By Adeyanju Pinheiro
Growing up, I had the best of both worlds- the city and suburbs. All my education and weekend trips turned me into the utmost, uber-chic city gal. My senses took it all in; the tall buildings that stretched across the horizon, the classic Lagos smell – a mixture of pollution and whiffs of nearby lagoon, the sound of a car honk in the distance or the music of a street performer and the hoards of people rushing (always rushing) to their jobs, briefcases firmly held in hand. I loved the hustle and bustle this big expansive city had to offer.
I cannot express enough satisfaction for having matured in this city. By my 15th year I had seen all sorts of things, some of which many people never see in a lifetime. I attended a high school with over 4,000 students. Each graduating class was at least 600. When I developed an interest in politics and international relations I had access to one of the world’s finest city of politics. The big departmental stores and malls with all the movies one would want to see. I also appreciated the busy, dynamic hum that vibrated on a 24 hour basis. Lagos is a great place to be anonymous. The neighbors do not watch each other. I spent five years hopping from being an instructor to a cashier – that was one of the best learning experiences in my life. The pay was terrible, but I could write pages just about the people and situations I encountered. Now I have a good idea of people, emotions, personality, mood, attitude and behaviour.
With friends we often joked about smaller towns…What time do they roll up the sidewalks? That is, if they have any. What’s the big thrill in town? When is there a new hit in the music industry, fashion world or even the movie industry? But I wonder what it is like to grow up in a town of about 50,000 where there is less noise and activity.
Lagos city’s main industry is politics and business, so it attracts a lot of kiss-up, cut-throat, wheeling and dealing political kinds of people. In general, though, I’ve found that the best way to get along with the varied kinds of people you meet in Lagos is just to relax and be friendly and non-judgmental. You sure will meet the ugly, beautiful and bad. In Lagos, people rate others as to how important they are by determining how much education they have had or by how rich they are or how much money they earn. Here, the older people tend to treat the younger people differently like they have the upper hand over the younger people.
The arrangement of the city ranges from very dense urban row house neighborhoods to others with tree-lined streets and bigger houses. Majority has their own central business district, and each has their own vibe.
Still thinking though, I also love the calming quiet retreat awaiting me at my small home. In a suburb of Lagos amidst the cornfields and far removed from the city. A rocking chair on the front porch, a tall glass of black currant perched on the wooden table; the sound of the suburb and the ears of corn blowing in the wind sweeping over the field, seeing for miles in the distance; the laughter of the locals as they gather to play games and the children running after each other while the boys play football on the streets.
How can I forget the fact that Nigeria and Lagos especially, is always jam packed with people in December; and we are many! Local commuters know that when school children are out of school, the traffic on our roads is less hectic. During this period, it is not uncommon to find roads blocked off on the weekends with kids playing football in the streets. Strangely enough, I still remember those days with delight as my cousins and I would play for hours during the holidays, moving from street to street to visit friends, laughing heartily in the merry of the season. The exchange of cooked foods and gifts made it merrier.
Looking back at this old time with fond memories I could not have been born in any other city and could not have had the best city to grow up in. It just had to be Lasgidi, as we call our lovely city. Eko o ni baje o…o baje ti!
Deyanju’s quest to know what makes people tick, birthed her passion and pursuit in journalism. She stands out for her technical ability in writing and generating topnotch article. Deyanju as a Nigerian consistently gives an analytical mind and critical eye to activities and events around her. Out of work, she is an out-spoken and lively person who enjoys travelling, meeting people and playing Scrabble. She is always looking for new challenges- most recently, learning Spanish.