The president of Nigeria once described Lagos as an urban jungle. Others call it hell on earth. 13 million people live in Nigeria’s commercial capital. In the 1970’s, there were barely a million people, and the city was about a tenth the size of what it is today. Lagos is bursting at the seams. Crime is rampant, and everything seems to be falling apart: the roads, housing, water and electricity supplies, and the list goes on. Despite its huge population, the city doesn’t have a sewage system – waste just flows from the city’s three islands and the mainland into Lagos Lagoon.
But behind this reality lies another: Lagos is a city where 13 million people not only survive, they laugh and dance too. To uncover these very different facets of Lagos, I met up with Ola Balogun, a Nigerian documentary-maker, impresario and native of Lagos. There was only one place to begin our journey: battling the city’s infamous traffic jams or go-slows.
Producer: Eric Beauchemin
Broadcast: August 21, 2002
Photos: Eric Beauchemin