Yesterday was a chance to see another part of Lagos as we headed to Lekki on Lagos Island to see the Nike Art Gallery. On the way there, 3 hours of taking every vehicle you can imagine and fighting the infamous Lagos traffic, I got a glimpse of the radio stations of Lagos. The two things that struck me were a jolly advert for setting up your own Facebook profile (“you can connect with friends!”) and an in-depth discussion between two female presenters on the 7 reasons why flatulence is good for you.
We finally arrived at the Art Gallery and it was more than worth the trip. Set up by Nike Davies Okundaye, it’s 4 storeys of wall to wall artworks from exclusively Nigerian artists. Nike was brought up by her Grandmother who saw no use in Western Education, and learnt traditional weaving and dying practices in North Central Nigeria. She has since become known for a modern approach to traditional themes and gives lectures all over the world. You can also book Yoruba tours through the gallery. The art of Tola Wewe astounded me the most and there were thankfully loads if his pieces across the 4 storeys.
Ojo pointed out the differences between Yorubas and Igbos and pointed at one painting of a Yoruba man with a self inflicted scar on his cheek. It’s a tribal mark to show that you are Yoruba. Ojo lifted his t-shirt and showed me his own scars on his stomach – a cross in a circle and a line beside it. It’s an optional scarification or beautification of identifying as Yoruba, although it’s banned in some Yoruba states now.
A mammoth 4 hour journey back to the house that took in Yoruba road rage and bumper to bumper total gridlock. Apparently it should only take 25 minutes if the roads are quiet. The traffic here is absolutely mad and the roads even worse. The driver, in between shouting Yoruban obscenities at other drivers, told us that a Judge was recently found with $50 million dollars of embezzled money in his house. He just took it for himself. He also spoke of a former President, Sani Abacha, who used to just print money at home. He died some 18 years ago and they are still finding off shore accounts containing billions of Naira.
The more I see of Lagos, the more I find that almost the entire city is a market. You could even get your weeks’ shopping whilst in a traffic jam – the road sellers sell everything, from crisps and drinks to coat hangers and electricals. One bloke was even selling Scrabble.
When we got back one of Ojo’s friends was sat outside the house looking very dishevelled. He’d got stoned and fallen in the river trying to get on a boat and was waiting to tell Ojo before going home. No idea. I cooked for the first time and did a meal with no meat or chilli, almost unheard of in Nigeria, but it went down well. Ojo’s brother Ashe was around and he’s a real character.