The Heartbeat of Lagos: A Love Letter to the City

I can vividly remember the streets that groomed me,
the streets of Lagos, Nigeria.
On clear afternoons, the sun can drill into your skull,
making you crave cold water and ice cream.
The hustle and bustle of this city
are evident like a lady in labor. Loud sounds
from honking cars and hasty hawkers
will gradually become music to your eardrums.

In Lagos, street vendors sell everything
that money can lawfully buy.
And you can haggle down the price of an item
until it loses its smugness. The streets are always lined
with hopeful faces, eager for something good to happen.
The smell of fried plantain, also called “Dodo,” and other roadside delicacies
will invade not just your nostrils but also your wallet. The attraction
is often more powerful whenever you step out hungry.

A plate of tasty Jollof rice can dissolve like cotton candy in your mouth,
and the most intelligent option would be to order four more plates.
When the food vendor familiarizes herself with the sound of your footsteps,
she will start calling you “Omo mi,” which means “my child.”
It’s a reminder that she
will never let you go hungry like a good mother.
Her warmth and hospitality will always shield you from
the wickedness and belligerence of an empty stomach.

Colorful commercial buses called “Danfo” are the lifeblood
of Lagos City. They deliver oxygen and nutrition like blood cells
in the human body. Danfo buses are more prevalent than a nose on the face.
Commercial bus drivers here are as dramatic as their yellow buses.
A single honk will not be enough if you urgently need to overtake them;
you must honk as much as the number of alphabets in their names.
Board games are more common than landmarks in Lagos; street corners,
tree sheds, and moto parks are hotspots for this luxury.

Onlookers would often gather at any altercation
with hungry eyes in search of another gossip to spread.
The Bar Beach is where the Atlantic Ocean crashes against the shore,
it’s a view that doesn’t age. The sea breeze often wards off the heat,
although it is a battle that never gets won. Watching happy families
troop in and out of the beach is therapeutic, it reminds the soul
of things that truly matter in life,
aside from green paper and shiny objects.

The sun always sets in Lagos,
with a beautiful shade of orange and pink.
It’s hard not to feel alive in a place like this.
The energy of this city can resurrect the dead,
and the warmth of its people can nurture the coldest of hearts.
Lagos is still an evolving city, but its spirit remains the same.
A place like this is something everyone must experience.
The city that never sleeps. It’s hard not to fall in love with a place like this.

Emecheta Christian