I was woken up by the sounds of a church opposite, the likes of which you see and hear all over London. They are American in design but African in output. Alternating with the sermon booming out the P.A were passionately sung songs, with not one person being able to sing in tune – and there were quite a few people in there. Of course in this context it isn’t about singing in tune, but every singer was a slightly different shade of out of tune, and given that I can’t sing either I was half tempted to go and join them.
A bit of Omelette, an attempt to learn the Pandeiro, the fridge man arrived to fix the fridge and we were set for the day. We left the house on the island of Ibasa and headed for the jetty to get a boat. It was a fabulous little introduction in to Lagosian life – a simple trip to change some money and buy dinner became an exhilarating journey of boats, buses, bush taxis and motorbikes, with the Lagos attitude to driving akin to Fela Kuti’s attitude to monogamy. Lagos State is the most populated in Nigeria but bizarrely is the smallest of the 36 states here. Millions of people line the streets and millions more try not to run them over. There’s noise and music and food and smells and people and giant puddle potholes and shouting and animals and sprawling markets selling absolutely everything – it’s so vibrant and full of life that the term hustle and bustle doesn’t even come close to describing it. It also reminds me a lot of the first time I went to Salvador in 2010. The word ‘Gringo’ hung in the air everywhere I went, which is to be expected being an English Ginge in a city with a populous 83% Afro-Brazilian. A World Cup and an Olympics and a huge GDP changed the city so much from my first to last visits in 2010 and 2015, so much that I wasn’t even casted an odd look there in 2015. But in Nigeria today amongst the Lagosians going about their life, and we covered a fair bit travelling around, I was the only white face – and I loved it. The people here are so incredibly friendly. The word shouted my direction here is ‘Oyinbo’, a term of endearment thrown at white people in Lagos (that google translates to ‘Cake’, which I’ll take). I threw back the occasional smile, wave and ‘Bawo’ back at them, which is ‘how are you’ in Yoruba. Cue fits of laughter. Sting doesn’t have a clue.
The Nigerian economy entered its first recession in 10 years in August – 70% of Government income is oil money so low global oil prices and a devalued currency has put pressure on the Nigerian ruling party. Ill advised comments on the role of his wife hasn’t helped President Buhari either, with his wife saying she won’t even vote for him unless he sorts his party out. A lot of this oil money hasn’t and probably won’t make its way down to the people we saw today.
The first 24 hours in Lagos have been fantastic and Ojo and Tobi are wonderful hosts. Tomorrow is the first Eko Samba rehearsal of the week and I can’t wait to play with them and learn from them.