Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lagos changes

AT 8:30 yesterday morning, I went hunting for French bread and baked beans and other breakfast fare on Awolowo. Goodies was not yet open, so I decided to flip over to The Palms. On the way over Falomo bridge, amidst the flowing traffic, was the oddest sight, and a telltale sign that things are changing dramatically in this city: a tallish Chinese guy, upper body slightly bent forward in the manner of a speed skater, on roller blades. He had an ipod on, and specs. Lagos truly is becoming New York without the electricity.

The day's Diana Evans events went fabulously well. The reading at the British Council suffered a little from the formal setting (and the Rottweiler guards at the gate), but the event itself was lovely. The veteran journalist and our good friend Tunji Lardner was compere, making quips aplenty. The first performer was a young woman called Savannah. She sang so sweetly and melifluously one could hear the backing music (the violin, the bass, the sax). She has a star-in-the-making quality about her. Then a performance poet called Sage Hassan took us through two of his poems, WhoMan and The Revolution Will be Televised.

Then Diana read three passages from her book, from early on, from just before the trip to Nigeria, then the story Baba tells about the twins when in Nigeria. She reminded me what a brilliant work it is, exploring the subtle emotional dynamics of family life with a fresh approach to language, but above all, exploring the strange form of identity of being part of a twin (and being no longer part). After the event, people mingled in the lovely garden at the back of the British Council. Bibi and I enjoyed our tofu-suya sticks, prepared by Mama Ghana at the Hari Krishna place in Apapa.

The evening's event was in the warmer, more informal setting of Jazzhole, one of the cultural epicentre's of Lagos. Kunle Tejuoso is a hero of Nigerian letters, his Jazzhole/Glendora empire flying the flag for Nigerian writings through some dark times. Again, our collaborator Funke Martin Luther's Beat Cellar Productions provided yet more highly talented upcoming artistes; a guy accompanying himself on piano singing his heart out with a couple of slow soulful ballads. Diana read a longer section of the book, at the time the twins meet the two non-Watley boys and prepare for the Michael Jackson concert.

In the schmoozing afterwards, I finally met another naijablogger, Ore from Ore's Notes and another guy who told me he moved back home partly because of my blog (aw shucks - I'm glad your back my friend!). Its lovely to meet physically people who have been doing good things online Then we took Diana for dinner at Saipan, followed by grooving till the early morning at Casa Habana with all the beautiful people (including yet more recent returnees). A couple danced virtuouso salsa/meringue on the dancefloor, mesmerising all around, until the lights were dimmed and hiphop saved us all from eternal inferiority. Again, another arresting sight outside as we were leaving, we walked past a car that was pure-California in the yard: a two seater shimmering red open top spaceship-marvel, sleek yet bulgy, with chrome wheels and the oddest looking front bumper - two separate eyebrows jutting forward from the chassis. Quite how this machine navigates the craters of Lagos one cannot imagine..

Today is a bit of a rest-day for Diana, but tomorrow the show rumbles on to Kano and then up to Katsina..


St Antonym 3:35 pm  

This sounds wonferful. Well done Jeremy and Bibi, and congratulations Diana.

Nkem 8:53 am  

"Lagos truly is becoming New York without the electricity." That is undoubtedly the quote of the year.

uknaija 12:11 pm  

Glad to know ir's going well

culturalmiscellany 1:36 pm  

You sound like a new man. I think this adventure of yours has touched your soul somewhat. Excellent news :)

Chxta 4:26 pm  

Right on on that quote Nkem. That was all I noticed in the entire post...

Araceli Aipoh 5:30 pm  

I have a feeling I know the guy you are talking about. And he is not Chinese...

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