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Abisola Alawode: An Ode to the Blocks of Flats in Festac Town

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dreamstime_m_1723226I recently moved back to Festac Town in Lagos after about 7 years away. And in the few weeks I have been here, I’m still trying to come to terms with the changes this once quiet town has undergone. Gone are the days where there were specific parts of Festac where shops and other commercial ventures could be opened. Nowadays, there are bars, hotels, pubs, joints and whatnot in almost every street, avenue and close in Festac town. Why this is so, is a story for another day. Despite all my years away, one thing always brought back fond memories of my time in Festac. The iconic block of flats.

Blocks of flats are to be found in almost all areas of Lagos state today. But I doubt if there are any older than the ones in Festac.  Built by the Federal Government to accommodate participants of the arts and culture festival that held in Lagos in 1977, these residential buildings have taken on iconic status amongst many present and former residents myself included.

I grew up in one of such buildings located at Q Close, 23 road Festac town. And looking back now, I’ve realized that there are major lessons to be learnt from my time as a resident in that block. Even though I was young, I still have fond memories of that period in my life.

This is not saying living in a block of flats did not have disadvantages; but, I believe the positives outweigh the negatives. For example, there was a spirit of oneness and ‘family’ in my block. I knew the names of almost all the kids that were my neighbors. Not just kids alone, but their parents, uncles, aunties and other relatives that lived with them or came visiting. Anytime a family on the block had an event such as weddings, birthdays or naming ceremonies, best believe that at least 50% of the guests will be folks from your block.

Parents took extra care in looking out for kids that were from their block. Even though they were not their own children. Then, there was nothing wrong with eating at your neighbour’s house. Now, if some parents find out that their child or ward ate at someone’s house,  that child will be fed with different kinds of anointing oils, holy water and various kinds of religious items in an effort to counter whatever negative effect whatever he or she ate. Who can blame those parents? We live in dangerous times.

What about the friendly competitions that took place between blocks? There was always a clamor to know which block was better at anything. Be it football, athletics or even police and thief, every weekend usually saw one contest or the other organized. The important thing to note about these competitions was that, even though whatever block won that week had bragging rights, it was never taken seriously. Whatever issues arose as a result of the competition were settled before participants left the venue. At the same time, any slight on one block member was seen as an attack on the whole block.

If I was to recall all the good memories I had growing on my block, I’ll keep writing for a long time. Now I don’t know about the environment on the blocks presently, but I can only hope some of the values mentioned above are still promoted.

Did you or do you still live on a block of flats? Please share your experience in the comment section below.

Photo Credit: Csaba Fikker | Dreamstime.com

Writer, Editor, Media Enthusiast, Music Lover, Indomie Eater, Spaghetti Lover, etc etc. Instagram|Twitter|Snapchat : Alawodz See more of my work : tattlesblog.wordpress.com

12 Comments

  1. Peaches77

    August 23, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Police and thief o, flying kites, table tennis (proper) and wall tennis. Rolling wheel(custard bucket) with stretched hanger. xmas close party had all the works ?, cultural dance, drama, then the boogie till night, chai the very few times your parents let you stay out past evening. Beach trips and plenty more.

  2. Deizy

    August 23, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Everything peaches mentioned!! Lived in a block of flats for many years in mile 2 estate. I still miss that place sometimes. So much oneness and I never got bored cos I had friends in most blocks around me.

  3. xplorenollywood.com

    August 23, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Catcher, ten ten and swe! Were the games we got up too. We also use to pick corn and cocoyam from peoples farms and roast ???! Until it was 4pm and then we would all gather in someone’s house to watch TV till our mothers called. Yep that’s how our block rolled!

  4. alex

    August 23, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    OmG!! I remember all those games. I grew up on 24road and those were the best memories of my life!! Unfortunately, festac is a lot different right now, the “oneness” is now non-existent.

  5. james

    August 23, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    I never lived in festac but I worked for an estate firm there a couple of years back, when some of those flats were really small and expensive. Now, if some parents find out that their child or ward ate at someone’s house, that child will be fed with different kinds of anointing oils, holy water and various kinds of religious items in an effort to counter whatever negative effect whatever he or she ate. Hahahaha

  6. Rrrrrrr

    August 23, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Gathering to watch premier league matches or Uefa in the houses that had dstv, 21 road festac town. The moment I cried in 2002 when Man Utd were kicked out by Real Madrid, nobody could console me that day instead they were making fun of me. I miss the the real sense of family too

  7. Afolabi Otubaga

    August 23, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Yes, Festac with its fond memories. From 1978 that my family moved in, till 1989 that i graduated from Festac Grammar School, to leaving in 1991 for the Poly Ibadan. I was wonderful. Festac, now a shadow of its former self. I still enjoy visiting my Mum and seeing old friends though.

  8. Ellena

    August 23, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Sounds like so much fun.
    I didn’t grow up in a block of flats, I grew up in the village. The idea of living in a block of flats for me, as a little girl was “luxury”. Well, I don’t know if it still is ?

  9. Frank

    August 23, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Damn! I can totally relate to this. Having grown up in Festac and in 1 of these blocks of flats. Gone are the good old days. Festac has really changed from everything it used to be. So sad. I remember my father taking to the park on I think it was 206 rd or something to go ride seesaws and have picnics. Remember playing soccer barefooted at the back of the blocks. Damn how things change. But I still dey represent FTT to the core wherever I’m at. ShoutOut to my hood 311rd, 3rd avenue.

  10. Avelable

    August 23, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Festac is quite very different now, i personally tag it ‘danger zone’ been resident here since 2008 and getting along has been very tough…Friendship in festac is click based, you must be living in blocks of flats or attended St Jude’s or belong to an igbo village meeting to interact freely. More so, you don’t even trust your prospective Company or friends because every one around seem to be a hunter, especially as a chick, you gotta be careful not to end up with a yahoo boy or Alaba boy that will use you for money if care is not taken. I stay on 1st avenue and chai!! This is Sin city, from prostitutes to hotels at every turn and they all have customers. Another syndrome in Festac is the competition amongst women and the arrogance exhibited by women in this part of town, an average Festac woman has no courtesy this days, she would rather Crush you off the road or splash water on you in the rains probably because she saw you trekking or on a bike. The list is endless. Seems Festac has lost her glory.

  11. Gbenga

    August 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

    I spent at least 12 solid years living in those block of Flats in festac for 12 straight years. 41 Road was the envy of other roads (pardon my bragging) They are memories i cant forget. In those days it was satellite dish and cartoon network that made you the envy of your neighbours. I remember Modgets the premier eatery in festac on 22 road by Texaco,the rivalry between Festac Gramms and Festac College. Subuola and St Judes. I really could go on and on.

    The estate is now a shadow of itself. If you never lived in that era, you really cant relate.

  12. Nneka

    August 24, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I grew up in Festac and still live there. This article is spot on! Festac is no more the haven its was. I remember walking home from school with my siblings, playing in the field behind my block till late hours, spending hours at the neighbors! Now every corner has a bar, club, restaurant, shops, shops and more shops!! At times I’m totally sad at the state of my beloved festac but we live in “”changing times”” so!

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