Thursday, 29 April 2010

Lagos still Dark

There's growing controversy about a BBC2 show portraying life in Lagos (Welcome to Lagos, ends today), that invites you to a glimpse of the "most extreme urban environment". I haven't seen the thing myself, not having TV and being barred from BBC's Iplayer, but from the episode titles it doesnt look promising:
  1. A look at life in the Olusosun rubbish dump, where about 1000 people live in scrap houses. 
  2. A look at the lives of those who choose to live and work on the waters of Lagos Lagoon.
  3. Following Esther, who lives in a scrap house on the beach in central Lagos.
    Hold on, this feels like a we're back in "Heart of Darkness" age. I mean, I met the crew that was here at the time. They were staying in a cool guesthouse in the heart of posh Ikoyi, surrounded by art and music. They saw fun and laughter next to poverty and despair. Even if they chose to highlight the "resourcefulness, determination and creativity of those adapting to life" in Lagos, it feels like they missed their brief. Anybody who knows Lagos and Nigeria knows that there's more than pitiful locations of Makodi, Bar Beach, and Olusosun. Knows that there's a hunger and thirst for life the expresses itself in explicit acts of creativity that warrant a setting that reflects the attitude in a bolder way.

    People look at the surface and even if the show reveals, as I hope to find when I get back home, a lighter side of life in the most pressing of circumstances, the choice to portray the least appealing of places in Lagos means that the producers have stuck to the old prejudices rather than sticking their head out and showing a new side of Africa that might actually change peoples stereotypes. I can only imagine that the final decision makers thought that would be too much for the home audiences to swallow. Opportunity missed.

    I, and most of my Nigerian friends and colleagues, agree with Wole on this one. I thought that Said had managed to re-evaluate our conception of others, and helped others to overcome their own notion of self. Clearly the battle still rages strongly, maybe more strongly than ever as we near the World Cup in South Africa.

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