Monochrome Lagos Digital Photobook

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MONOCHROME Lagos “digital Photo book” is an important part of the big picture for the Monochrome Lagos project, from the start – The team and I were urged on by a desire to initiate a digital conversation around the cultural aesthetics i.e. PEOPLE, PLACE and their RELATIONSHIP in celebration of the dynamism of the city LAGOS by democratizing the process to wholeheartedly be for the people and by the people. To use the ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY as a tangent point to fascinate and inspire. The book serves as a window to understanding and appreciating our collective consciousness, to find the intersections of coherence, quiet and solitude amidst the cinema and bustle that our beloved city is BECAUSE we know PEOPLE LOVE AND APPRECIATE GOOD PHOTOGRAPHY but Photoboks alienate with the art jargon so let’s cut out the white noise, replace it with your words and talk about the things we truly care about. Also to leverage heavily on the digital revolution which can easily make this conversation accessible to a wider readership without compromising integrity (that it’s only for a selected audience) while still curating the passionate and substance. As with most first issue, this is not definitive, we will continue to refine looks, our tone of voice/theme will be louder and our footprints wider, A thousand words per frame – let’s hear yours – BS or not. Cheers to an amalgamation of literature and photography - but don’t keep it to yourself – IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU SHARE THIS BEAUTY that we have created Together. Logor @logorofafrica


We never know how it begins. Who stirs first. In what voice blood quickens bone to rise. How flesh becomes water, flows to rhythm. But, see here, we are lifting the dust. _ By Joshua Seun Lean


—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“Twas night, calm night, the moon was high; The dead men stood together.” The first distortion is always sound. A window opening. A mother’s heavy skirt. Dying in the street. Prayer. Music. Then the image stills. And for a second, slipped in like something secret: Silence. _

“We must keep moving” as the collective rhythm goes.

“We must keep moving”, the collective rhythm goes. Although these strides do wish for an Elysian field long before the day is done, their hopes are often not the hopes of rainbows and of unicorns. But that of the finer, simpler things, like Aedh’s wishes for the cloths of Heaven and a continual - even continuous rhythm to the world they belong. So night beckons. Dreams are born. The morning comes full circle again. And so he rises, he who must set forth at dawn, To the rhythm of his world.

He must keep moving... Soon we hear the drumming of heartbeats converging, their tune marching forward with determination, with purpose converging, with a familiar tune that belongs to a familiar age: where the skeleton of hustle alone upholds a City’s frame. The strides march forward, ever forward – “We must keep moving” as the collective rhythm goes. The collective rhythm is sipitus Eko – that continuous, indubitable rhythm of toil. _ By Voke Pella


I have always found large bodies of water fascinating, which is why I would pay any price to sit by the window side if I knew I would be riding past one. I like to amuse myself by thinking that a million diamonds lie just below the surface of the shimmering water at noon and a million gold pieces at sunset. But I prefer to feel this fascination from a distance, a safe distance, because I find that I still grapple with aspects of aquaphobia. Like many other skills, swimming has refused to let me master it. I think it is because I haven’t shown enough practical interest in the art. I like what the sight of large bodies of water does to me. I

like how they teleport me to the worlds I have known in books like Treasure Island and in movies like Pirates of the Caribbean: the worlds of deep blue waters, of white beaches littered with bleached shells, of peaceful blue skies splotched with balls of fluffy clouds here and there, of sea gulls rending the silence with their sharp cries, and of wrecked rafts and boats rocked by the gentle waves at the shore. One December weekend back in 2011 when a literary activity took me to Lagos, I had to stay at a friend’s place somewhere in Shomolu. I found that there were very few other paths that I would rather have chosen for my evening walks than the embankment along the Shomolu


Canal. Not because the place was serene (what with the noise by both humans and machines), but because of what the place could have been, because of what I could make the place be for me. It was only a matter of time before I devised how to furnish with imagination what was lacking in reality. While walking along the Canal, I would tell myself I was somewhere in Europe. Venice, to be precise. I would imagine the floating plastic bags and bottles to be water lilies. I would see fellow pedestrians as co-tourists vacationing in this lovely part of the world. I would imagine people riding up and down the canal in gondolas, reading books or newspaper or listening to music. _

Like many other skills, swimming has refused to let me master it. By Uchenna Ekwerenmadu


Pulling myself up from my kneeling position and clenching my teeth to stem the pain, i tried to recall the last time i sent up a prayer to God. The small, dry laugh that escaped my throat was as deplorable as the current fear I had chosen to acknowledge, hold and contend with; in full knowledge of the fact that I had no control of the past or future, only the now.

“How much time did your excuse(s) buy you today Kay?” This was the question that began a long phone call from an old friend and had me kneeling in tears, pain radiating to every region of my chest and prayer. One day at a time, I’m going to let life happen to me; be in reality, who and what I have dreamt of and live while at it. The lifeline is around me and this time, I’m reaching for it. _ By Ibimina LeggJack


-Words on the Agba Meta (Three White Cap Chiefs) statue at the entrance to Lagos.

The Metropolis called and I would answer and go and partake of its miracles, its beauty, its lavishness, the noise, the seemingly endless stream of possibilities and the realness of it all. There’s something that comes with the realization that human existence is as brief as each passing season. There will be no easy answer when my parents ask questions hoping to dissuade me, just living, daily through the questions. Anything. Anything is better than not actively moving in the direction of my dreams. Chance being the first step, luck will follow suit; I’m almost certain of it.

(The Life Of The Times)

And so I would go-a-seeking greener grass. I am not the only person who’s sought their fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first.

’O gbodo ridin (don’t be stupid) O gbodo suegbe (don’t be slow) O gbodo ya mugun l’Eko (don’t allow yourself to be taken for a fool)’

The fear that had now become a physical burden I carried everywhere with me and was becoming increasingly difficult to mask behind polite smiles, air kisses and feigned laughter. My current city, now too small for my dreams, my ‘larger-than-life’ disposition, the entirety of the person I was slowly growing into.



A city is a city and a Governor is a Governor but sometimes all that matters is what you took for granted. I sit in a BRT wondering how it could be better. You think maybe if this woman did not bring her fish inside to stink the place up so and there was AC in the bus. But let me tell you something, we already had AC and lost it. I had a job and I lost it. Sometimes my life is like a BRT. It’s not that it has never been good. But it was once good and that has gone away and I don’t know what’s in front again. It’s so stuffy that you think stuffy. That’s why you have to come out at night. It’s a city but sometimes the backand-forth of the city enters your life and you don’t know whether you are coming or going. Shit. You don’t even know if there’s a road here. My life is like a road but road to where? I don’t know where this city is going to. Sometimes I believe this city is going to shit then at the last moment - clutch, brake, gear engage, 3 to 4 to 5 to reverse. Calm. Things can go either way, still. Lagos slow. Lagos fast. To God. You think I’m fucking with you but Lagos is not one thing. Check it. 3 men at the beginning of the town. 3rd Mainland Bridge. Everything in this town comes in 3s. Some people misplace something here. Some people find something here. Some people come all the way from foreign to here. Some people can’t wait to leave here and never come back. How do you lose hope and find hope in the same one place? _ By Osisiye Tafa, author of ‘Sixty Percent of a True Story’.

Sometimes I believe this city is going to shit then at the last moment - clutch, brake, gear engage, 3 to 4 to 5 to reverse. Calm. Things can go either way, still. 13 MONOCHROME: LAGOS

These faces are my face and the faces of a million others who have lived their lives, played their play, walked their walk. Carried their tattered backpacks back home walking in dusty shoes under the sweltering heat from school that was an escape we wanted to escape from, because while innocence wasn’t yet lost, home was a concept long gone. So we played a little more after the bell, football in open spaces, climbing trees for guava and fruit- almonds, but we called them fruit- rented bicycles and rode through back streets, avoided the main roads because somebody who knew somebody who knew your mother could see you and you would have to explain why you weren’t home right after school, didn’t you say you closed at four? These faces had dreams that reached the sky. Hope as fragile as the cradle that bore them. Faith in everything and in nothing. Love that knew only how to give, one Tasty Time, three equal parts. My fifty naira was his fifty naira and his fifty naira. And for the days we were rich, yes, some days we were stinking rich, one tasty time for everybody please. Get out of here. Energy is never created nor destroyed it can only be changed from one form to another. Stories are never created nor destroyed. They can only be passed from one life to another. So the life that you live, a million years ago was lived. A thousand years ago. A century ago. A generation ago. Men have borne your burden. Experienced your ecstasy. Bled your pain. And it isn’t even yours; stories are eternal, like the bottom of the ocean, always there and never ending.

A different man just gets there and feels the sand at his feet. This story is yours today to hold and to cherish and to experience. To laugh at, learn from, and get ingrained in. And when you pass on, the story remains waiting for another life to take it on like a coat, it always fits. So I’m also trying to tell you don’t take another fellows story. Let us. Make man. And from there on a million billion trillion stories were born. Each one for each star that lit up the firmament. Come, let us make man. And his pain and his glory, and his fall. And his aguish and a woman to balance his days in equal measures of joy and pain. Sometimes, tip the scale a little for our amusement. We counted cars on our way back home from school. Each boy picked a brand. And we counted. To see whose was more. As far as we knew the brand of car we picked was what we would stock our garage with when we were really rich. Mercedes for him. BMW for him. I wanted a Toyota. Nobody won, nobody cheated. We just diverted at our different street corners and took the walk that remained home, alone. Sometimes there was a dog to greet you. Or an excited little sister. Or an abusive father. Stories are never created nor destroyed. They can only be passed on from one life to another. _ By Caleb Olorunmaiye @_Ceefour


Stories are eternal, like the bottom of the ocean, always there and never ending.


Energy is never created nor destroyed it can only be changed from one form to another.




Lagosians wear the agbádá of suspicion rather elegantly. If there was such a thing as a scale that measured a person’s suspicion level and if the average human being’s suspicion level ranked seven, a Lagosian’s would rank an off-the-scale twelve. Yes, distrust is imprinted into our subconscious. We go to bed with it and wake up with it. The typical Lagosian prides himself on being streetwise and thus blessed with an AntiMumuTM that repels the slightest sign of foul play. Just like the iron gates that surround our homes, with small slide windows to peek through, our hearts are guarded by our suspicion, our eyes are like that window, they play no role when it comes to discernment. We are adamant that nothing is what it seems even when it can obviously be no more than what it appears to be. Our flair for the dramatic concocts a delicious conspiracy theory. I learned the hard way that asking for directions from the passersby on the streets might only yield being ignored. Lagosians are wary of strangers. It is fueled by a suspicion bordering on irrational paranoia. One day, I got lost on the narrow one-way streets of Jibowu and decided to ask a young girl for directions to the main road but not before arranging my face in the most harmless expression and plastering an unassuming smile. I drove slowly beside her and asked politely. She shot me an angry look and walked away swinging her hips. I frowned knowingly, she assumed my smile would somehow hypnotise her into entering my car and I would whisk her away for ungodly intentions. I wondered how I would manage this feat in broad day light, the fact that I was female like her made no difference to her. I drove a little further and saw an older gentleman standing in front of what I assumed was his home. I repeated my request adding an overly respectful voice to my previous facial expression and smile. He also scowled and ignored me, but not entirely from the fear of being spirited away to an unknown fate. No, this time, I suspect my offence was having the effrontery to ask him; an elder for directions or perhaps that I had the effrontery to even consider whisking an elder away. Who knows? On another day, my quest for directions led me to a young man, with a smile he offered to get into my car to guide me, to ensure that I stayed on the right track. My suspicion radar came alive and beeped maniacally as I imagined all the potentially sinister motives embedded within this seemingly kind gesture. I smiled and shook my head in refusal. As I drove away, still very much lost, I thought about the two-sidedness of this Èkó brand of distrust. You are suspicious of me and I am suspicious of you. We are in this Lagos together. _ By Chinedu Ahanonu



You were born in ancient times When leaders served with their hearts and might When your fathers struggled to make things right You were the first of your kind Everyone loved to be around you Soon, your home was crowded like a beehive Friends, folks and foes Found a place to call their home Years on, things changed from bad to worse Your fathers didn’t care They had enough but didn’t share A father who couldn’t stand the sneers Gave you a new name You never remained the same


You grew very fast Because of you Friends, folks and foes Can find all they desire and more You are largest amongst your pairs You have caused strife Yet, your home is still crowded like a beehive Fame and fortune have known your name Friends, folks and foes Sing your praise You are Eko! ( The Center of Excelllence) Eko o ni baje o!. _ - By Affiong Ene-Obong.



My Lagos is an outsider’s obsession, sometimes embarrassing in fact. I have been to Lagos physically maybe four, five, six times but when it comes down to it, I live in virtual Lagos. Lagos is that intersection where most of my desires and dreams meet: my want for a gra-gra hustling urban life, my want for a community of creative millennials on similar wavelengths as I, my want for that perfect balance between distance from and proximity to family, my want for a community dripping thick with melanin and big round asses and all manner of hairstyles (Tumblr did this to me) and my want for a place where my accent is safe and


where I can relax my English. I used to think that Lagos was the place where my migraines would kill me, that Lagos was too dirty, had too many people, too much traffic, and too many kinds of everything. Somehow, one day I’m in school procrastinating by watching ‘Why is my curriculum white?’ videos on Youtube and digging deep into the archives of Another day, I’m reading Flora Nwapa’s ‘This is Lagos’ which I found dust-layered in some dingy bookstore by Artisan Market in Enugu. And another, I’m in a car leaving 1004 with Brymo’s Eko playing in the background and saying to my best friend ‘Fam, Lagos is the shit. Lagos is that place I want to plant myself.’ The promise of a vivacious life full of investments and bountiful returns, in jobs and relationships, is what I see when I think of Lagos. Lagos, in a way, shapes my weekly emotional experience. I know when the festivals & exhibitions are on and where all the galleries are. I sweat with the Lagos people on my timeline when they are sweating in traffic. I curse with them when they are cursing the everyday sexism and ageism that they face. And I share their boredom and fatigue from the overall Nigerian dysfunctionality with Lagos’s added kaya.But see, I also know that there are very many faces of Lagos I don’t know and will never be a part of. Sometimes Lagos is this tight knit family that looks at me with the scorn reserved only for strangers who think they can pry into private business. But I think I’m modest in my demands. I just want to love Lagos; I’ll be fine with whatever happiness I’m left with from loving. Living in lonely corners of the world has left me hungry and ready for gra-gra. After all, I came into this world through Aba. _ -By Immaculata Abba

‘Fam, Lagos is the shit. Lagos is that place I want to plant myself.’ 25 MONOCHROME: LAGOS


Political commentators had mocked the choice of the name “Democratic Alliance Party”. It reminded them of the Alliance for Democracy - a party that split often and repeatedly tied itself to Awo. A party that had changed multiple times - as often as the lagoon changed tides. It became the Action Congress(tied to Awo’s Action Group again) then the APC after to a merger with the Northern CPC. The Fourth Mainland Bridge wasn’t windy today. The temperature monitor on her dashboard displayed “Outside temperature: 32 degrees”. People said the greatest thing about the Fourth Mainland bridge was that you could see all the bridges in Lagos. Well, almost all. You could see Carter Bridge and Eko Bridge as Surulere laid beneath them. If you squinted hard enough, you could see Yaba and by extension the Third Mainland Bridge - once the longest bridge in West Africa. But enough aesthetics today, she had to focus on the interview. It took her three months to become her expert at her old job and she coasted along for the next three years. It got boring from the fourth month. She complained to her parents and to Kelvin, who laughed out loud and said “Welcome to real life” and kissed her cheek - as if she was to get used to being bored. “CMS. VICTORIA ISLAND. IKOYI” The green board at the diversion listed them with arrows indicating the directions of each. She took the right turn into Ikoyi. By Olabinjo Adeniran


“Welcome to real life”

If someone had told her ten years ago, that it would take only forty-five minutes to get from Ikorodu to Ikoyi, she might have slapped them and said “Shut up!”. Yet, here she was on the Fourth Mainland Bridge. Directly connecting Ikorodu to the ‘island’, the bridge was one of the achievements of the newly powerful Democratic Alliance Party.


By D.E.


And when things are great, laughing with them is a joy

Sometimes life is easier when you have someone who is going through the motions with you Someone who doesn’t think you belong in a mad house Someone who understands how harsh the Sun can be from your perspective And when things are great, laughing with them is a joy And when things go bad, it isn’t too hard, because they are there to support you And when they are suffering or going through the motions, you are there for them Thus the cycle continues and our sanity is preserved By friends who care and are always there Even in insufferable heat, supportive words can offer the coolest shade.


Eko O Gba Gbere

The moment he turned out his pockets to prove he had no change, I knew something was off about the keke rider. Any other rider would have shouted at us to get down, but he pleaded, “Please help me find change.” His gentleness was bordering on suegbe, which has no place in Lagos. Eko o gba gbere, sang Chris Ajilo, and all who hustle in the city know this to be true. We were waiting for the streetlights to turn green at Jibowu when someone ran to his side, slapped him twice, twisted his collar, and started to make a call. “Look at this bastard that robbed me,” he shouted. The accuser said, earlier, he parked his bus to quickly collect something from the roadside, but when he returned, his charger and morning proceeds were gone. Keke rider, while waiting for the lights to go green, had seen the man running helter-skelter and asked what he was looking for. Thereafter, someone handed keke rider’s plate number to the driver as the person who stole his stuff. One of the keke rider’s colleagues came to defend him and was shoved by bus driver. Fists were out—no time. The accused separated them, pleading that they stop fighting, I started to doubt if he was capable of theft. He started to stutter, narrating his innocence in pidgin. That was when the cavalry the bus driver had called arrived: three frowning men. The one in front must have been popular in the area, because the rider’s colleague recognised him and told the bus driver that his respect for the man

was the reason he was not beating him up. The alaye started to talk, and the keke rider burst into tears. The man slapped him twice, again. The tears irritated him, he claimed. He said they were ready to beat him up and kill him. When the colleague saw the turn of events, he went to his own keke and drove off. One of us, the passengers in the keke, pleaded with the barrel-chested man and the accuser, asking them to take one thousand naira and forget about the issue. They agreed to take the money. At that point, I was sure it was all a farce, because who, in Lagos, catches a thief and negotiates with him like policemen—but keke rider was still trying to plead his innocence, touching his finger to the ground and licking the sand. Jibowu goons spill blood at will, so I stuck my head out of the keke and joined the other passengers in shouting at keke rider to pay them. He did, and we drove off. He stopped after a few meters to collect himself, and clear his eyes of tears. The passengers spent the rest of the trip telling him God would fight on his behalf and take which they took from him. Another day in Lagos, I thought, another weak soul chewed up by the city. Suegbe: meaning, slow-witted person Eko O Gba Gbere: Lagos takes no prisoners. Alaye: slang sometimes used to refer to a respected figure on the streets. By IfeOluwa Nihinlola


He said they were ready to beat him up and kill him. When the colleague saw the turn of events, he went to his own keke and drove off.


Lagos Swings I could never hate Lagos. I can almost hear a tiny whisper of challenge accepted and I say bring it on. “ile oba tojo ewa lo busi.“ Lagos is that cloud filled with silver linings especially when you least expect it.Seriously even when I am stuck in a danfo in the sweltering heat with no breeze and heat from the thin metal floor burning through my sandals and I am dripping in sweat that stings my eyes, I could never hate Lagos. I wouldn’t call it love though. It could be that I don kolo or overindulgence on my love for cities and its imperfections. I don’t think I am not a masochist. I dream quite frequently of a better public transportation system because my Lagos deserves it. You have to understand, I left

Lagos a kid and came back a woman with love for cities, walkable cities, dynamic cities, cities that make you feel like there is an adventure around the corner every time you step out of your house. There is a dope electro tune Bhangra Fever by Midival Punditz and it starts with a killer intro. “If you’ve ever existed in grids or swerves you know that London swings, New York’s a grid. Chicago swings. Bombay’s a grid, Delhi swings.” After I moved back to Lagos having lived and visited other cities within and outside Nigeria. I remember thinking to myself with a smirk on my face “If you’ve ever existed in grids or swerves (which I clearly do especially because I have a horrible sense of direction,


another reason why I love cities, because not all who wander are lost, they are rewarded with experiences, the ones you regale friends with over drinks, the ones that make you laugh so hard you spit out your drink, lean against the wall and hold your stomach) Lagos swings, Abuja’s a grid. I could never hate Lagos because it swings. It really does even when you are spitting mad and screaming iyalaya yin, se won ron yi simi ni. You know why because two seconds later when you realize you are still alive and somewhat whole, you laugh. You laugh because Lagos is full of comedy, yes also tragic stories, but so much comedy. I laugh when the person lies about being 5 minutes away when they ac-

tually an hour away and stuck on 3rd Mainland Bridge. They both know it’s a lie but it’s what we do in Lagos. I laugh because conductors throw the best shade and once in a while a passenger delivers a fire comeback. I laugh when the lady selling cold minerals calls me customer, ok lady ha sure I’ll take ice cold water for the pain. Yeah I could never hate Lagos because it swings and make me laugh and add to that a dose of nostalgia for the good old days which my parents who are both Lagosians gist me about how Lagos swung for them and made them laugh. By olabukunola williams



is for Agbero , everybody is secretly one. is for Business. You better face yours. is for conductor, the one who brings sanity to the gates of hell. is for Danfo; hell. is for ‘E go better’ , the Lagos mantra. is for Fashola, the messiah. F is for Fuji , the anthem to our hustles. is for God. The one who created this mess in the first place. is for Hustle, the thought that wakes everyone up. is for Hold up, the glue that holds us all together in a never ending web , away from ‘hammering’. is for Indomie, official food of the hustlers. is for Jonzing, the perfected art of being in denial. is for Keka Napep, private jet of the masses. is for Lekki, where the Big boys live. is for Molue, senior brother to the Danfo. is for ‘No retreat and no surrender. is for Oloriburuku. The go-to phrase. is for Problem. This city has too many. is for Police, the biggest of the problems. is for Question. Don’t ask any stupid ones. is for Range rover. Official car of the Big boys. is for Settling, you have to take care of the ones higher than you. is for Twitter, home of all the drama. is for U turn. Only the brave dare take that turn. is for Vision. The greatest one birthed this city. is for Waka. The journey to a never ending definition. is for Xmas. Season of merry making. is for Yahoo, and the tales of sudden wealth it brings. is for Zest. The juice that flows in the lagoons of Eko.


By ‘Denike Raks




The Lagos story is a compelling one that is worth telling and sharing. A former slave port, an abode to a great citadel of learning and above all the economic mecca of Nigeria. Growing up in this cosmopolitan city has elicited so many nostalgic feelings from my formative years up till this very moment. I can’t help but savour those wonderful, intriguing, dramatic and theatrical moments filled with dreams, hopes, despairs and aspirations. A city where you have to watch attentively and wait expectantly for every opportunity that comes or else you will be outwitted by its tricks and gimmicks. You must have traversed every nook and cranny of the whole metropolis to have the bragging rights of being Lagos Savvy and called the real Omo Eko gan gan! Commuting through the city will enable you share in the fun, frustrations and ambitions of different calibers of people you come in contact with. From the street urchins, to the honking sounds of the yellow buses that keeps reverberating repeatedly, down to the little kids hawking trying to live by the hustle and bustle, it’s indeed alive. It will taunt and bring out the thug in you. It’s a rough, tough and crazy town. The city dubbed ‘NO MANS LAND, I call it every hustlers pride. A beacon of hope to many. Its ethnic and cultural diversity is second to none and it’s home to many tribes which cut across different sections of the metropolis. The Hausas, Igbos, Tapas, Ilaje, Igbiras to name a few have all found a peaceful abode in this energetic city of ours. Lagos is notable for its nightlife which has been a ritual for most of its populace either to ease off stress or to catch fun. The Owambe glitz and glamour are never ending and the parties don’t stop. You will definitely feel the vibes. Lagos is indeed a tale of many stories also known for its notoriety and vices which have enveloped a few. It can be serene and quiet and within a twinkle of an eye chaotic and violent. Admist it’s burden of anxiety and compulsive cruelty ,many overcame fears, defied all odds and made it through its rigours. I feel a great deal of attachment to this congenial city, I tried to flee from its madness many times but deep emotions have been slowly instilled in my consciousness as an Omo Eko. From the lower class

shanty ilaje community in Makoko to the slums in Oto Awori down to Ajegunle trailblazers were born, bred and raised cementing the fact that the Lagos dream is achieveable and indeed possible. The city boasts of iconic monuments like The holy cross cathedral, cradle and seat of the Roman Catholic mission in Nigeria, The National Art Theater in Onikan, Iga idungaran, Isale Eko; official residence of the oba of Lagos, The first storey building in Nigeria. The city is a beauty to behold.Walking through Marina to Tinubu Square, Bamgbose, Campus Square down to Igbosere, you can’t help but marvel at the magnificent scenery of colonial architectural designs that adorn most of the ancient homes.

The city dubbed ‘NO MANS LAND, I call it every hustlers pride As I sit on the shoreline of Bar Beach while I anxiously wait to catch a glimpse of the berthing ships and watch the sea recede, I can only hope that the Atlantic City’s abundant historical heritage will be preserved amidst the huge transformation it’s experiencing. By Ogundipe Oluwaseun Michael


Hmph! Who does she think she is looking all fierce and strong? Why is she so attractive and different? I wonder what those lines and curves are for. Why is she created differently? Oh no we cannot have this. A world where we are not King would be unbearable, so unbearable we’d have to share decision making with her kind. We need a plan, oh yes we need a plan. We start by studying them and figuring them all out, then we can use every ounce of strength they have against them, ha-ha that is even if they have any. I suggest we start at the cellular level, this should be easy! Wait, What?! The only significant difference at the cellular level is just one of twenty-three pairs of chromosome? No way! We have to make that seem as irrelevant as possible and quickly move on to study them on another level, surely we will find something to discredit their kind. Oh yes! We don’t have to deal with producing offspring. I need not tell you how easy the part we have to play in that is. Oh wait, doesn’t that make them look stronger than us still? I mean think about it nine whole months plus the years they have to stay attached to the new creature. I know I do not possess that kind


of mental strength, but still we can never admit that. We have to make them look weak by telling them what they can and cannot do with their body during this period. Oh we just make it seem we care for their wellbeing. What if that doesn’t work? Then we create a crooked universal value system, where at the very beginning of their lives boys are taken more seriously with the help of gender roles. Segregate! Make them believe their place in life when they grow up is in a man’s kitchen. Do not encourage them to seek knowledge, that way we can discredit them in all ways and form. “...But why go through all these if you truly think you are better than them?” A voice in my head says to me. “Shame!.. Shame!!... Sexist!!!....Bigot!!!... Moron!!” Oh God!, now it is my mother’s voice in my head. So calm yet so strong. I realise what I am, what most of us are. I am not capable of thinking rationally when it comes to what I don’t totally understand. Only logical explanation I can think of. By Shealay Smith




By Shealay Smith

Woooos...Wobi!!! -- as my brother CDQ will say. Stay for your own lane. Why? Because oju orun teye fo lai tackle arawon. Lagos city - Eko ile, ilu ogbon. True talk you don’t even have to think too deeply about it. One of a kind diversity. So diverse news is broadcasted in multiple languages ( Sign language included). A whole person should understand diversity, its beauty and how to deal. “Hausa people are lazy!” “Yoruba people are dirty. Their men will enter your life and scatter it!” - “Igbo people will steal your land, they like money too mush” - “Calabar people can fuck gan” - Mahn fuck off with that myopic bullshit. Every individual is capable of being his own person so why so quick to develop a bias? My people the world is big enough and there is enough room for all the diversity. I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I have to hate or put you down. Look at the person next to you, Scientifically 99.9% of their makeup is exactly the same as you, so shame on you if you let 0.1% define how you approach life. Eko yi ti dede eni ni, Eko akete-Eko ile.


Love you from the sole of your feet Up to the crown of your hair Nappy, kinky, or curly Every style that your wear Be you the blackest of berries Or lightest of fruits Tonight, I’m trying to say this to you And yes I’m loving your shades Every spectrum and tone A million shadings of gold Your beauty a story untold Cause they depict you as less Promoting hating of self Bleach creams and bad for your health To line their pockets with wealth Chemicals all in your hair And other masks that you wear Ashamed of being yourself Can’t stand a stare or a glare Promises say you are free But freedom comes with a price Purchase with parts of your soul Filling illusions of holes Came from a long line of queens But now you’re down on your knees Losing steam and esteem I’m losing it, I might scream Black, brown and yellow skin too I love it all is the truth Preference for essence that’s true I see that essence, in you. By William Moore




June and I sat on the coach to the North doing what we did best, musing about life and its meaning. Being the rational cynical nihilist in the relationship, it was only expected that I thought the whole experience rather pointless. Sort of like our dreams. Sure, psychotherapists like Freud could take a stab interpretation, or even worse, the shamans and other such spiritual types could have a go at it. They were both playing a game of guesses, kind of like most of us did with our various worldviews giving life some kind of inherent meaning. ‘Is that how you really feel? So basically, to you, we are just here and that’s it?’ she asked. I never understood why this reality was difficult to embrace. In my opinion, it should even be easier because it was only in meaninglessness that man could find freedom. ‘A French philosopher once said that if there is God then man cannot be free.’ She looked at me puzzled. ‘He wasn’t referring to any god per-say, he was just saying that if there is someone or something else that has brought existence into being with a purpose, then man cannot be free.’ She chuckled and shook her head in genuine sadness. You see; I couldn’t understand why anyone would want it any other way. I suppose the tyranny of loneliness in a purposeless universe wasn’t exactly the picture of paradise. ‘I think it is a bit too much of a coincidence that a universe was birthed out of nothing went on to produce creatures that could reflect on its very existence. I mean; if all that accounts for existence today was once in a ball as small as a peanut, and somewhere in the future there was the potential for this. I think calling it a cosmic accident is a bit of a leap. A leap of faith.’ I had never really thought about it like that. ‘Isn’t it exhausting for you to walk around with no anchor at all? Like, do you ever stop thinking?’ What she was pointing out was a real problem for a lot of intellectuals. In my opinion, the link between thinkers and drinkers probably had more to do with an attempt to numb the

echoes of voices searching for meaning than anything else. I would know this, my mind was an exhausting place to be and on more than a few occasions, drugs had offered a safe haven, even if only till the high wore off. I said nothing to June. I just stared out the window and she fell silent too. The journey continued with only the sight of blurred bushes for entertainment coupled with an in-coach film that was muted with no subtitled. Try making meaning out of that. ‘What do you think this movie is about?’ I asked. She paused. ‘I know what you are doing. Just like existence, I have been thrown into this film at a point I didn’t even get to determine. For all I know, it’s close to the end or just starting. There is no audio or subtitles, so I only have my interpretation of what’s happening.’ ‘Yes, and no two people will have the same interpretation. It’s like that story about six blind men feeling out an elephant from different sides.’ We didn’t like to admit it, but these intellectual games were a sort of power struggle between us. That was probably why even four years into our relationship, we still argued on such matters. I was about to crack a smile and offer her some wine I stashed in my backpack. For a second it appeared she was about to concede. ‘Would you say zero is a number?’ I thought about it for a second... ‘Yes, it’s a number’ ‘And what is the value of the number zero?’ ‘Ermm,’ I wasn’t sure where she was coming from, ‘the value is nil’ ‘And would you say for every choice we make, we forgo other choices we could have made in that time?’ This was getting even more confusing. I nodded in agreement and waited with suspicion as she connected the dots. ‘So how can there ever be any absolute freedom where even doing nothing in an action in


By William Moore


‘And just because you don’t and can’t know what’s going on in the film doesn’t mean something isn’t going on.’

itself?’ ‘Like zero is a number.’ ‘Took the words right out of my mouth.’ She had me there. For all my want of freedom, freedom was just another illusion. ‘So since you are the wise sage in this relationship, perhaps you could point me towards the meaning of life?’ ‘Love...’ she said with conviction. At the mention of that word another wave of silence welcomed us. You see,I wasn’t exactly a believer in the whole love thing. While humans could be occasionally altruistic in our motivations, for the most part we were selfish beings. I didn’t even know what exactly love was, nor did I know if we were actually capable of giving it. ‘You know, for a word like love that gets tossed around everyday, you would think there would be a standard definition or a general understanding everyone could relate to. I mean for Christ sake there is no Igbo word for rape but they have a word for love.’ She looked at me, her eyes lit with care. ‘Love is all that is good, known and unknown, forgotten and to be discovered. I can think of no better meaning to give my life than this and it certainly beats passive observance. And I know deep down you feel this too because a cynic at heart is really just a bitter romantic.’ She had a point about cynics being bitter romantics. For you to be cynical about something, you had to be aware of the ideal version. My ideal world with love was certainly a few years behind me. Love is all that is good, known and unknown, forgotten and to be discovered I said nothing. I just allowed her statement echo in my mind. ‘And just because you don’t and can’t know what’s going on in the film doesn’t mean something isn’t going on.’ June, she loved to have the last word.


I hate it! I really hate it! These thoughts echoed in her mind like a distant scream into the longest tunnel. She stared at the mirror wishing for something. Anything but this. And, no, not the mirror you’re thinking of. This mirror didn’t reflect the world for what it was, far from it. This was the black mirror, a hammer that forced beyond her control relentlessly used to beat the world into shape, abusing everything she perceived to be reality. In this mirror the beautiful were never dark. Sure, ever so once in a while they would parade a body of chocolate, a pitiful attempt at neutralizing the lies they tell every day. And there is the issue of the hair. Naturally, her hair was considered unkempt, messy, unserious...ugly. Not until it was bathed in chemicals forcing it to rest easy, or better yet, covered with attachments

and extensions hiding her natural form. As for the skin, it could be summed up in a slogan. Light is right. And why wouldn’t it be? All the icons famed for beauty have been light. Sure, there were women of her pigment famed on the black mirror, the Nina Simones and Ella Fitzgeralds, but never for beauty. She found peace in the promise on a potion. An ointment designed for the sole purpose of washing away her melanin. It will take some time, but eventually, she too would be close enough to a shade of milk. Never mind possible side effects, never mind the lingering social stigma from old friends and the likes. For a break away from her insecurities, the constant weight of being what she was, it was a small price to pay. And oh, there was the nose, flat and rounded,


ugliness compounded. She often wished she could beat it into shape like Michael Jackson, only if she was rich enough to afford a man skilled with a scalpel. At least she had learned to contour this feature. Even if for half a day, she could hide in the safety of this lie. This lie she would live on to tell her child and all the other young women who looked up to her. A lie she couldn’t help but tell because it wasn’t just a lie, it was a life she lived, the life she lived. She took some solace in her lips as she stared at the black mirror. Once upon a time not too long ago, the black mirror had other ideas regarding this aspect of her beauty. But this was now, and plum lips were the best lips. She drew some satisfaction from the thought of women needing injections and all sorts of lip enhancing cosmetic

to achieve something she was born with. To think it used to be a thing to be ridiculed. There was also the body, more specifically, the buttocks; or as she preferred to think of it, her ass. It had gone from fat ass to phat ass, thanks to the black mirror. Now, women were pumping theirs full of silicone and near enough slipping disks at the gym squatting as heavy as their body could bear. Again, regarding this, she was on the right side of history. She turned or the television and looked her figure in the darkened screen. At least, she hadn’t lost out completely. There was something to be thankful for. Only if she knew how beautiful she was...there was everything to be thankful for. By William Moore


Whose arms were they again?


We pray for the right time, our time and more time.

Whose arms were they again? Toned, warm, comfy. Dark club on Adeola Odeku? No, beach party. Definitely beach. I can still taste the salt in the air. Time is money, they say. In Lagos, time is everything. The car honking in a go-slow at 6 a.m., why? Is it that I should stand still while you jump over me? Oponu oshi! ‘Oya hold your change, no change o.’ Hours in traffic - until you want to buy something from the roadside hawker. Then traffic picks up and the hawker turns to a sprinter. ‘Bring change, bring change.’ Tweeting, trending, Facebooking, then you look up and buildings have shot up into the sky like weeds. How do they build them so fast? You blink and five lots of 8 to 6 have passed by. Where did the week go? But there's always time for faaji - that sexy Thursday, Friday, Saturday groove. The baddos take it to Sunday but we, weekday hustlers, keep Sunday for God. Yes, God. We pray for the right time, God's time, our time and more time. It could have been us that oloshi danfo killed. We come alive in the nighttime; beach bars, bush bars, roadside joints, nightclubs and strip clubs. Maybe because the heat calms down a little or our many vices go unnoticed. What was your name? I recall limbs crashing like waves and whispered oaths. The phrase 'in time' passed from mouth to mouth. By Adedamola Rita Mogaji



Lagos Composition II A memory By Dele Meiji

Our clothes hung on the line, With the open air, fanning Heat. Our maid hung the rest, With unconscious knowledge Of treachery, She chanted a litany that woke a sleeping flock. Ole! Ole! Ole! She barked into the open space that held the sun, and opened to show the other balconies. From these high, gated, cage-like structures, he climbed, like a cat Surprised by the sound of feet, He bolted. Like lightning, with wild eyes and heavy breaths the compound emptied all activities and struck together, Chasing the young, unwieldy villain. I was a knee-high tyke, following the hubbub with pity for the bub. They caught his fleeing body Which bore upon our eyes a sunburnt cloud of earth, As he flailed, And the compound’s voice loud rang out Baying for his blood. I sussed out his eyes, and scanned his open, bloodied chest, heaving as he begged An unlikely Christ, Burning in the mid-afternoon Lagos heat.


Lekki Love


What he wants from you is peaceful drama. He has enough nagging at home so you should do well to remember not to nag. The minute you do, your usefulness dwindles. He needs his peace. You're the person who has no claim on him. No right to ask who he's talking to on the phone or where he was all night. You're the "who's she?" But endeavor to give him drama. If it’s too easy, he is not interested. You have to be slippery, but don't over do it. Argue, deny him sex or at least pretend to, refuse to take money from him. Keep him guessing. Let him understand that he is an option. Understand also that you are an option. This is important because you will fall in love with him. With the way he laughs when he's naked, laid to rest his worries momentarily. You will fall in love with the old tricks he will use to woo you. His wisdom and knowledge are like rat glue to your wandering claws. And every time you have to shut up when he's taking a call or look at his driver and see him seeing you, or shave your legs even though you don't like to because he does, it'll brand you, sear your skin, hurt your soul. Sugar daddies are the filthy rich obese politicians with crass manners and small dicks shriveled with years of untreated STDs. This new crop of 40 something year old fresh fathers of 8 year olds with Mac Pros and Lekki addresses are what will put you in trouble. By Ohumu Stephanie


Iye Sang My mother is always saying to me, if I did not ask you, don't tell me. I was eight and Ebo had been putting Bic biros into my totomi for two years. He would take me to Iye Nokhua's boat under the bridge near their shack, take off my pant and put the biro inside. At first I would cry, but this one time, I found an old teddy bear floating beside the boat. So when the Bic was inside, I would put my finger in the small holes in the teddy's head that were once it's eyes and start to dream my future. Sometimes he used the iron button in his jeans. One day, he put the button inside and his mother called him to dry fish. Just then, my mother came looking for me so I wore my clothes and went home. That evening, while she bathed me, my totomi was on fire. I walked down from our bathing slab gingerly. She stopped me and asked what was wrong. I was not afraid that Ebo would no longer catch fish for me. I was not afraid that he would kill me the way he killed Ayobami's fowl. I was unafraidbecause he said he would do those things if I told anybody. But I wasn't telling.


My mummy was asking. So I told her everything. She said I was lying. Then she said I should lie down. With a torch she checked my totomi. I wasn't lying. We went to Iye Nokhua and told her. She boiled hot water, brought razor blade, needle, thread, kain kain and towel. This is what happened. 1. The button was no longer there. 2. She used the razor to cut something away and threw it into the water. 3. She took the thread and needle and sewed. While I cried because it felt like the pain was killing every corner of myself, while my mummy sat down watching and shouting for me to stop crying and giving Iye Nokhua anything she wanted, Iye sang. I am in that future I dreamed now. Living in Ikeja no longer Makoko, with my two teddy bears that have eyes and no Iye. By Ohumu Stephanie


My ‘normal’ Lagos morning The alarm shrills and screams I jump from my dreams Still dark in my room But no time to snooze A quick shower and some food Chaos of clothes in the room Then outside through my hood Out on the streets I stand Ears plugged to dim the noise On my back, a bag I hoist The street is an activity buzz A mix of people and culture it is A schoolchild flips across the road In a obvious hurry to school

A danfo tout screams till busload A carpenter hops with a cutting tool A laborer hurls a sack across his back And I hurry to the BRT track A nonchalant ticket seller A dude’s t-shirt reads “no time for a duller” And a driver speeds as if on crack Some schoolboys hurdle in a corner Hoping to get a ride for less Mr muscles in suit walks on with a boner My ears still plugged to relieve the stress. By Julia Chinazor Mbaeibe


My Story

My Life is a story A story that must be told repeatedly to inspire A song that will be sang, over and over to Men of War. For Courage and Endurance. History will scream my Name in reverie, My statues will stand in the squares, Streets and towns named after me. It will happen, can't you tell?

Don't you see it, like I do? It will happen, but not today Today we rise and grind, Longsuffering and Determined, In Belief of that 'someday', Someday.. in The City of Hope. Lagos. By Ized Uanikhehi


Exhaustion Induced Dreams shhhh... if you lie still, really still, no noise, you can imagine the breeze hard enough for it to become real, you can feel it as it gently slakes over your body like a perfect lover, cool and loving, slowly drying out your sweat, you moan in pleasure.. buzzzz... mosquitoes, jarring you back to reality, taunting you, daring you to catch them.. You know they have won, the last can of repellent you emptied an hour ago hasn't had any effect on them, so you try hard, really hard to ignore the buzzing.. clappp! You give in, the last bite still itching, begging to be scratched and you aim at open air! trying to reduce your tiny terrorists by one at least, you look at your hands, nothing, disappointed, you take another aim.. scrrrrr... scratchhh! You stop clapping to scratch, stretching as far as you can to reach that one elusive spot at your back, then the spot on your leg, and the part that itches on your stomach and.. drip.. its you. your sweat, dripping down the sides of your neck, dropping on the back of your Nokia torchlight phone, effective, longlasting, durable you are not worried about the phone, you are worried you may need to take another bathe, and you are uncertain if you do have enough water.. whirrr... its another generator coming on. The 8th one in your compound, it's near your window, it's 'headache causing' loud, but all you feel is envy, How did they get fuel?? Your head is immune to


generator noises. You know if you had gotten back in time to queue for fuel, there will be 9 Generators on now. choke, splutter, choke.. a neighbour's generator, you smile, misery loves company. zzzzzzz... You are snoring, your body gives in, tired from a long hectic day, a day you most likely have to repeat all over again tomorrow. Buses and crowds, struggles and grit, it is what your city demands, so you give it your all and now you dream, your favourite bit, a dream in which you can be anyone and anything, until daylight at least.. when your alarm rings and the Hustle continues... Lagos, My city of possibility (ideas borne out of necessity) and dreams.. (exhaustion induced dreams) By Ized Uanikhehi


shhhh... buzzzz... clappp! scrrrrr... drip.. whirrr... zzzzzzz...

Mama Hassan is always lying that the man that sleeps in her room when her husband is not around is her junior brother. But everybody, including Hassan, knows there are some sounds you don't make when you and somebody have the same blood. Bolu's father is always sending us outside the house to "go and play", as if we don't know that it is so that he can drink shekpe and cry inside in peace. Everybody hates Mama Uche; and all our mothers tell us that it is because she is a witch. "Never eat that woman's food in your life, do you hear me? Except you want to die." We don't want to die, but we still go there after school; because you don't need a big brain to know that our mothers are jealous. They are afraid that "unmarried women like Mama Uche that like to cook all this plenty food and sell to everybody are just trying to tell men(single or married) that they are still hungry for love." When Soji's mother caught Soji and Efosa leaving Mama Uche's shop, she beat two of them on the street until they could not cry again. When they got back home, Soji told us that she asked him: "Do


you want to truly be a bastard? You want them to finally take your father from us?" He shook his head no, but we laughed about it later because Soji has been used to not having a father since he turned 8. It is her that is still afraid of not having a husband. Dumebi caught Sister Ngozi in the backyard with her pharmacist boyfriend. She tried to run away. Sister Ngozi did not see her, but the man later cornered Dumebi on the way back from school. He called her into the chemist and took her to the back store where they keep medicine "That thing you saw, you're jealous abi? You're jealous. Let me do your own too." When she started withdrawing, we knew immediately that there was something wrong. When she told us, she said she was angry. "I wanted to die. I wanted to die, why didn't my mother notice? Why didn't my mother notice?" But who is blind - children or adults? - if they're the ones who have never been able to see our eyes. By Eloghosa Osunde


She comes to me, broken basket weaved together with half truths and yielding empty promises. Bloodshot eyes weeping sugar, weary mouth spewing honey, heavy heart still dashing out love. She comes to me downcast but somehow never graceless, never spent, never without the kind of allure that intoxicates and makes you dizzy with love, ditzy even. She is rich, adorned with gold, diamonds in her backyard and her skin drenched in the oil she could give to nations. She comes biting, rolling, twisting, tending and taming her tongue the way black women do. The way we’ve been taught to do. She comes to me with her pain, sings me her soul and begs for a lover that won’t tear her apart and children that will write her well in history. She is I, strong. Woman. Pen in hand, chasing the kind of dreams that make the sunrise less heavenly and heavens, we are all like her. We are all products of her. A little broken, a little sore, a little spent, needing a little more downing all the hope we have for a better tomorrow till we are giddy with life and basking in a youthfulness that for one blissful moment seems endless.. By Olivia Onuk



Makoko Dreamer Fifty three years young and still… Spirit of Lagos? _ The sale of journeys Anger from assumed promises The truth will emerge _ Knee deep in labour An army of creators A decision made

By Dolapo Omidire


Tripping out to dreams Getting drunk off the sweat of struggles This journey is a luxurious one Knowing the earth I came from and would return to Is impacted by my toiling, my imprinting, my markings. I'm in love with the way the hustle builds up into my dreams like fruits from seeds in the spring. The details around me serve as inspiration, like drugs drive your high. The details drive me to attain, to become. By Cynthia Lawrence


A man cuts a lonely figure walking on the streets. His shadow looms before him giving us a subconscious peek into his soul. Its dark shape elongates his body and illustrates purpose. Sometimes when we are disillusioned and confused. Looking inwards may have all the answers we seek. _


I mutter angrily as I stumble out of my door, Its 5.30 a.m and check out time for me to head to the office so I can beat the infamous Lagos traffic. I am tired, grumpy and short tempered almost hitting a teenager nonchalantly riding a bicycle. I scream expletives inside my head wondering why People never sleep in Lagos. The day goes by quickly and unceremoniously. We are almost a scattered hive of different faces in suits at the office. Meandering between managing tight work schedules and prepping for the weekend. Short discussions on football, politics and gossip glibly cut through the banausic atmosphere leading to short bursts of excitement. The drive home is worse and I curse out loud when a slow driver makes me miss the green traffic light. I am oblivious to the noise outside, my ear drums accustomed to the characteristic babble that is a curious mix of English, pidgin and native languages from pedestrians spread across the roads as they make their way home. The Radio is our soother, the polish voices caressing our sub conscious with familiarity. Music our antidote, lifting the air and injecting unexplainable positivity into the atmosphere. The Traffic wardens suddenly become less irritable and we smile at the hawkers as they push up their wares on my cars windscreen. It’s 8.30 p.m I drive in tired, grumpy and short tempered. I mutter to my family as I am about to hit the sack. “This Lagos Traffic is hell”, everybody nods in unison as we switch off the lights. Soon it will be morning and the circle repeats itself .In honesty we will take it all again ….” The Life of a Lagosian is beyond comprehension.” _


Footsteps of my childhood, unfaltering, nimble and full of vitality. Unconcerned with the labels that clothes its form. Alive with the purpose to conquer the city. Dark and beautiful in its purest form. This feet would discover pitfalls of running unprotected in muddy waters. It would feel the graze of sharp obstacles as they arose to stop its momentum. Caution would be a lesson, hard learnt on the streets. Scars would be crossroads to achievements well-worn with pride. This feet of mine would be tamed from the enclosures bristling with pricks. But for now they were unfaltering, nimble and full of vitality. _

Show me a lazy man waiting for handouts and I will show him a picture of someone working hard in Makoko to process wood. (Eko o ni baje) _ By Dakkylove

I love solitude – that silent calmness that gives meaning and coherency to your incomplete swirling thoughts. I revel in it and I revel in my sleepy English town, where the lonely church bells provided the only accompaniment to my late night solitary thoughts, musings and writings. Until I finally went back to Lagos, and here in this buzzing jungle, I panicked, as my cocoon of solitude seemed broken. The stresses of this Lagos life, the scarcity of silent refuge, weary bodies and worn minds. How do people work here, how do they breathe through the heat, the traffic noises, the hums of generators, the shouting, the hawkers, the visitors, the parties, just how, how can I think, how can I muse, how can I write? After a month in Lagos, I finally sat down to write, amidst the buzz and the hub I realized I had found a new manner of calmness – a fascinating and energizing inner solitude. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I was breathing deeply again. Everything infused and woken my soul to the old ways, the old smells, the stuffy harmattan heat, the dense markets, the faces in the crowds, the warm embraces, the laughter, the songs and dances, the hazy days and balmy nights. In this new reflective solitude, I stumbled into an embrace of belonging that I had been craving from the only country I felt I could actually call ‘home’ – whatever that might mean. By Esther Funmilayo Afolalu




Startled from her screechy calls, I woke up. "Tope! Tope! Where are you?" She called. She is my mother and believe it or not we are not at home. Yet again I have fallen asleep on a hard stool in the corner of another shop. As I try and catch my bearings from my 3 minute slumber, her footsteps get seemingly closer. "Tope! Ah ah, God what sort of child is this? TOPE!" Although this particular shop is unfamiliar, the feeling of waiting for my mum to finish her browsing and gisting isn't. This is why it surprises me that she seems to think I'm capable of getting lost each time we go shopping. This story is not unique to me, it's simply the tale of every African child whose mother has decided to take them along on a "shopping" trip. Finally she sees me seated in my corner stretching in an attempt to wake up fully. This energy I am trying to recover is not for our long journey home, no it's simply to move on to the next shop where I will find another stool and repeat the same scenario. And so, I wait. By The Real V Oladele




re you often couldn't pin point who the actual celebrant was!

During my childhood, i can specifically remember anything African being perceived as negative with some form of shame. For at least one third of my primary school education I was Caribbean (I didn't know what island I was from - but so long as no one knew I was really Nigerian, I was fine). That is until one parents evening when my mother spoke the deepest Yoruba I've ever heard, all because my teacher said "she's very intelligent, but she's one of our more chatty students in class". All I can remember is my mother ending her Yoruba rant with "WHEN WE GET HOME". Until I got to the age of 17, I never really experienced any major form of African music. All there was for me the exposure to "old Skool" artists such as Fela Kuti, Obesere, King Sunny Ade and my mums all time favourite - Yinka Ayefele! Now, I know these musicians aren't necessarily "old skool" as you can still play their tunes now and shut down a Nigerian party. But you have to understand to young British born Africans back then, Obesere certainly was not mainstream and he wS not playing on KISS FM! Because of this, such artists were only accepted at home on a Saturday morning whilst cleaning or on a Saturday afternoon at some party whe-

It's so weird because whilst doing my 5000 chores on a Saturday morning I always felt pride in being able to pronounce these new Yoruba terms, I felt proud in being able to translate what was being said and I felt comfortable with these foreign beats even though I was made to believe they were the forbidden sounds of the "backwards jungle people" (a term a Caribbean boy once used to explain to me what he thought of Africans). Fast forward to 2016 and I'm looking at my younger family members listening to afrobeats on mainstream radio. I'm seeing African people and African cultures that were shunned and told they were not good enough in the mainstream flourishing! I've watched every industry from fashion to the arts come and monopolise Africa, yet those who are natives never seemed to be able to express their pride or feel as though they too can benefit from their own continent. That was until I woke up, I realised my pride wasn't a sin and being AFRICAN certainly wasn't either! Thanks to music, today I can actually say my hidden pride is now open for all to see: not just because African music is now in the mainstream, but because AFRICANS TOOK AFRICAN TO THE MAINSTREAM! By The Real V Oladele




How did we get here? How long did the mask itch? How often do we maneuver ourselves out of standing tall or even standing at all when our knees prayed for rest, when we needed rest? We're here anyhow, We're bruised and beaten with blood shot eyes, We're tired, vulnerable, We employ language and consciousness to cage this chaos, But it is who we are We finally fit into our skins the way we've always wanted to "It always seemed impossible until It was done." We are home. _

Love, What is it that you want? I can't give what I don't have But all of this I will try to give I have known my alone for too long I have known silence It has danced across my most Intimate moments making a mockery of me I loved it But I'm tired of that war What is that you want Come and dance here I don't want to miss your beauty Make a home here I can give you that. _ By Funmilade Adeniyi-taiwo


Cover and all photography used are Copyrights of Logo Oluwamuyiwa created for the Monochrome Lagos Project. Cover design, Book design and production by Mario Merino Literature Editing by Afopefoluwa Ojo Text Credits. All authors of the literature who responded to the open call medium utilised in the book have been mentioned/credited accordingly alongside their submitted texts each indicating ahead how they want to be named/credited either via real names, pseudonyms or abbreviations. Although the publishing team have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at press time, however we apologize and do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.

Dedicated to Alfred Stieglitz (January 1, 1864 – July 13, 1946) was an American photographer and modern art promoter who was instrumental over his fifty-year career in making photography an accepted art form.

Copyright disclaimer: All rights reserved.

Ayo Ajani ( Pastor Petra Christian Centre) & Bayo Omoboriowo ( Photographer) You initiated a two weeks skill acquisition class in your church which I was lucky to attend and learnt photography - My life found a meaning ever since. Your enthusiasm for the craft ignited mine. Your sharing and open source philosophy inspired the creative process for this book.

No portion of this book may be reproduced, store in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.

Finally Mario Merino and Afopefoluwa Ojo You are the team I am most fortunate and blessed to have worked with. You guys made this happen, Let's keep showing up to work.


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