WELCOME TO LAGOS
PAN AFRICA HASH 2017 LAGOS
Nigerian Naira (N) – Nigerians trade with Naira, however dollars are accepted in certain places, and could come in handy until you change money.
English, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Pidgin English (a rich intriguing Creole) are the most popular, however there are a few others too.
Brief History of Multi-Cultural Lagos
Lagos is the seventh fastest growing city in the world, and the second fastest growing city in Africa with a population of about 20 million people. The topography of Lagos is dominated by its tropical, lush system of islands, beaches, sandbars and lagoons. Lagosian Culture is a rich tapestry of multi-cultural traditions, ceremonies, arts and festivals that span centuries and continents.
However, the friendly city has always been attractive to foreign visitors for hundreds of years and multicultural in nature.
The Original Lagosians
· Lagos was originally inhabited by the Awori subgroup of the Yoruba people.
· In the 15th century, Lagos became a Vassal-state of the Benin Empire
· It was renamed Eko (“war camp”), by later Benin conquerors
· Lagosians still refer to Lagos as “Eko” to this day
THE PROTUGUESE IN LAGOS
· The name Lagos was given by the Portuguese in 1472 who initially/originally named the island Lago de Curamo. Lagos means ‘lakes’ in Portuguese.
· The Lagos Obas (kings) enjoyed good relations with the Portuguese. This explains the influence of the Portuguese language in the Nigerian pidgin which is a blend of English, Portuguese and other local Nigerian languages.
BRAZILIANS, CUBANS, SIERRA LEONEAN LAGOSIANS
· The Saros (Sierra Leone Returnees), Brazilian and Cuban merchants (descendants of freed slaves) known as the Aguda also arrived in Lagos from 1939 throughout in the mid 19th century to build new lives.
· Most of them were skilled artisans, builders, carpenters and masons. They gave the distinct Brazilian and Cuban architectural features to their residential buildings.
· Lagos became a British Colony in 1861.
· The British were attracted to the strategic position of Lagos in West Africa having observed its role in the slave trade. They also foresaw the political and administrative potentials. All these combined with its resourceful and accommodating populace, encouraged the British to stay for over a hundred years.
· In 1960 Lagos became the capital of Independent Nigeria
· Control of its hinterland was returned to the city in 1967 with the creation of Lagos state
QUICK FACTS ABOUT LAGOS
· Lagos was one of the first cities in the world to receive electric street lamps in the 19th century.
· The principal manufacturing industries in Lagos include automobile and radio assembly, food and beverage processing, metalworks and the production of paints and soap.
· Textile, cosmetic and pharmaceutical manufacturing are also economically important. There is also a fishing industry.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
There is nowhere that is more true than in Lagos!
Before you begin this short survival guide, you should know that Lagos is a largely populated dynamic city where anything can happen! There’s something about Lagos, a buzz…a charm…a bug that you catch I no time! It’s a love-it or hate-it kind of city, and even then you never really hate it, it’s more of an acquired taste, like fine wine it gets better when you stay. So just give it time, keep an open mind and most importantly enjoy all it has to offer!
Pre - Arrival
There are some simple things you have to remember before coming to Lagos, One is your visa, two is your yellow fever vaccination card (which means you actually have to get the vaccination), and three is mosquito repellent (which you can buy here). Depending on the weather it can get quiet hot so you might want to bring along a pair of sunglasses and dress accordingly, however there’s air conditioning in most places so you’re covered. During rainy season (which is usually between months of may and September) wellington boots come in handy.
- If you’ve never been to lagos and have to move around without any real guidance then here’s a little breakdown of the city, in terms of its geography. First of all, it’s a huge place! There are many different areas within the city, but the ones you will most likely encounter or hear about are the following:
Most of the hotels are located in Victoria Island (VI), Ikoyi, Lekki and Ikeja. VI, Ikoyi and Lekki are the major commercial and residential areas on the island. Ikeja is the most popular area for commerce and residency on the mainland and is close to the airport. Apapa is where most of the port/shipping related business are located. Surulere is largely populated and has a small market for tie and die wears while VI and Ikoyi are where you’ll find most of the higher end hotels and restaurants and where most of the affluent Nigerians and expats live. So now that you have an overview of the city, you can decide where to be based.
The first thing you need to know upon arrival in Lagos is not to look you are new. Stand up straight, look ahead and follow the crowd to immigration. Granted, arriving into any new country can be daunting but the idea is to appear unfazed.
Once you get through immigration you will probably want a luggage cart, and the price of a cart is clearly written at the point where you buy your ticket, so don’t be fooled into paying more than necessary, except you choose to give a little extra to have someone help you if you have a lot of bags. The next step, after you’ve collected your luggage is to get out.
You’ve made it out of the airport, now you have to make it into the city. If you have not arranged for transportation, you can book a taxi in advance. The most reliable way of getting a taxi is through the EasyTaxi App which you can download on your android or smart phone from the appstore, google play and blackberry world.
Naira is not a currency you will find outside of Nigeria. It’s in fact illegal to take it out of the country. So the best thing to do is to bring dollars with you then simply go to one of the major hotels, like Eko Hotel where you can use an unofficial currency exchange platform.
You may also be wondering about telecommunications. There are four major telecom companies for which you can buy sim cards, all of which offer similar rates. They are Glo, MTN, Airtel and Etisalat. But be sure to take an ID. With you (preferably a passport), as the new law requires you register your sim card. Then you can top up from vendors anywhere on the road. For Blackberry users, you could ask at the mobile operators office to register to activate your blackberry service. It’s as easy as that.
Lagos traffic is part of life in Lagos. It is suggested you whip out a good book, turn on the radio, browse on your ipad with 3G connection (or you can get a portable internet device) or watch DSTV programmes (satellite channels) directly from any of your devices with the DSTV Mobile. This is all assuming you are being driven. Investing in a driver, if your company doesn’t already, can go a long way. As regards traffic hours, traffic is usually on the heavy side during the week days in the morning till about 10am from the mainland to the island and vice versa from about 5pm at the close of work.
The good news is that you can find almost anything in Lagos traffic, from magazines, newspaper and books, to kitchen appliances, portable phones, clothes and snacks.
Every last Saturday of the month are Enviromental Sanitation days. That means you cant leave your home until 10am. This time used for cleaning Lagos streets and every resident is expected to keep their environs clean.
While in Lagos
One of the best aspect of Lagos is the people. You will meet some of the best people you will ever know here. That’s what is at the heart of Lagos, the people. Nonetheless, it can be overwhelming trying to make friends in any new city. The good thing is there are few events set up just for that purpose. Other than the bars and lounges which we have in numbers, social networks like internations.com are useful for meeting new people. There is also group called Expats in the City which hold social gatherings. Networking is very important in Nigeria, getting something done can boil down to who you know; making friends is not only good for your social life, but also for your business or career.
Over the years, Lagos has developed significantly and many more great restaurants have opened. Whereas in the past there were limited options and quality, eating in Lagos nowadays is a real pleasure. With the proliferation of restaurants, comes the increased struggle for restaurants to come with up with tasty and innovative menu to give them an edge over their competition. Customer satisfaction is important.
Sundays are mostly popular for eating out with friends and family but if you’d rather eat in, you can order food from the comfort of your homes or office on Hellofood.com.ng, a food ordering site through which you can have your food from over 200 of Lagos’s best restaurants delivered direct to your door!
There’s Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Italian and French and much more, and ofcourse our naïve Nigerian dishes. Most restaurants accept Nigerian credit cards, however, but its advisable to have cash on you just to be on the safe side.
SHOPPING FOR CLOTHES AND OTHER THINGS
There are several malls that offer both popular international and local brands. International brands like Mango, Diesel, Nike, Puma, Boss, etc have started popping up in major shopping centers. However going to the mall on weekends can mean getting stuck in traffic as malls like the Palms in Lekki and The Ikeja Malls have become popular places for people to hangout especially with the presence of cinemas halls. Your options are unlimited when shopping in Nigeria so be sure to sample the local trends. If you’d rather stay indoors, shopping just got easier with online shopping websites like Jumia.com.ng, Kaymu.com.ng, Konga.com.ng etc which offer a wide range of products.
The malls have shops like Shoprite and Game were you can find everything from groceries to electronics and home appliances to gift items. You can find just about anything in Lagos, especially since there are imports from so many different countries.
The weekends are usually spent at the beach (if the weather permits). A lot companies and individuals have beach huts and bungalows where they go to unwind. There are two ways to get to the beach, by boat or by car. If you want to go by car, there are a couple of beach resorts in the lekki/Ajah environs like Oniru and Elegushi beaches, however you’ll be required to pay to enter. The second option is to go by boat in which case you’ll have to hitch a ride with someone who has a boat. Some companies have boats that staff can use, otherwise you can rent a boat or take a public boat like the Fiki Boats. You can take the Fiki boats from under Falomo Bridge to Takwa bay, a beach resort just 10minutes by boad from Victoria Island. It’s an easy, hassle-free beach visit and for those who don’t have beach bungalows, you pay for a space, which means an exclusive sitting area with chairs and umbrella. The locals will also sell freshly cut fruit and barbequed meat (better known as suya) if you didn’t bring anything to munch on. You can buy drinks from them too, if you didn’t pack a picnic basket. The far-flung beachs about 20-25 minutes away, are some of the nicest. The closer ones usually have some mini resorts where you can pay to spend the day or even spend the night like Ilashe beach. Some people own private beach houses so make friends fast and sooner or later, you’ll be invited to one of their beach shindigs.
There are quite a few instances where you’ll be asked for a tip. Aside from police checkpoints, anytime you park your car you will be expected to give a little something to the parking attendant especially in a situation where there is no fixed parking rate. This applies almost everywhere, except if you park in a company parking lot. In restaurants, it’s usually a 10% tip for the waiters, at your discretion., It is also good to tip staff like drivers and nannies once in a while to acknowledge their hard work. Between N500 – N2,000 particularly if they are required to work late. There is no hard and fast rule to tipping, it’s all at your discretion.
Now that you have a better understanding of your new/temporary home. Welcome to Lagos!
Welcome to Lagos, Welcome to Pan Africa Hash, 2017!