos, I try to comprehend why having power is top of Nigerian problems. You spend about 5,000 Nairas on your generator every day, an equivalent of 2,500 Ksh, depending on how you use your power. Do the math on this expense per month. Power only comes on for about four or less hours a day.
I am lucky, and unlucky, that I am in Lagos over December – when they experience the worst fuel shortages. There are times when taxi men won’t show up or refuse to go somewhere because of existing fuel shortage and fear of running out before getting fuel to finish trip. I think this might be the reason why Lagos Ubers are pricey in comparison to Nairobi’s. Partly is because distances are longer and you experience more traffic but I will never understand why our Uber ride was almost 12,000 Nairas on one ride in the island on a night of the Trey Songz concert that had slow moving traffic. We only spent like 35 minutes in the Uber. You can’t be broke in Lagos.
I empathize with Nigerians on the matter. It’s not their will to live like that but their government’s failure and the result of years of corruption and mismanagement. Why they produce crude oil but then have to import petrol and the rest after manufacturing elsewhere is a fucked up model. They now have to invest in ways of creating renewable and sustainable energy. I recently heard President Muhammadu Buhari promise to solve the power situation. He was reading the country’s 2016 Budget. Nigeria’s current power situation has crippled and disadvantaged many businesses, business people and industries. If they can solve it, Nigeria can really fuck shit up. Even more! Being back home in Kenya and in my crib makes me feel like I am working from a 5 star hotel. No power shortage, no noise, no fumes.
BONUS; I couldn’t have done anything or gone anywhere without Abi – my girl made sure I was rolling like a Queen. God bless you babe.