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You’ve heard about Lagos. Perhaps you’ve heard that you can find especially sumptuous meals at unbelievable costs on Lagos Island, or that Lagos fashion is edgy and infectious, and the art scene is spellbinding. Or, maybe you’ve heard of the constantly bubbling “streets”, the sacred cultures and traditions, and the entertainment mania. On the strength of these alone, Lagos should be on the list of places you must visit before you die. But, in case you were in doubt, we’ve rounded up eight excellent reasons why it should be your next stop.
Felabration is not your average musical concert. The history, location, and features of Felabration make it the radically huge event that it is today. For one week in October every year, Nigeria marks the posthumous birthday celebration of the late Afrobeat musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti, at the New Afrika Shrine. If you know anything at all about the iconic Fela, then you understand why the event is all the rave. People from all over the country and different parts of the world converge to partake in the high-octane festivities that come with Felabration’s programme line-up.
This carnival’s history is as colourful as the main event itself. In the 19th century, after a wave of freed slaves from Brazil returned to the city, the first Lagos carnival (or “Fanti”, or “Caretta”) was held. The Lagos Carnival is a grand display of the city’s heritage and pride, filled with music, dancing, and elaborate costumes, and maintains close links to those witnessed in Brazil and Cuba. The event takes place in the month of May, during the Lagos Black Heritage Festival.
“Ain’t no party like a Lagos party”, rightfully sings Nigerian R’n’B star Banky W. Regardless of whether it’s day or night, at a club or a owambe, Lagos parties are on another level of fun, energy, drama, and excitement, that make for great memories. Lagosians may get hit with economic downtimes of various sorts every now and then, but, you’ll find that (almost) nothing can interfere with a plan for a Lagos party. The good times always roll.
The Lagos Fashion and Design Week (LFDW) and Africa Fashion Week are two of the major annual fashion events in the country and the continent at large. They are where the who’s-who of fashion meet to keep up with the best of Africa’s rapidly scaling fashion design business. And Lagos is their prime destination. These events are usually packed with established and emerging talents, and extraordinary indigenous designs that showcase the distinctly cultivated taste in fashion that Africa wishes to share with the world.
Lagosians don’t do boring food. In fact, the natural spice and colour of Lagosians tend to be reflected in the interesting and tasty food flavours we combine and choose from. For instance, what could have been a simple meal of rice can easily turn out to be fried, or jollof – depending on the ingredients at hand – with a topping of fried plantains. Plantains are a delicious story for another day. Also, because of the multi-cultural complexion of Lagos, these foods come from every region of the country. Try the local soups and swallows, fresh fish pepper soup, asun (spiced goat meat), suya (chicken or beef shish kebab), as well as any other Nigerian delicacy you find on the menu. Let your taste inhibitions wander free.
Lagos’ snack habits are amazing. Lagosians can make a snack from pretty much any type of food or pastry. No matter the class of neighbourhood, there’s at least one stand where you can purchase frys (yam, plantain, and potatoes) with sauce, roasted or boiled corn with coconut or pears, beancakes, nuts, varied fritters, and a host more. The great thing about these snacks, especially if you’re more inclined to sweeter options, is that they don’t compromise your health. Although, in some cases, be prepared to stand some heat and/or smoke to get your desired snack. It’s usually worth it.
The visual and performing arts sphere in Lagos is yet another charming and integral aspect of the city. A ticket to see a play at the Muson Centre in Onikan, National Theatre in Iganmu, or Terra Kulture on Victoria Island will not only entertain you, it will enrich you with knowledge and grant you insight into what makes Lagosians tick. Equally, being in Lagos brings you closer to the inspiration for the visceral works of Nigerian artists representing the country with their masterpieces in paintings and sculptures on the global stage.
Popular culture thrives in Lagos. It’s a rare occurrence to visit Lagos and leave without learning the latest trends in dance, music, street fashion, hairstyles, slang, and urban sports. Because, as a matter of fact, even foreigners who have never been anywhere close to the city are familiar with the developments in Lagos popular culture. Lagosians are renowned for an innate instinct to create and innovate. There’s always some new ‘thing’ in town, perhaps made popular by a line in a song or by a small community.