ELITE LIVING & 'EFFIZY' IN LAGOS

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lagos is Nigeria's economic center and has a rich cultural history and heritage. Its roads carry everything from okadas[1] to Bentleys. Unlike many other parts of Nigeria, upwardly mobile Lagosians are used to red carpet soirees, international concert events on its many beaches, intruding yet engaging paparazzi like Niyi Tabiti, and unbelievable tales of the city's rich, famous and even infamous. But, this is not unique to the Lagos of the 21st century. I remember stories from my late grandmother and others discussing Lagos nightlife as far back as the 1930s. Sundays spent watching horse races at Race Course, evenings spent dancing in fancy shoes and dresses, chauffeurs (yes, chauffeurs) carting important and rich Lagosians all over town for business and pleasure. Well attended polo matches and events that continue till this day. Yes, Lagosians are used to opulence.



Lagos is one of the world's most expensive cities, so it is no surprise that many of its residents have seriously expensive tastes. Although 2008 statistics indicate that only 110,200 households in the entire nation have disposable income of $75,000 or more, it seems the quest to "keep up with the Joneses" is a particularly expensive one in Nigeria's self styled "City of Excellence". Goody bags for guests at children's birthday parties no longer include pencils, erasers or books. Nowadays, the better goody bags aren't bags at all, because no bag could hold the contents being gifted away at swanky birthday parties for little children. From bicycles, to inflatable pools, or toy cars kids can sit in, goody bags-Lagos style are a force to be reckoned with. Long gone are the homemade treats like puffpuff[2] that were staples at childrens birthday parties when I was a youngster and participated in dance competitions to the music of Shina Peters. Now, the kids sing the lyrics of Nigeria's new breed of slick megastars like El Dee and Omawunmi and eat much fancier treats.


And as for the sophisticated stay at home mothers, that in itself presents another interesting scenario. Mothers arrive to pick up their little ones from some of the city's most prestigious schools in huge SUVs with one or two nannies in tow. One nanny to carry the child, the other to carry his or her book bag. The SUVs change daily, just as the designer handbags and luxury sunglasses also change on a daily basis. Also, the nannies are now imported from the Philippines and granted an expenses paid trip home at least once a year.



It appears that Lagosians are on a path to "oppress"[3] anyone and everyone with the inability to keep up. Or, as a very close friend recently said of Lagos, "Effizy[4] is too much o!" But, considering the colorful and flamboyant history of Lagos, it is only to be expected that it is well on its way to becoming an established cosmopolitan city with the trappings that come with such. All that remains is a "Sweet Sixteen"-like show in which participants outdo each other on how large and lavish their fetes and possessions are. That would go a long way to cement Lagos's place on the luxe map, something many of its residents desperately want. But considering that people bankrolling their expensive lifestyles with huge bank loans was a contribuor to the recent sacking of bank chiefs, Lagos's and indeed, Nigeria's elite should beware. The Central Bank's chairman, Sanusi Lamido, is watching. Yet, the threat of condemnation will likely not be enough to dampen Lagosians and their quest for elite living.


Key:
[1] - Okadas are motorcyle taxis used to quickly and cheaply navigate roads.
[2] - puffpuff is a fried, sweet dough ball
[3] - "oppress" used to be a slang term used to suggest that someone or something is better than other things
[4] - "Effizy" is a newer slang term that suggests swagger

* All pictures from Happy Lagosian.

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akaBagucci said...

lol.. guess the human being by default (or is it acquired) wants/needs to be seen as being a class apart... perhaps you should have added people flaunting company t-shirts and paraphernalia also...

sokari said...

We used to live in Apapa before moving to Ikeja and I remember my parents out every weekend dancing then Sundays beaching - but there was never anything osentatious about our lives minimum househelp and we kids had to do our own stuff. My mum drove us where we needed to go not a driver. I think by the 80s all this had changed and things went hay wire. The level of "effizy" as you call it is now obscene. But what gets me the most is the total lack of shame of riding around in a hummer amidst such devastating poverty and kicking everyone out of the way. Such inhumanity!

ShadeNonconformist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ShadeNonconformist said...

I totally agree with Sokari...it bugs me that people can drive around in their bentley's on terrible roads and not give a hoot...all they do is pass by the "lowly paupers". I mean i know people have a right to do as they please with their money..but damn...if only people could use some of their "excess" money to improve their neighborhoods/do something that would benefit their community....*sigh* (It's sad that we don't recognize that it's in these little but significant ways that we can improve Nigeria)...if only....

haha. gone are the days when i would be happy if i got puff puff or got a pencil/an eraser as a gift at a party...wow how time flies...I love me some puff-puff...

I wish i could be a kid in this period so that i can have "amazing toys" and have nannies who will carry me and my backpack (so that i never have to use my hands... you know as an "ajebota" kid i can't be stressed).. smh....

As my friend Kanyeezy would say...Yo Lagos 'm really happy for you and I'ma let you finish basking in the glory of being one of the worlds most expensive cities and all but your inhabitants can do better...

Omosi T said...

People complaining that the present level of efizzy in Lagos obviously never lived in the 'right' parts back in the day. I went to school with a bunch of rich kids and their lives were so different from mine. They travelled out every single holiday, they were members of country clubs, their parents drove the latest and best cars. So um yeah Lagos has pretty much always been about oppression and efizzy, it just seems outrageous now because we're older.

Anya P said...

For what will it profit a man (or woman) if he (she) gains the whole world...

Frankly, the ostentatious in lagos is driven by greed & envy not any real desire to live comfortably. Because obviously, these kinds of lifestyles have passed normal levels of "comfort".

Azazel said...

Lagosians dey enjoy

Fragilelooks said...

i still hate lagos.

guerreiranigeriana said...

...disturbing...especially since sadly enough, it isn't only lagos...but worse because we as nigerians can't afford for it to continue...

Miz B said...

Puhleeze! In a Capitalist society there will always be the rich and the poor, where the Western world choses to acknowledge that or not.

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