The air is hot and sticky with moisture, even as the sun is beginning to set. Distant sounds of voices and car horns can be heard in the dense air as a large, heavy gate slowly opens. This is Lagos, Nigeria.
More specifically, we find each other in Victoria Garden City, a comparatively quiet and gated residential neighbourhood where one must pass a security post to enter. Welcome! I’m so excited to share an inside look at my world in a way I never have before.
Some weeks ago, my sister received the results of an ancestry DNA report she had requested. “99% West African” the report read. While I wasn’t surprised to hear that, I was surprised to hear this lineage ran back 50,000 years long. Longer than the Cro-magnons who didn’t inhabit Europe until about 45,000 years ago. Longer than the first cave paintings which didn’t appear until 40,000 years ago. Much longer than the invention of the wheel or written language.
In a world of globalization, immigration, and melting pots where any one person’s heritage easily criss-crosses all over the map, I couldn’t shake the gravity of knowing the exact straight line in which all my ancestors fall. My father is of Igbo descent and my mother from the Kru people, the tribe that famously refused to be captured into slavery. What a powerful feeling to know exactly where you come from!
Welcome to Lagos
I couldn’t help but remember that history while coming off the plane into Nigeria on January 5th. It had taken nearly 24 hours to get to the country my father was born into in 1947, over ten years before it gained independence from colonial rule.
It was early evening when I exited the airport. Almost immediately I felt ushered into the fast-paced city of 12 million. There were people at every direction shuffling, bustling, and all talking over one another, some towards me.
The roads were congested on our long ride home, just as I remembered from my previous trip There are no traffic lights, few navigational signs and a constant stream of people directly in the road, many being child vendors selling roadside wares like food or household goods to drivers. The air is smoky and dense. Car horns sound liberally.
We grabbed our first meal just before we reached home from a local chain called Mega Chicken. Fried chicken, grilled fish, rice, yams and fish gravy would be my first taste of Lagos since my last trip in 2013. Instantly it felt like home…
Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll go into more about the trip but for now check out these photos taken around Victoria Garden City in a custom-tailored two piece set I had made on a previous trip to my mother’s home in Liberia.