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Lagos: dystopia now
June 13, 2012 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Well-stamped passport leave you feeling jaded? Think Lagos, NIGERIA: Flash Violence, 3rd largest city by 2025, Paul McCartney? Do you relish in telling tales of travel to hellish places? Maybe there's a place you havent been, so choked with people, pollution and poverty you will feel ashamed to discuss it. Paul McCartney couldn't hack it. It sent his band On The Run. Ok still not dissuaded? Know before you Go
posted by Colonel Panic (22 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here, I fixed your second link.

Welcome to MetaFilter, Colonel Panic!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:45 AM on June 13, 2012


I read the user name as Colonial Panic and thought eponysterical!
posted by chavenet at 9:54 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


The New Yorker also had a great article on Lagos back in late 2006 that I read back then and that's stuck with me for the 5½+ years since. Well worth a read.
posted by The Michael The at 9:57 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Heh. I didn't know that about "Band on the Run." What a great story. I guess he didn't think to look up Fela (whose album No Bread came out on EMI Nigeria just a few years later). Probably for the best...
posted by mykescipark at 9:59 AM on June 13, 2012


I guess he didn't think to look up Fela

From the Wikipedia article:
Another incident was the confrontation with local Afrobeat star and political activist Fela Ransome-Kuti who publicly accused the band of being in Africa to exploit and steal African music after their visit to his club. Ransome-Kuti even went to the studio to confront McCartney who played their songs for him proving that they contained no local influence whatsoever.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:06 AM on June 13, 2012


D'oh. Well, that's actually exactly what I'd expect...
posted by mykescipark at 10:08 AM on June 13, 2012


Ransome-Kuti even went to the studio to confront McCartney who played their songs for him proving that they contained no local influence whatsoever.

Michael J. Fox has no Elvis in him.
posted by maudlin at 10:11 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ransome-Kuti even went to the studio to confront McCartney who played their songs for him proving that they contained no local influence whatsoever.

I'd give anything to have been a fly on the wall at that moment.
posted by blucevalo at 10:14 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems that Band on the Run was recorded entirely in Lagos (despite the recent departure of two group members) and was the most successful Wings album, so it's not really fair to say McCartney "couldn't hack it" there.
posted by longsleeves at 10:18 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"See? We're not influenced artistically by you in the slightest."
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:18 AM on June 13, 2012


The Afrobeatles?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:24 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The hack reference was a bad pun about his coughing attack. MB! True Paul and Linda stuck it out. Even slummed the local country club somehow.
posted by Colonel Panic at 10:29 AM on June 13, 2012


For a while in the 1970s, when wealth and national pride were at an all-time high, Lagos was a bohemian mecca. It had an exotic cosmopolitanism...

I lived in Lagos in late 70s when I was ~ 5 years old. My father was working on some big development project as civil engineer.

My memories are vague and have mixed with family folklore as parents have retold the stories since then.


The only thing less enticing than getting stuck with a needle at an airport clinic in Nigeria is paying $160 for the privilege. I started to walk away; he threatened to have me arrested. We went back and forth for a few minutes, and then he softened. "Or we could sort it out here. What would you like to do?"


My mom lacked visa on her passport when she arrived to Lagos with 2 small children, so she cleared customs by having $20 bill inside the passport. I can only assume that us children didn't have visas either.

Sunday continued to protest, and the cop snapped a few more photos, then walked over to the passenger door, opened it and got in.

This is how arrests work in Nigeria. Because cops don't have cars of their own, they sit in yours and demand to be taken to a station. They don't really want to go anywhere; they just want money.


Once cop in middle of the traffic circle decided that we (the driver) hit him and he needed to paid for his injuries. My parents didn't agree to his (too high) price, which resulted cop getting into our car and us all driving to our house to further negotiate. My parents, my brother and I, driver and the "injured" police officer all fit into the VW Bug. At our house price was eventually agreed upon and the cop left.


"You need to leave this place now," she said.


We left Lagos and Nigeria with no warning and never returned. One day father arrived to his work site and realized that he had left his keys home. Getting keys in go-slow traffic would have meant lost day for most of the workers, so he broke the lock in (his company's) tool shed. Someone told a police officer, who tried to get some money to turn blind eye on the burglary. My father was pissed, refused and was thrown in the jail.

In the morning his freedom was bought, but things had escalated too far and court appearance would be necessary. On advice of his employer and others our family went to airport that morning and took the first flight to Europe.

The sad thing is that those were the golden years for Lagos/ Nigeria.
posted by zeikka at 11:08 AM on June 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


Ransome-Kuti even went to the studio to confront McCartney who played their songs for him proving that they contained no local influence whatsoever.

I would pay good money to see this dramatized.
posted by thivaia at 11:43 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dogs and cats in the US seem to have it made; while the majority of Nigerians seem to have a life made in Hell. Don’t you think it is time to act?

it is a dangerous thing to ask america to act.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 12:00 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is how arrests work in Nigeria. Because cops don't have cars of their own, they sit in yours and demand to be taken to a station.
This made my day. "You're under arrest! Can I get a ride?" is just such a jarring transition from Authority to Powerlessness. It seems like something out of an English comedy.

Now, just so I contribute something: How to Pick Up Nigerian Women.
posted by joecacti at 1:50 PM on June 13, 2012


The idea that McCartney and his entourage went to Ginger Baker's studio and recorded some songs just to be polite is rather humorous.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:09 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Question for people who understand modern African history: Like everyone who got their understanding of politics from "Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner," I have to ask whether all these Nigerian messes were caused by the bad guys winning in the Biafran War?
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:30 PM on June 13, 2012


The scene has dwindled since then, surviving mainly in tucked-away places like a Portlandesque record store called the Jazz Hole, or Bogobiri House, where fashionable young Lagosians smoke imported cigarettes and do graphic-design work on their MacBooks.

Lagos is also home to a thriving freegan community.
posted by gertzedek at 7:40 PM on June 13, 2012


continues to recommend U.S. citizens to avoid all but essential travel to the Niger Delta states

Of course it's completely coincidental that US-identified oil companies having been wreaking devastation on those peoples (with or without local police) for decades now.
posted by Twang at 9:22 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the past year I've worked in such interesting places as Zimbabwe, Somalia, Chad, and Pakistan. Frankly, I'd rather spend extended time in any of those places before having to ever, ever go to Nigeria.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:17 AM on June 14, 2012


I slipped the cash inside my passport. "Next time," he said, as he palmed it, "bring your certificate." He nodded curtly. "Welcome to Lagos."

People like this author are an essential (if not THE essential) part of the problem. I didn't need to read any further than this to get all I needed to know from the article.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:20 AM on June 14, 2012


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