I was born in Lagos, by far the most populated space on the continent of Africa. Lagos is the economic nerve of Nigeria and I dare say West Africa, it cannot be surpassed in by any city in sub-Saharan Africa in richness and complexity.
Lagos is dynamic, upbeat, smelly, unforgiving, small in size but very exciting. Some refer to Lagos as a ‘no man’s land’, while others call it the home of their ancestors, all are however welcome and cohabit in cordial fashion.
Lagos is a Mini Nigeria. It doesn’t exactly welcome anyone but never turns anyone back. A popular sign at the gate of the city (though taken down now) warned visitors to this city rightly proclaiming “This Is Lagos!” The streets of Lagos are mostly narrowed with all shades of people lingering and always in a rush to get somewhere. Downtown Lagos or Lagos Island as it is known is completely surrounded by water and littered with skyscrapers of various multinationals and local businesses; the influence of these small cluster stretches far beyond the length and width of the African continent. The very rich live on the islands and across while the other half live mostly on the comfortable middle class mainland or on numerous slums scattered across the city.
I was born on this Island, in the most popular public Hospital in the whole country…I dare say that majority of Lagosians were born within the old confines of the maternity ward of the hospital. I believe my drive and smartness were a legacy from Lagos, she made me quick and ready on my feet. Lagos showed me that my success or not is entirely my prerogative, It is up to me. Lagos schooled me to be at my best; to be prepared like a scout for anything, as nothing is novel in Lagos, to do otherwise is folly and an invitation to sorrow. In my Lagos “all fingers are not equal” and only the smartest survive. Lagos is always on the go, always au current, always the pace setter.
Lagos is the center of Excellence: excellence as defined by her alone, using her own parameters. Lagos taught me economics, math, life’s lessons and my beloved chemistry. Life inside Lagos can be as depressing as it is uplifting; Lagos is always up to something. A simple trip around this most intriguing of cities inside a Lagos danfo could be the most intriguing experience of an outsider’s life. Lagos is as kind as she is brutal, as unforgiving as she is warm. She is a school, a bittersweet experience, a citadel of learning and a den to all and sundry. Lagos is my best teacher. Lagos is rooted inside of me and I am like her; I strive, I rarely back down and when I do will re-emerge better. I am what Lagos made me.
The biggest lesson Lagos taught me is that ‘impossible is just a word’ all things are achievable except changing Lagos. I miss her….I miss my Lagos. Oh Eko!!!…when will I see you again?
About Austin 'Dwiggs' Mackenzie
Austin 'Dwiggs' Mackenzie, a Chemist, an environmentalist and writer was born and bred in Lagos. He has to his credit several published articles, essays and short stories. He currently resides in Ontario, Canada. His blog.