Visit Lagos in Nigeria today
August 19, 2019
by Onyinye Uwolloh
There’s no city like Lagos
So you want to visit a country in Africa, right? But the question is where to go? The desert regions of the North? The Coastal nations of the West Coast? The Southern tip or the mountainous East? Ah, with 54 to choose from however can you narrow your options down? A great choice would be visiting the West African country of Nigeria; the city of Lagos to be precise! Nigeria was colonized by the British and so has English as its official language. Nevertheless, Nigeria has over 510 living languages currently being spoken. Therefore, visiting Lagos (which is the former capital), will allow travelers the opportunity to experience the melting pot of people of different tribes and customs from all over the country.
Location and Language
Located on the South-West coast and cradled by the Atlantic Ocean, Lagos was originally home to only the Yoruba (the main western ethnicity). However, since the last couple of decades, Lagosians have hailed from all 36 states of the nation. Therefore, each ethnicity takes pride in its own customs, especially language. This is mainly because on a typical day, a majority of the populace dresses in more Western clothing. Of the 510 languages, the three most spoken are Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa. However, as English is an international language, this saves you the stress of learning one of the languages or hiring a translator. This, however, does not detract from the importance placed on traditions and culture.
A tropical city with an abundance of beaches, with multiple airlines that service its Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos could be Miami’s sibling. The currency used is the Naira and although the exchange rates vary by country, visiting Lagos will not break your bank as you can easily exchange your currency once you land. As you leave the airport and get into the metropolis, while driving along to your final destination, although you can hear English words floating through the window, the distinct notes of other languages can also be made out. You listen some more and begin to pick up a buzzing that you realize is the hum of life ― a hum that is comprised of the haggling of the market customers, the light-hearted grumbling of children on vacation/ on the way to yet another day of school, and the honking of various horns as citizens make their way through the city.
Weather and Festivals
Temperatures range from 80-90 Fahrenheit/26-31 Celsius and remain steady throughout the year. Fitting attire would include sandals, loose shirts, and flowing garments. However, due to Christianity and Islam being the major religions, clothing that goes above the knee is rarely spotted. Therefore, due to the arrival of the cooler North-East trade wind, the best time to visit Lagos would be during the Christmas holidays, especially if you prefer sunshine to December snow. Christmas is characterized by food, fireworks, dances, and the public holidays are Christmas Eve, Christmas day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For lovers of the Afrobeat genre, consider attending concerts by Wizkid, Burnaboy, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage and many more. All the aforementioned artists featured on Beyoncé’s The Gift album and are veterans in their craft.
Pick up a novel as a souvenir
As stated by UNICEF, “Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country and with an estimated 130 million inhabitants, one in every five Africans is a Nigerian.” Therefore, while browsing some of the Lagos bookstores, consider purchasing books by some of our famous writers. These include Chinua Achebe (the author of Things Fall Apart), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (author of APurple Hibiscus. Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah, We Should All Be Feminists, and was featured in Beyoncé’s song Flawless) and Wole Soyinka (a Nobel Literature Prize Laureate).
Places to visit
Places to visit in Lagos would include Victoria Island, Lekki, Ikeja, and Surulere. With multiple hotels located both on the mainland and island, there are a myriad of options for you to stay regardless of your budget. In addition, popular tourist attractions are Elegushi Beach, The MUSON center, The Bazaar market that spans an entire city fondly referred to as “Eko,” The National Theatre, and of course the many concerts, plays, and events that go on daily.
You might fancy trying various rice dishes such as Jollof rice, Fried rice, Coconut rice, Ofada rice or Rice and Stew. These can all be found in restaurants, as well as in any of the ubiquitous kiosks/foodcarts. Another delicacy is Suya which is spicy meat slow grilled over charcoal flames with beef, chicken, or gizzard as the main choices. Or you might fancy trying some of the myriad of soups unique to each tribe which include Egusi, Ewedu, Afang and many more. A ‘swallow’ (a smooth bollus made from flour of one’s choice) goes with a soup. You will have the swallows of Eba (made from cassava flour), Wheat, Pounded yam (made from African yam powder) and many more available for you. Some catfish, chosen by you from its tank before being prepared in a spicy broth, might be more to your fancy as well. Or if you desire milder dishes, consider trying Moi-Moi (steamed bean cakes), Akara (fried bean cakes), roasted corn, or Ewa-Agoyin (beans served in a sweet palm oil based broth).
As Lagos is a bustling metropolis slightly above sea level, there is no subway system in place. Since time is money, that goes for transportation so minivans, motorcycles, taxis, tricycles, uber and long buses are the main ways to get around. However, you always have the option of chartering a car and driver at affordable rates. You might end up learning the Zanku, Kukere, Shoki, Gwara Gwara or Galala dance steps while there and get an opportunity to show off your fancy footwork once you get back home. Or you might prefer visiting the Computer Village for your electronics, Silverbird Galleria to watch a movie, Ikeja City Mall, or The Palms Shopping Center. But whatever you choose, by the time your holiday regrettably comes to an end, you will definitely agree that there’s no city like Lagos!!