Update from Qudus' blog

May 4, 2010

Welcome to my LAGOS

1. What defines Lagos for you?

What define Lagos for me are just the informal people’s resourcefulness and the creative energies that flow around everywhere, every time. Lagos is like a huge musical comedy where people substitute roles, those watching now might be the biggest performer in the next minute. Sometimes when I am bored I just travel round the city in public transit and for a creative person, what more do I need to have a swell day. Each period of the day comes with a different flavor and emotion.

2. What distinguishes Lagosians from others in your view?

When you say “others” do you mean other states or other cities around the world? I’m not a huge expert of other states outside Lagos (in Nigeria). I was born here and I grew up here, until 17, I didn’t step out of that city, but after then, I have been to various cities around the globe and I tell you, I only felt a similar homely feeling in cities like New York, Johannesburg and Sao Paolo. I just don’t know what it is, but Lagos has a color that you can’t just define in few words.

3. What do you miss in Lagos when you are out of Nigeria or in any part of Nigeria for a period of one week or more?

If I compare Lagos to a place like Paris (where I am presently) for instance, I think people here have lost a certain kind of animal instinct that makes us all a living thing, that spontaneity that triggers our actions directly from the nerves and not the one that travels first through the brain. That is really what I fear to lose when I stay so long out of Lagos.

4. What do you think the experience would have been like if you were to be doing what you are doing for a living now anywhere outside Lagos.

Inasmuch as I love to be in Lagos, unfortunately I cannot do what I’m doing in Lagos for now, let me summarize it to say, being a Nigerian and being a dancer are two things that doesn’t go well together, so at some point I had to choose between Dance and Nigeria.

5. What is it that you think Lagos has got right?

That very thing that makes Lagos what it is, I think is a natural mystic, so Lagos itself should not try to find ways to comprehend it, we should only grow to its appreciation, because that thing might not be looking so much like our idea of a good and noble living, it might not be in building wide roads that contains 15 huge cars in a row, it might not be in perpendicular and beautiful architectures, it might not be in how organized we could be as a people, it might not be in the amount of tourist that comes in yearly – because if that is what Lagos is heading towards, I fear we might lose that very thing we’ve gotten right, if not why is Paris or London that I know so much yet to get it right even after acquiring all the aforementioned symptoms of a “good living”? Lagos I think has understood the wisdom of improvisation through organized disorderliness in town planning, and you don’t learn that in school.

6. What is Lagos not getting?

I think when we talk about what Lagos is not getting, then we can only talk about those managing Lagos, so in essence we are addressing the “government” I mean the formal government, because government has different meaning in Lagos. Lagos I think is making a basic mistake, i.e looking up to Dubai as the model, that is the biggest jokes I have heard in a while, as a creative person I deal less in artificial aesthetic values. if Lagos needs a practical model, I think it is Sao Paolo, no one goes to Sao Paolo for tourist attraction, yet millions of people pop in yearly, do you know how they did that? They invested in the people, in their culture, they made the night life one the best you could imagine, they invested in the energy that flows around, now you can say that is too abstract, but I think the Lagos energy is the exact thing the government needs to invest in, but unfortunately they won’t, Why? Precisely because it is not those educated (or middle) class or their kids and cousins who will benefit such project, because those who make Lagos what it is, usually don’t have a family in the decision room.

7. Take a look at the Lagos of your past and of the present and let me know what you think living in Lagos in the next fifty years would be like.

I don’t gamble, because I don’t see ahead of time, I don’t drink because I want to be in control of my actions, I cannot say what living in Lagos in the future will be like, the future of Lagos also depends on the future of our collective democracy, globalization, pop culture and capitalism. Do I think us going too far with the way we push things? Yes I do, do I think globalization and capitalism is pacing too much? Yes I do, and Lagosians are part of those who I call the “receivers” they are the ones in the receiving end of every action taken in the name of humanity, the assimilators, the consumers and the pendulum is already getting weak, I cannot say what it will be like but there are lots of things I wish will stop at some point, and wish we inculcate new habit and characters on the way; more respects for human lives, more respect for the rule of law, more attention paid to the kids and not just force them to formal schools when their heart is in fashion design, more alternative spaces created for all identified insanities that our kids want to be identified with, more security for both citizens and foreigners, price control and standardization of basic amenities that presently comes with awful prices, and finally I hope the people’s creative energies be compatible with the official Lagos energy, so as to avoid people fleeing from their beloved Land.

8. In a sentence or two, or more, capture Lagos.

My signature quote on Lagos - Every morning in Lagos, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle... in Lagos, when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.