The Chinua Achebe Encyclopedia

By M. Keith Booker | Go to book overview

L

LAGOS

, former capital and still the most populous city of Nigeria, located on the Bight of Benin in Lagos State in southwestern Nigeria. The site of the city, then the Yoruba settlement of Eko, was visited by Portuguese traders as early as the fifteenth century. The population of Lagos proper was estimated at around 1.3 million in 1992, though the population of the metropolitan area of Lagos was estimated at over 10 million in 1996. This population has been projected by the United Nations to grow to more than 20 million by 2010, potentially making Lagos one of the world's five largest cities. This large population is quite diverse, though the Yoruba constitute the principal ethnic group in the city. Lagos became the capital of the new nation of Nigeria upon independence in 1960. Though the capital was moved to Abuja at the end of 1991, Lagos is still the country's chief port and an important administrative, economic, and cultural center.

By the time period that corresponds to the final events of Things Fall Apart, that is, around 1910, Lagos had been colonized by Britain for nearly half a century, with an expanding population that had reached 50,000 (Wren 68). Lagos, however, does not figure in that novel. Instead, the conditions of rural Igboland are juxtaposed by Achebe to the more modem Lagos depicted in Things Fall Apart's sequel, No Longer at Ease, set in the late 1950s. In the words of Robert M. Wren,[No Longer at Ease] shows a society radically changed from that in Things Fall Apart. …It is in the city, Lagos, that most of the changes are manifest. The city, in its complexity, is symbolic of the aspiration and corruption of the new society” (68). Of course, it is not the author's second novel alone in which Lagos has a part. Fictional African capital cities that have associations with Lagos play significant roles in A Man of thePeople, in which the political center is Bori, and Anthills of the Savannah, in which it is Bassa. Also, modern Lagos is one of the two settings of Achebe's short story “Marriage Is a Private Affair, ” included in Girls at Warand Other Stories, and his short children's novel, Chike and the River.

All the same, No Longer at Ease is the fictional work by Achebe that brings Lagos to life, and the better part of the novel is set there. Its protagonist, Obi Okonkwo, fresh from his rural home in Umuofia, spends an eye-opening few days in Lagos with his school friend, Joseph Okeke, before leaving Nigeria for four years of study in England. Lagos is the last stop of the MVSasa's voyage, which brings Obi back from England to

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The Chinua Achebe Encyclopedia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword: Chinua Achebe and the Institution of African Literature vii
  • Preface xvii
  • Chronology xix
  • A 1
  • B 39
  • C 51
  • D 73
  • E 76
  • F 83
  • G 91
  • H 96
  • I 109
  • J 122
  • K 126
  • L 130
  • M 136
  • N 161
  • O 191
  • P 218
  • R 229
  • S 233
  • T 246
  • U 270
  • V 280
  • W 281
  • Y 286
  • Z 288
  • Bibliography 289
  • Index 303
  • About the Contributors 315
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