Lagos’ reputation as a city certainly precedes itself. Across Africa, and especially to its neighbours it represents hustle, struggle and success in equal measure. Lagos is the city of Fela Kuti, as well as sprawling slums, powerful people, and the land of entrepreneurship.
They say ‘If you can make it in Lagos you can make it anywhere.’
In that vein Hip Africa would like to hail Lagos the New York of Africa – its pulsating energy, though sometimes daunting and certainly exhausting, always lives up to the hype. Lagos is a constant test of your patience and your will to succeed (whatever the task may be), but for good and for bad it always makes you feel alive.
In fact, all the frantic networking, business card swapping and who’s who-ing going on in Lagos makes it a rather friendly city. Everyone wants to know who you are, and if you might be someone to know, which is conducive to a general vibe of openness.
Whether you are in Lagos for business or leisure, it is likely you will spend a large portion of your time in Victoria Island, or V.I. as the cool kids call it. This is where most of the restaurants, shops and luxury condos are located. On Lagos Island you have high-end residential neighbourhood Ikoyi, and well as the central business district. Both areas are separated from ‘The Mainland’, by the Lagos Lagoon – which with the vast city either side as its backdrop actually makes for some pretty impressive vistas.
A certainly spellbinding sight on the less glamorous side of the lagoon are the Makoko water slums, where more than a quarter of a million people live.
Lagos, the extreme megacity, is certainly pressed for space, and a solution to the overcapacity is Eko Atlantic (Eko meaning Lagos in Yoruba): an ambitious project to reclaim land eroded by the sea and extend Victoria Island, on it building a sparkly modern city within city.
Lagos has a reputation for being somewhat dangerous. It’s certainly not the kind of place you should be strolling around or jumping in local taxis if you don’t know the city. The majority of crime in Lagos however is directed towards rich Nigerians – this takes the form of kidnappings and armed robbery.
While still a threat to be contended with, Nigeria based jihadists Boko Haram have yet to hit Lagos hard. There has been speculation that the terror group were responsible some smaller scale attacks in Lagos, however it operates mostly in the north of the country.
The city is also well known as the city of power cuts and traffic jams. What Hip Africa can say to this is that, like other African cities with electricity challenges, Lagos is also well-armed with generators, and if you’re lodging at one of the Hip Africa recommended establishments, your stay won’t be much affected.
Lagos is home to a rich and proud culture. Highlights include the New Africa Shrine, which although was not the original Fela Kuti hangout (this one burnt down) it has been authentically recreated, and is now run by his kids. Lagos also boasts an exciting art scene, with a handful of modern art galleries as well as institutions showcasing more traditional Nigerian art.
Lagos’ least strong point is its restaurant scene – it would seem that all the best cooking in town is taking place at home! However HA anticipates that this is set to change, with talk of some interesting restaurant developments on the horizon.
This is a multicultural city. In addition to the many ethnically Lebanese and Indian people that have been in the country for generations and consider themselves Nigerian, Lagos hosts Africans from around the continent, as well as Europeans, Chinese, Americans living and working in various fields (predominantly oil and gas).
They also say that Lagos (like New York) is best in small doses. It is no wonder that Lagosians famously pop over to Accra for weekends to take a breather and some down time. The best way to get in and out of the city is local airline Arik Air, with direct flights to Accra, Nairobi, Johannesburg, London, and many other destinations. Most international carriers fly from major international cities.