Magazine article New African

Lagos, West Africa's Playground

Magazine article New African

Lagos, West Africa's Playground

Article excerpt

The traffic is a horror show, and there are too many people, but there is something irresistibly vibrant and exciting about this city by the sea that doubles as the teeming business hub of Africa's largest economy. It is definitely a playground but one for the adventurous--the perfect place on the continent to re-invent yourself. With new hotels and bars springing up, despite a national recession, Lagos is also a place where the party might slow down but never stops. In recent times, pleasure concentrates on the Island, notably the districts of Ikoyi, Lagos Island and the Lekki Pennisula, but the adventurous should get off the beaten track and check out neighbourhoods on the mainland particularly Yaba and Ikeia, that offer pockets of culture and excitement.


The best way to hear music in this city of greats is to stand on a street corner, and listen out for the sounds of the city, but as you are likely to very quickly be sworn at for being a swegbe, mumu or any other choice local epithet, your best bet is to respect yourself and find some of the places in Lagos that will indulge your passion. For the music that Lagos is famous for, Fela's brand of music Afrobeat, you need go no further than The Shrine in Ikeja. Bogobiri House, a boutique hotel and bar, which runs open mic events that draw a crowd every week, and the iconic Freedom Park, based in the old colonial prison in the city, which hosts Afropolitan Vibes', a monthly Friday night shindig, usually fronted by big names. For those of a classical bent, a la European classical tradition, you could do worse than hang around the Civic Centre, and the Muson Center (short for Musical Society of Nigeria). If your boat is Afrobeats music, which has put Nigeria on the map lately, any of the clubs that dot the Island will provide.


Lagos is a market; there is something here to buy for anybody who has money. For a sense of how Lagosians themselves shop, head to one of the busiest markets in Africa, Balogun Market; if you're feeling braver you can go to some of the busier and more boisterous markets on the mainland. For a slightly more curated experience, keep to the Island and check out Alara, a new clothing and luxury store, designed by award-winning architect, David Adjaye, it also boasts what is reputedly one of Lagos' more luxurious restaurants.


Everyone visiting Lagos should bravely or boldly seek out a bukka; these are rough and ready local food joints, mostly aimed at the lunchtime crowd, but a convenient way to encounter Nigerian fare at eye-blinkingly low prices. You could do worse than visit the Amala Spot in Ikoyi or Ghana High Commission on Lagos Island; for something a little more rarefied, Nok at Alara boasts exquisite cuisine in a beautiful atmosphere. Lagos's food culture is increasingly sophisticated and global, you can find everything here, from Italian restaurants to vegetarian cafes, but for trusted recommendations and the latest tips from "in the know" foodies check out the blog EAT.DRINK.LAGOS.


Bouncing back from decades of decline, Lagos' cinema-going culture is on the rise; local offerings still play second fiddle to Hollywood productions, but this is changing --you can catch screenings of the best Nigerian film productions at cinemas across the city. …

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