More Stories Than I Can Tell

Nigerian writer Sefi Atta shares her personal reflection of Lagos.

By Google Arts & Culture

woman's wrapper; adire (1950s) by Yoruba peopleIndianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Lagos is my Home City

Lagos is my home city, but that has never stopped me or my mind from wandering. I was born here and attended school here for the first fourteen years of my life. 

Wax method of designing on adire. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project

After I was sent to school

After I was sent to school in England, I came back on vacation and continued to do so while I worked as an accountant there. Now that I spend most of my time writing in the United States, I still return.

Dancers (Ibeji Series) (2019) by Stephen TayoRele Arts Foundation

Lagos gives me more stories

Lagos gives me more stories than I can tell. Every city is a gift to storytellers, in the sense that they all have extremes, divisions and contradictions. What makes each of them different is how these elements present.

Actors I (Ibeji Series) (2019) by Stephen TayoRele Arts Foundation

Lagos has a unique combination

Lagos has a unique combination to begin with and it is highly unpredictable. In my twenty plus years of chronicling the city, my biggest challenge has been keeping up with it in the different forms I write in – novels, short stories, plays and screenplays.

Real Housewives of Old Oyo- Aja (2018) by Ayobola Kekere-EkunRele Arts Foundation

My experience here is limited

My experience here is limited to certain social circles and geographical locations, but my imagination isn’t. Also, I don’t just recreate people and places; I ground them in history. You can’t rely solely on what you observe and read here.

Comfortable Silence (2019) by Tonia NnejiRele Arts Foundation

You've got to know what happened

You’ve got to know what happened before and what is likely to happen next. I learn this by researching the history of Lagos and listening to the older and younger generations. 

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

My mother was born and raised here

My mother was born and raised here and I pass on stories she shares. My daughter was born and raised in the United States, but she visits Lagos and I pass on her stories as well.

Sefi Atta (2020-07-01) by Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà

So lastly

So lastly, I guess I can say that writing about Lagos is a multigenerational endeavor for me.

Credits: Story

About Sefi Atta 
Sefi Atta is a Nigerian American author, playwright and screenwriter. Her notable works include Everything Good Will Come (2005), Swallow (2010), A Bit of Difference (2013), and The Bead Collector (2019). She has also written short stories, and radio plays. She won the 2006 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa and the 2009 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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