(In an incredibly overdue post) Welcome to #DearSoloGoesToLagos. Thinking about writing this has been a little tricky for me because its easy to be a tourist and do tourist-y/blogworthy things in a foreign place (see: Istanbul) but it’s much harder for me to be a tourist in my home city (see: Lagos).
As you know by now, over the June vacation I went back to Nigeria with my family for our good family friend’s wedding (see: #YisDim2015 on Instagram if you’re curious 😉 ), and with all hometown trips, it starts, consists of, and ends with family visits.
After years of not seeing them, I got to catch up with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and now that I’m older and not being forced to play with them because we’re age-mates, hanging out with my cousins was actually a major highlight of the entire trip. We went shopping, went out for dinner and ice cream, to the movies and just chatted about life.
Now here’s something I relearnt when I went to Lagos: Nigerians like things. A lot. And you’ll find this out very quickly if you just take one drive around Lekki or Victoria Island. Over the two week trip, I spotted 71 G Wagons (yes, I counted), more mansions and designer goods/products than I could believe and let’s not forget the actual preparation for the wedding – it was so hectic you would think it was my own party! Outfits tailor made, a make-up artist and gele-fixer on call to make sure we were beat by the gawds and paparazzi to make sure they know what we looked like at the party… and with a girl like me? I loved every minute of it.
Let me give you some context: at weddings or parties, the couples and their families pick out a colour scheme and fabric for the guests to wear and then the guests can make whatever outfit they want, just using that fabric (it’s called aso ebi). For the traditional engagement party, the younger guests wore lime green and silver and the older guests wore emerald green and gold. Likewise for the actual white wedding – the younger guests wore teal lace and the older guests wore yellow lace (the men wore white and matched their hats to the corresponding colours as per age group). It looks beautiful in photos and it sure does clear up the stress of upstaging with the bride.
Shortly after my sister arrived in Lagos, we had to get our fabrics and designs before we got our outfits made and that’s what took us (by way of our lovely aunt) to the Idumota market on the island. It was ankara and fabric heaven, and you could get just about anything else you’ll ever need there too – from fresh meat to waist trainers and everything in between. Shoutout to my aunt who negotiated on our behalf, because, as always in life, you gotta stay two things: hydrated and woke.
In general, throughout this trip I tried to do all the things I loved: I ate jollof and plantain to my hearts content (but still never enough), I got my puff puff and suya, roadside gala when you’re stuck in traffic and I addicted to Indian soapies on ZeeWorld with my gran. Unfortunately, I also had to adjust to sweltering humidity and I was chowed by mosquitoes whilst simultaneously made sick by my anti-malaria pills. Also, a special shoutout goes to my dad who actually decided to drive while we were there. Y’all couldn’t pay me to get behind the steering wheel – it was Istanbul on steroids. A driver is vital, LOL!
But like all countries, there’s good (family, friends, food, fashion) and bad (electricity woes, traffic, poverty) but it’s ultimately home. I also noticed a common thread: Nigerians are always on their hustle, and if there’s anything I really admire about my people, it’s that. It both inspires me and frightens me because success becomes a given, but it also teaches you how to fight.
Even though I had to gerrara there forreal man, I had an amazing time with my family. Shoutout to independence month (Nigeria turned 55 on 1st October!)