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The choppy boat ride only lasted about 20 minutes to Makoko, but in that time, I considered whether I would need to paddle to shore. We were approaching a new locale. Houses ahead…on water.
A shout of “Yevo” was quickly taken up and chorused repeatedly at high volume like a rallying cry. Eyes everywhere were upon us. Children shouting, dancing, posing, pointing. People staring, some friendly, most curious, some suspicious, still others disdainful. Welcome to Makoko, the stilt village of Lagos.
A place almost of folklore, Makoko has existed as a fishing village for over a century. In fact, most of the fish sold in markets all over Lagos is caught by the Makoko fishing community. Sometimes ironically referred to as the “Venice of Africa”, it was once a target for demolition by the Lagos State government in 2012 to transform the slum village into luxury property.
After much public outcry and opposition, the demolition was halted as a regeneration plan was submitted to the State government, though it is unclear what steps have since been taken in implementing the proposed regeneration. With a population said to be over 100,000 mainly composed of Egun migrants from Badagry, but also of the Ijo from Ondo and some Beninoise, the diversity of the residents is heard in conversations as strains of French and Yoruba and other tongues are spoken.
Our guide was the brother of the local chief, Shemade Noah who welcomed us with refreshments. Cruising through the canals of Makoko was a fascinating experience. As we saw the large numbers of boats gliding up and down the waterways, I noted that Lagos’ trademark traffic is not confined to motor vehicles on land. It was remarkable to see very young children expertly navigate the waterways by boat on their own.
Someone in the group asked Mr Noah to confirm or deny the oft peddled anecdote that the people of Makoko would throw newborn children into the water. He laughed off the urban myth but explained that most of the kids from the age of 4 learn to swim by teaching themselves. Sadly, whilst the children seemed perfectly adept with navigating the waters and running their floating shops, there appears to be a very low percentage of those children who attend school on a regular basis.
This is due to a number of reasons including the fact that there is only one school in the stilt village with 249 students. Clearly with a population of over 100,000 there simply won’t be enough places for all the children. There is also a lot of suspicion of the schools on the land and parents are reluctant to send their young ones to schools on land due to perceived dangers.
That negative perception of the “land” and the “Yevo” (which means “white man”) was evident as we cruised through the “Venice of Africa”. Although I had been keen for a while to see this other side of Lagos and better understand my city, it quickly became apparent that most people and even the children had an aversion to cameras.
I could understand their unease particularly in respect to pictures as I have never and will never advocate poverty tourism. But at the same time, I do think it is important for Makoko to be seen and experienced and for awareness to be raised to support the needs of the local people. To that end, I tried to respect their privacy by mainly focusing my pictures on the buildings of the stilt village itself but I think as we left, the residents were glad to see the back of us. For my part, I had seen so many paintings of this particular locale and I am so pleased to now have finally been to the mysterious and intriguing waterworld of Makoko.
Regular trips to Makoko are organised by the Nigerian Field Society. The monies from the trip fees go toward supporting the Makoko Floating School by paying two teachers’ salaries and the general upkeep of the village.
Written By Bidemi Adesanya
Umuahia, now the capital of Abia state was once popular for its cattle market, serving most parts of the enclaves that made up the old Imo state. But before that, the town had played a much more important role as the military headquarter of the defunct Biafran Republic. Perhaps in recognition of this role as former military headquarter, the country town of Umuahia is given the honour to host the National War Museum. But that particular site was chosen because that was where the bunker housing the famous Voice of Biafra was located. The War Museum is an open-air complex where relics of the 30-month Nigerian civil war are on display.
The National War Museum Umuahia is one of the major tourist attractions in Nigeria. The War Museum has three major galleries: the traditional warfare gallery, the Armed Forces gallery, and the civil war gallery in the traditional warfare section.
The War Museum is symbolic in many respects. To all Nigerians and foreigners alike, it is a grim reminder of the evils of war. But more important, the National War Museum stands as evidence to the technological possibilities in Nigerians in the face of necessity and absence of alternatives. Read the rest of this entry »
It is always magnificent to witness such activities. I was so charmed and attracted with the way they do their things.
Kursali is a festival that is being celebrated by the Niger people, although it is the way of bringing all the people that are in far places, those who don’t live in the village, those always on the road traveling. It was all an idea of the government to identify the number of citizens who do not get the chance to immunise their animals and children to be able to do that.
This festival is a way of encouraging them to do better in looking after their animals and children since they are nomadic. That is how Kursali came to existence, and they celebrate it in such a way that creates competition among themselves including display of traditional attire, singing, dancing and talent show and also display of well fed animal for which at the end of the festival, an award gets given to the best person.
The Deribe’s gold house, it is unusual to say a gold house but believe me or not it is true a house made of marble and gold isn’t that magnificent. Well entering the house is another thing entirely taking you to another level of life whereby you will be wondering if really you are on earth or paradise. Walking on the long corridor which I was told by one of his son Talba Ahmed Deribe a lawyer by profession, said that it is the longest corridor in the whole West Africa, I was like “heh” wait a minute, does that mean am now standing on the longest corridor in West Africa.
My mood changed immediately feeling like a royal queen in her palace. We walked some few distance, when we were directed to the kitchen, “wow” I said to myself seeing such a big kitchen as if it is for a five-star hotel at that moment I now know that when it comes to design people can be really creative to give such a wonderful turnout.All the equipment you can think of is available comparing to the years that the house is being built, they really tried. The next room is a big dining hall with about 50 chairs, even the queen of England don’t have such a thing in her house am sure.
Our guide led us to a large parlor and everything there is light blue, white and gold, I was able to see the first screen TV in the 70s before the coming of 29 inches talk less of flat screen or LCD. The other TV ITS height is just as mine. The POP done on the wall is so beautiful that you can get your eyes off it. Even the carpet his name is written on it in an Arabic form, linking to a small door there is another parlor this time around is the main thing, everything there is gold, gold, gold, nothing but gold. I just sat down on a chair staring at the wonderful art design of gold on the wall that I can’t really believe my eyes if really am seeing this for real or just a dream. I felt like not leaving the place and in the same parlor I saw the first standing Ac that we use today in the banks and other places. Read the rest of this entry »