At the recently concluded TEDGlobal 2017, themed: Builders, Truth Tellers, Catalysts, OluTimehin Adegbeye gave a talk addressing the violation of the rights of Lagosians by the state government.
These Lagosians, she said, are being forced out of their homes. The government’s target is urbanisation, a goal to make itself the “new Dubai” – ignoring the displacement, loss, and homelessness the forced eviction results in.
With lines like “The first thing we are taught to forget about poor people is that they are people” and “You don’t need to be the new Dubai when you are already Lagos,” OluTimehin turns the spotlight on the people whose lives are being adversely affected by the gentrification process.
Watch the talk here:
Read an excerpt of the transcript here:
The Lagos state government, like far too many on our continent, pays lip service to ideas of inclusion, while acting as though progress can only be achieved by the erasure, exploitation and even elimination of groups it considers expendable. People living with disabilities who hawk or beg on Lagos streets are rounded up, extorted and detained. Women in low-income neighborhoods are picked up and charged with prostitution, regardless of what they actually do for a living. Gay citizens are scapegoated to distract from real political problems. But people, like cities, are resilient, and no amount of legislation or intimidation or violence can fully eliminate any of us. Prostitutes, women and women who work as prostitutes still haven’t gone extinct, despite centuries of active suppression. Queer Africans continue to exist, even though queerness is now criminalized in most parts of the continent. And I’m fairly certain that poor people don’t generally tend to just disappear because they’ve been stripped of everything they have.
We are all already here, and that answers the question of whether or not we belong.
When those fisherpeople started to sail down the lagoon in search of new homes, it could not have occurred to them that the city that would rise up around them would one day insist that they do not belong in it. I like to believe that my grandfather, in mapping new frontiers for Lagos, was trying to open it up to make room for other people to be welcomed by the city in the same way that he was. On my way here, my grandma called me to remind me how proud she was, how proud [my grandfather] and my mother would have been. I am their dreams come true. But there is no reason why their dreams — or mine, for that matter — are allowed to come true while those of others are turned to nightmares. And lest we forget: the minimum requirement for a dream is a safe place to lay your head.
Read the full text HERE
Photo Credit: Bret Hartman / TED