WORDs…REFLECT

This page carries the reflections of the participants during and after the programme.

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‘Where trees watch over men’

by Karuti Jacqie

The creation of the world happens continuously

Everything dies into a new birth

Everything is born into a new death

A good picture paints itself

A man creates his own world

   -Susanne Wenger-

Sculptures in the Oshogbo sacred forest got me to see the future through the eyes of history.

History depicted by a woman who came and settled in a foreign land and declared it her eternal home.

Just two weeks ago I got the privilege to go see the sacred grooves that tell of a land much steeped in the ways of its ancestors.

I got a sense of belief that the forest keeps watch over Susanne Wenger’s work. Her gigantic wooden figures sprout from this sacred land looming high above the trees and selfishly demanding attention. One would automatically assume that these works were done a few years ago. Their futuristic appearances and grotesque faces erringly give the impression of a supernatural world set in the present.

Needless to say that through two hours later of walking I was replenished by decade’s worth of historical matter and an unquenchable thirst for more. Taking in a breath of fresh air from the trees made me realize that the past indeed travels through significant work to tell the story of its creator. It’s up to us to just stop and listen.

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A Praxis in Education in Unfolded

By: Jabu Pereira

In the past four weeks, the Centre for Contemporary Arts hosted its 2nd international arts programme. This year the focus was on History/Matter.  Materiality in the 21st century is a key phenomenon in the deconstruction and dialogue on history in its various forms.  CCA has created an educational hub for artists and curators.  The curatorial intervention of CCA into the subject and history and materiality has reached far beyond the pedagogy and the didactic.  It is within the CCA space that we struggle to shed off colonial and post-colonial educational methods of constructing curriculum.  The historical notion of sitting back and listening, the idea that that teacher is master and the student a sponge, has questioned our roles as critical beings. Here, the educational hub is about creating the creative critical.  Here nationhood and the collective in minimized and the ‘I’ as the visible platform is key.

The CCA gallery space is our place of meeting. The white cube speaks. It is in conversation with its audience and its environment.  Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ghana have entered the white cube fully.  Unlearning old educational methods is not easy, shedding off decades of internalized oppression, old the practice of student as a copier of its master is over, dead and buried.  Here we are expected to develop our critical and theoretical grounding for the making of our work as artists and curators.  We ought to be the authorities of our content and text.

Beyond the white cube, the CCA library is the hub of engagement. Artists have access to one of the most important resources in the city.  It is here that we feed our senses and build on creativity.  As a curator I immerse my being into these books, films and ephemeral material, rich and complex. This excites me. The artists in this time are re-shaped, refiguring and reenacting the belief that art schools and non-reference points have their limitations.  It is evident that the CCA hub is the life-blood for artists and curators who choose to rise beyond the confine of formal education.

Photo by Jabu Pereira:  The Library of the CCA viewed by Thabiso Sekgala a photographer from South Africa and Bisi Silva from CCA, Lagos.

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Chidinma Nnorom writes

Engaging with History in the context of this residency has been a very interesting challenge for me. I have only studied history as a subject but now find it amazing how I can immerse myself in history and talk about it, either by telling the real stories or by re-constructing them. As an artist, I found out that there is more I can do to drive home my point through self expression, which must be accompanied by research and studies around a theme.
It was interesting engaging with the facilitators and other artists from different places working in different forms, the diversity in origins made the theme very interesting to engage with. Several discussions on the theme : History/Matter opened my understanding to the fact that history is not frozen, it is constantly changing and always open.

The visit to the Oshogbo groove was a good way to start off our engagement with history. There was so much to be consumed, so much to ask and understand. From the visit, we were able to discuss how traditions and myths have been interconnected with history though some don’t see it as history.
In discussions with Amilcar Packer, it is interesting to know that the way we see or activate the past causes a change in history and we are responsible to maintain and manage the way we tell history. An interesting exercise with Amilcar Packer was the aspect of making studies of artists at the library and exhibiting their works like they were ours. This was important to me because it was another way of saying what you want to say.

Another facilitator, Simon Leigh, came with the idea of visiting the markets because it is an interesting place to see and discuss history in terms of raw materials, objects, forms and display. During various interactions with her I learnt how your location can play a great impact on your work. This is evidenced when she gave us the assignment to a short narrative on the historical significance of where you work. How were they important in their own time? How did this change things that followed? Some texts she gave out from the African Cities Reader threw some lights into this.

Various Artists presentations and practices were shown to enlighten us on various approaches, processes and techniques in their art, likewise the need for the participants in the workshop to understand the need to present their works professionally, in talking, presentations and actions, and how important it is to draw a line between what we like as artists versus the social context of our works. In all, it has been really interesting and enlightening. In order to understand where we are now and where we are going, we must first understand where we have been.

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Reflections:

By Thabiso Sekgala

The journey within a journey, that’s a thought I had when I visited the Osun-Oshogbo Sacred grooves. Through the History/Past, there is a lot that we have forgotten about our culture as Africans. There is so little that we know and it’s very scary to see that the people who have insight or are still directly connected to African religion and culture are so few. Most of us know a lot about other people’s History than we know about our own African continent.

I am moved by Sussane Wanger’s dedication to learn about the Yoruba people’s religion and how she integrated herself to be a part of the community that eventually became her life irrespective of her race and language.

In the International Art Programme, the participants come from different countries in Africa and the question most people ask is “which country are you from”, and the other question will be “are you a South African artist or are you an Artist from South Africa, or Artist based in South Africa”.

As artists, we need to be aware of how we define ourselves, and also be cautious of this idea of being boxed or put into categories according to our location or other notions. That said it is important how we represent ourselves as artists as this issue of positioning arises and by gaining a full grasp and knowledge of who we are as artists and people, it will help us be clear in what we are trying to communicate in our work and the process through which we do so.

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INTER-ACTIONS.

by Tyna  Adebowale

If ‘I’ is somebody else, I could be said to have no identity. Erik Erickson says identity is a “subjective sense, as an observable quality of personal sameness and continuity. This History/Matter international art residency has really helped me to interact with issues of identity; as a person, and in my art.

My identity in the space of Lagos matters, who I am in a particular spot in time.

And I think it’s possible to synchronize myself with my body of work, not forgetting the trajectory of my journey as an artist- my past, in relation to my present. And these processes could possibly dictate the outcome of the projection of my future, to exist as a 21st century artist.

I have learnt to be more specific in identifying whatever I am “theming” in my work. Certainty in documenting reality is what I should be conscious about, as I see reality as history. Interactions with history as it affects the present in time, is a lot more important, so as to be able to track and document history accurately and precisely.

Interactions encountered at the Oshogbo grove, the presence of the iconic Susan Wenger was felt (intensely), despite her demise. Everything about her is historical and I could say- Legendary! From the shrines, to the monumental sculptures, her diary-writings on the walls that is so very symbolic in reference to her thought process, every single piece in her home is just not a piece, it is filled with symbols.

As a new transit into the city of Lagos, I have been interacting as much as possible with the city. Everybody seems to be at the top of their emotions; Too much physical and emotional tension in the people of Lagos. Aggression and anger. Everybody seems to be in a rush to do things. They rush for the trains, buses, which I think is an ideology  that  ‘this is Lagos’  and I think they seem to be taking abnormality as a way of life, because this lifestyle can’t be duplicated anywhere else.

My participation in this international art residency programme is really helping me in reforming and shaping my creative journey as an artist. It is a good learning position for me. And all I have to do/ have been doing is to pay attention as regards communication. Opening up, by being much more visible, breaking lots of boundaries as regards how I communicate my art to the public, I look to doing for my personal growth as an artist. In his words, Soren Kierkegaard stated that the greatest hazard of all, is losing oneself, and it can occur very quietly as it were nothing at all, it sure can be noticed! Because it brings about change!

I must pay attention to the chronology of the gestures as it brings about making me become. And in trying to ‘get it’, I must grow through every process of what can make me the best of me. I may struggle too hard, could be invisible sometimes, make lots of mistakes, wander, but in the end, there is always a certain peace in trying to be what I want, being that person completely, but in the end I know I will learn. Especially now in the process of this journey through the residency, and the journey afterwards.

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“Lagos you are my present.”

By Mthabisi Phili

Lagos you are my present not my history but a present that walks barely balanced on a tight rope”

Every morning while shuffling along to CCA I am forced to dodge the yellow signature taxis, scooters and “danfo” omnibuses and motorbikes. Yellow is the colour of Lagos, yellow is Lagos, yellow is the history of this long long Lagoon or is it red and am I wrong? What shall I connote yellow to, was it another ‘Governor’ who proposed the colour to this land, or this soil or the choice of this resilient people and its layers of History?

The metaphor that is Lagos, a city I dare say is “like a child that grew up quickly” is a myriad of activity. “Beware of 419” and “this house is not for sale” are common ‘amateur’ graffiti punch lines which squeal their own screams on the walls of buildings that stare at the nomadic vehicles here in Sabo –Yaba. Another inscription “Post no Bill” lingers on the walls connoting its own warnings.  On the same line of thought I will like to urge the ‘Governor’ who wants to get rid of the “danfo” omnibuses to “post no bill” on the issue. I want to remember Lagos yellow, I want to remember Lagos in “haste post haste” motion with the yellow “danfo” buses swishing like McGyver’s car from Hollywood and I want to shout “Lagos is yellow and beautiful, Eko-oni-baje” and ‘Mr Governor’ don’t change it.

At CCA Lagos, where I am attending History/Matter, one of the pioneer projects in the study and development of contemporary art practices in Africa, I stand and look at the Nigerian map more reflectively, I am more cautious now, having learned from my history that as ‘living matter’ with the ability to determine our or my future which will be ‘my’ history, I should be more careful. So I look at the Nigerian map again and zero down to the Lagoon, it is long -very long and its watery entails seem to stretch endlessly upwards. I learn that the land called Badagry is regrettably named by a King who traded it to the British and later realised that it was a ‘bad agree’ I think my own motherland itself should be called a ‘bad agree’ land or should the whole of Africa be named ‘bad agree?’ Lagos Nigeria indeed our “Queen” was unrelenting, restless and unyielding because in Zimbabwe we have Victoria Falls and here I see Victoria Island. In the now Zimbabwe, Rhodes carried her red and white banners while here a fellow named Luggard did the same, in our Zimbabwe this Rhodes fellow is buried luxuriously at World’s View…hmn…I wonder where Luggard is buried?

I will like to tell Achebe that although the ‘tribes of the lower Niger were pacified’ they have broken their chains and are prospering hence the Victorian architecture points a tired accusing finger at the new 3-5 whatever storey buildings that are now sprouting everywhere in Sabo. The old order is going and Africa is rising and the landscape is changing. Even the street names that were predominantly European-marked are constantly being replaced by native ones but they are yet to name a street after Fela Kuti-what are you waiting for Lagos?

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Lagos:49sitting,99standing

By Ato Annan

Everyday my people dey inside bus 49 sitting, 99 standing dem go pack themselves in like sandine dem dey faint dem dey wake like cock…. suffering and shmilling..[Fela Kuti]

Obalende! Obalende! Where ou na dey go? Sabo Yaba straight! Ikoyi! Ikoyi!!! enter with your change ooo!!!

Lagos is like a racing car on a formula one course, give way or be pushed aside, everyone seems to be in a hurry to beat one deadline or the other…what are the lifelines to these deadlines? People, buses, taxis, okadas and tok toks navigate this space called Lagos and perform this daily ritual of expressing rage, frustration, love and surviving in spite and despite the government.

You’ll often hear the phrase “This is Lagos”…yes!!! this is it; the complexity of Lagos is simply and better captured with this phrase…as to say, whatever happens this is Lagos don’t be surprised. This city is so complex I wonder if anyone can define what manner of thing she is.

A sprawling city, she presents a varied appearance, rich “gated” neighborhoods to shanty slum dwellings, with buildings of modern and colonial architecture. This is Lagos the rich are extremely rich and the poor are filthy poor but there is space for everyone. In this city everyone is allowed to construct their own dream and nurture them into reality.

Such is the effect of Lagos on me that I have all my five senses lit. I have immersed myself in this space consuming the history of this space and exploring the possibilities of creating works inspired by this city.

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HISTORY MATTER

By Richardson Ovbiebo

It is the last week of the residency at the Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos. As one of the participants, I have really had a great time making presentions. Presentations on different bodies of my work and that of other artists, also listening to other artists, curators making presentations of  their works and that of other artists.

Every time I had to do a presentation to fellow participants and the different facilitators who were either artists or curators, there was always the need to go through the works, re arrange the slides and do a personal presentation to myself just to get better in talking about them. Also to know areas that I might  get questioned about. This process not only gets me familiar with each body of work but it also gives me the oppurtunity to see new areas of interest within them.

Another point of interest is presenting on other artists’ works. This i find very informative and enlightening. I had to make a presentation on the work of  a Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. To do this presentation, I had to do a research on him and his works. It was interesting for me to know about the his background that is parental , educational  and societal backgrounds and how these factors influenced  his works.  I will like to mention that his works: ‘’Droping a Han Dynasty Urn”and “sunflower seed” are really amazing works both in context and form.

Listening to the other participants talk about their work and practice, as peolpe from different countries, gave me some insight as to who they are and how they were engaging with the various issues that exist within their environment. This process was also helpful as i saw different ways to present my work

Another point of interest was the presentations by the facilitators and other visiting artists like: The Brazilian artist  Amilcar Packer’s presentation of his works as a performance artist and the works of other Brazilian artist, Tessa Jackson(curator) presentation on works of other artists she had worked with, the artist Simone Leigh’s presentation of her works,  the Art 21 screening of the works of Proffessor El Anatsui and the very intresting discussion that followed after, amazing presentation by Candice Breitz the video artist, great photographers like Tam fiofori and Ojeikere and the very educating discussions that followed.

The  Global Crit sessions with Kianga Ford have been amazing. Going through my works in relation to the theme of the residency History/ Matter and giving me the oppurtunity to see the various possibilities that I can explore, have been a great learning process. One that I am happy about even as we enter the concluding days of the residency.

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On History/ Matter

By Kelani Abass

The 4weeks residency started with a 2 days visit to Osun-Oshogbo Sacred Groove, and the house of the founding mother of The Sacred Art Movement, southwest of Nigeria, a forested area with shrines and sanctuaries honoring Osun and other deities, a UNESCO World Heritage site which provides platforms for discussion on History/Matter.

The discussion started with presentations from artist Jelili Atiku, he shared his deep understanding on Yoruba deity and mythology as regards to the Osun Oshogbo visit, Amilca Parker expanded the talk with his vast Knowledge by sharing a text by Pierre Fatumbi Verger- Legends of African Orishas on Ezu that kills a bird today with a stone thrown yesterday, imagine that!

Amilca  also gave a presentation on his work where he uses his body as a material in his work , exploring  in-between spaces.

Emeka Ogbor’s presentation gives a clear insight of the space in which we are operating from, the city of Lagos, his video and sound work revealed what we later encountered in visiting market places that Simon Leigh introduced us to, giving us a better understanding of her work and how and why she installs her work the way she does.

The part where we present on artists from other continents allows me to understand how other artists work relating in relation to their history.

The Art 21 video  of El- Anatsui , Glean Legon, Mary Reid Kelley and Marina Abramovic  further  strengthens  the topic  of History in relation to matter.

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Jacqie karuti

‘Two weeks’

Any place is as good as the people in it. So east or west, friends are best. I met my first polite person in Lagos yesterday. That’s two weeks since I arrived. He offered my friends and me a seat by the street and proceeded to ask us if the sun was too hot. To which we replied ‘No thank you” but subtly moved under his huge umbrella which offered us momentarily shade.

The past two weeks have also come with their share of new experiences. Meeting new people, sharing delicacies that possibly set small fires in my mouth and of course feeding off each others thoughts, pun intended.

This is West Africa, and I get to see it from a Lagos point of view. A lot of things are quite similar to my own country though. This would be social practices, religion, political turmoil and the most visible ones like mismanagement of public funds which has led to the cacophony of noise caused by the infamous yellow taxis that are the pride of Lagos. Go figure.

As all that has been happening, yours truly has been getting herself an education. The best thing to do before bedtime and then wake up to is a good book.  I just recently renewed my relationship with an entire library of them at the Centre for Contemporary Art library in Lagos and I figure by the end of this month long residency I’ll be a tonne of words richer.

My way of looking at things has definitely been transformed and my thought process organized to a point where I can articulate them in a concise manner. The academic and social experiences I’m having in this city will be manifested in the person I’ll become in the next two minutes, one hour or two months from now.

Two weeks down, two more to go.

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The view of Bulawayo in Lagos

by Mthabisi Phili –

Here in Lagos you say ‘Eko-oni-baje’ and there we say ‘kukontuthu ziyathunqa’ Here I hear the vibrant colourful tapestry of sounds of ‘Lagos the city of excellence’ there we call it ‘Bulawayo the city of Kings’ and there people progress soberly with the hands of time in their pockets.

Here everything is happening but there everything is about to happen, here you have Fela Kuti and there we have Majaivana. But we share the same Queen and “Long live the Queen!” I see her Victorian Architecture here and your streets in her loyal subjects’ names;

You have  Frederick Luggard, Harvey and McEwen,

We have Selous, Moffat and Cecil John Rhodes!

I am from Bulawayo the city of Kings komfazi utshayindoda– ‘where the women beat up the men’. I am from Matabeleland the land of men with long shields. Our flag is black and white with a black bull. Our kings were Mzililikazi and Lobengula, Kings who subdued the land between Ngulukudela (Limpopo) and Gwembe (Zambezi). King Mzilikazi, Shaka Zulus’ general a diplomatic genius ran away from King Shaka Zulu in 1823. King Mzilikazi came to settle here in what is called Matabeleland and founded Bulawayo (a place of killing) a name taken from Shaka Zulus capital Kwabulawayo.

Mzilikazi lived in peace after subduing the ‘Shona’ speaking people……..

Then they portioned Africa and the Queens’ banners came, in red and white- but in white first then a deep red later. First they feared us but slowly they wormed themselves in like they did here and when they had eaten from the inside and destroyed us; then they built big and well they did not care about us they just build big and well. They wanted to capture our King whom they did not, he disappeared rather than be captured. They captured his city instead and they built on to it using our native labour, then they named the streets with their ‘heroes’ names and ideals. Thus in Bulawayo we have Fort Street, where the British built a fort and what is now Main Street was ‘originally’ Selous Avenue in the days of colonialism. We are making huge strides in the context of ‘decolonisation’ and I see here in Nigeria you are doing the same too but Europe looks on and labels us ‘failed states’ a term they coined and justified according to their ‘understanding’.

In Bulawayo the idea of independence has permeated ever since but it still remains elusive many years after independence because we are still more divided along ethnic lines. Here I hear you have the Yoruba, the Hausa, the Igbo, the Edo and many others whom I hope you will do not regard as of less importance by my failure to enumerate them, I also hear of a dark time for the Igbo. I also know of the Tutsis and the Hutus in Rwanda and in Bulawayo we know of the Shona and the Ndebele (Gukurahundi).Thus history haunts us, unites us, divides us and makes us who we are. The Victorian architecture still looms predominantly beautiful in the Bulawayo landscape, the rhetoric permeating inside the buildings however is of self rule which we gained at independence, it is however, a self rule with a notorious affinity for corruption. The streets are carved sharp into square and equal rectangles reminiscent of the British Empires’ orderliness. The streets are wide and big in Bulawayo because ox-wagons were used to measure the widths of the streets- to allow the ox to turn around thus everything has a history and we credit the expediency of the colonialists for our wide streets.

Bulawayo stands on stilts like the rest of the country it once grew but now it stands: waiting for change because it is common to want change in these times when African democracies are growing, thus chance is not optional but fashionable. Obama brought change, Mitt Romney wants a change   from Obama, most opposition parties promise change, even the Libyans wanted change from Gaddafi. In Bulawayo, the politics of the Matabele is the same, we want and they want change, and on Main Street, the iconic figure of “father Zimbabwe” stands on the same spot where Cecil Rhodes’ statue stood. The Rhodes statue was removed at independence – the ‘victors’ (black majority Zimbabweans) wanted their own tale and therefore their own heroes. Thus Rhodes statue stands neglected, without an audience but indomitable outside the National Museum – the authorities are ‘afraid’ of it, afraid of the many layers of history and past events they will rather forget.

I would like to know whether you fear the statue of Luggard in Nigeria, as much as we fear that of Rhodes?

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TERI-TORI:(STORY OF THE TERRITORY).

By Tyna Adebowale.

Nigeria.

I have been through a formative process and further responsibility has been mounted. And my utilization of this determines an accurate receptivity. And to me, receptivity is not based on just what I hear; it is how I utilize it.

The most important part of this residency programme for me has been the interactions and the one-on-one sessions. This has helped my growth and my creative journey. Some questions that I sought answers in my art were met due to the engaging interactions with facilitators. And further quests have been created as well.

And as I journey through my creative process, I pray for accurate positioning to be able to apply every process with understanding.  Peace!

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Lagos Grinds a New History

By: Jabu Pereira

Lagos has a grind, a grind that makes my teeth clutter, my muscles flex and my eyes soak in the city.  May 15, 2012 will be a mark of history in my life.  My journey into Owode metal market was a glorious and painful journey.  The grinding noise of metal, strong sculptured bodied men chopping away at old metal they gathered.  Metal and objects of all shapes being re-moulded and sold off.  “Copper is Nigeria’s gold” says one of the guys as I try to buy an old object for a photographic sculpture I have in mind.

“Are you a man or a woman?” Asks one of the men as we negotiate and chat.

Other-ness and materiality became integral elements.  Identity and its politics become more present as I move deeper into the space. Here, people speak their mind, Naija is bold, in your face, and it’s heaven to any artist or curator. As a first time visitor to Lagos, I am immensely happy that my introduction to the country is through the Centre for Contemporary Art.  History and materialism is the underlying theme to the residency, a relevant subject that questions our artistic and curatorial response to our social conditions.

Lagos, takes me back in time.  It takes me back to my birthplace. The noise, kids on the streets, the joys of moving freely. I was born in 1971, at the build up and peak of the apartheid government tightening its grip on white superiority policies and laws.  Nelson Mandela was already sentenced to life imprisonment.  Who would have known that at this point the State decided the language I would speak and restrict me to an isolated identity that I have unearthed over a three-decade period.

There is no loss of memory. To claim loss only affords those who violate you the space to claim your loss.  Now, I am fully immersed in being part of creating a genre based on the constructions and reenactments of history.  If history is fact, why are there so many blanks in my history? Why does logic not flow? Assimilation of facts is clearly not possible.

This is why I own my other-ness in my identity.  I am as much a construct of an identity as the idea that Africa is a continent and that a nation resides in 53 countries.  The notion of originating from the other or being part of an otherness is richly embracing and assuring.  The gather of the being part of an other-ness, was made in South Africa.  My body and being lives and navigates the city of Johannesburg.  Identifying as gender-variant is a position of other-ness, it is about claiming the utopia that a body of other-ness has the space and right to navigate itself in whichever location it chooses to be in.

Judith Butler’s definition of Gender Trouble is about the undoing of normative patterns and creating the subversive.  This is a new history on Africa, exploring Africa is about finding the alternatives, to shift one’s gaze away from the mainstream and look further in the margins of greyness.  My assertion into this space has created an other-ness, the different one.

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Immersing myself in Lagos.

Immersing myself in History Matters.

By Chidinma Nnorom

After reading a text from the African Cities Reader, A pilgrimage in notations, I concluded:

…we are always listening to the city inside us. There is only one city in the world, and that is the invisible city, it is in the inside of us.

I asked my parents why they had to leave their hometown, which is in Abia State in Nigeria, to settle down in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic city. They told me they left home for Lagos to seek greener pastures. That is the answer many would give you if you ask the same question. How green is the pasture in Lagos?  Today, Lagos is so populated, whoever told people to rush into Lagos? I overhear how Lagos was called ‘Nigeria’s London’ in some villages, it is like ‘a dream come true’ for those who left their homes in the villages to settle down here. Now it is more ironical to see that a lot of people have left farmlands, homes, and maybe a few family members back at the village, only to come to Lagos to work, and work, and work, but are unable to account for the wealth they have gathered from working in Lagos at the end of the year, still they have refused to go back home. I am here now. This is what I see.

Am I wrong in using the word ‘they’ instead of using the word ‘me’? I was born in Lagos and have spent a large part of my life in Lagos. All I see every day is strength and vigor. I see movement, it never stops! A place never left to rest, disturbed by various kinds of noise. You just need to hear a clap, and then you’ll awake to the reality of being in Lagos. Anytime Lagos stands still, it sometimes takes me time to actually believe I’m in Lagos.

This is a space I have found myself working, it has great influence in my work because it has a variety of cultures and people living in it, these keep me moving and working, keep me thinking, and keep me working.

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‘A Tale about these cities’

Karuti Jacqie

 

Four weeks after

She sits in the library

  Slides open a new chapter

Books and people surround

    Somber mood amid the clutter

     Unspoken goodbyes rehearsed

           Didn’t this day end just a little bit faster?

 

Lagos has been quite the big brother to me this past month.  Loud, unruly, aggressive and being hotheaded are just some of the qualities he has exhibited since we first met.  I’ll have to pack an extra bag to carry some ‘Lagos-attitude’ with me back to Nairobi. Nostalgia is slowly settling in.

The cities of Africa are the ladies of the night. They will charm you with their exotic body mass, part you with your money with their expensive exploits and still get time to feed their children. “The city is where tradition goes to die”, said the village man to his son. “Go get your education and come back”. She lured him in with her tall glass buildings, her well lit streets, adorable women with the white man’s hair and her educated men with their fancy cars. He never had a chance. Getting in is easy but coming out is hard.

Nairobi is on my mind, but Lagos will be in my heart.

Haggling for a good taxi price last week led my friends and I to meet this particular driver who gave us quiet a history lesson on our ride home. After shamelessly enquiring why we all spoke in ‘funky’ accents, He went ahead to share how being born to a Nigerian mother and Liberian father in war-torn Liberia led his family to move to Lagos where his parents later settled. Unfortunately he had to go seek asylum down south in Namibia which later saw him move to Brooklyn where he worked odd jobs for quite a number of years. He however could not return home because of instability in post-war Liberia and thus came and settled in Lagos with his mother where he now operates his own taxi business. There might have been elements of untruths in this story but it was such a novelty to converse so freely with anyone in busy Lagos that we all sat back and listened. “This has been a reunion of different nation’s right here on my backseat” he marveled as he dropped us off.

Twenty four days down, two to go and missing it here already.

I’m looking forward to sharing my Lagos experience with my taxi driver when I get back to Nairobi and showing him a couple of illegal driving moves while I’m at it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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