Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Now being a Nigerian and living in Nigeria, my perception of the impact Nigeria would have on a foreigner cannot be rightly placed or imagine. As i read through an article by Carlos A. Dominguez on Nigeria, I realized that the best way to paint the Nigerian Picture is to allow a foreigner give a first experience account of his encounter as he arrived Nigeria. He writes:

Nigeria is a place that boosts the adrenalin. If you are on your way to Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, get ready for a full immersion in what they call 'culture shock'. Its population of more than 120 million will make us forget the very notion of solitude. And there are other things we will quickly have to jettison. While you are staying in Nigeria, any thoughts of anonymity will be pure fantasy. It will prove impossible to go unnoticed, walk along a pavement or look in a shop window. Such things do not exist here.

For most of the expatriate colony, life in Lagos consistsd of going from one air conditioned space to another in the shortest time possible, rather like a game of snakes and ladders. The western community lives mainly on the two of the city's islands, Ikoyi and Victoria Island, where there are large numbers of shopping centres, cinemas, European and American restaurants, clubs and discotheques packed with while people. Without leaving the islands, visitors can attend functions at the French Institute, the Goethe Institute, the Polo Club and other institutions which recall Nigeria's colonial past. The pool at the Federal Palace Hotel and the tennic courts of the EKO Meridien are other popular meeting places where Europeans can find a home from home.

Of course, there are many other things to do, see and fee if there is a whill. A good way to begin a submersion in the local culture is to visit Glendora Bookshop in the Falomo Shopping Centre, located on Awolowo Road in Ikoyi. There, shoppers will find books by Nigeria's most famous authors, such as Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri, Wole Soyinka (the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature) and Ken Saro Wiwa, or can learn about publications by new writers.

Also on sale are discs by Fela Kuti, the political activist and mythical creator of Afrobeat, as well as by his son Femi (live performances every Sunday at The Shrine in Ikeja) or the masked singer Lagbaja (appearances on the last Friday or every month at Motherlan in Ikeja). Besides Afrobeat, other styles like Juju (King Sunny Ade), High Life and Fuji are sure to delight music lovers. Widespread too are new forms of urban music such as hip-hop and rap.

Nigeria has been consolidating itself in recent years as a great film production centre. Nollywood, as the country's film industry has come to be called, is following the Indian pattern closely, and now produces more than 500 films a year. All are low-budget, but their endlessly twisting plots keep audiences captivated all over the continent.

Nigeria's cultural wealth comes from way back. The country's current territory once lay at the centre of the great African empires, as the terracotta remains of the Nok culture testify. There are 2500-year-old heads to be admired at the National Museum in Onikan, Lagos. The Yoruba bronzes of Ile-Ife, which date from the 7th to 18th centuries, caused stupor and awe when first shown in Europe owing to their superb workmanship, unique in the whole continent.

To be continued...