Lagosians: Lords and Ladies of Packaging

The thing with Lagos is everyone is trying to make it big here. But big is very relative. Big could be a few hundred thousand Naira, or single digits with six zeros, or double digits with six or nine zeros. Like I said, it is very relative. Do not be deceived by the ‘packaging.’ There are people who, when going for meetings, take buses for a quarter of the trip, and call Uber to complete it, so they can appear posh and well fed.

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Last year, there was an article published on Buzzfeed about the new urban poor. That article describes the lives of Lagosians. I mean, “Eko for show” is not just a random slogan. It perfectly represents this city and its people, because Lagosians can package for Africa.

When I was still in the university, students who came from Lagos had the very unfortunate habit of comparing everything to their city. I mean, we were stuck in the middle ages in Ebonyi state, so why compare everything to Lagos? Once we started  to complain about the basic life in Ebonyi, they would go, “In Lagos banks this, in Lagos road that. Market this, church that,” etc., etc. Conversations with them always left my eyes doing 360 degrees per second. If your Lagos is so amazing why are you in Ebonyi?

These Lagosians—who I later found out were even from Ebonyi state—were always so trendy. They resumed each semester with the latest fashion, from clothes to phone packs to new hair styles, defining what we wore before our Aba brothers caught up to make their versions of whatever was in vogue. We later found out Yaba was the source of their ‘expensive’ jeans, and all the ‘designer’ shoes they wore were rescued from under the bridge.

But they walked around Abakaliki like demigods, like a big banner that read “Lagos” was always hanging over their heads. That you live in Lagos was even enough to get a girlfriend then. They talked about malls and cinemas (lol: there is still no mall or cinema in Ebonyi). They spoke of Lekki and Banana Island and how cool life is there. I thought: ah you people’s parents or relatives live in such places and you are schooling in Ebonyi?

I often dismissed them, but sometimes I listened, because I had plans of moving here after school. I might as well get familiar with Lagos from these people, I thought. I did move to Lagos and began to call them, one after the other.

“Yo! Where do you live again?”

“Errrr… Iju.”

“Sango.”

“Epe.”

Some have even refused to tell me where they live till date. These are the same people who wouldn’t let us hear word ontop I am a Lagosian.

The thing with Lagos is everyone is trying to make it big here. But big is very relative. Big could be a few hundred thousand Naira, or single digits with six zeros, or double digits with six or nine zeros. Like I said, it is very relative. Do not be deceived by the ‘packaging.’ There are people who, when going for meetings, take buses for a quarter of the trip, and call Uber to complete it, so they can appear posh and well fed—being stuck in traffic inside danfo does terrible things to the mind and soul.

I once met a family who had a Christmas suitcase. All through the year they bought and made new clothes, which they keep in this huge box. They did not mind wearing old clothes through the year, but saved everything for their trip home in December. So that everyone would see they were living well in Lagos. When I asked if this isn’t ridiculous, I was told, “No o. We live in Lagos. We have to represent.”

Represent what? This crazy Lagos with its cramped spaces, everyday drama on the road, insane traffic, flooding, and criminals? What exactly are you people representing? Lagos has its perks but please….

Don’t let the suits, crispy white kaftans, and expensive wigs deceive you. Many are still paying for those things. Do not even let the fancy cars and apartments get to you. You’ll be shocked everything was rented or acquired on a loan. People here take “fake it till you make it” literally. Many prefer not to eat as long as they appear good. It is only a naive person that will look at these people and get jealous.

I am not saying everyone in Lagos is struggling. People legit have money in this city, or how do you think these huge hotels are still in business, or who do you think rents those N15million per annum apartments in Ikoyi? For majority of Lagosians, however, It is the packaging life. Eko na for show.

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