Sunday, July 11, 2010
THIS is Lagos
So after being here since July 4, I FINALLY get the day off. And as promised the executive producer treated me (and the producer from Sesame Workshop) to a grand tour of Lagos. After all, when she offered I said, "Absolutely. You have a lot of rumors to dis-spell." Well,... mission accomplished.
Once again, this is the clear case of "this-is-NOT-the-place-from-CNN." Everyone here is NOT sending out scam emails to idiot Americans. Everyone is NOT trying to blow up an American naval craft. (In fact, the jack-ass who tried that wasn't even Nigerian; he was just born here.) There aren't pirates roaming the beaches; there aren't gangs of kidnappers prowling the streets. Nope. Sorry to disappoint.
Lagos (which is Portuguese and pronounced "Lay-gus" and also called "Èkó" in the Yoruba language) is a city. It's a big city. It started on Lagos Island where all the government offices were because until 1991. Abuja was designed to be a "capital city" in the same way Washington D.C. was; it was all thought out. But Lagos is "organic," it's grown out from that original island to the mainland. Ikeja, the area we're staying and where the production office is, was founded by colonials who wanted to be nearer to the new airport nearby. This city is busy with people doing what all people in big cities do; live a life. Just like we do in New York.
Yesterday, after a morning session with the puppeteers (who are getting better each time), I went prop shopping and wrangler supply shopping with the two ladies who will be handling the job (one of whom is the right hand assistant for "Kami"). And we went to Lagos Island to.... the mall. YES people! An actual mall. And guess what I saw. Brace yourself. People, no, entire families shopping. Can you imagine? Here? Well, yes.
And today's tour took us to Victoria Island next to Lagos Island. This Island reminded me of shots of Miami beach and Beverly Hill with all the palms and all the (very) rich homes behind the gates. We got to visit Bogobirt House. (www.bogobirilagos.com)This incredible bed-and-breakfast hotel has an extensive art collection, all available for purchase and rooms all themed after Africa; so much tile and wood carvings adorn the walls of your guest room and the chairs you sit in. And outside was a man with the most gorgeous hand made garments for men and women. (I of course bought a shirt.)
Then it was onto Terra Kulture. This center for art and performance has a gallery, bookshop, boutique and a stage. It's where I was treated to a performance of "The Jero Plays" writen by Wole Soyinka. Mr Soyinka (whose full name is Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka) is Nigeria's foremost playwrights. "The Jero Plays" are two combined into one: "The Trails of Brother Jero" and "Jero's Metamorphosis." They concern the charlatan preacher who uses religion to his own advantage. And it's based on actual fake prophets and preachers who roamed Bar Beach. They were written in the early '60's but going by Bar Beach after the play and just a block away, we saw some!
We passed the first Anglican Church built in Lagos, traveled over two of the "Three Bridges" connecting Victoria and Lagos Islands to the mainland. And we passed many neighborhoods, some very rich and some very not-rich. And as we drove by one area, I saw a four story building that had seen better days and in the doorway was a woman. She was sitting and tossing her baby up and down. And they were both laughing. See? Two people just living their lives just like you and I.
Tomorrow it's back to the fleecey grind-stone before taking off this Wednesday. Better get to sleep.