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Friday Article – Lagos City Made, Lagos City Paid



Instead of our Saturday Interviews, decided to do a Friday article
(I’m sure some of you are relieved to be spared from the achingly inappropriate interviews LOL…Dont be happy for too long, Saturday Interviews will be back 🙂
This is from the New York Times and is part of their ‘Lagos Journal’ series. I am not sure why the NYT has a Lagos Journal but its been running for over 20 years!
The article is not without its flaws, it captures only two facets of Nigerian society – the mega rich and the really poor but it articulates something worth talking about…
I love Lagos but its crazy!
Sometimes I feel like we are on an episode of ‘Gossip Girl’ or something even more perverse. I’ve met people when they first arrived/moved back to Lagos and then met up with them 2 years later and the differences are usually striking.
In many cases, the American/British accent is now more pronounced (how now?) and the attitude more haughty. I am not knocking anyone, I am an advocate of doing what works for you. I know sometimes, I need to put up a ‘wall’ to survive this city.
But seriously, Lagos is a character builder, its either you fall and keep trying to keep up with the Joneses or you become a better, more confident, more driven person and strive to make your mark for your own chunk of the pie.

Anyway, article below – share your thoughts.

Lagos Journal

Opulence and Chaos Meet in an African Boomtown


Published: August 12, 2008

LAGOS, Nigeria — The governor’s son sits hunched at the bar, contemplating his nearly empty bottle of Hennessy. On the dance floor, the airline director’s daughter sways back and forth to a hip-hop beat. Nearby, the star soccer player, just in from London, tries to squeeze past his growing circle of fans and hangers-on. In the center of the club, the oil magnate’s son gets on top of a table and takes a swig from a bottle of Dom Pérignon.

Benedicte Kurzen for The New York Times

Inside one of the nightclubs in Lagos, Nigeria.

Benedicte Kurzen for The New York Times

A line of yachts.

Benedicte Kurzen for The New York Times

A soccer player’s Ferrari outside a club.

Benedicte Kurzen for The New York Times

One of the boys who tried to sell chewing gum and cigarettes to departing nightclub patrons.


Just another Saturday night in Lagos, one of Africa’s money- and contrast-rich boomtowns. Already a city of superlatives on the continent (it has variously been deemed Africa’s most traffic-plagued, most populous and fastest-growing megacity), Lagos has a new title to add to its mantel: most expensive.

Lagos has always been one of the most powerful commercial hubs in West Africa, ever since slaves were first shipped from here to Europe and the Americas. But because of the rising price of oil, the declining United States dollar, the relocation of foreign workers from the oil-rich but kidnapping-prone Niger Delta, large privatization efforts and a mad dash for the city’s remaining plots of land, Lagos is more flush with cash and full of glitter than ever.

A recent study of the most expensive cities for expatriates by the consulting firm Mercer found that Lagos ranked 30th, making it only slightly less costly than New York but considerably more expensive than Los Angeles, Miami and Washington.

Even European cities like Stockholm and Barcelona, Spain, were found to be more affordable — and in Lagos the high prices are that much more eye-popping because the average Nigerian survives on less than $2 a day.

Evidence of vast amounts of money floating around the “islands” — two small pieces of land poking into the Atlantic that anchor the city’s economic activity and are home to banks, consulates and oil and telecommunications companies — is everywhere. Dinner for two at an average restaurant costs more than $200. A cocktail costs more than $15. A box of cereal costs $12 at a supermarket. Hotel rooms under $400 are difficult to find.

In the aisles of glistening new malls, expatriates and wealthy Nigerians often buy $10,000 watches and $5,000 cellphones. New BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Bentleys plod through grinding traffic, bumping over rocks and weaving around potholes.

Multimillion-dollar yachts speed up and down the creek separating the two islands. (The creek was recently determined to be too shallow for the biggest yachts, so a dredging project has been started to deepen the waterway.)

Apartment rents on the islands start at $3,000 a month, but rents of $6,000 to $7,000 a month are common here, and renters are required to pay two or three years of rent in advance.

But high prices do not always mean high quality. The city was built to accommodate fewer than 100,000 residents, but it is now home to an estimated 14 million or more, according to the state government. So no matter what your station in life is, it is impossible to avoid the city’s traffic or its lack of reliable water and electricity. Most homes and businesses on the islands run on diesel-powered generators nearly 24 hours a day, resulting in thousands of dollars in energy bills.

Tayo Emden, 33, a British-educated Ghanaian who has lived in Lagos for five years as a director for a telecommunications company, said the costs were just too high to stay.

“After living in London with colleagues, we thought Lagos would be nice and cushy, but we’re having second thoughts,” Ms. Emden said. “You used to get a lot of bang for your buck, but that’s not the case anymore.”

Several efforts have been made to create economic hubs away from the islands to reduce traffic and lessen the burden, but none have been successful. So at least three million commuters fight their way through hours of traffic to the islands every day. Many leave before 5 a.m. to beat the traffic, and many do not return home until after 10 p.m.

Moreover, most Lagosians do not enjoy the privileges of the city’s new wealth, and perhaps no economic division cuts deeper than housing. On the islands, plots of 645 square feet sell for millions of dollars, and houses built on the plots are subdivided and rented out to wealthy Nigerians or expatriates whose companies do not bargain down.

“Living in Lagos is tough, that’s the bottom line,” said Bola Sobande, the general manager of the popular Palms shopping mall. “But Nigerians are survivors. We survive against all odds. Until something else comes up, we’ll just hang in there.”

More than 70 percent of the city’s residents live in informal housing, crammed into slums with no electricity or water, according to Felix Morka, the executive director of the Social and Economic Rights Action Center, a local economic rights group.

“Only the superrich can compete in this market,” Mr. Morka said. “Most people are looking for a small plot of land where they can build a shack, or to rent space in what are known as ‘I See You, You See Me’ buildings with no facilities at all. That’s what people can afford.

“The oil companies can afford to rent out huge complexes for all their staff,” Mr. Morka said, “so why would a landlord want to rent out to the Nigerian teacher who barely is even assured of a salary at the end of the month?”

Because of widespread corruption, the vast amounts of money coming in rarely trickle down in Nigeria. Still, more and more people stream into the city every day, drawn by the prospect of wealth absent from most of the rest of Nigeria.

“People are moving to Lagos because you can find work, you don’t need to know anybody or have anything,” said Francisco Abosede, the state minister for public planning.

Early on a Sunday morning, as the rich and famous begin to stumble out of clubs and into the hazy light, they are quickly surrounded by dozens of young boys acting as informal parking attendants or hawking chewing gum, mints and phone cards. The boys are paid little mind, but if they are lucky, a small bill may be handed to them from behind the narrow slit of a tinted window of a departing BMW.


  1. Anonymous

    August 15, 2008 at 11:23 am

    i am 1st yea

  2. Anonymous

    August 15, 2008 at 11:24 am

    life in lagos,nigeria in general is fake. everyone wants to be a celebrity.
    the standard of living is too poor so why are people fake.

  3. Anonymous

    August 15, 2008 at 11:53 am

    pls whats with this i am first second third or whatever. i am new here so i just want to know not being rude lol

  4. onydchic

    August 15, 2008 at 11:55 am

    I feel like this article is a bit of an exaggeration. $12 for cornflakes?? that’s almost 1500! Where the heck is that guy going to do his SHOPPING?????

  5. Anonymous

    August 15, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    It’s a pity the cost of living is very high in Lagos.
    I visited 9ja early this year with my family. I complained all through my stay. We spend $100 a week just to run the generator. I will never pay such amount for electricity bill in Australia in a month.
    The one thing that really pissed me off, is the hotel. My hubby and i went to sheraton to book for 2 night we were told that the cheapest room was $650. In Australia we lodged in Sheraton for $250 per night and i know the rooms will be far better than the ones in 9ja.
    Anyway, we finally lodge in protea hotel in IKeja. We paid $500.00 per night. After 2 night we were told by a friend that there is a new hotel in Ipaja called infinity hotel and that their price is reasonable. We paid #10,000.00 per night with same facilities we enjoyed in protea.
    My advice to anyone visiting from oversea is to shop around.
    May God Help the poor in 9ja. Amen

  6. Anonymous

    August 15, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    To the person asking about cornflake price, go check the price at shoprite it is between $12-$15! the guy is not taking the piss! Na True!

  7. Anonymous

    August 15, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    @ Anonymous 11:53 am don’t worry you’ll get used to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place comments. It’s annoying but you’ll learn to ignore it.

    So true @ the more pronounced accents! I was talking to one of my friends who visited only jand oh and has acquired accent since then.

  8. ~Da-SisTa~

    August 15, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Interesting article but very true tooo,yea ppl that come in from overseas always complain of how overpriced things are n dey dont lie,but in naija everybody wants to be LBB or LBG,showing off false wealth n things.That said naijas r survivors n we just keep rolling with it.

  9. Toru

    August 15, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    The pronounced accent lol! very true my boyfriend spent about 20 years of his life living in Europe when we speak there is no accent at all but when we hang out with the island crowd ha! u see it spewing out cos he would never be taken seriously if doesnt have it.Everyting n this town is fake,u either join them or disappear.Why do u think there are so many runz chicks in this town everyone wants to have the latest IT bag even though the chick they saw it with bought it off some guy on the streets of Broadway in New York for $30

    The article is so true, sad but true

  10. Ladi

    August 15, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    true talk. I even sent it to my African studies Prof cuz we read an article on how nasty and poor lagos is now this one.

    With all the poverty in the country, we are the ‘most’ wicked set of folks seeing the poverty in the country and caoghing out so much on crap- yatchs? (with illiterate, hunger and disease striken children on canoes in our village streams?) just to prove nothing.

    “Mutanen Lagos sai karya” (Hausa saying for Lagos folks are kinda fake…sorry!)

    Thanks for showing the other side though at least theres some glam!

  11. Beulah!

    August 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    You are so right Bella!..Life in can be deceitful..

  12. geishasong

    August 15, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    that’s so true.
    and so sad…
    @onydchic- erm, cereal does cost 1500 here! maybe not plain old corn falkes, but fruit and fibre… special k… the ‘fancy’ stuff. lol

  13. dScR?Be

    August 15, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    glad pple r finally writing on wat the not-so-loud voices have been talking about for a while now…
    May our excessive, flashy, oppress-ur-neighbor habits not bring us ruin.. Amen

  14. Anonymous

    August 15, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    $3,000-$7,000 per month for apartment rent in Lagos?? Come-on ppl, what are they smoking?? I live in an affluent area in Atlanta and the apartments don’t even come close to what they’re demanding in naija!! Na wo!!

  15. Ladybrille

    August 15, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Point well taken about how NY Times does the really poor v really rich stories.

    A friend of mine had told me when I visited how expensive it was to live there but it didn’t sink in until now. However, not suprised. In a city where people are so concerned about keeping up with the Joneses and just more focused on bragging rights, it makes sense they will be willing to pay such high amounts to enjoy Yankee lifestyle.

    I recall a friend visiting after over 10years of not being there and he was like, “Uduak, it’s not even funny. After a week, I was out of money!” Even folks in yankee cannot keep up.

    The article should however find middle ground but then I guess that would be very tough with the erosion of the middle class in Lagos.

  16. Anonymous

    August 15, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Abeg, Lagos is as expensive as you want it to be, 1500 for what???? Balogun no dey again??????? Shooo that’s my spot right there

  17. Purefiyah

    August 15, 2008 at 7:28 pm


  18. Godisalive

    August 15, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    It is soo sad. There is a huge divide between the rich and the poor and its sooo sad. The funniest thing is that naija people are good at oppressing.

    I mean go to some churches here in the UK and its all about who drives the best cars and who has the nicest bag. We are all guilty in one way or another.

    I dont know why though as most of us young ones are very well educated…i mean in our parents time when they were not as educated as we are now, it was acceptable to flash but pls pls lets start showing education in all respect….Biblically and all.


    I love my country though amidst all thats been written and I love the people, we just got this SWAG moneey can buy xx

  19. Bobby Taylor Consulting

    August 15, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    This…my people is Lagos!

    If you think about it though, Lagos has always been like this.

    This is not new gist!

    When we were younger…if you werent rocking the chaps or the tommy, you werent it!

    If your school sandals werent a pair of mocs, then you werent it.

    Lagos is all about perception and nothing else.

  20. Bobby Taylor Consulting

    August 15, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    This…my people is Lagos!

    If you think about it though, Lagos has always been like this.

    This is not new gist!

    When we were younger…if you werent rocking the chaps or the tommy, you werent it!

    If your school sandals werent a pair of mocs, then you werent it.

    Lagos is all about perception and nothing else.

  21. Tolani

    August 15, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Dinner for two at an average restaurant costs more than $200. A cocktail costs more than $15. A box of cereal costs $12 at a supermarket. Hotel rooms under $400 are difficult to find.

    Even with rising gase we’re complaining of here.. it’s still not that expensive. Are y’all for real??? I had better sit my butt in the states. I’ll come visit. 🙂

  22. Tolani

    August 15, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Dinner for two at an average restaurant costs more than $200. A cocktail costs more than $15. A box of cereal costs $12 at a supermarket. Hotel rooms under $400 are difficult to find.

    Even with rising gase we’re complaining of here.. it’s still not that expensive. Are y’all for real??? I had better sit my butt in the states. I’ll come visit. 🙂

  23. adifferentnaijaspec

    August 16, 2008 at 12:06 am

    i’ve never lived in lagos, but this article is like so true! but then dats wat makes lagos LAGOS…unfortunately evryone cant be equal, so its now left for u to cut ur coat according to ur size…if d $12 cornflakes is too much, u can always opt for nigerian made cornflakes which i think is cheaper(am not being nasty here, its FACT), afterall it works for d nigerian market(increased demand for made in nigeria cornflakes,should mean increased demand for labour)
    the situation is pretty ugly but mehn…..dats LAGOS!

  24. Anonymous

    August 16, 2008 at 12:10 am

    $12 for cornflakes is true cos I got cereal(cocoa puff) for my kids in nigeria for 1450 when we were on vacation last year,in one of these stores before someone told me to go to balogun market.

  25. Paris

    August 16, 2008 at 12:16 am



  26. Paris

    August 16, 2008 at 12:36 am

    well i barely left naija 4 yrs ago and ive been back and forth 4 almost 10 yrs now so i believe i know how 2 roll with d punches. if na 2 dey buy food from yankee, i go dey do am….no yawa.
    and as 4 d whole designer mania……shoooooo thats 4 those who give a bloody…….what??? as 4 me, cldnt be bothered wit all that bull ish, as long as i look fly enuff 4 myself….again No yawa!

    but true talk tho! in a city where some folks can barely afford 3 square meals, stunting is definitely more than a habit over there. fake vs fakest.
    with all the “fo-ne” and grammatical blunder?? ok o! the game is over! but u know what, if they like it then i love it.

    but like Bobby said, this isn’t new. being the proper lag chick that i am, i should know.

  27. Anonymous

    August 16, 2008 at 1:36 am

    For anybody wey live abroad and wants 2 go back, serous piece of advise:
    KNOW THYSELF. pls, pls really get in touch with who u are b4 going; ur values, ur attitude towards money, ‘designer’ labels and resolve all confidence issues cos dat’s d only way u WILL ever enjoy Lagos. If not, d faky faky go just kill u. Fake accents, fake Posh wannabees, fake everything! Be ur true self and all of dem go just shrink. I went back in Jan and then later three mths after; First of all from airport na I begin dey speak my serious PH pidgin and correct yoruba; I tell all my onyibo sounding kids to shut their trap when I wan buy something becos nobody go bring my y****sh 4 road! c me c wahala. Some old friends wey ask me of designer stuff got the truth from me; I simply cannot afford it, I no belong to d demographics wey those designers make $2,5000 bag and shoes for! and why wear d obvious fake ones with them in 9ja(come see shrinking! o bu so designer! The ones wey want use ‘i travel 4 summer every year’ oppress, I tell them say na just holiday and infact na Yankari and Obudu dey hungry me. lol! I use okada, I use BMW, I jump bus…all na just means of getting from point A to B. I go Shoprite and Galleria to c what d fuss was all about but na Balogun and Ugochukwu supermarket I do my shopping! Run out of money ke? Know urself no be cuse! Man, I really enjoy myself in 9JA! It was so sad to c people killing themselves to ‘belong’. Someone actually told me that u just have to belong to the Joneses, and I told her that na me b the oringinal ‘mrs Jones’ wey everybody dey keep up with. What nonsense full their head 4 that Lagos self, with children dying of poverty everywhere! Our elite have poverty of the mind, period.

  28. Anonymous

    August 16, 2008 at 2:43 am

    Anon 1:36AM has killed me with laughter.

  29. Imet

    August 16, 2008 at 6:00 am

    i was strongly thinking about moving back to naija so i went to visit and to check out the idea of tapping into the booming market. i left the states with just $300 since i was only staying for 2 weeks, but by the end of the week i was started with spending about $20/day on recharge cards and in a week i had spent$100on credit just to have 2mins conversations on the calls i was making..we dont even spend $100 on cellphone bill combined with house phone in the states..with $100 you get the complete bundle which includes cable,internet and unlimited longdistance.At the end of the week i had to wire some money to my self just to survive the 2nd week..And forget hanging with my high school would have thot that they were the ones living in yankee..too much forming..As far as they were concerned i didnt come with the right wardrobe to hang..with all the oppressing in need to see flooded roads, major important buildings are rundown,IBB bridge looked old…customer service sucked as hell when you go to places like the banks say the least i was so fustrated with spending 4hrs in traffic just to visit the mall and then there was no electricity throughout.The only time i got some light was whenever my parents had the generator working…majority are so worried about putting up a front, that they have completely missed the whole point of humanity. As much as i was happy to be home with my family and to eat all the food that i had been craving, there were moments that i was really grateful to God i was born in the states. after my last trip i see that it takes a lot of money, planning and guts to even live a somewhat decent life in lagos.And when i say decent,i mean having the basic things like electricity, water,phone service and all the ammenities we consider necessary over here are luxury in naija.i feel more discouraged after reading the article and as for now.i have decided to put the idea of my moving back anytime soon on hold.i would visit during xmas as always

  30. Anonymous

    August 16, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Actually, it’s the people here who come across as fake. There’s something for everyone in Lagos and if you do not want to pay $12 for imported cornflakes (which is not a Nigerian staple anyway), then go get some ogi and akara.

  31. Anonymous

    August 16, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Ha ha @ anonymous 1:36.

    I think there has always been faking in Naija starting from our parents. I still remember my Mom buying “Italian” shoe and bag for $700 when we were young. talking about Original ni!!! Ha ha or gold for $2000 and all the lace before the flood of ankara.

    Yes! we got from our Mama’s. Nigerians have always been all about show off since the beginning of time. If you don’t believe me, check out black America (most have ancenstry from Nigeria). If you go to a black school, got forbid you’re not wearing the latest things, your reputation is over. If you’re Diddy’s son the whole world will know with your blings. If you’re bill gates son your jeans and t-shirt is just fine.

    So it’s not a new thing, it’s just more obvious now that more people have the money to flaunt thanks to the people moving back home.

  32. Natures Gentle Touch

    August 16, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I love Lagos and its not called ” Eko for Show” for nothing.

    Its in Lagos you can arrive on the back of a truck and be back to your village in under 5 years with a brand new car.

    Lagos is a leveler. You have to be a survivor to stay on top. You learn quickly that perception is 90% reality and dont kid yourself it works all over the world. A number of expatraites understand this and make alot of money in nigeria as well.

    If a footballer drives a Ferrari and spend =N=200K a night good for him. Its because of the rich the poor aspire. I remember one of our houseboys he passed all his papers and went to university my parents sponsored him now he is an executive director in a bank with his own retinue of domestics (ONLY IN LAGOS). I love the vibrancy and energy of Lagos and would not trade living here for any city in the world except maybe New York.

    People dont hate the players hate the game!

  33. Oyinda

    August 16, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I read the article but think your last paragraph is more interesting to me. I’m about to move to Nigeria and one thing I am constantly told is that ‘I will become a better/stronger person because of it’. I wonder if I had said I was moving to Belgium would I be met with this remark or is it just moving to Nigeria that builds your character.

    Plus I think it is easy to say Nigeria is fake etc because we have a society that feeds off its self. Its like taking Hollywood and multiplying it by the millions of people that inhabit the land. However I think that this really only applies to the bigger cities Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt. Isnt this a global issue with the modern city and obsession with celebrity?

    I agree with the comment that Lagos is as expensive as you want it to be, although I do think it is expensive. However the cost of living in London is not exactly great and its getting worse by the minute!

    Love the blog!
    Check mine out:

  34. Anonymous

    August 16, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Give me Owerri, Calabar, Bonny, or Port Harcourt anyday. Lagos lacks basic infracstruture. How can anyone call that place a mega-city? Are u kidding. Lagos is mega-dirty and there are barely any services. Have you seen the airport? People always speak of the “exclusive” spots in Lagos. Of course it is easy to feel exclusive when 99% o the population is living on less than $2 a day and you are living on $20 a day. I’m not impressed or convinced. My prayer is for the vast majority of Nigerians to have a decent income so that Naija can progress.

  35. Anonymous

    August 16, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    lol @ shopping at Balogun and Ugochukwu supermarket.
    As for me my mantra is be ya self. Nigerians tend to be too fake. i am in jand and i have some friends who have not even seen murtala mohammed airport when i call them they ask me why my accent has not changed.change for y. i am a true Nigerian.
    then silly questions like what car are u getting will follow. i proudly say if a molue can carry me to where i am going it is fine by me.
    nigerians are too obssessed with showing off and that leads ppple to all sorts. look at tery waya, when he was majorly flossing he had lots of hangers on but since he was convicted for his fraudulent activities where are those that where his ”friends”.

  36. Anonymous

    August 16, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    The prices stated here are “expat prices”, the prices you pay if you are not prepared to do the Lagos thing – haggle and shop around.

    Mr complaining expat, if you are not happy with the costs:

    1. shop around – you’ll find better deals (try mushin markets)
    2. return to your country. It’s cheaper, no be so?

  37. mizchif

    August 17, 2008 at 12:50 am

    LMAO @ "I SEE U , U SEE ME".
    I guess "face-me-i-face-you" got lost in translation.

    Very interesting read tho, and well researched if you ask me.

    But in spite of all being said and done, I LOVE MY LAGOS!!!
    Give me my Lagos any day. I definitely don't miss the traffic, but when u're Lagos born & bred, sometimes u don't even notice.
    I miss my lagos die abeg. Yes, showing off is a way of life, but if you know urself & u're comfortable being u, then i dont see why u shd have a problem.

    Besides, u go shock say u go find original NINE WEST & NEXT shoe for tejuosho, abeg!

    Me i can't wait for december, lemme go home to my LAGOS O!

  38. Nigerican

    August 17, 2008 at 7:34 am

    I need an assingment like this… i wonder if the NewYork times funded her trip and research…that’s the kind of gig i want .

    Very interesting article tho… now i know y Lagos has alot of crime… with that high cost of living on a $2 a day pay, i’d be robbing folks to.

  39. RJ

    August 17, 2008 at 7:36 am

    At anonymous 1pm, why should we go to shoprite? Doesn’t the average Nigerian go to the regular open market anymore? Wat, isn’t the cereal the same? Sweetie, u so are not helping. Even in the open markets, they have all the cocopuffs and assorted brand cereals u want. I like my cereal plain anyway (well apart from the honey nut cherios), so I guess when I’m in town I’d be paying less than N150 for mine.
    Yes Lag can be expensive, but that article has been slightly exaggerated and a persons priorities is going to determine their choice of lifestyle

  40. Anonymous

    August 17, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Since I got to the US, I always wondered why people on the east coast choose to live there when they can go down south and live in a mansion for the price they are paying in NYC, etc.

    But then I think of myself, I know there’s no way after living in Lagos that I can decide to live in Ibadan and the likes just because you might get a better quality of life there.

    Even these open markets that we’re talking about, items are probably more expensive than you will find them in other states, so the cost of living is still high in Lagos whether at Shoprite or Tejuosho. But the problem is once you get into the Lagos State of Mind, it’s hard to depart from it.

    I’m going home again this Xmas after 7 years in the states and I cringe when I think of the shift from practicality to effizy-there’s no other explanation as to why a uni student will rather carry a purse and cute folder to class and then make multiple trips back to her room for things she needs when she could get a nice backpack and fit everything in at once. Or why knee length boots was ever a fashion trend in a city 4 degrees north of the equator!

    And you might want to say you will be different and down to earth, but it seems you are only taken seriously if you put up this show!

  41. Charie

    August 17, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Lagos dey craze yes we know…but why cant we leave? There’s too much Lagos in out blood…

  42. Uzo

    August 17, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Just read snippets of this in today’s paper….Similar to an article i read about New Delhi and Beijing. What do these 3 cities have in common? Cities in emerging economies with re-emerging middle classes…

    I say do who you want to be…If some people think its fake or contrived or others belive being some socially consious is a nuisance, then so be it. But Lagos is what it is and will continue to evolve i think…

    I also think like a lot of western generated views, this article exaggerates a wee bit

  43. Anonymous

    August 17, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Lagos!! Shine your eye!!! Went home to Lagos after being away for about four years. I had been warned about the oppression so got my poor hubby to pay for excess luggage. Meeeennn!! The heat, traffic and lack of light no gree me more than spaghetti and shorts thru out.Had to pay for excess again to allow room for agege bread, meat pie and cow tail for my return trip!! Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!!

  44. Greene

    August 18, 2008 at 1:17 am

    This article was not written by the average Nigerian living in Lagos. It was written by an outsider or an expat – hence the reference to things like cocktails, yatchs, expensive hotels and eating out at restaurants. The average Nigerian doesn’t include those luxuries in their day to day budget and hustle for survival in Lagos.

    A lot has been said by the commenters above me. I assume most of the people commenting are middlle and upper class as well, either based at home or abroad.

    One thing irks me though, why do Americans and other expats think that Lagos should be dirt cheap? Why do they expect that they should be able to get more for their dollar than say, London for example? Oh I get it, Lagos is in Africa! That’s right. “Africa” is supposed to be the poor continent, so it’s a very cheap place isn’t it? So they expect that even the struggling, average, working class American should automatically become affluent once he steps into Lagos because he should get more for his dollar. Well I don’t think so! Hence the shock of journalists, expats and Nigerians living abroad when they arrive to find that prices are actually comparative even across the ocean. Well that’s globalisation for you. Don’t come to Lagos thinking you can climb the social ladder just because you are coming from some country in the West with foreign currency. Let me not go on and on.

    And btw, isn’t Abuja supposedly more expensive than Lagos?

  45. chetablog

    August 18, 2008 at 8:10 am

    The article is not fake. Kellogs is N950. The scariest thing about living in Lagos is the fact that 95% of women are hoes. Yes I said it. Even the married women, the girls whose father’s are rich, the poor girls, everybody, once I landed, within 6 months I went on bended knees back to my Janded sweetheart. Thank God she took me back if not, I 4 marry foreigner.

  46. Anonymous

    August 18, 2008 at 8:26 am

    @ chetablog
    Hoes attract hoes.

  47. MissO

    August 18, 2008 at 9:05 am

    WOW!!!! Ok for someone that is actually moving to lagos this week, i have alot to say; yes Lagos is expensive and one thing i know for a fact is that it gets as expensive as you want it to be… As for me i cut my coat according to my size, i was born in the states but as always leave in and out of Lagos, so i have come to an understanding, if you are going to keep up with the Jone’s pls more grace to your elbow, just make you sure you fight to the finish… Everyone keep saying you have to leave on the island, i say i can’t afford the dam island ( na by force) i am a surulere girl to core so i love the mainland… Yes the island is fun and cool, i only like it for the parties… They keep saying all the good schools are on the island, i say bull crap… There are also good schools on the mainland… Like i said cut your coat according to your size, i cannot afford the island so i am not moving to island, yea maybe when my business start blooming and i start making island money trust me i’ll be moving… People get alot of mis-concerption about Nigeria in general… and it is just F*** how some people choose to see beyond that, Lagos is a good place, it keeps you on ur toe and reminds you the reason you are working your ass off.. at least it keeps me focused… Me i love my lagos, i am a proper Lagos chick so i enjoy everything about it… Do what you can do to help the poor masses but we can save them all…. By the way that article is so true…

  48. tankojjetty

    August 18, 2008 at 9:14 am

    HUSTLE 25/7….

  49. Red

    August 18, 2008 at 11:13 am

    @ Greene (1.12am) : you sound bitter? wassup?? or should i say you sound oppressed.

    Westernization is paid for!

    thats why we cant understand why a city that is “not-yet-there” is asking $1000 for a pinch of salt…

    Get it?????

  50. Nkiru Judith

    August 18, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Fake life equates indescribable stress. Not everyone that resides in the city of Lagos, lives a fake life. But for those that are fake in their quality of living, then my 1st sentence applies to them.

    Not hating, just loving, and maybe it might help…who knows.

  51. Mr.Fineboy

    August 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    This is Lagos! Go hard or go home!

    The article is pretty accurate, but there are quite a few narrow generalisations.

  52. Anonymous

    August 18, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    I never understand when my friends are going home, they pack water, cereals, juice, soap and other basic nessecities that i know they can get in naija but they all complain about how expensive those stuff are. Reading this article explains alot. I guess someone like me that haven’t been to naija in more than a decade should be well prepared for the first visit. I think the lifestyle of lagosian shouldn’t be surprising. It been like that from way back in the 70’s. I remember my mom friend use to live in isale eko around campos in those room and palor houses but if you see Alhaja outside, U will think she lives in V.I or Ikoyi. She will rather buy a five yard lace for $100 per yard than pay $500 for rent somewhere else. This woman is rich cause she could afford sending her four children to Corona primary school and then to UK for high school and college. I asked her why she likes isale eko so much, she said i will never understand that being born and raise in isale eko is like being born in Harlem and no matter how rich you are, u will want stay at home in the comfort of your own. I guess that is why there is mad rush for lagos and the same reason it is overcrowded and people are still moving in.

  53. Anonymous

    August 18, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    You can only show for so long abi.

    I don’t even care about the displays or wealth or lack of, I just wish something can be done about the traffic.

  54. regitalk

    August 18, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    its true lagos is expensive, but thats because everbody wants to make maximum profit on everything people will strech their prices as far as poosisble and thats only because we keep paying for it

    any ways anonymous 7:22 and 12:10 have resolved the issue if u really dont have the money abeg go balogun or mushin

    dont 4get ur bobo,pigeon and bathroom slippers sha, if not u’ll x5 ehh eh

  55. regitalk

    August 18, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    and yeah that article on NYtimes looks at two extrems and is therefore not a proper representation of fact

  56. Anonymous

    August 18, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    I do not agree with the statement below:
    “People are moving to Lagos because you can find work, you don’t need to know anybody or have anything,” said Francisco Abosede, the state minister for public planning.”
    Sounds like Mr. Franscisco is still living in the 70s. LOL

  57. Frederic Tape

    August 18, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    “.you need to see flooded roads, major important buildings are rundown,IBB bridge looked old…customer service sucked as hell when you go to places..” and “I just wish something can be done about the traffic.” and “Or why knee length boots was ever a fashion trend in a city 4 degrees north of the equator! ” Lol that so funny, everything said about Lagos is about as true for Abidjan, a much smaller and crowded city.
    The accent part too is so true of People having stayed in France for just 2 months, what about ivorians that no longer know how to speak in French or their native language after sometimes in the US/UK. It is interesting to see some similar patterns in different settings/countries, it can better help us understand what is keeping us collectively from greatness.

  58. Greene

    August 18, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    @Red: You say I sound bitter and oppressed, but that’s probably because you can’t read and analyse an article or a paragraph beyond the surface. If you had the intelligence of a lizard you would have understood that I was trying to highlight something that is obvious to most Nigerians when foreigners visit Lagos. All kinds of people come to Lagos from different parts of the world, but we keep hearing the same complaints: Lagos is too expensive, too crowded, too stressful and what not. Tell me which other major city in Africa or indeed the rest of the world doesn’t have its own problems? So I was asking why foreigners come to Lagos and expect things to be rosy and CHEAP. I have lived in Lagos, London and New York and each city is expensive in its own way but people complain about Lagos supposedly because it’s in Africa! But the visitors have a choice – stay put and adjust or leave the city to the residents that know how to survive it!

  59. Anonymous

    August 19, 2008 at 3:10 am

    After reading much of the comment I have to say I heavily disagree.


    because it chronicles how africans, NIGERIANs are balling, whether fake or not bottom line we’re BALLIN!!

    so we don’t need the NY’s or london or whatever, we are ballin at home. if u don’t like do something or leave.

    I am so sICK and tired of people in the west assuming that there is no LUXURY in nigeria. In fact when a friend found out I was moving back to Nigeria they were like where would u buy ur clothes from? like we have no shops?? lol

    anyways there is no denying that it is expensive, but then again u have to understand why, because it is a commercial city. Lagos is the heart of business, both international and domestic in Nigeria.

    And one must also understand that when u come to the states, cities like Boston and Newyork are equally outrageously expensive.

    On another note please people READ the Financial times, there is an emerging Middle class not eroding ones.
    I am currently living in Lagos, and have been for 1 and half, I am a banker (then again who isn’t) and I have to say, even though things are expensive, I work damn HARD so I can PLAY HARDER. I love living in lagos, it gets hectic at times but if you have a positive outlook on life, nothing can deter you!

  60. Anonymous

    August 19, 2008 at 3:14 am

    p.s I agree with greene’s comment. and not to make anything racial. but sometimes people you have to ask yourself, why is it that foreigners are coming in, living and investing in lagos, why some of our people choose to BITCH about the problems with the country. If you don’t see our blessings and the gem that we have in Nigeria, then u are a FOOL! yes Lagos is expensive, so is all this other foreign countries you find nigerians in…. so people WAKE UP and smell the damn COFFEE!!

    Invest back home.

  61. Anonymous

    August 19, 2008 at 3:25 am

    I like how Uzo put it: “Cities in emerging economies with re-emerging middle classes…”

    LAGOS BORN AND BRED. I love my city, I love the FLASH, I love the attitude. if u don’t love it LEAVE!!


    I think alot of people that commented do NOT LiVE in the country, thats why most have an “outdated” version of nigeria.

    so please stay there and suffer ur recession or whatever my counsins keep complaining in the states, while I chill here with my flashy self eating $12 cereal.

    Naija-till I die!!

  62. Bhookey

    August 19, 2008 at 3:27 am

    Lagos my lagos…..the article is true to an extent but like a lot of ppl have said”cut ur coat according to ur size”…for a recent returnee(barely three months)…i know how to handle myself, im not big on flossin and i guess i dont try to overshow…naija ppl can floss sha o , chai…..yes i live on the island but thats cause work is on the island, rent prices are ridiculous, trust me i know, just got a place on the island, i guess ill really know how expensive lagos is when im livin by myself n all so ill be back with an update…..its really sad how nigerians overfloss tho especially when there are people living in abject poverty not more than 50 miles from them…sad sad sad but i still love lagos regardless:-)my parents live in the states and just cant understand why im back to lagos after living in the states for 10 yrs , im still wondering tho but i have no regrets whatsoever, at least not yet!!! lol

  63. Anonymous

    August 19, 2008 at 3:44 am

    Somebody help me please. I will be traveling to Lagos this Christmas. And yes I will be going with provisions. Being the cheap person that I am … I know I could never ever ever pay $12 for a box of cornflakes.

    Anyway.. here is where I need help. What attractions are available for kids? I have a 4yr old and an 8yr old. (thanks in advance)

    Also out of curiosity… for those that have traveled home with mosquito net, roach spray, toilet roll, flashlight, foil, tuna, etc, etc (you know yourselves). What do you tell your family, hosts/hostess when you start bringing all these things out? Isn’t it akward? Or do you pack enough provision to share with your host/hostess. Just wondering.

    Lots of love to my Nigerian sistas and brethren.

    Bella… love love love your blog.

  64. O!

    August 19, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    This article just spilled out all that’s been in my head. A friend of mine asked me to get her sun glasses when I visited home in 2006. I was quick to land Broadway (NY) and get her some real fashionable pair (my own money o). I took it to her and she asked me for the designer, I was like sho? IF you wanted a designer pair you should have sent me $1000 or so to pick it up for you.

    Bottom-line is being real, you have to be real with yourself and that comes form having self-confidence. I am a fashionista but I do not dwell on designer items, I buy when I see them on sale but I never save up money just to go get a bag.

    If you are visiting Nigeria, just be you! you don’t know what the other fakies are doing to get their poshy things; Some are rich enough but “Ariztos,” “Sugar-daddy” and the rest of their sources may not be for you. It’s not just the girls, guys are flaunting credit-card paid for clothes as well….

    and in regards to the accent, I can’t lie, it comes in handy…… I personally have up to 5 accents depending on the occasion, it’s a networking tool, lol.

  65. J'Adore Fashion

    August 19, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    such an interesting article, basically, nigerians, always want to impress, belong by leaving a fake life, spending fathers money, stolen government/nigerian money. why can’t people just put their money to better use. A lot of people are suffering, other African countries are progressing, but majority of Nigerians are leaving a life of popping bottles, true religion, cars… and who has the best.

  66. Sasha

    August 19, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    @anon 1.36am,
    U have summed it up for me. I cudn’t agree more with your comments. Well said. U have me laughing off my seat. You are a true “Mrs Jones”.

  67. Anonymous

    August 20, 2008 at 3:38 am

    I wonder why we are all not hitting the issue.Did anyone read the beginning lines of that writeup? The Governor,s son, the oil magnates, son, ………… Are these normal Nigerians? Nah! these are children who are spending what they have not worked for, neither do they understand what it means to work for money. So why wont they drink Don Perignon for breakfast and wear Cartier into the swimming pool? Let’s get real, there is no place like home. My friend in Australia, pls remember, you are a foreigner there no matter how wonderful your life may be.

  68. Anonymous

    August 21, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    i love my country, i no go lie
    na inside am i go live and die
    when he push me so
    i push am so
    he push me
    i push am
    i no go go

    oh by the way……i live in the UK

  69. Anonymous

    August 22, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Makes me rememba d joke i saw on Opa Williams Night of a thousnd lafs-two drunk guys where arguin if d with ball in d sky was a moon or sun. afta much arguement, a 3rd guy was askd 2 judge. wel d 3rd man just said, ‘luk, if u look at it frm dis angle, it luks lik sun, then frm d oda angle, it luks lik moon!

    dats lag 4 u. it’s d name u call it dat it answers.

    last word-apart power prob, am lookin at d day i will av 2 walk major b/stps in lag witht havin 2 check repeatdly if my wallet n phones r still intact. no kiddin

  70. Anonymous

    August 22, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Read an indepth critique of this article at

    …N.Y.’til I die…

  71. Anonymous

    August 22, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    i really think this article is Bias…it is concentrated on v/island and Ikeja,which re like d most high levelled areas in lag…its like using prices in chelsea to define d whole london…wat happend 2 upton park????yes shoprite sells conflakes for $12 but d mallam at d entrance sells it for $2.50 and u can still price it…a footballer’s ferrari parked outside a club,,,just like it is all over d world…and try hiring a yatch in Gabon and see hw much it costs u…u can get fairly good hotels for as low as $100…and dere is somtyn dey kal “pricing” in 9ja…its an act of negotiatin d price of an item with d seller…u dont use d lifestyle of d rich to sum up d general lifestyle in a community…look at d names mentioned in d article…dere parents are richer dan most hollywood celebrities..hw can u use dere lifestyle to sum up d whole Lagos…Ikeja and Island are just 2places in Lagos,,,how abt ikorodu,mushin,Agege,oshodi,mile2,mile 12,yaba..etc…so pls articles are based on research and facts not individual thoughts….thk u…PHEMMY ABBA

  72. Ebony

    August 25, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I think the primary difference with Lagos is that even if some ill-advised person spends NGN 1500 on cornflakes, for th wise and the sharp a plate of hot amala, featuring ewedu and gbegiri and garnished with three pieces of your favorite stumbling block can NEVER be more than NGN 150 ie $1, and I’ll pick this over cornflakes any day.

    Moral : Be wise

  73. Anonymous

    August 30, 2008 at 8:13 am

    After reading all these comments about hotel what happened to your family house? I mean don’t you have people you can lodge with when you go visit? and whats up with the cereal that cost$100, abeg jor when there is golden morn, bread and beans, yam and egg, bread and tea. After living in NY for 5 years I dnt think I’ll be going back to lagos to floss sey wetin happen. If it’s not flossing my teeth then I’m not flossing. You see we still do not understand what it means to be financially independent, by the time you spend all your savings in naija all in the name of flossing you’ll have yourself to blame if you get kicked out of your apartment in the states when you return, working overtime for swiping and charging everything to credit card bills. That’s why when some pple die, all the children and family ever inherit is debt. That’s why naija is still corrupt because the Governor’s son is busy spending “advance contract money”(if there was any contract in the first place)on clubbing. What happened to having self-esteem and not needing any body’s validation to be who God has called you to be. I believe those who floss ard are pple with low-self esteem looking for people’s validation on who and what they should be.

  74. Anonymous

    August 31, 2008 at 12:23 am

    errmmm! NIGERIA”the land of mugus”is what i call matter where nigerians are they try their level best to live large..aherm even when they arent.i guess every country/society/community/blah blah has a different way of thinkin.PERIOD.and hence,the behaviour of nigerians.this is really a mind over matter thing…you guys really dont have to try so hard.really.come to the southern part of africa*zambia,south africa,namibia* and see how different things are…theres nothing you have over there in naija dat u wont find here in half d price!!

  75. Anonymous

    August 31, 2008 at 12:25 am


  76. Sprezatura

    August 31, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    LMAO at “Mutanen Lagos sai karya” cities all over the world are expensive, but what they dont have some freak landlord telling tenants to pay 3years upfront. THAT IS INSANE

  77. Anonymous

    September 1, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Superficial Luxury …

  78. Anonymous

    September 2, 2008 at 10:32 am

    No way cornflakes for 12-15dollars what!!!!!!!!!!

    well i will stock up on cornflakes when i come to my home town london and take it to naij it costs me 3pounds topmost and i can also get buy one get one free lmao

  79. Anonymous

    September 2, 2008 at 10:33 am

    shoprite is a reap off day light robbery!!!!!1

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