The Lagos of My Imagination

Nigerian writer Mọlará Wood shares her personal reflection of Lagos.

By Google Arts & Culture

Sisters (2019) by Stephen TayoOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

There's a sense in which my view of Lagos
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There’s a sense in which my view of Lagos is bound up with my very young days in Ọ̀ṣun State. I was surrounded by many things, and one of these was the lore of Lagos as spun by small town folk. 

Ibeji (sisters) (2019) by Stephen TayoOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

The importance of landmarks
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The importance of landmarks, symbolism and myth making in the construct of the city, came to me early.

Backflips at Tarkwa Bay (2018) by @__tseOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

And the sea! The ever living breath
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And the sea! The ever living breath of the city. To go to Lagos was to behold the majesty of the sea. Notions of adventure and new horizons, if only you ever got the chance or drummed up the chutzpah to embark on the journey! 

A woman in traditional print (2019) by Stephen TayoOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

When someone arrived from Lagos
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When someone arrived from Lagos people would call them ‘Ará Èkó’ – the people of Lagos – as second person reference or third. Frozen fish was ‘Òkú Èkó’ – the dead of Lagos – since they were once-living beings fished from the sea, the sea itself synonymous with Lagos.

Artwork at Rele Art Gallery (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

The glamour, the romance,
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The glamour, the romance, the distant glory of Lagos; I was very conscious of these.

Sculptures at Nike Centre for Art and Culture (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

And ‘Sójà Ìdúmọ̀tà’
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And ‘Sójà Ìdúmọ̀tà’ – to go to Lagos was to look in awe at the cenotaph of the Unknown Soldier, and that was held to be an experience worth having. ‘Èkó gbolè, ó gbọ̀lẹ’, people would say – Lagos favours the thief and the idler.

Chromatin (series) (2017) by Medina DuggerOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

The need to have your smarts
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The need to have your smarts, spoken as praise of the city, where you could fashion your own destiny if only you dare. Fortune favours the brave.

Lagos skater (2019) by @deeds_artOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

The Lagos of the late 70s was bewitching
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The Lagos of the late 70s was bewitching. City lights upon the water at night, breathtaking. Even now a night drive over the lagoon still has the capacity to distill the urban sprawl and its aggravations and hard edges into a scene of pure beauty.

Molara Wood (2020-07-01) by Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà

It is to this Lagos of my childhood
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It is to this Lagos of my childhood that I return, now and again, in my writing. The Lagos of my imagination.

Credits: Story

About Molara Wood 
Molara Wood is a writer, journalist, editor and author of a collection of short stories, Indigo. A former Arts columnist for the Lagos Guardian, she also served as Arts & Culture Editor of NEXT Newspaper. Currently Chief Editor of Ouida Books and the One Read Africa Initiative, she also hosts a podcast, ART for the People. She lives in Lagos.


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